Nobel Prize for Farming

No, they don’t award a Nobel Prize for farming. Not yet, anyway. But when I heard the winner of another Nobel announced on the radio this morning, it reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to post.

Last year, a professor at my alma mater won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. When I was on campus last October for my 25th reunion, the school had hung banners trumpeting the big news. Then, during a break in the football game on that Saturday, they made a special announcement and presentation honoring the professor. It was really cool, particularly when the stadium cheered as loudly as it would for a clutch touchdown.

Earlier this spring, our alumni magazine published a lengthy feature article about the professor, J. Fraser Stoddart. I didn’t understand much of the technical aspects of his contributions to the field, but still found them fascinating.

What particularly jumped out for me, though, were the details about his life, growing up on a farm in post-WWII Scotland. Please forgive the length excerpt; I’m pasting it all (with some emphasis added), because it’s definitely worth reading in full:

Stoddart’s father caught the farming bug as a child, and after graduating from college in Glasgow, he became the manager of two farms owned by the University of Edinburgh.

Six months after Fraser was born in 1942, his parents decided to take on the tenancy of a 365-acre farm on the Rosebery Estate in Midlothian, about 12 miles south of Edinburgh.

As an only child, Stoddart helped his parents with chores from before sunup to well after sundown. There were dairy cows, cattle, “sheep of all different complexions” and hundreds of free-range chickens to care for. The family also grew everything from root crops to grain. And Stoddart was solely responsible for the fruit and vegetable garden.

With the arrival of the tractor and the car on the farm, he soon learned to take the simple and inefficient engines apart and put them back together.

“I had that wonderful time to watch a very big and fast change in technology up close,” says Stoddart. “So in literally 20 years we went from a horse-and-cart situation to combine harvesters with everything in between.

“The farm was very important to my training because it was multitasking on quite a large scale, particularly at high points of the year, such as March, when we were lambing, or in August and September, when we were bringing in the grain crops.”

In a letter to his daughter Fiona (excerpted below), Stoddart wrote of the significance of growing up on the farm and how it taught him discipline, resilience, resourcefulness and the nurturing of creatures great and small:

“I was present at lambings and calvings from quite a young age and was soon helping by myself to aid and abet the entry of lambs and calves into the world, particularly when it became a matter of life or death and the available work force was stretched to its limits and often close to exhaustion if the weather, as was often the case in that part of the world, decided to have its worst possible say. Wet snow was a killer, and very often newborn lambs had to be brought ’round from death’s door in the bottom oven of the Rayburn cooker in the farmhouse kitchen, while being fed hot cow’s milk laced with whisky! More often than not the lambs that survived this near-death experience were rejected by their mothers, and so the army of pet lambs that had to be fed by hand from bottles of milk four times a day grew to debilitating proportions. 

“During my professional lifetime as an academic, teaching and doing scientific research in eight universities on three different continents, I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that I learnt a lot more during my first 25 years on the farm than I have at all the universities combined over the past 52 years.

“Indeed, any modest successes I have reaped thereafter can be traced back to the University of Life in the Lothians of Scotland in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s as the country recovered gradually, under rationing in the beginning, from the devastation wrought by the Second World War.”

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The tenant farmhouse where Fraser Stoddart grew up, on the Rosebery Estate in the council area of Midlothian, Scotland.

We’ve found Professor Stoddart’s words to be as true for us today as they were for his own life. A farm is a wonderful first school, and an incomparable one, for coming of age.

Important lessons come not just from the hard work, or the discipline of having to get up early for chores. Or learning that death is an entirely normal part of the cycle of life.

Among the biggest lessons is that on a farm, there are some tasks that simply cannot be put off and must be done now. If rain is threatening, the hay must be brought into the barn. Doesn’t matter how hot the weather, or how heavy those bales are. Goats must be milked twice a day. Period. Somebody has to do it. It doesn’t matter how late the family got home from celebrating Christmas, or from that dinner at a friend’s place. Those goats cannot wait for the morning. The shivering little goat kid, or lamb, that the mother isn’t attending to (or that is having a tough time for some other reason) must be brought inside and warmed up. And fed, somehow. Now. And those other “bummer” lambs and goat kids? They must be fed a certain number of times per day, too.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the two oldest Yeoman Farm Children are now carrying these lessons over to college. Neither of them hesitates about putting in whatever hours are needed for study, and both are proving extremely diligent about getting their projects finished ahead of the deadlines — while continuing to pitch in a great deal here at home.

