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Turkey tales

Agriculture.com Staff 11/27/2006 @ 12:22pm

With Thanksgiving safely behind us I can now relate the latest chapter in the tale of the turkeys.

To recap, I bought a quartet of Bourbon Red turkey chicks a year ago last spring. The plan was for them to grow up and join us for Thanksgiving, Christmas and so on.

Things didn't go exactly as planned. One of the Bourbon toms was indeed the guest of honor at last year's Thanksgiving. I noticed that my wife didn't eat any turkey during that particular meal, a harbinger of things to come.

When I told her that it was time for the remaining turkeys to warm themselves in the oven, my wife pleaded for clemency, staring up at me with big, sad eyes, looking much like Puss-in-Boots in the movie "Shrek 2."

What could I do? The trio of turkeys were spared despite my warning that they -- two hens and a tom -- would likely come to know each other in the Biblical sense, which would lead to a profusion of poultry at our place.

Verily, this came to pass. Spring arrived and the two hens began to "set." Sadly, one of them met her end under the wheels of a hit-and-run driver. Had I caught the miscreant, I would have stuffed the dead bird up that turkey's...well, you can guess.

As soon as the other hen's brood hatched I relocated the new turkey family to the safety of the coop. Within weeks the cute and fuzzy little baby turkeys became gawky, gangly teenager turkeys. When they began to fly I let them out so they could feed on crickets and beetles and night crawlers.

They say that food animals can take on the flavors of the stuff they eat, so I looked forward to savoring nuances of grasshopper along with perhaps just a hint of ladybug.

Shortly after being given the run of the place the young turkeys took to roosting on the rail of our deck. They used the opportunity to cover said deck with their disgusting doots, giving the term "poop deck" a whole new meaning. The doofus birds obviously saved up all day in order to maximize their nightly deck deposits.

My wife began to gripe about our grimy deck. "Those birds have to go!" she groused as I hosed off the turkey tur...I mean, poots.

"Don't worry," I replied. "They'll soon be the guests of honor at this fall's family gatherings. I might even take a few and have them smoked."

I then had to explain that this would NOT involve sneaking turkeys out behind the barn and showing them how make roll-your-own cigarettes. Sheesh! Teach the kids one harmless little trick and you're never allowed to forget it.

Thanksgiving drew nigh and I steeled myself for task of offing, drawing and plucking. Feather removal is the hardest part. Why couldn't turkeys have some sort of concealed hook-and-eye clasp a guy could simply release and -- fwing! -- you have a bare-breasted bird?

But first was the issue of how to terminate our free-ranging fowl. Thankfully, they weren't all that wild. One might even say they were downright trusting, watching me quizzically as I approached with shotgun at the ready, wondering if perhaps I was about to toss them some stale bread.

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