turkeys in our yard

Turkey Escapades, Part Two

by grace on July 10, 2020

I didn’t think about the turkeys when going to bed on Tuesday, I didn’t dream about the turkeys, i’d forgotten all about them when i first woke up on Wednesday morning. But then i got a text from amy’s sister-in-law saying that unfortunately they couldn’t take the turkeys after all because they might have a disease which could spread to their turkeys.

Fair enough, but now what? The turkeys were back on the front porch; kevin later told me that chris had let them into his own back yard before going to work. kevin whistled to them and they sauntered back over. I was happy to see them on our porch.

Kevin had looked up online about keeping turkeys, and it wasn’t allowed, so that was off the table. Not that we’d have kept them…but they were really good turkeys.

Kevin went back up to work on the roof and I started calling people. I have to say that since the coronavirus took off I haven’t communicated with people very much (not that i communicated a lot before it started) and I wonder at the fact that it’s already July and there are people who i keep meaning to call, but it’s already july, how does the time whoosh by so fast…

But this was different. Turkeys on the front porch! I had to take action. I started with the zoo, who didn’t want any more turkeys. I left a message at the APL and a nice guy called me back and was amazed that these turkeys had appeared. He told me to try the Department of Natural Resources and the Dept of Agriculture. I told him about the woman from Animal Control being at our house the night before and being worried that they’d automatically put them down but he assured me that Animal Control would look for homes for them. So there was that option.

I looked up the Dept. of Nat. Resources and when i called, a message said that they’re closed and teleworking so i left a message. Somebody from there sent me a text, and now i can’t remember what organization they told me to get in touch with.

I left a text with the Raptor Rescue Center, and I joined two different “lost pets and animals in springfield” sites on facebook and posted photos of the turkeys there. My post was almost immediately shared by people on that site, and then somebody from the Raptor Center texted that if i didn’t find the owners, one of their volunteers would take the turkeys. Another option!

I called a couple of friends who are both huge animal-lovers and both had ideas of places that they or I could get in touch with. I left a message with Sunny, a marvelous cat-whisperer who has given us great advice and support about all our cats. i know that turkeys aren’t quite the same thing but figured that most animal people are all in for most animals.

I called our vet, and a friendly woman named Linda who answered the phone was also perplexed and curious to hear my turkey tale. She asked around the office, and said a vet tech named Brittany who wasn’t in the office right then had chickens, and maybe she’d take them. She called Brittany and gave her a head’s up, and then Linda gave me me Brittany’s number. i called and was surprised that Brittany didn’t answer since Linda had just called her, so i left a message.

when she didn’t call back after a while, i sent her this text, with a flattering photo of the turkeys: “Hi Brittany, Linda at Laketown gave me your number. I’m Grace Hughes, and these two domestic turkeys showed up in our yard yesterday. They are very docile. We don’t know what to do with them, and I have been trying to find a home for them. Somebody from the Raptor Center got back to me this morning and said that if we can’t find the owner that a volunteer there would take them, but I don’t know if you might have any interest? Thanks!”

I quickly got a text back. it said “Hello Grace, while those are definitely some fine looking turkeys I must regretfully inform you that you have the wrong number and I am not Brittany. I strive to be at the point in my life where I can accept those majestic turkeys but I’m not quite in that position yet. I hope you have a wonderful day and good luck in your turkey escapades.”

hahaha! that was a funny break in my nonstop calling and texting that i’d been doing for a few hours. What a great response, and i wish i knew that person. I wrote back, “thanks for replying,” and then got the correct number and had a nice chat with Brittany, who knows people with turkeys and thought they’d take them, plus Brittany had a “quarantine pen” where she could put the turkeys to make sure they weren’t diseased. Wow, more good news! She asked for a photo, so i texted two of them to her, writing, “thanks so much, Brittany!” and after it sent i realized it went to that same wrong Brittany number…I quickly typed “sorry, I realize i am sending this to the wrong number again! No more crazy texts from me I promise!” Five minutes later they replied “Lol.”

Hmm, now that i think about it, i feel maybe i should write to that mystery person and tell them the ending to the turkey saga…

Meanwhile…every once in a while I’d look out the front door to see if the turkeys were still there.

They were. This was late morning, as they preened after eating. The night before amy had brought them salad greens, which they enjoyed, and i’d given them a can of corn, also appreciated. I also offered them some frozen corn, figuring it was like a corn popsicle but they didn’t eat it til it thawed.

It would have been nice for the turkeys if they could have made the rug in front of my front door their new home, but it just wasn’t possible. When they finished grooming they waited patiently for us to let them in so they could take up residence.

By lunchtime they decided it would be more comfortable to lie down while waiting to be let in.

Later in the afternoon they settled down amongst the wood shavings left over from a stump.

Here’s a quick video of them making themselves comfortable.

and meanwhile, the unexpected twist to the story…at about one in the afternoon, after I’s spent four hours of doing intense turkey reach out, our neighbor chris, who had kept the turkeys in his basement all night, called me. chris is a very talkative fellow but sometimes i don’t listen so closely to everything he says but after a while i realized he was telling me that his girlfriend, who he’d been staying with on her farm, had just kicked him out. and she made his clear out all his stuff…and his turkeys, chickens and ducks.

as i type this i can’t even be sure that’s exactly what he said, and i also don’t know why i didn’t say ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THOSE ARE YOUR TURKEYS???!!!

but he’s a gentle soul and has some issues and is basically a decent and animal-loving human being and i didn’t want to make him feel any more bad than he probably already felt about not mentioning the night before that the the turkeys were his.

but crazy, crazy stuff.