I don’t have any expectations of the Yeoman Farm Children growing up and winning Nobel prizes, but I am confident that no matter what the five of them do with their lives … they will be more successful at it for having grown up on a farm.

 

Flying

Early on a spectacularly sunny Friday morning in July of 1991, I steered onto eastbound I-90 and officially put Seattle in my rear view mirror. My heart raced, and I think I let out a little whoop.

The whole thing still seemed unreal. My first real car, the trunk jammed to the gills with all my worldly possessions (including my just-minted college diploma), a couple of pillows on the back seat (so I could just pull over and sleep at rest stops), a Rand McNally atlas spread out on the seat next to me, and 2,300 miles of open roadway ahead to my first real job, in suburban Detroit.

And all across the country, as radio stations faded to static and I rolled the dial to find new ones, one song played more than any other: Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly, one of the biggest hits of the summer. I loved the tune, and every one of the lyrics seemed to resonate with the enormous leap I was taking into adult life.

To this day, Learning to Fly is one of the few songs that always makes me stop scanning on the car stereo. From the opening chords, it never fails to take me back to that sunny July weekend when I watched the whole country roll by. As the music swells, my mind fills with the breathtaking view cresting Lookout Pass into Montana (the moment I finally understood why they call it “Big Sky Country”). With the lyrics and chord progressions, all my hopes and dreams return in a flood, blurring into the memories of Wyoming and South Dakota landscapes. I’m back in that magical weekend, when all of life was still open ahead of me. That magical weekend, when no dream seemed impossible.

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So, as I raise a glass and mourn the passing of the great Tom Petty, you know which song will be looped on my Spotify account tonight.

Boys Get to Do it, Too

A friend recently shared the story of how much her first-grade son enjoys ballet, despite ballet being predominantly a girls’ activity.

For the next year and a half, he talked relentlessly about the day he would take dance classes. (We don’t let the kids start extracurricular activities until First Grade, and we limit them to one at a time.) When other boys talked about the sports that they played, he would say “I do ballet” long before he set foot in his first class.

His dad wasn’t sure of the wisdom in having his son dance when we live in a place where competitive sports are an integral part of the definition of what it means to be a boy. Our son held firm, “Yeah, but I’m a boy, and I do ballet.”

On the first day of class, he grabbed my hand and dragged me from the car to the studio. He was the only boy in his class, and the girls gave him a few uncertain looks. A few of them asked out loud why there was a boy in their girl class.

“It’s not a girl class,” he told them. “It’s ballet, and boys get to do it too.”

How awesome is that? He (and, especially, the other boys his age) may not realize it yet, but the men who do ballet are among the greatest athletes out there. Ballet is a serious cardiovascular workout. And not only do they need strong leg muscles for dancing … the men also need to be able to lift and carry the ballerinas.  And they need to remain graceful in their movements the whole while. None of that is easy.

I never got bitten by the ballet bug when I was a kid. My sister did ballet for a time, and I don’t remember many boys (if any) in her class. I know ballet never appealed to me personally, and I remember being bored out of my mind having to sit through a performance of The Nutcracker one year at Christmastime.

However, my friend’s son’s story did bring back memories of something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. In junior high, I really got into a different “girl” activity: sewing. We got a brief introduction to sewing in the home economics course that everyone had to take in seventh or eighth grade. In the Home-Ec classroom, along with all the cooking and kitchen equipment, our school also had a bunch of nice sewing machines. We learned the basics about needles and threads, and how a sewing machine worked. I remember a lot of the boys grumbling about having to take Home-Ec, but I loved and looked forward to it for the same reason I looked forward to Industrial Arts (“Shop Class”): it was a wonderful break from the academic grind of the rest of the day. It was an opportunity to put the books away, and get my hands busy making something. Whether that “something” was made of wood, or made of cloth, or made of flour … it didn’t matter. I thought it was fun.

Which brings us back to sewing. I guess I never wrote sewing off as being “for girls,” because growing up I saw plenty of examples of men who were comfortable around a sewing machine. My father ran a men’s clothing store, and got lots of practice with minor alterations and repairs. Of course, most alterations (say, when a person is getting a suit fitted and hemmed) were sent out to a tailor. My summer job one year (when I was twelve) included literally running garments back and forth across downtown Seattle, to and from the tailor my dad used. He was an older Filipino guy, working out of a small office, and could do amazing things with a needle and thread.

