This is a photo of the latest additions to our family…21 turkey poults. Cute aren’t they?
They are cute like this for about 3 days, and then they aren’t so cute anymore. After 3 weeks, they are all feather and no fluff and after about 3 months they are just big stinky birds. I know these things because every year for about four months, our family pretends to be turkey farmers.
We spend four months feeding and watering and cleaning and building and moving turkeys. We take care of turkeys during the hottest days of summer and finish up just when winter sets in. We start out wearing shorts and t-shirts and muck boots and end up in coats, gloves, hats and muck boots. We being our turkey stint cuddling and loving and singing to turkeys and end up cussing and counting down the days until Thanksgiving. We start each turkey session with great enthusiasm and end each time vowing to never do it again. But we keep doing it again…this will be our fourth year. I am sure you are thinking, “they are crazy!” No argument here…we think it is because of all the turkey smells we have inhaled! But beyond that, there are some really great reasons that we raise turkeys…and it is all about the kids (as usual). I will explain:
1. Turkeys = $. We tell the girls that we want them to raise turkeys because it is a good way for them to earn some money…cash now and scholarship money later. We use this incentive so they will participate, but more important to us…
2. Turkeys = life lessons. We are big on life lessons at our house…lessons like responsibility, hard work, community service, time management, compassion, respect for the environment and living things.
3. Turkeys = knowledge. Raising turkeys teaches our girls about agriculture and life cycles and cause and effect. It teaches them that there are alternative ways to do things and that they need to really think about things…like where their food comes from and how it is raised and if it is safe and healthy to eat. They also learn about sustainability and self-reliance and taking care of the earth. They even learn some simple financial lessons like income–expenses = profit.I like that…it makes it worth all the work in the long run (just don’t ask me if it is worth it at the end of November). There are lots of other ways for kids to learn these same lessons, and our girls do learn them in other ways, but I’m happy that they learn them in such a hands-on way. I’m also happy that these lessons only last for about four months every year! And, I’m especially happy that I get to spend some time every year living the life of a farmer, it is one of my not-so-secret fantasy lives.