Last week, Hubby called me from the pasture. This is a strange occurrence for two reasons. One, he rarely takes his cell phone. And two, I was on my way out there with the kiddos...we just needed to find that one missing shoe.
But call he did. And he told me to bring the electric fence tester. (The handy-dandy gadget that measures the voltage running through an electric fence.) Usually we don't need it unless there's a problem: like a sheep stuck its head through the fence. That's a pretty good clue we don't have enough "spark". So I asked him "What's going on?"
He said, "We lost some turkeys last night."
My heart stopped.
"Yup. You better get out here."
Rather than enjoying a fun 1/4 mile walk with my kiddos, which usually involves frog watching, flower picking, and lots of chatter, I put them all in the pickup and we drove out.
Upon arrival, I quickly scanned the turkey pen for the carnage. There wasn't any. Just a lot of white feathers. Then I counted, only 17 birds. 17 BIRDS??!! There was supposed to be 24!
Hubby checked the fence. It was running at 4500 volts. And that's a pretty strong spark. It would give you a wake-up call, that's for sure.
We both had the same question: "What kind of predator could take 7 turkeys out of a hot fence and not leave the bodies?"
Raccoons, skunks, and weasels have all made their presence known. We lost three chickens to a raccoon earlier this year. And you can tell the type of predator by the carcass they leave behind. The problem with this day is that there was just one carcass 30 yards from the pen. The head and neck were torn off. And there were all those feathers.
We couldn't figure it out. Our best guess was a large raccoon. Raccoons are strong, very strong. They have drug our field shelters, which weigh a couple hundred pounds. But how did they get over the fence, kill 7 turkeys and get them out of a hot fence?? And these were BIG turkeys! They were two weeks away from butchering and weighed over 20 pounds.
I don't know if you can imagine the disappointment and devastation of seeing over $300 of feathers and one carcass strewn in your pasture.
Or the helpless feeling because you don't know why or how it happened. And therefore there isn't anything you can do about it.
Fast forward to last night...
Our neighbor stopped by. The neighbor who accesses his land through our pasture. He was visiting with Hubby when he happened to mention that he was driving by our pasture last week and he saw a mountain lion. I'll repeat. He saw a MOUNTAIN LION!!!
On one hand, that completely explains how our turkeys died. And why the chickens weren't touched.
On the other hand, IT'S A MOUNTAIN LION!!!
And we're surrounded by tall corn, perfect hiding cover for mountain lions. Our kids have been given (and they have obeyed) strict instructions to never go into the corn. But now we have to keep a strict eye on them and keep them right next to us. Because they help with chores: gather eggs, carry empty buckets, move feeders and waterers, etc. they often move ahead or run back to complete their task. No more.
And, because it's a MOUNTAIN LION, even our large animals are not safe. Our goats, sheep, pigs and heifer! Good grief. As if we didn't have enough to worry about, now we've got to watch out for big cats...
Now I've got to make the calls every farmer hates to make. The ones to our customers who ordered those turkeys and tell them the bad news. There will be no Morning Joy Farm pastured turkey on their table this Thanksgiving.