Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chez Dolly, Or The Problem of Turkey Housing

We are having serious issues of turkey mechanics. Dolly Madison cannot get in or out of the hen room of the barn by herself because the door jamb is about three feet off the ground, she weighs maybe 45 pounds, and her wings are about 6 inches long and molting anyway. The barn foundation is concrete, with nowhere to mount a ramp. Dolly has grown accustomed to being put in and taken out each day, which involves me bracing myself, lifting with my legs and giving her a boost onto the jamb, where she poises herself and then jumps to the other side. Going into the barn, this is fine because the drop is only 18 inches. Going out, she invariably lands on her feet in the barnyard and then flips ars over tea kettle from the sheer momentum of her giant bulk striking the earth. It’s only a matter of time before she gets hurt.

I was hoping Dolly could sleep in the sheep room (next door to the hen room) because it is at ground level. But the sheep harass her and will not let her stay in there. I tried the old dog house, which is just the right size for a turkey shed, but she’s a little too wide for the doorway. Next I am going to call my mother in law and ask whether they have any calf hutches that are so banged up they can’t keep calves in them any more. If we can keep the sheep out, that might work—sheep are pushier than you might think. Otherwise I am going to have to build a mini-shed-roof off the side of the barn above the spot where Dolly sleeps on the ground when I don’t put her in the barn manually, just codifying what is already the de facto turkey bed.

Farming is just an endless series of making things up and trying to string together a solution out of a pile of assorted doohickeys lying around the yard. If I didn’t have the family’s native engineering impulse, I would hate it.