Making Hay
Week of November 14th, 2004 | The weather was cloudy and humid.

Hello, farm friends!
This week I have a story from Lindy, who lives on an Organic Valley farm in Nebraska.
Happy Thanksgiving! Sincerely, James

Turkey Mystery

One big trial on the farm is predators. Earlier this year some of our lambs disappeared, so we moved the sheep in closer. Nothing happened for months, then several days ago we noticed that some ducks were missing. The ducks can go all over the farm, so we thought maybe they had wandered too far, and had been eaten. That next week my father went out to milk our goats. As Dad got done milking and went out to feed them some oats, he noticed something strange. A board of the fence was down, and there was a trail of feathers leading down the lane to the weaning pen. Dad followed the trail and found the remains of one of our turkeys. He came into the kitchen to tell us what he had seen, and after breakfast, we went out to investigate.

We examined the fences in the weaning pen to try to find a hole or something. In the farthest left corner, the woven wire was bent up, and there were tracks leading up to the hole. We decided to put a trap there, and also put a snare in the place in the fence by the turkey pen.

A snare is a wire put in a loop. When a predator comes, it goes through the loop, and when it struggles to get away, it gets caught up in the loop. This is what we tried the first night.

We remembered that we had noticed on the nights before, that our dog Gus was doing a lot of barking. Gus, who is four years old and stands only a foot and a half tall, is our main watcher for animals such as skunks, opossums, woodchucks, or any predator.

That next evening, Gus was barking down by the weaning pen. We went down there and found a skunk eating the remains of the turkey. After finding it there, some of the family thought that a skunk had been the attacker. I personally have a hard time believing that a small animal like a skunk dragged and killed a 20 to 25 pound turkey, but it could be possible. I think it was a coyote, though, because they are much bigger and could eat most of the turkey.

There have been no more turkeys missing since we caught that skunk, and nothing else has made its way into the traps. We may catch something still. Another strange thing was that over three days, Gus found three skunks around our place. Some in the family think that maybe they were ganging up on our animals, but we don't know for sure.

Farm Fact: Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be the national bird of the United States, instead of the Bald eagle.

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