His Majesty, the Turkey
How the young birds, more delicate than babies, are coaxed along to your table
��ON turkey ranches the flocks are managed like sheep. By day they are herded by men on foot and horse- back and by dogs specially trained for the task; at night the flocks are driven home to roost. But the small cultivator of turkeys has discovered a way around the natural roving instinct of the fowl. In order that he may not lose a good portion of his flock, or all of them, through their wandering too far away, he keeps them confined in a lot of about an acre or more, until noon time, when he lets them roam where they will. The reason for this is that turkeys do most of their roaming in the early morning. During the middle of the day they loll about in the shade, starting toward their roosting place as the afternoon wanes.
The inexperienced may find difficulty in locating the nests of the turkey hen, but to the initiated rancher the task is easy. He simply keeps all the hens penned up until late in the afternoon. When they are finally let out, those that are laying will strike out on a run in a bee-line for their hidden nests.
The eggs are gathered daily after the turkeys have gone to roost, so as to pre- vent them from being chilled or stolen. When the hens become broody they are allowed to sit on about eighteen eggs, which hatch out in about twenty-eight days. Then, according to the poulterers, the turkey-raisers' real troubles begin. The young poults are more delicate than babies and require constant care. This means that the youngsters catch cold easily from
���wet feet and from dampness in general.
In the illustration pictured below, a method is shown of housing the nesting turkey hens which minimizes the danger from dampness. The birds are placed in an enclosure as close as possible to the farmer's house, so that they may be easily watched and cared for. The nests are made on well-sanded and preferably slightly sloping ground, under a low shed, each nest being tightly enclosed on three sides and open toward the south. Here the young birds can be given constant over- sight. After the poults have feathered out there is little further trouble with them.
About the first of October, fattening is begun by gradually increasing the evening allowance of grain. Soon afterwards comes the marketing period. This, among the small poulterers, is preceded by a regular turkey-picking bee, similar in social jollifi- cation to the corn-husking bees, famous in song and story.
���Nests made on well sanded, sloping ground under a low shed close to the- farmer's house where the birds can be under constant watch. Each nest is open only on the south