So, in Home-Ec, I was excited to learn how to operate a sewing machine myself. I was a boy, and I loved machines. And making things. I wasn’t especially talented, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much, when ninth grade rolled around and I had an elective slot open on my schedule … I registered for “Sewing for Pleasure.” To my complete un-surprise, I discovered on the first day that I was the O-N-L-Y boy in the class. (A few weeks later, a second boy joined us — but only because he was a transfer student, and every other elective that would work with his schedule was already full.) As you might imagine, I had to endure a fair amount of ribbing from other boys. (“How’s your sooooooo-ing class going?”) I quickly settled on a stock response, which tended to silence the ribbers: “Hey! It’s a GREAT way to meet girls!” (My dad laughed heartily when I told him this.)

Meeting girls aside, I actually had a practical reason for taking the class. This was the fall of 1983, and I was starting to get very serious about long distance bicycling. I’d recently built my first real road bike (salvaged from a police auction, and then repainted and pieced together), and done a big weekend tour that summer with a friend. I’d even begun dreaming about doing my first Seattle to Portland ride the next June. The key accessory I lacked, and wanted, was a handlebar bag. That would allow me to keep lots of stuff close at hand — plus, with a clear plastic slot on the top, I could read maps or route guides as I rode. No more fishing the map from my pocket, trying to figure out when the next turn was coming.

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What a modern, professionally-made handlebar bag looks like

Problem is, I had virtually no money available to accessorize my bike. I’d invested all my savings (fueled by a paper route and collecting aluminum cans) in building the bike itself. The Cannondale handlebar bag I wanted was way beyond my budget. Then, while reading Bicycling magazine, I stumbled across a small ad from a company that sold patterns so you could sew your own bike bags. In a flash, I saw the way to get my handlebar bag: make my own! I ordered the pattern, and from the first day I walked into class I knew what my final project would be. Every technique I studied and mastered, I kept the ultimate goal in mind: my handlebar bag.

So, as class progressed, and all the girls were making fancy dresses or whatever … I plugged away on my handlebar bag. My mother shuttled me to the fabric store (where I was always the only boy who was there voluntarily), as I searched out just the right materials. (Getting the right length zipper was especially tricky, as was figuring out how to do the plastic map pouch.) My dad helped me cut a piece of sheet metal to serve as the internal frame; figuring out how to sew that in was pretty interesting.

I ended up getting an A in the course, but I got something else that was even more important: a handlebar bag that I’d crafted myself. It was far from the lightest, and far from the most nicely finished. But it was durable. Large. Got the job done. And, most critically, it was mine. Every time I took it on a big ride (and I did use it on my first STP that June), I thought about how I’d sourced all the materials and put the thing together. As easy as it would’ve been for my parents to have just given me a handlebar bag for Christmas, I’m grateful that they didn’t. Having gone through the process of making it myself made it so much more special.

Once the project was complete, I largely lost interest in sewing. Bicycling was consuming more and more of my time and interest, and my folks didn’t have a sewing machine at home I could use anyway.

Still, I never forgot the basics. Ten years after taking that class, I was flying somewhere on a business trip. Sitting there on the airplane, I realized I’d lost a button from the cuff of my dress shirt. Once we landed, I’d be going straight to the client meeting. There would be no time to fix the button. I flagged down a flight attendant, and asked her if by chance there was a sewing kit on the airplane. She said there wasn’t one officially, but she had a small kit (with a few needles, and lengths of thread in various colors) in her personal bag. “Do you know how to use it?” she asked, clearly trying to hide her surprise. I hadn’t thought about it, but I was probably the first young-twenty-something male she’d met who knew how to sew.

Absolutely, I replied. She returned a moment later with the kit, amused. I sourced a spare button from the bottom of my shirt, and threaded up a needle. However, I quickly realized the repair would be a lot easier if I wasn’t wearing the shirt. It’s hard to hold a cuff button in place when your hand is sticking out of that cuff. I slipped into the lavatory, put the toilet lid down, took off my shirt, and sat down to work. Within a few minutes, the button was secure. I put the shirt back on, and returned to my seat with a big smile on my face. The next time the flight attendant came by, I showed off my cuff triumphantly. I thanked her, and returned the sewing kit. I made a mental note to snag one of those kits the next time I saw one at a hotel, and to never leave home again without one.

