Tur­keys in Ch­ester County?

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING -

Ear­lier this month I passed through my home town in Con­necti­cut on my way to a con­fer­ence. My trav­els took me to the town li­brary in Ham­den, where I was star­tled to see two male wild tur­keys roam­ing through the se­nior cit­i­zens hous­ing de­vel­op­ment ad­ja­cent to the li­brary.

Cu­ri­ous, I fol­lowed the pair as they wan­dered about, pok­ing here and there, look­ing for food. I kept a safe dis­tance — the birds were the most enor­mous tur­keys I’ve ever seen, eas­ily three feet tall (hip height on me), male tur­keys have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing “ill-tem­pered” and ag­gres­sive, and I was sure they could run faster than I.

I’ve seen flocks of fe­male wild tur­keys (hens) and their young (poults) be­fore, but this was my first sight­ing of ma­ture toms. Their plumage was sur­pris­ingly beau­ti­ful, glossy feath­ers of rus­set and brown — very au­tum­nal. I could see why Ben­jamin Franklin sug­gested the wild turkey as the em­blem for the United States. But while the hens are diminu­tive and non­threat­en­ing-look­ing, these huge toms looked, well, pre­his­toric, di­nosaur-like, a lit­tle scary.

Call a male turkey a “tom” or a “gob­bler,” it’s still the same na­tive bird: Me­lea­gris gal­lopavo. The bird got its start as a table­top item in 1511, when the Span­ish government or­dered Miguel de Pas­sa­monte, chief trea­surer of the West Indies, to de­liver ten tur­keys — five males and five fe­males — to Seville.

It was in that way that one of our most iconic na­tive birds was named by Euro­peans. As Diana Wells notes in 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names, “In the days when geog­ra­phy was a lit­tle vague, any rare bird im­ported from a far-away place, like Turkey, was called a turkey.”

Ann Lane, Pro­gram Di­rec­tor of the Ch­ester County Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil, sent me a list of turkey farm­ers in our county. They are tak­ing or­ders now for fresh tur­keys for the hol­i­days.

• Can­ter Hill Farm, 2138 Val­ley Hill Road, Malvern (http:// www.can­ter­hill­farm.org/)

• Howe Turkey Farm, 152 Cul­bert­son Run Road, Down­ing­town (http://howe­turkey­farm. com/)

• Wyn­norr Farm, 1631 E Street Road, Glen Mills (http:// strat­tons­farm.net/)

• Loag’s Cor­ner Turkey Farm, 590 N Manor Road, Elver­son. (No web­site, call 610-286-6084.)

Says Lane, “Not only will buy­ing a lo­cally raised turkey keep more of your dol­lar in your com­mu­nity by sup­port­ing a lo­cal busi­ness, but it also means get­ting a fresh bird, not one that’s been sit­ting in a freezer for months. An in­te­gral part of their com­mu­ni­ties, these farm­ers take pride in pro­vid­ing their

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.