This is my other flock, the brush turkeys. I think there are about six of them using our place as a recreation area and take-away just now. Teenagers and youngsters, I think, none of the absurdly young yet unattended chicks at the moment – the hatching season must be over.
Our fences are not so much boundary markers, more convenient perching sites and high level walkways, attractive and arboreal, a little like New York’s famous High Line. When we bought our vermin proof chicken feeder (made by Grandpa, it seems) we were warned not to train the chooks how to use it in front of cockatoos. Though individually cockies are not heavy enough to step onto the foot pedal and trigger the lifting of the feeder lid, apparently they are quite capable of learning to saunter on mob-handed and get a feed that way. It took the chooks a few weeks to get used to the clanging as the pedal went down and the feeder opened. The learning curve for the brush turkeys was pretty steep it seems. They are casual snackers at this stage.
So I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks thinking about the contents of brush turkey guts and the parasitic load of brush turkey ordure. We lost another chick (Turbo… sniff) and I’m blaming the turkeys rather than myself. Viral and bacterial vectors, flapping and crapping all round the yard. We couldn’t leave little Shyla to join the big chickens all on our own, so we went back to the hatchery and got some older and hopefully more robust pullets. But now the veil of naivete has been drawn back and I’m expecting more deaths, despite Sulfa3, cider vinegar, natural yoghurt snacks and regular anxious visits to the bottom of the yard where the young ‘uns are segregated in their chook dome from bigger fowl. I’m not sure I can bear to lose any more, at least not yet.
So I’m going for a chemical blitz, on new chicks and the old. Still thinking through which antibiotics I should have in the cupboard for the inevitable emergency. And when I’m dosing up the chickens, I’ll also be dosing up the brush turkeys, our involuntary companion animals.