Chris’s sister found a relative on a farm who wanted to take them, so after Chris got off work Wednesday evening he loaded the turkeys into two big cages that Amy had lent him into his not-so-roomy-especially-for-hauling-two-good-sized-turkeys car and drove them out of my driveway and off to their new life.

Yesterday chris sent us this text: “Max {guy who took the turkeys} has a big Tom turkey who now has two girlfriends. His turkey is multi-colored and big. Max has turkeys, at least one chicken and at least a couple of cats. He said he doesn’t eat them at the holidays but said they usually only live a couple of years.”

it was a relief to hear that the turkeys won’t be somebody’s thanksgiving meal, and it makes me think a lot about whether or not i really want to have a turkey for thanksgiving, or really, any more meat at all. i wish i could be a vegetarian. it’s something i can work on.

meanwhile…the Turkey Escapades were a welcome if completely odd distraction from the ongoing bad news and worry about the coronavirus every single day. it was nice to have something so completely different to focus on.

i hope your day is a good one, with or without turkeys.

ok then,

mrs. in-support-of-turkey-rights hughes.


Turkey Escapades, Part One

by grace on July 9, 2020

Kevin has been re-shingling the roof on the old part of the house. He’s been feverishly working in the blistering heat and ridiculous humidity for several days now. More on that later, this is about a whole different deal…

Late afternoon on Tuesday July 7th, I was watering the flowers in the fenced yard and suddenly noticed a strange cry coming from the side yard between our and our neighbor’s house. What on earth could it be? Was it an injured animal? I went inside to investigate around at the side of the house, and Kevin was there and said “come with me.”

And lo and behold…two turkeys.

What the…how did…what was going on here??? In the video i call them wild turkeys, but they weren’t, they were “domesticated,” i was to find out later.

They seemed perfectly content, sashaying right up to us. I was a little leery but kevin assured me that they wouldn’t attack me – he was wearing his heavy-duty pants for roofing and stood between me and them. But they had no interest in doing anybody any harm. They just looked bedraggled, hot and thirsty and hungry, we guessed.

And then one of them started making that sound that we’d heard…

I’ve never been that close to a turkey. they were fascinating to observe up-close; their claws look positively prehistoric. But Ok, now what? Maybe they escaped from the zoo? Did they fall off a turkey truck? Did somebody abandon them? Did they escape from somebody’s yard? None of that sounded plausible, so I called the zoo. Because it was after five they were closed, and their message said to call 911 if it was an emergency. Hmm, was it an emergency? Well, we couldn’t take the turkeys in the house overnight and kevin was sure that coyotes would get them, so they needed a safe haven.

I called 911 and the dispatcher seemed surprised that i was reporting turkeys in the yard, and said she’d have to get back to me.

Meanwhile, Kevin poured them a drink of water after they wandered up on the porch. as they walked they kept pecking at the shells i have lining the walkway, hoping they were food. After a while i realized that turkeys are willing to peck at anything, hoping they can eat it.

They gulped the water down but eventually tipped the bowl over. turkeys also aren’t the most graceful of animals.

So Kevin gave them a drink from the hose, which they appreciated wholeheartedly.

I found a big pan and filled that with water and Kevin gave them some bird seed and they were grateful.

I’d texted amy and jim and mom about the turkeys and amy and jim were concerned that 911 would call animal control, who we assumed would have them put down.

i love this picture of the turkey and our yard ornament goose.

I got a call from a guy who said he was park police and he was going to call somebody from the zoo on his way to our house.

when he arrived, he turned out to be a guy named Pat who knew Kevin from the State Police, and they chatted while Pat waited for somebody to call him. It turned out that they didn’t belong to the zoo, so Pat called Animal Control.

Oh boy. Meanwhile I called Amy’s sister in law who lives on a farm and has turkeys, and she said she’d take them.

We hoped that would happen that night, and when a nice young woman from Animal Control showed up we told her that she didn’t need to take the turkeys after all. She seemed relieved not to have to pick them up, but by them i was getting fond of the turkeys and was sure pretty sure they wouldn’t be a problem.

at this point the turkeys were wandering around on the porch, venturing out into the front garden, eating, drinking, and having a very nice time. after one of them pecked at a shell on the front edge of the garden she just walked right over a pot sitting there, knocking it over. Not graceful and perhaps not the most intelligent birds. But still, very tame and gentle.

amy’s sister-in- law called back to say that she had to make sure it was OK with her husband, who wouldn’t be home til very late that night.

hmm, now what? what were we going to do with the turkeys overnight and what if they didn’t want the turkeys after all? Amy and i agreed to think positive thoughts about them being taken tomorrow.

At that point our neighbor Chris strolled over. Many years ago Chris rescued four baby raccoons from my back screened porch – they’d broken in and i had no idea how to get them out, and amy, jim, and kevin were all out of town. chris had picked them all up and carried them right out.

he did the same thing with the turkeys! By now Kevin had gone inside because he’d been up on the hot roof all day, and amy and i explained the turkey situation. Chris also felt confident that they’d be eaten by coyotes during the night and he volunteered to keep them in his basement over night. yay! he then picked them up one by one and carried them off.

The turkey whisperer! i couldn’t imagine how much pooping was going to go on in his basement overnight because once they’d started eating they were pooping all over my porch. chris said he had a drain in the unfinished part of his basement so that’s good. but also would they keep him up all night? Chris said he had to go to work in the morning so he’d let them out then.

That whole turkey evening was a highly unusual couple of hours, and the next day got even more weird…

ok then, the end of the story is coming shortly,

mrs. heat of the summer hughes.