It’s been a long time since we’ve posted a Fowl Friday post, and I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since I last posted anything about the turkeys!  They’ve become such a fixture on the farm, I suppose we’ve rather taken them for granted in recent months.

Last time you saw the turkeys, Jenny’s poults were only 6 weeks old.

“Remember us?!?” Standard heritage bronze poults at six weeks old (click any image to enlarge)

We sold a few of Jenny’s poults, but we still have some of her offspring from last year, including our replacement Tom, a heritage standard bronze, Jake Jr.

What a difference a year makes!

Isn’t he handsome?

“I think I’m better looking than those goats you keep gushing over”

He’s recently finished molting for the season, and his new suit of feathers is quite striking!

Most of his tail feathers have finished growing out since his molt

Jake Jr., otherwise known just as J.J., actually grew to be quite a bit larger than his father, Jake, which surprised all of us…not the least, Jake!

J.J.’s chest feathers are a stunning iridescent bronze

In fact, J.J. got to be to so large by this spring that he decided to take Jake on, and after some fairly nasty fighting between them one morning, we decided our Toms needed, for their own good, to be separated.

Some of his feathers are almost copper-colored

As such, J.J. now has a flock of his own hens, separate from Jake, and they’re left to roam the farm at will. We secure them at night, to keep them safe from predators, but during the day, they go wherever they please, which usually isn’t further than the back deck.

J.J. and his favorite hen, Jennette, on a morning stroll across the deck

Our high prey-drive dog is learning to sit and watch them patiently, although she still occasionally throws her self at the glass door

At first, especially with our predator problems here, it seemed potentially risky to have them running loose, but the alternative was to either sell J.J., or cull him. I really wanted to keep him though, so I was motivated to find a way to make this work.

Not only is J.J. good looking, he’s also much better natured than his father, Jake.  Jake has more of a mean streak, and tends to charge at people.  J.J., though, is much more mellow, and actually quite happy to see people.

“At least I don’t attack you when you walk through the yard”

So far, being a rather formidable bird size-wise, J.J. seems to do just fine roaming loose. Not only is he great at alerting the turkey hens when trouble might be near, and getting everyone to safety, but it turns out he’s also very good at deterring deer.

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have already seen this video that I shot last month when a large buck decided to hang out in the back near the turkey pen.

Usually with the does, and fawns, J.J. just immediately runs them off. The buck was much larger though, so it was interesting to watch as J.J. sized up the competition before chasing the buck out of the yard.

As J.J. has turned out to be so effective at keeping the wild creatures out of the yard, we’ve also recently been occasionally ranging the turkeys with the chickens, and they all seem to get along quite well. As you may recall, the last time we ranged the chickens unsupervised, we lost a hen to a bobcat.

“No need to worry, I’ll protect the hens”

So far though, he seems quite effective at keeping the predators at bay.

One of the consequences of having this free-ranging automatic deer-chaser in the yard, is that for the first time since moving here, our native gooseberry bushes (Ribes californicum) have actually succeeded in ripening fruit this year.

Ripe fruits of our native Hillside Gooseberry (Ribes californicum)

Usually the deer strip the bushes long before the fruit matures, but with J.J. on guard, the deer haven’t touched them!

“It’s about time we got some credit for the work we do around here”

We’ve been scratching our heads for some time as to how to fence the deer out of this part of the yard due to the steepness of the slopes.

“You don’t need a fence, I’ll keep those pesky deer out of the yard”

It turns out we didn’t need more deer fence after all, just a gobbler to guard the garden!