So, whether it’s ballet or sewing (or something else), don’t be afraid to let your son do something he enjoys — even if he’s the O-N-L-Y boy in the room. Anyone who might make fun of him just needs to get over it. He’s not weird, and he’s not a sissy. He might just be picking up a valuable skill. And he’s definitely learning how to stick with something he loves, no matter what the rest of the world might think.

Head Count

It was chaos in the sheep area when I went out to close it up for the night. Of the eight lambs we’ve had born so far, six are almost entirely black and a seventh is mostly black. Only one is mostly white. All the black lambs are about the same age and size. The challenge is trying to get an accurate head count while all these little guys are swarming and weaving in and out among the various adults.

Over and over I counted, and I kept coming up with seven. I could’ve sworn we’d had eight lambs born so far, but it’s becoming a blur. Maybe it was only seven. Or was it eight? As I secured the barn, I began composing an update to the previous blog post in my head. It was going to start out, “Okay. So, I can’t add.”

But what if I was wrong about being wrong? What if it really was eight? Why was I only coming up with seven? I stopped, stepped away from the chaos, and calmly reviewed what I knew to be true. Conundrum, Bianca and Maybelle each had a single. Three. Licorice had triplets. Six. And we had twins born today. Eight. Eight. But I can only find seven lambs!

I jogged into the house and retrieved my big pistol grip spotlight. (As noted last summer, this is a truly essential tool when living in the country.) I ran back to the fenced-in area outside the sheep area, and swept the spotlight across the whole thing.

And, within seconds, I spotted him. Number Eight. He was pure black, and had curled up in an old rubber feed bowl for the night. I never would’ve seen him with just the light coming from the barn. As I lit him up, he lifted his head and looked at me, but didn’t make a sound. It took just a few more seconds to run to him, lift him into my arms, and carry him back around to barn’s main entrance (I’d of course already secured the sheep door from the inside).

And that was that. The parable of the Lost Sheep, come to life. Lots to think about and contemplate; even if I might sometimes lose count and get confused from time to time, the Good Shepherd never will. And that Good Shepherd is infinitely more concerned about my welfare and security, and is prepared to go much farther to bring me back to safety, than I ever could for a member of my own little flock.

What Are You Prepared to DO?

That’s one of my favorite lines, delivered by the Sean Connery character in a pivotal scene from The Untouchables. It’s a question that every aspiring farmer ought to ask him or herself, especially before taking the responsibility for livestock — and one that I didn’t really ask myself until much later, only when I had to.

To paraphrase: “You said you wanted to get goats. Do you really want to get them? You see what I’m saying? What are you prepared to do? […] You must be prepared to go all the way.”

This morning, I had to make a gut-wrenching decision that no person with a heart wants to make: whether a struggling goat kid can really be brought to a position where he can thrive…or only, at best, be consigned to a lifetime of miserable survival at the margins. And if the judgment is the latter…well, what are you prepared to DO then?

As you may have gathered from the text and photo in yesterday’s post, one of the twin goat kids Queen Anne’s Lace gave birth to was very iffy. He was certainly in better shape than some kids we’ve had born, and we did get him put on a teat to suckle (some kids won’t even do that), but he still had one very big problem: he could barely stand, and couldn’t take two steps without his front legs buckling and falling to his knees. When we put him on a teat to nurse, he sprawled his rear legs behind him. One of us had to hold Mother Goat, while the other one held the goat kid on his feet.

We made sure he got a good meal last night. We owed him that, if he was to have any shot at gaining strength. But this morning, it became more clear that it wasn’t an issue of strength. There was something seriously wrong with his front legs, and milk wasn’t going to cure that. He hadn’t gotten up all night, even though we left the lights on and the other five kids in the pen were romping around with each other; at 7am, he was still exactly where we’d left him at 10pm.

Homeschooled Farm Girl helped me put him back on a teat, but he still couldn’t keep himself erect. We stood him up, and he kept toppling forward. Critically, even his mother seemed to know there was something seriously wrong with him: she would stand still for his twin brother to nurse, but grew increasingly agitated and tried to run away every time we reconnected the lame one to a teat. She’s a big powerful goat, and holding her still long enough for him to nurse (and, remember, someone still had to hold the kid because he couldn’t stand) was becoming nearly impossible.

