Tuesday 21 April 2015

Tom and Barbara

Tom and Barbara in our woods.
It was almost inevitable. Great fans of "The Good Life" and frequently 'accused' by our friends of being like the Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal characters, it is no surprise that we have named the turkeys "Tom and Barbara". Ahhhh Felicity Kendal.... be still my beating heart. I was one of those (millions) of blokes who sat glued to the TV watching her every move and was very fed up when she went on to star in 'Solo' where she actually had a boyfriend. No, Felicity! You can't do that! You mustn't! Ah well, teenage dreams (I was 18).

Handsome chap.
This isn't so much as a post, more a chance to flash up a few better pictures of the new turkeys now that they are out in our beautiful April sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, wall to wall azure. The pair spent the first daytime shut into the middle section of the goose house where they could relax and recover, and then yestereday I built them an 8 foot square pen just outside the door, so that they could spend the day familiarizing themselves with the sights and sounds of our yard and the comings and goings of me and all the other livestock.

She may go off lay after the move but she must have  still
had one 'up the pipe' for us. 
The plan here is that they don't bolt out of their crates when you first arrive and vanish off across the fields in unfamiliar territory, never learning what 'home' should now look like. On day three (today), I make sure I have a quiet day when I can be around all day and I let them out to explore, establish that they are happy and likely to stay, and then just keep a watchful eye on them while they find their way about.

A turkey egg for comparison.
It has gone well and it has been enjoyable as well as interesting, learning what they are about as they learn our ways here.  Tom, it seems, is a very show-off-y lad given to displaying at every opportunity. He does it if he sees me, or either cockerel, or even if Barbara wanders over. Amusingly, he and Min, our Guinea hen also seem to have taken a shine to one another, I guess she's on the look out for a male of roughly the right shape, and he's got an eye for the ladies.

That swarm box all varnished up.
He puffs up all his facial bits - the blue skin of his head and neck blister up with scarlet lumps (this is his caruncle), his snood (the retractable but long dangly 'nose' bit above his beak) and the wattle (big, bright red flap on the front of his throat which ends in big red lobes at (roughly) the collar-bone. His tail stands erect and fans out like a shorter peacock tail, his wings drop and scuff hard along the ground sounding like a cardboard box being dragged. His puts his head back against his shoulders and gives loud, bassy "chuff" coughs which seem to vibrate the very floor. He throws his head forward, his snood waggling as he 'gobble-gobble's and the feathers all over his chest and all along his back stand up so that his body looks enormous.

He also seems to be a bit of a 'male chauvinist pig', or maybe Barbara is just more cautious. I let them out at 20 past 8 this morning but only he came out. Barbara remained on the perch in the house making pathetic wheedling noises identical to those made by our older bitch 'Deefer' when she wants help being lifted onto a high chair. He was quite happy, strolling about, exploring, displaying to one and all, meeting all the chickens, cats, geese and so on in the bright, warm sunshine. I don't know if he'd told her to stay put while he made sure it was safe, but this was till going on at 11 a.m. when I decided enough was enough. If she didn't get some sun and air today she'd be left out. I tried to tempt her down with some food on the ground, but then just picked her up (she made no protest)  and carried her out of the door where she could see him. The pair have now spent the afternoon together and seem quite happy.

One of last year's Buff Orpingtons - all
growed up. 
The lady who sold them to us explained that come evening they may not naturally make their way home to roost, so I might have to shepherd them home the way I do the geese. I am told that she will go first and he will try to keep his body between me and his wife to protect her. He will also not want to take his eye off me as we move in case I try anything sneaky, so he will try to walk sidways or backwards home. Could be fun.

And tonight's the night. My good lady, the lovely Lizzie comes home to me on the 8 o'clock train after her ten day stint of minding Mr 'Steak Lady' as his own good wife returns from the Malta sunshine. The sun is 'splitting the stones' (they say here), the sky blue and cloudless, so she may wonder why she needed to go to Malta but they are a gang of Bridge players and they always have a whale of a time. This was Malta, past ones have been to Egypt and to North Africa. She jokingly calls them "SKI" holidays. Not the snow and zooming downhill on planks, you understand.... the SKI stands for "spending the kids' inheritance". Go the Steak Lady!

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