Don’t run for your dictionary when you see the title of this blog. Oh, wait, who uses a dictionary anymore? Don’t bother googling it, I will explain. Berthoud is the name of the town we have been staying at since July 21st. Berthoud is a small town in of about 5,000 people in Colorado. It is about an hour NorthWest of Denver. It is nicknamed “Garden spot of Colorado” because of the tree lined streets and the fact that it is surrounded by farmland. One of those farms is owned by our friends Sue and Carol who were super gracious in letting us stay and park our camper there for a little over 3 weeks!
During those three weeks we were able to learn a lot about what it takes to raise farm animals like cows, goats, turkeys and chickens. It is a lot of work! All the animals need morning and evening feeding and watering along with poop pickup in the barn where the goats and cows stay. The weather was hot, but nice while we were there, so it wasn’t bad to go out and take care of the animals, but I would not really like to have to get up on the dark, cold, snowy winter mornings to do that. A couple of days we helped Carol start to build a pergola over the Turkey pen so they would have shade when outside. They need a pergola for shade because the turkeys are not very smart so they just stand out in the sun and pant when it is hot. Apparently domestic turkeys brains are 1/3 of the size of wild turkeys. I think it is because they don’t have to think for themselves. I mean really, they are pretty safe from predators, don’t have to search for food and live in a nice shelter. What is there to keep them thinking and developing their brains?
The two female turkeys who get to run around free in the yard were our companions whenever we were outside for any length of time. The turkeys were funny to watch, they talk a lot as they follow you around. They peck at anything shiny on your pants like buttons and also on your shoelaces. The most interesting part of their appearance is the snood. It is the fleshy protuberance over the beak that looks like a gummy worm. The males snoods are much bigger than females and is used to attract females, along with the wattles on their neck and throat. It also keeps them warm. The two turkeys that were roaming the yard free were females and we kept noticing that snood changing size. When it gets short they are comfortable and relaxed. I think they liked us.
The chickens were all guarded by the rooster, so they didn’t hang around us much. Besides, they had a lot of ground to cover looking for food and dirt to sit in. They like to dig little grooves in the ground to lay in. That helps repel bugs and after they sit in the dirt they clean themselves. It keeps their feathers healthy. That rooster sure watched over those hens, he would round them up at any sign of danger and he herded them into the coop at night. Along with taking responsibility for their safety he knew he had himself a harem and sure made the most of it. He is pretty cocky.
The cows were just cows and were really only interested in eating hay. They were scared of me even though I tried to make friends by giving them dinner at night and treats. The goats were funny as goats will be. They are not shy about being aggressive in getting food, they will jump up on you and head butt you when they know you are getting to feed them. When I was trying to clean the barn there were always a few who would just hang around and stare at me. They really seemed just to want to be petted and scratched. I was told always to lock the gate where the feed was kept even if just stepping away for a minute, well, I tested that and had a heck of a time getting all those goats out of that area once they got in. A bucket full of grain did the trick after my goat wrestling skills failed me.
And I can’t forget the Alpacas we got to meet. We went over to another friends’ house Karri and Ann who raise alpacas. They are so adorable, gentle and calm. They are very curious and watch your every move. An interesting fact is that alpacas all use the bathroom in the same area. How great is that for the owner! We saw quite a few on the farms around the area. The climate is perfect for them.
We haven’t seen any toads, except a flat one on the road, but there is evidence that there are quite a few around. I didn’t believe it, but here is a picture of proof. Toad turds! Sue and Carol said they actually saw it, so I guess it must be real.
That is a little about the animals on the farm. If all the animals are happy there is always gardening, weeding and stuff like that to do. It is never boring that is for sure.
Bert in Berthoud signing off for now.