Surgery, Pavlov, and Wild Turkeys

My post title just made me think of Rum, Sodomy and The Lash. But I digress.

I’m having outpatient surgery tomorrow morning, and so the past couple of days have been spent preparing for that, while keeping up with my usual chores, so my presence here has been sparse!

I forgot to mention earlier that we had some visitors on Saturday morning – we were eating lunch when our son excitedly pointed out the window and asked what was in our yard.

When we first moved into our home in September of 2008, we saw a very large flock of probably 25 birds on the far south borderline of our property, but we haven’t seen any turkeys since. I’ve certainly heard them in the woods, and I see other flocks within a mile or two of us, but it was nice to finally see them again! This is a really great page with some sound samples of turkey talk, if you are interested in knowing what they sound like.

In other poultry news, our chickens are doing great – they are going through their “gawky teenage years” in terms of growth, but they are coming along fine. We are a little bummed because we have more roosters than we were expecting, but that is the gamble you take when buying straight run, and we accepted those odds. We will be trying to find homes for the extra roosters, but I plan to keep one of the Welsummer boys for our flock. There are two, so I need to decide. Perhaps this one:

He’s quite a looker, don’t you think?

My little Handi-Hen is still getting around, although, I am concerned, because she is not growing much and is only about half the size of the others. I am helping her out whenever I can, by giving her some food off to the side so she doesn’t have to fight for a place on the buffet line. Her favorite spot to hang out is under the little ramp – my husband says he is worried she is becoming bitter and will become a bridge troll. “None shall pass!”

Here’s a fun fact I bet you didn’t know – not unlike humans, amongst chickens, there are jokers who like to dive photos:

I’m counting on Pavlovian Conditioning to work with these birds.  I want to establish a conditioned stimulus with them (like Pavlov’s bell) that will tell them to come to me for a food reward, hoping for the outcome of getting them to come into the coop when I call them. I realize that as it gets dark, they will naturally seek shelter, but if I need to get them inside quickly during the day, perhaps my call will bring forth the desired response from them. So, what is the stimulus, you ask?

I’m whistling the Andy Griffith theme to them. Repeatedly. While offering them food. I don’t know yet if it means they will come when called, but I am hoping that they associate it with food. I can say with certainty, it gets their attention. Everyone comes to a halt, all these little chicken necks stretch upward, eyes turn to study me, and they are silent and calm while I whistle. So either they’re learning, or terrified. They don’t run away from me, so that’s a plus. Here’s hoping it works in the way I envision.

Finally, in goat news, the girls are back on milk replacer with shots of plain yogurt (for probiotics) and a daily dose of Pepto-Bismol. Although, I am backing off of the pink stuff, because they seem to be responding well – I’ve been noticing, well, let’s just be honest, more solidly formed turds. So that’s a good sign that they are adjusting to their diet. They are eating some hay, too, and are at least sniffing around in the grain bucket. When I offer them some, they’d rather have the hay. But it’s progress!

Yesterday my brother came over and helped me pull out the brooder cage from the basement and dump its disgusting contents (the troublemakers had spilled so much water in there, it was useless as compost) into the woods. I need to scrub it clean and put it out into the chicken coop. We have decided – no more raising of poultry in the house. The stench creeps up from the basement, and after my surgery tomorrow, my sense of smell should return, so I’m glad we evicted that cage already!

The sun is shining and our koi pond out front is enticing many of the little wild songbirds in for a splash. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow, but I’ll be keeping myself busy enough today that I won’t have much time to ponder it. If you don’t see activity here over the next couple of days, understand I’m probably in a painkiller haze, but I’ll be back!

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2 responses to “Surgery, Pavlov, and Wild Turkeys”

  1. paulpiziks Avatar

    I love that you have chickens!

    1. Trase Avatar

      They are so much fun, and we can’t wait to have fresh eggs from our own happy hens! 🙂

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