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Cupid’s Mistake February 1, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.

We have mentioned our Alpha rooster, Percy, several times in recent posts. He is quite “the man” as far as the female poultry is concerned. Until recently, though, that went only for the chickens.

Last spring, we gave some of our broody hens Royal Palm turkey eggs to hatch. They dutifully brooded them and raised them never knowing that “their babies” weren’t even of the same species.


(“Mama,” a Buff Orpington, is teaching her babies how to forage).


(First wing feathers coming in, already beginning to exhibit the Royal Palm markings).

After the predators took their share of the poults, we have ended up with only 2 females, Martha and Betsy. Royal Palm turkeys are a heritage breed. (A “heritage breed” is defined as one that is historic, can mate naturally, has a long and productive outdoor lifespan, and has a moderate growth rate. Commercial turkeys available in grocery stores come from specialized strains of birds chosen for their ability to put on weight quickly and grow extra large portions of breast meat. These birds cannot survive outside, mate naturally, or make it to market weight without lots of antibiotics. Mortality rates are high. Commercial turkey raising is much like commercial chicken raising).


(Betsy as an young adolescent).

When we began this turkey project, we hoped to help preserve Royal Palms, to create a breeding flock, and to raise our own Thanksgiving turkey. With our first successful hatching of poults, we thought we were well on our way. We started another set from a different source to diversify our gene pool. But we were not to meet our goals last year since we have been left with only 2 “calico” females who are related. We are planning to try again this year.


(Martha, looking rather like an ostrich here. She’s halfway between chick fuzz and grown-up feathers).

Martha and Betsy are about full-grown now. They’ve never met a tom turkey, but nonetheless they feel Cupid’s arrows as they approach Valentine’s Day and egg-laying season. With no suitors of their own kind, they have taken a shine to Percy just like the chickens. Percy seems to be a bit flustered by their attempts to court him– maybe he’s intimidated by their larger size or maybe he doesn’t like fast women. Maybe he has just been around the block enough times to know that a chicken-turkey relationship is destined to not work out. Whatever the cause, he is not returning the affection.


(Betsy displays her unusual coloring).

Betsy and Martha follow him around the yard, flanking each side, nudging him gently with their heads. He stares straight ahead, pretending not to notice them. When he pauses to eat a bite, they run around in front of him and lie down side by side with their backs to him. He tries to sidestep them and tiptoe away. Ever persistent, they hop right up and escort him again.


 (Percy casually steps around the romance-minded sisters).


 (Since the”bow and wait” method of flirting didn’t work, Martha tries a “speedbump” technique to get Percy’s attention).

It’s interesting to me that the turkey girls are not like humans (or even the roosters) would be in this situation. They are perfectly content to share the same mate without competition or fuss. But then again, maybe that is only because he doesn’t give either one of them the time of day. It might be a different story if he returned their affections, especially if he chose a favorite as roosters sometimes do.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Any one have a gentlemanly Royal Palm tom for sale?





1. jipmeister - February 1, 2007

We don’t want to hear about percy and betsy and maude and mable right now…although your chicken stories do crack me up…
I know I for one would kinda be interested in hearing a little something about THE BABY before she takes off for preschool!!! 🙂

Everytime I’ve seen your blog updated on bloglines I get all excited thinking SURELY this time she’ll at least give an honorable mention SOMETHING but then I scroll up and instead of sweet little baby faces I see CHICKENS!!!!


2. chickenmama - February 1, 2007

For the record- I DO love our children MORE than I like our animals. MUCH MORE in fact. But, at the moment, the only activities I can report about Lydia are nursing, sleeping, and crying (well, and the rapid rate we go through diapers). Those are pretty universal experiences for parents of newborns, but if you’d like me to chronicle my sleep deprivation and the resulting loony state of mind, I can do that- you just might be the only one interested in reading it. But since you did suggest that I blog while in labor (which we are ALL glad I didn’t, since a 9 lb baby is SIGNIFICANTLY more painful to give natural childbirth to than a 7 lb one), maybe you would hang on every word.

Seriously, though- Lydia is doing really well. She had already gained nearly a pound and over an inch in length at her 2-week check-up last Tuesday. She has outgrown several of her baby gift outfits already. She looks a lot like Benjamin did at this age, but I see glimpses of Rachel in there, too.

As I type, she is crying to be fed again, so I must end it.

3. Marci - February 1, 2007

I love hearing about your baby as well. However, I loved your funny chicken story. You are a great story teller!!!

4. Joe - February 2, 2007

Deanna – This is just part of a day in the life of a homesteadin’ woman. Get up, hoe the corn, tend the animals, have a baby, bushhog the back 40, cook supper, go to bed and do it all over again in the morning (except for the have a baby part, that takes some time).

5. jipmeister - February 2, 2007

well if that’s all there is to the homesteadin’ lifestyle then HEY I could handle that! Well all of it except the part about hoe the corn and tend the animals…not up for having another baby this day or any other, I have SEEN a bushhog before but….other than that I’d be ok with it!!!
Joe you are just messed up, ya know that? 🙂

6. Becky - February 2, 2007

Deanna, With me for a mother, what did you expect? He did come by it honestly.

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