Recently, I have encountered a problem with the wild Turkeys coming around my bird feeders. My knee-jerk reaction was that this is a big problem. I didn’t want the turkeys and squirrels constantly emptying the bird feeders as it can start to get expensive. As I contemplated solutions to the problem, some of which were probably less than legal; I decided to take the permaculture approach to my problem.
I started by observing the wild turkeys in action. I noted that they were not actually bothering the feeder itself. Instead, they were picking up what the smaller birds were dropping around the feeder. I decided that wasn’t actually a problem. Next, I noticed that they were in and around my young fruittrees, but they did not bother them. Okay, no tree damage, no problem there. Then I noticed something else; they are crapping on the snow!
The proverbial light bulb moment hit me. I am always bringing in manure for garden beds and compost and what not. But, the turkeys are willing to leave it here for a few pennies worth of seed. So I have an area where I plan to plant some fruit trees in the spring. Why not sparsely spread some seed over the crusty snow in this area. Then the turkeys will come in and take their time to eat the seeds and crap all over the area while they are there. Win, win situation!
This situation has shown me the importance of how a perceived problem may actually be a solution for something else. Never act hastily in the moment and take some time to make observations and come up with solutions that adhere to the ethics.
I have lots of feral turkeys in my area, and at times they work my farm, wandering through daily. At first I was annoyed, since they will eat the peas right out through the sides of the pods. They also like to top the young onion plants and nibble greens. After harvesting a particular annoying one for turkey tacos, I discovered that it's crop was full of slugs. Slugs!!! The crop contents was over half slugs, with the other half mostly weed and grass seeds plus a few green leafy stuff. While turkeys did indeed eat some of my garden, their primary target was slugs. Wow, I thought, that's great.
I modified my gardens to turkey-proof the crops I wanted to protect. The peas get lightweight row cover atop them when the pods start forming. The young onions (turkeys don't bother the larger plants) and Chinese greens get grown under lightweight movable hoops covered with bird netting.
My problem turkeys have turned out to be slug eating assets. Who would have guessed?
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
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