Wednesday, December 19, 2007

kidnapped turkeys?

I woke up this morning with a bluebird looking in my window.

He stood on the ledge tapping on the glass with his beak.

Inside, I rolled over, opened my eyes and blearily looked. There he was, staring in at me, I would like to think, trying to get my attention to say that it was past time to get up. "The day is beautiful and not to be wasted sleepy head."


However, I know about birds and windows. They can see their reflection in the glass. A few years ago, when the old peacock was still alive, he would stand outside the sun room and charge and peck at the peacock he saw in the window until the peacock in the glass had knocked bruised, blooded and knocked him out.

This morning's bluebird didn't seem to be that sort of bird. Instead of attacking he just pecked a couple more times before winking at me and flying off.

Blue birds have been, what looks like, playing in the fields in front of the house all week. Right now one is sitting on top of the post supporting the bluebird house they nested in last spring. And there are a couple others perched up on the electric line that crosses the field in front of our house.

Today was a day to be out playing. Sure different than the past week with its dreary drizzle and fog. Out here it has been so foggy that you couldn't see across the fields and starting Saturday 'they' are saying it's going to start snowing sleeting and turning everything to ice. I need to get away from this computer and do some farmly chores before the winter weather hits us.

During the summer I forget how bleak it gets out here during the winter. The forest is gray (well, maybe brown but a grayish brown). The cover crop we planted this fall (winter rye) are about the only thing green, everything else seems to be dead or dormant. Bare ground, dead weeds, briars with only thorns and no leaves. Our driveway has turned to a river of mud.

The only vegetables on weather so far hasn't killed is a row of parsley. The rest of the crops were turned under a month ago so we could plant a cover crop of winter rye.

This absence of vegetables makes me go into cultural shock in the grocery store this time of year. Usually I skirt the produce section (except to compare vegetables and see what they are charging) feeling rather smug in that I have fresher and tastier vegetables at home.

Yesterday, though, I almost broke down and bought vegetables as I walked through the local Giant. All of those bright colors. Orange, red and green bells. Purple eggplant. Bright red tomatoes. It makes my mouth water, until I think where are they coming from?

Where do you get eggplant this time of year?

In Europe their must be a law requiring country of origin labeling. Even in the markets every fruit and vegetable is labeled by the country it was grown in. I just came back from Rome and it seems everything is coming out of Africa, with a few vegetables from Spain and as far away as New Zealand.

On the other hand in the Giant there was no way of knowing. (yes, there is a law on sea food and since that's an issue Wenonah works on we always have to make a detour past the fish department just to look and see).

But in the vegetable section is different. The label, if there is a label is the address of the corporate headquarters not the location of the field the vegetable came out of. I've even asked the produce manager where the beautiful orange bell peppers and those cute tomatoes on the vine are grown (I don't ask where the garlic comes from, either the regular or organic because I know already. All garlic in the grocery store comes from China) and he gives me a blank stare and shrugs his shoulders.

And speaking of where things come from I was about to accuse someone (hadn't figured out who yet) where their Thanksgiving turkey came from.

When I got back from Rome our turkeys were gone. Everyone of them. All seven heirloom turkeys were no longer in the chicken pasture. They weren't in the hen house.

No sign of them at all.

I walked around the farm looking. From one pasture to the next, even going into the woods.

Fortunately, for my self esteem, we have no close neighbors so they didn't hear me. I'm walking through the pastures, calling off into the woods. "Gobble, gobble gobble." (it being my experience that when you made that sort of noise the turkeys couldn't help themselves. They have to call back.

But no sound.

So what was I to make of this?

There weren't any sign of feathers. If a fox had slipped into the pasture there was no way even a large fox could have hauled off a turkey. These things were big. She would have had to eaten it on the spot.

And the process of chasing down a turkey and killing it couldn't have been a simple one. Feathers must have flown everywhere.

I didn't see any feathers anywhere.

"So, what do you think happened?" Wenonah asked. "What happened to your turkeys?"

I didn't want to say what I thought. What animal is capable to have crept in to the chicken pasture and caught a turkey and hauled it off without making a feather mess?

"It's almost like it had to be a person."

"While we were gone someone climbed the locked gate to the farm, walked past our pair of 150 pound dogs, jumped over the electric fence and took not one, but half a dozen 25 pound tom turkeys?"

"It almost looks that way."

So that's where we were last week. Seven turkeys gone without a trace. And if it wasn't flying saucers with little green men it must be a human.

But who?

And then I found out last week.

And so not to feel too foolish I'll give you the farm news first.

1. Early sign up is over. Subscriptions for the 2008 season will start in February. I'll send you an e-mail when it starts along with next year's price list (I'm not sure yet how much my costs will jump. We are fortunate that much of our irrigation water is moved by gravity from its source to the vegetables. Pumping water is a major expense for most vegetable farmers.

2. It's time for you to make suggestions for different vegetables. I'll be buying seeds for 2008 in the next month. Is there anything you want that hasn't been in the shares? (our list of each year's vegetables is up on the web. I haven't put 2007's vegetables yet).

3. Beef. For the meat eaters among us, each year we take requests from shareholders and then buy hogs and cows from our neighbors, take them to the butcher and then people come on out to the farm and pick up their meat ( ie. a quarter cow worth of beef). The hog/pork event has already happened this year. The cows go to the butcher in January. If you are interested and haven't contacted me, drop me a note and I'll send you the details.

And that's about everything I can think of right now. If you have any question about anything going on out here, or next year's season drop me a note.

And before I forget, the turkeys.

It wasn't a hawk. Not that red tailed one that sits on a limb overlooking the pasture (its out there right now waiting, I assume, waiting for a chicken to roam off far enough that the dogs can't save it).

And it wasn't a fox.

And the bobcats....

And I hate to say it, I was about to accuse a human. (which one I don't know). I was on the verge of going to the neighbors and ask if they had seen a strange truck going out the driveway with our turkey in the back.

But on the day I intended to start asking there was this sound. A turkey sound and I went to the window.

And there they were. Well, not really 'they'. It wasn't all seven turkeys. One was missing. But coming down the driveway were six of our old fashion turkeys.

And since turkeys don't speak any human language I know of, and since I don't speak turkey, I haven't been able to ask them where they'd been. Or what became of their comrade. I haven't been able to quiz them about flying saucers, humans in pickup trucks or turkey retreats.

Leigh Hauter


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