One morning 10 or 12 years ago, an unexpected visitor appeared at the Wilbur Leppke farm in rural Peabody: a male peacock. The bird made itself at home and never left.
Spring came, and he was still fanning around.
“We have to get him a lady,” Helen said.
So they did.
Out of that pair have come 21 peacocks that now have the run of the place. They take care of themselves, eating scattered grain, grass, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, and other bugs. The peacocks also like flowers and vegetables, so the landscape is bare of flowerbeds.
“I don’t raise a garden; I raise peacocks,” Leppke says. “Some are so tame they will walk right in the door. Hens are less trouble than cocks. Hens have white chests, and cocks have blue chests, although we raised an albino once.”
They like to rest on top of vehicles and equipment and sleep high up in trees at night, where they are protected from roving coyotes looking for an easy meal. When it rains or snows, the birds go into the farm’s machine shed.
They molt every year, losing their tail feathers from June to October.
“They look weird without their tails,” Leppke said, “but they start growing back in December.”
She collects the feathers and sells them. Some go to an antique store in Wisconsin. They are available locally at TC’s What Not Shop in Marion.