A turkey in the laundry room

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A turkey in the laundry room

Category : Poultry , Turkeys

[Originally posted March 10, 2014 at caitlinpatton.com/blog]

On Saturday afternoon, I had to go to a concert two hours away as part of my duties as a music panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and I really enjoyed myself, driving through the sunshine and thinking of farm names.

That is, I enjoyed myself until Richard called with the news that our turkey hen was deathly ill. She had seemed essentially normal when I herded her, with the other, back into their pen around 4pm.  But when Richard went out at 5:30 to close the coop for the night, he found her lying on the floor, gasping for breath and unable to hold up her head. He fended off the gander (who wanted to attack him) and the tom turkey (who was taking advantage of the hen), put her into a large dog crate and brought her into the laundry room.

Poor turkey looked like she was on death's door.

Panic ensued as he tried to reach a vet who would treat a turkey, and I tried to find relevant information online, googling things like “sick turkey,” and “turkey can’t breathe” on my phone while shoveling in a solitary dinner of Vietnamese fried rice. Eventually I suggested that Richard had done all he could – he had been offering her water by hand, and she drank quite a bit and seemed a little more comfortable – and that he should leave her in peace and get some rest.

I went to the concert, which I tried to enjoy despite my concern about our lovely turkey, and got home around 11:30pm to find that she was lying down but alert – with her head erect! – in her crate. I have gave her some food and water, took care of the other animals, and went to bed…

…Only to wake up too early Sunday morning, wondering what I would find in the laundry room. She was standing up in her crate! Not long after I came downstairs, she walked out of her crate (knocking over her water, of course) and walked around the laundry room, pooping copiously on the floor.

She's standing!

photo 2

Since she seemed so much better, she spent the day outside in our secondary poultry pen, which is next to the main pen but separated by a fence.  She seemed happy to be near her own kind; when I set her crate down in the pen she immediately walked out and began making turkey sounds. She had been so silent in the house, and we were relieved to hear her dulcet tones.

We brought her back inside on Sunday night. She ate and drank ravenously from the dishes I held up for her before I went to bed, and seemed even better this morning. She once again spent the day in the secondary pen, but seemed to be longing to be back in with the other poultry. At dusk today, when the rest of the flock roosted, we allowed her to go into the coop and roost next to the tom turkey. They seemed content. In the morning I will separate her again for the day, to ensure that she can continue to rest and recover, but at least for tonight there is no turkey in my laundry room.

This last photo is not related to the turkey saga, but too cute not to share. On Saturday afternoon the first of the chicks learned how to fly up to the lip of their water trough brooder. We quickly added some hardware cloth on top of the brooder to keep them from walking around the living room!


About Author


Double Forte Farm is a small farm located in Galena, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We raise heritage chickens, turkeys and geese. Delaware, Welsummer and Olive Egger chicks will be available in spring 2015, as well as Chocolate and Bourbon Red turkey poults. We are taking orders now for chicks and poults for next spring. We are also establishing a breeding group of Pilgrim geese.