We even rearranged our schedule this morning, coming home after church instead of straight to my father-in-law’s house, to give the kid another shot at nursing. Same story, same rejection, and same big problem with his legs.

Now we had a decision to make. Spend the next several months picking him up and bottle feeding him in the hopes that his legs eventually change, or put him down now. If he’d been healthy, and simply a bummer kid (rejected by the mother), the decision would be easy. We wouldn’t have been happy, but we would’ve bottle fed him.

But we’ve tried to bottle feed bummers with serious health issues before, and they’ve never ended up healthy. One of them was never able to drink water from a bucket. We literally had to bottle feed him water several times a day until he was old enough to butcher at 7 or 8 months. Another was so scrawny and sickly, even as an adult, he was constantly beaten up by the others and didn’t even have enough meat to justify butchering him. (I eventually simply put him down and we threw the body away.)

The children and Mrs Yeoman Farmer and I had a quick conference. Our consensus was that we should give thanks for the five healthy goat kids born this last week, and not prolong the misery of a kid with legs so bad he can’t even stand.

But actually pulling the trigger on a cute, innocent, defenseless newborn is quite different from coming to a decision in theory. Especially when the goat kid begins crying as he’s taken out of the kidding pen and into the snowy yard. This is where you have to ask yourself, as a farmer or aspiring farmer, “What are you prepared to DO?”

I love my farm. And I love my animals. And this morning that meant putting a .380 hollow point round into a goat kid’s head. I wasn’t prepared to do that kind of thing when we first got livestock, and I managed to avoid thinking about it until I had no choice. And it’s something that on occasion in the past I may have allowed myself to dodge or delay because the little critter was just so sweet and cute, even though I knew in my head that the most humane thing would be to put the animal down immediately.

It doesn’t get any easier the more times you do it. It just gets a little less hard. But if I wasn’t prepared to DO it, I think I’d have to get out of the livestock business altogether.

He went very quickly. And we are truly grateful for the five healthy kids and all the milk their mothers will be providing for our family this year.

Greener Cereal

What do you do for breakfast? Me, I’ve always enjoyed raisin bran cereal. I have it nearly every day. When I was a kid, I often even had a bowl as a bedtime snack. (Heck, I still do that on occasion.)

Cereal is not such an easy matter for the Yeoman Farm Children, however. With their Celiac disease, most grains are off limits. Rice is pretty much the only grain they can eat, and we practically buy it by the truckload from our food co-op. Plus, given all the additives and other ingredients that go into commercial cereal (even rice-based cereal), the YFCs’ other food allergies mean they’ve never been able to just sit down and pour themselves bowls of anything off-the-shelf for breakfast.

Each morning, we must grind a few cups of organic long grain brown rice in a grain mill, add it to some water in a pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer it for about 20 minutes (stirring constantly) on the stovetop. It then must sit and “set up” for some time before it can be dished into bowls. Think “very slowly cooked Cream of Wheat,” except made from scratch with rice flour.

The YFCs are now old enough to be able to take turns cooking cereal themselves, but when they were younger Mrs Yeoman Farmer had to do it every morning. To this day, we still talk about the time we had some friends visiting overnight; they slid bowls of off-the-shelf cereal in front of their kids, who proceeded to finish eating by the time MYF was still grinding our rice into flour.

Anyway, as much as we tell them how incredibly healthy their diets are, the YFCs have naturally long wondered what it would be like to “eat normally.” This Christmas, after having done extensive research, Homeschooled Farm Girl found a way to give her brothers the gift of eating breakfast like typical kids for a day: at the natural food store, she discovered a certain brand of puffed rice cereal that had no problematic ingredients. She bought it, wrapped it up, and put it under the tree for her siblings.

Needless to say, they were very excited. And this morning, thoroughly enjoying having been liberated from cooking their cream-of-rice, they poured themselves their first bowls of the stuff. They added some of our goat milk yogurt, grabbed some spoons, and sat down to try eating breakfast like other kids do.

