Thursday, September 18, 2008

Not a Turnkey Turkey Operation

Well, It was "Turkey Tuesday" again.
Some of you might recall the sudden death and processing of a giant turkey from last week (Cold Turkey, Hot Day). Wellllll... turkeys just loooovve Tuesdays, I tell ya. This week, the entire flock (now down to 12) decided to go a-visiting. They walked a good ways, no mean feet for a bunch of tottering meat-bound heavies, and ended up on the doorstep of "L", the one neighborhood dog who is an unrepentant poultry killer.

Luckily, "L" was tied up.

Unluckily (Or perhaps just stupidly) the turkeys, used to dogs that pretty much ignore them, didn't see anything dangerous in a lab/chow mix straining at it's chain and barking ferociously. They thought it might be a good time to preen and strut and impress each other as young turks so often do.

Well, the chain snapped and, as you might imagine, the birds finally got the hint, scattering as "L" mowed through them, a shower of feathers in her wake.

That was when I got the call from our neighbor. I believe she said "There are a lot of feathers but I don't think there are any bodies around" or something like that.

So off I went. Some turkeys had already returned on their own, they looked winded and grim. Five were still missing. So I spent round about an hour calling and calling and traipsing around in the woods checking out every stump that, from a distance, looked like it just might be a big ol' dead broad-breasted bronze. Please oh, please let there be no dead turkeys, I muttered, not wanting to repeat the whole miserable butchering-gigantic-bird-all-alone scenario of the previous week.

I found no dead bodies. Just one traumatized slate-blue turkey sitting veeeerrry very still in the woods. When she saw me, she got up and headed back home on her own. Another slate blue was in the sheep pasture. "Blinky", as I've been taken to calling her due to her peculiar habit, was in rough shape. Too, exhausted to fight, she let me carry her back down to her buds where she curled up and fell asleep.

I continued hunting about. I got quite good at turkey calls. (Turkeys make a variety of really cool sounds: From the expected gobbagobba to rumbly purrs, sneezy exclaimations, chirps and a beautiful two-note whistle.) But none of this mattered. The turkeys all found their way back on their own.

I brought water and grain over to where they clumped beside the barn, but they were too exhausted to get up and eat. They stayed there all the rest of the day and when I went to close up the barn at 9:30 that night, they were still clumped outside, refusing to budge.

And so... the full moon found me prodding cajoling and carrying-- yes, carrying!-- 12 miserable, shaken and VERY HEAVY turkeys into the barn. So however cool the big fowl are-- and they ARE quite cool-- don't expect a turnkey operation!

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