The Turkeys and the Owl

Reader Contribution by Alethea Wilcox
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A while back a friend gifted our family four Gray Slate turkeys. My children were very excited about the turkeys. The three of them jumped at the opportunity to each pick out their own turkey. The purpose of the turkeys was to allow them to breed and hatch eggs. Not only would this give the children the experience of taking care of the turkeys, they would be able to see the birds grow as well.  

I really don’t know a lot about turkeys. My husband and I set the turkeys up in our chicken run. We were working on building a run and coop just for the turkeys. I figured the turkeys would be safe for the time being. You can never predict when something will go wrong.

I was startled awake early – around 6:15 – the next morning because I heard a loud ruckus from both the chickens and the turkeys. I could hear my son, Wyatt, yelling outside. I ran out and saw Wyatt waving around a rake at something large in the corner of the chicken run. He had dragged the dog crate in the coop and put the turkeys in the crate. Wyatt was standing between the turkeys and a very large owl. I was a little shocked that Wyatt had acted so fast and figured out how to keep the turkeys safe from the owl.

The owl had destroyed one of the turkeys – ripping its wings off, its head and eating the body. It’s always devastating to lose an animal … especially to a predator. You can’t really gloss over farm life … sometimes life’s lessons are a little hard to understand. Owls are predators … they will do whatever it takes to grab a meal. They are NOT the cute little fluffy animals you see on baby quilts and in bedtime stories. Don’t get me wrong … owls are very beautiful birds, but they are deadly.

Unfortunately this owl had done its damage and was hissing and flying around my head. Wyatt dragged the dog kennel out of the run and was standing outside watching. We managed to safely remove the owl and figure out how the owl got into the run.

The owl had snuck in through a loose slat in the roof. Not an easy spot to see and it needed to be fixed. So my husband and I worked on fixing the slat in the roof and hopefully prevent the loss of anymore turkeys. The odd thing about the owl is the fact that we have lots of loose chickens running around. I have no idea why the owl went after something in a coop versus a loose hen running around free. Maybe it was just a moment of opportunity?

It wasn’t the best way to start a morning on the farm … and even worse morning for our lost turkey. Farm life and homesteading, while a blessing, can occasionally have its disappointing moments. Nature sometimes has other plans then we intend. It was sad to lose a turkey but sometimes things are out of our control. It was an interesting lesson for our family – nature sometimes doesn’t cooperate and things can go wrong. What makes a difference is HOW you handle it.

We were sad .. .yes. Did we expect it? No. Did we take measures to prevent it in the future? Yes. We as a family can learn from both the good and the bad. That’s just farm life and homesteading. Pure and simple.

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