The verdict? To my surprise, they quickly decided that commercial cereal is terribly overrated. “I don’t like the texture,” Homeschooled Farm Boy said. HFG, taking no offense that her gift hadn’t gone over so well, heartily agreed. Big Little Brother wasn’t crazy about it, either. They ate as much as they could, but the three of them left quite a bit for the chickens.

It was a very thoughtful gift on HFG’s part, and her brothers did appreciate the effort she put into finding a commercial cereal they could try. I don’t think the three of them quite realize it yet, but they actually ended up getting a gift that no amount of money or research could buy: a real-life lesson that the grass really isn’t greener on other people’s lawns (or breakfast tables, as it were). And that when it comes to food, they’re pretty darn lucky they get to eat the way they do.

Turkey Come Home

We have an unusually large number of young turkeys this year. Long story, but it boils down to two things:

1) The hatchery we’d ordered from later told us the turkeys might be greatly delayed. I placed a second order with another — more reliable, but also more expensive — hatchery, to make sure we got the minimal number of heritage breed poults we need. My intention was to cancel the order with the original hatchery, once we were certain we had a good survival rate in the brooder. We ended up getting both orders coming thru a few weeks later, before I could cancel the original one, for a total of 35 poults shipping to our property.

2) We had far fewer brooder deaths than usual. I think that’s because we got the poults in later May, when the weather was warmer and the birds were less stressed in transit.

Anyway, we now have all the poults out in two portable 4×8 pasture pens. They’re thriving, with fresh air and fresh green stuff in their diet each day (along with some supplemental high protein grain ration).

And then, this afternoon, we ran into a problem. I opened the lid of one pen, to give the birds some grain. Two poults got spooked, and flew through the open top to perch on the lid. One small bird was easy to capture and replace. The other, a largish Bourbon Red (an older bird, from the McMurray order), flew away. He went over the fence to the garden, requiring me to walk all the way around to the gate to reach him. By the time I got there, and had him pinned against the fence, he spooked again. Big time. Somehow clawed his way up and over the fence…and flew off INTO THE HIGH BRUSH separating our property from the road.

The young bird was now in a 20 foot wide patch of 3-4 foot high grass and brambles and branches that runs the length of our property. I came in after him, but he easily evaded me in the weeds. Meanwhile, I’m stirring up clouds of dormant mosquitoes and running into big patches of poison ivy and nettles. Was about to give up on him, when I had an idea: go out to the road, and work my way back in. I had no idea where the bird was, but fortunately stumbled onto him before long. He ran farther into the weeds. I almost got him…and then he squirted away and disappeared, leaving me to contend with another cloud of mosquitoes. Try as I might, I could not find him again.

I’d hoped the chirping calls of the other turkeys — the ones still in the pen — would eventually draw him back. But I kept checking all evening, but he never did reemerge. Finally, when the sun was all the way down, I went back out with a flashlight…still no Bourbon Red poult. Hopefully he’ll be there in the morning, but I’m not counting on it. He’ll probably get eaten by a raccoon or fox.

This is one of those maddening, never-saw-it-coming disappointments of farming. Yes, we still have plenty of other turkeys. But, dang it, we raised this one and he was thriving and this is such a stupid way to lose him.

And then, as I thought more about it, something came to me: how often do we humans act like that turkey? We have a good situation going, we’re being taken care of, we’re living according to the Plan that a higher power has in mind for us…and then in a moment of passion we [literally, in this case] fly the coop, determine that we know better what the Plan should be, strike off in a radical direction of our own…and then, very quickly, discover that we’re lost in the high weeds with no simple way out. Because we blew it, and squandered the situation we had. And are too stubborn or proud or blinded to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who is calling and begging for us to come out and return to the safety of the fold.

Don’t mean to get too overly philosophical, but these are the sorts of thoughts a person can have when living on a farm. You really do develop a greater appreciation for the agricultural parables of the Bible. And quickly come to understand why the Bible has so many of them.

UPDATE:
I went out to do the chores at 6:30 the next morning (Monday), accompanied by Scooter the Border Collie. As I was putting feed in one of the turkey pens, Scooter flushed the runaway turkey poult from the grass next to the pen. It’d apparently heard the other turkeys chirping, and come back from the high weeds/brush to rejoin them at first light. Anyway, Scooter chased the bird down and excitedly held it with his paws until I could come and grab it. It was damp from being out in the morning dew, but otherwise no worse for its night spent outside the pen. I’m just thankful it’s back.