It was a blue day in late summer, you know the kind, where you wish someone would bring you a vanilla latte or flowers, but it doesn’t happen and you cannot get out of your funk. What soothes my soul, and always has, is a new animal. So off I headed to my favorite feed store to look for “leftover” end-of-summer critters.
Being late summer, about the only things left in “the chicken room” were five wild turkeys. These turkeys were no longer at the semi-cute (we’re talking turkeys here) fuzzy stage. These were gangly, teenage turkeys. No longer needing the warmth of their grow lights. I asked feed store owner Raleigh if I could have a discount on them because they were so funny-ugly, but the chuckling owner just said he’d take them home and let them go if I didn’t buy them.
Which of course put them into the category of “rescue animal,” and here I am, a sucker. How do you think I got five donkeys, two llamas, a blind Golden Retriever, my daughter’s cats, and the mayor’s Guinea pig when he took ill? Raleigh knew what he was doing. I paid fifty bucks for the five wild turkeys that I also intended to let run free!
Once home, I did not do my usual slipping of the right wings. I put them all in the chicken yard and told them, out loud, mind you, that they were free to stay or leave, it was totally their choice. Two days later two had flown the coop. Three more days and another two were gone, seen pecking around in the donkey field and generally acting like wild turkeys, albeit youngish ones, should act.
But Turkey Turk took to me. I mean, he fell in love. Perhaps my first mistake was naming him. It all started innocently enough. He’d walk up the driveway to get the mail with me. The neighbors, and anyone driving by, doing double takes seeing a woman and her two dogs and her turkey walking to the mailbox. (I won’t even tell you about the peacocks I previously had—that’s a whole other story in itself.)
Not only did this turkey follow me around, but he’d sit on the porch furniture and look in through the kitchen window, his head just barely above the sill, beady turkey-eyes unnerving me, with a doleful look. He’d garble-yodel at me whenever I came outside. He’d sit on my shoulder when I fed the donkeys and llamas. We’re talking about a fifteen pound wild turkey here. I’d slump my shoulder and he’d hold on tighter.
Every morning Turkey Turk was the hood ornament on my car. Then he began riding on top so that he could peer through the sunroof as I backed out. This was getting bad. When Turkey Turk started trying to come in through the doors of my house, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.
So I picked up my turkey-bird and carried him down to the farthest corner of the field where the blackberries are overly abundant. At some point in animal ownership, I always come to believe that they understand every word I say. So I told him to “listen”…and he cocked and ear. Well, an ear-space. I told him there were wild women in the bushes. Females, of his species, Just waiting for him. I set him down near the bushes and walked away, never turning back.
When I got back up to my abode, there he was at the back door. I don’t know how he did it. So I waited a few days, pondering my moves, and tried again. This time I asked him to stay with the girls in the bushes. They could be heard making soft, attractant turkey sounds. This time he stayed. Or so I thought. The next morning there was his poignant face at my kitchen window. This is a rough thing to deal with before your first cup of coffee in the morning.
But I couldn’t give up. I kept talking the whole time I carried him down the field this time. I told him he’d get himself a relatively lovely turkey. We’re talking turkeys here after all, and some would say even the wild ones are not exactly lovely. I told him I would “absolutely never” let him in the house and that my cute little red car was getting some hard-to-explain scratches, on it. He peered at me, listening carefully to my words, and of course I believe he understood me. This time he stayed.
Not long afterward he found someone of his own species. I spotted younger-than-teenage, still fuzzy, turkeys under one of the birdfeeders. I was thrilled.
Happy Thanksgiving to Turkey Turk and his family.