Turkey Turbine

The Cessna, just before shutting down, that has the turkeys aboard

Turkey Turbine . . . .not Turkey Time. Turkey week came early for us this year, but not in the way of eating them. We got turkeys flown in on a turbine Cessna Caravan, to add to the homestead. It’s not the strangest thing that has ever been brought back on an MAF plane (the mission that we are with, in case you were wondering) but it does seem rather special during the month of November with Thanksgiving just around the corner.

The two pilots who brought back our turkeys, Joel and Jon.

A couple weeks ago another pilot, Dave Jacobsson, asked if anyone else would be interested in ordering some live turkeys for Thanksgiving because he had an idea of where we could get some from. Dave and I had already planned on finding turkeys somewhere and raising them so we would be able to have Turkey on future Holidays, so we jumped at the chance to put our order in for several birds.

We ordered three Toms (males) and two hens (females) with the idea of having one or two for Holidays this year and keeping the females and one male for breeding. Now I’ve raised chickens almost my entire life but never turkeys so I knew this would be an adventure. I also happen to LOVE a good roasted turkey for a celebration or Holiday so I was really excited and looking forward to getting the turkeys.

How did we get the turkeys? They were flown in on one of MAF’s PT-6 Cessna Caravans (these have a turbine engine in case you didn’t get the phrase “Turkey Turbine”) and arrived here in Nyankunde on Tuesday. The turkeys came from another village and other than the number of which sex, we really had no idea what we would be getting.

The birds inside the pot with their legs bound

The birds had their legs tied and were laid inside the cargo pod on the bottom of the plane for transport. They were a little hot inside the pod and one had come loose during transportation, but otherwise they were all in good shape and were much larger than I had expected! Dave Jacobsson helped unload all of them so we could take a look and he could select which large Tom he wanted to take back to his place for Thanksgiving next week.


The turkeys were surprisingly large! Good thing we hadn’t ordered too many or we may have maxed out the weight for the pod – just kidding!
Dave Jacobsson helping to unload the turkeys
More turkeys coming out of the pod



The turkeys with their legs still bound, inside our chicken run

Once Dave had picked out his bird, I and a couple other guys helped carry the rest of the turkeys to our place and put them in our chicken pen. We are working on a separate pen for the turkeys but it isn’t quite finished yet. Hopefully by the end of the weekend it will be close enough that we can move them over into their own side.


One of the large Toms with his legs bound right after transport


The turkeys all recovered nicely and have made themselves at home. One of the large Toms in particular has a slight tendency to get too close and to wants to be aggressive when you enter the pen but we are teaching him some manners. Yesterday he seemed to be more at ease with my presence but it is a work in progress. I don’t think they have had any handling really at all.

IMG_9777 The two large Toms, who started displaying and attempting to impress right away, also decided that my rooster was unacceptable and decided to gang up on him. I’ve been removing him from the pen and putting him back into the house at night right now, just until we get the turkeys moved to their own pen. He isn’t happy about being away from his hens but it’s better than getting beat up.

One of the large males displaying


IMG_9774The first morning after we got them I heard the females chirping and it brought such a nostalgic happiness to my heart; it surprised me. Every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas (and at other times too) we would be up at my Grandparent’s place in Washington State. Early in the morning when there is still some fog around the mountains and dew on the grass the wild turkeys would be out foraging and making their soft chirps. You would wake up to their calls in the morning and see them all around as the sun was rising over the beautiful mountains covered with pine trees. Their chirps and calls embody a small piece of home and Christmas morning with family for me. I hadn’t realized that before we had them here. It continues to bring a smile to my face every morning that I wake up to that sound.


So this Thanksgiving, and maybe Christmas, enjoy your turkeys; regardless if you drove to the store for yours or they were flown in on an airplane, give thanks for them and have a Great Thanksgiving.

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