WEST EDMESTON _ At Coyote Creek Farm in the town of Brookfield, Denise Timms and her son, Alex Dapson, sing to their turkeys.
Then the birds gobble back.
"That's just a little game we play," Timms said Thursday morning as she and Alex, a seventh-grade student at Unadilla Valley Central School, fed their flock some corn.
"We love to hear them gobble, so we sing."
At the sight of the feed bucket, the birds swarm over to the low fence, eager for their share of grain.
The electrified fence has been turned off for feeding. Later, it will carry a small current, "but that's more to keep predators out than to keep the birds in," she said. "We have coyotes and foxes around here, and they like turkey, too."
These turkeys are pastured, she noted. The portable fence is moved periodically around the field so the birds can peck new ground, finding luscious bugs and worms.
"People say they're hard to raise, but I don't think so," she said. "We don't have too many at once, and we look them over carefully every day. They also say you shouldn't put different-age birds together, but we haven't had a problem with that, either."
Timms said the birds have not been medicated or given hormones.
"They haven't had medicated feed because there's no need for it," she said. "They're not kept in close quarters, and they love it outside, so they're healthy. Really all they need is a little shelter, food and clean water."
Timms and her husband, James Dapson, have been raising turkeys for three years. This year, the family has a flock of Broad Breasted Whites and Broad Breasted Bronzes, among the most common turkeys on the market.
"The first year we did it for ourselves and a few presents for family and friends," she said. "We had 15 that year.
"Then people asked us for more, so we did 50 last year, and 75 this year."
Most of her turkeys are spoken for, she said Thursday, just two weeks before Thanksgiving, although she has a few larger birds.
"This is the time of year when everyone wants a turkey, but a lot of times you have to order early," she said.
Turkeys from Coyote Creek Farm cost $3 a pound and are available by calling (315) 899-5837.
Some local producers, including the Stone & Thistle Farm in East Meredith and Horton Hill Farm in Jefferson, are sold out. However, Nectar Hill Farm in Westford has a few heirloom birds left, co-owner Dave Dutton said.
Nectar Hills Farm has a store at 17½ Main St. in Cherry Valley and can be reached at 638-5758.