It’s been a busy couple of weeks with a lot happening in my world – all of it good on a personal level, though I continue to regard the likelihood of the American republic surviving the next decade as minimal at best – and I’ll get to those stories by and by. But today I’m going to tell this one.
For their last full day on earth, the turkeys got sunshine and good weather. This is fitting. They were good birds.
I was not all that convinced that getting turkeys was a wise move, back in March. We were already committed to chickens and even had chickens left from last year. Chickens are not hard animals to care for – they’re about on par with cats, in some ways, and significantly easier and less troublesome to both owner and neighbors than dogs – but that seemed enough. We got turkeys anyway.
They’re such sweet birds, amiably goofy and inquisitive. They win you over.
Only two of the six survived to adulthood. They’re a fragile breed, engineered for maximum meat and minimum anything else. But we built a nice little run for them outside of the barn where they could wander, and as time went on we took to letting them have the run of the grassy area outside of the barn. They got stronger, which actually helped them at the County Fair. One of the judging criteria was how well they could walk, and Norman did a nice job of that. He and Jamaica would cruise around the grass for as long as we let them.
But as noted they are fragile birds, and not really bred to last. They get big and heavy, and they break down. If we let them stay in the barn they’d be gone by January. And Norman went to a local deli in the Fur and Feather Sale on the final weekend of the Fair. There is only one way this could end.
Kim, Lauren, and I woke up at 6am today and drove out to the barn. We let the turkeys out for a brief walk, and then herded them into their cages and drove over to the processor. We said our goodbyes and went home.
It was hard. It was really hard. But that is what it means to raise livestock. We knew that going in.
Last night all four of us stopped off for hot fudge sundaes at our local custard shop and went over to the barn. We let Norman and Maica out onto the grass and we just hung out with them for an hour or so. They marched around in that plodding way that turkeys have. Maica was fascinated with her reflection in the side panel of the car. If you sat down they’d come over and hang out with you. Norman would try to eat your shirt. Maica would try to eat your hair. It turns out that turkeys like vanilla custard.
I think in my mind I will leave them there, wandering around on the grass with us.
They were good birds.