Rough day on the 'stead yesterday. After finally getting a grumpy, over-tired 2-year old to actually stay in bed, I was desperately trying to catch up on my chores when I noticed a lump in the front yard. Hmmmm... it looks like that lump has feathers. Closer inspection revealed it to be a half eaten turkey.
We've been day ranging the turkeys in the back yard. The plan is to day range them in the pasture but I didn't want to throw them out there until they were used to the drill. I set up some baby gates around the door of the pen so they had more space where they wouldn't get bothered by the dog, but they usually chose to just fly over and roam. And Angel (the dog) would chase some, but not too badly unless they strayed really far from the pen. She's a fast dog so if her desire were to catch, she'd have no problem whatsoever. In the evening, they come home to roost, we lock them up and they are safe.
Yesterday morning while working in farmer girl's "pretty patch" we noticed a turkey straying all the way into the front yard. I took it back once and not too long later it was back, assuming it was the same bird. Angel was chasing it, I caught it again and again returned it to the secure area. Late afternoon, upon discovering the half eaten turkey, I ran to the back to see if the others were safe. I counted 7 (where there were 10), locked them in the pen and went hunting for the others. I soon found another one in the woods towards the front, alive and well, and another barely alive. I locked up the good one with the others and transferred the injured one to the dog crate. It appeared as though her leg were broken or maybe she was spraddle legged. I put a call into a bird rescue place to see if they could talk me through saving her. Meanwhile I'm trying to decipher what took place. I was home the whole time. Inside and busy but I would have thought I would have heard Angel barking if an unwelcome animal were visiting. I had no other option but to deduce that Angel must have killed the turkey.
I decided to follow the folk wisdom... tie the dead bird around the dog's neck for a couple days. I took the half eaten bird by the remaining foot and Angel immediately pulled against me by the wing, staking her claim. I then had little doubt that Angel was the culprit. I tied it to her and went back to the injured one which I then found dead also.
The bird rescue lady said the deaths were likely caused from stress. The story I'm spinning is that the birds strayed to the front yard, Angel chased them incessantly to get them to the back (she doesn't bark unless there's an unwelcomed animal around), the one died from stress and, being dead, Angel decided it was a meal. The second one was still alive which is why Angel probably didn't go ahead and start munching on that one too. Either that or she was full.
Later that evening we were debating about how to protect Angel from critters wanting the rotting meat- she's just not a fighter. She's an alarm, a scary alarm, so animals don't challenge her, but if something vicious were to decide she had what they wanted, I don't think she would fight at all. Anyway, that dilemma was solved as we noticed that she had eaten the rest of the bird though I thought I had tied it high enough to disable her from reaching it. We had already disposed of the other bird. This morning she merely reeked of rotting meat and has likely not learned her lesson. So she's spent most of today in the 6'x8' kennel. Tomorrow she'll have her usual reign, but I'm certainly not letting her around the turkeys again. She'll have to be kept tight until the turkeys are ready for the pasture... or should I say the turkey PEN is ready for pasture. I need to wrap the pen in barb wire to prevent the goats from rubbing against it and destroying it. Then I think they'll be fine to set out. Still a bit nervous about it, but given that they even come "home" when it starts to rain, I think they should be ok.