OSHMAP® 
Complete Mapping Specialists



Talking Turkey


Back to overview

08/10/2016

Turkey Tale

Would you put the location of your fowl run, or the favourite hangout of your ‘pet’ turkey on your Safety and Hazard Map?
“Not likely,” you reply? Well, the following account may change your mind.
While I am not quite the Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor) of the late 1960’s ‘Green Acres’ fame, (definitely not as glamourous, and the accent is Canadian rather than Hungarian) I am definitely a reformed (almost) ‘townie’. Many of my brushes with disaster were at least partially a result of my idealistic vision of rural life, and ignorance of its realities. That was certainly the case when it came to the animals, and in this case, turkeys.
After a few years living on a small Taranaki rural holding, I saw an ad in the local paper for ‘turkeys for sale,’ and promptly convinced my better half to indulge me and buy a pair. I was particularly thrilled when hubby returned with two lovely white birds, but shattered a week or two later when, on arriving home from town one afternoon, I spotted my pets strutting away down the road in the company of a large black turkey. Although I attempted to follow and call them back, they struck out across country, and were soon lost from view.
We had seen the black turkey skulking around for a day or two, and he had apparently come from a wild flock that lived a short distance away across a small stream. My husband belatedly informed me that he remembered hearing in his youth of this happening with female turkeys. Fortunately (or so I thought at the time) he decided to return to the vendor and purchase a large grey male turkey that, for some obscure reason, I decided to name George.
George took up residence outside the chicken run next to our driveway where it crossed over a small stream. Right from the start he made a bit of a nuisance of himself, paying frequent messy visits to the back patio and gobbling incessantly at the ranch-slider door. In hindsight it was probably his seeming curiosity that led to his name, in honour of a particular monkey that featured in a favourite childhood story book. Our Jack Russel, Nanny, kept George from entering the house through his ‘doggy door’, but seemed reluctant to actually chase him away, unless one of her human’s accompanied her. As Nanny was never timid, I realise now that I should have seen the significance of her hesitation.
George was a great companion, seeking me out and keeping me company over the summer months as I worked my way around our small holding re-painting all of the wood rail fences. While Nanny took off in all directions, chasing and often catching rabbits, George strutted up and down the fence line gobbling a noisy accompaniment to whatever music was playing on my portable radio.
It was a little disconcerting to discover that he became very agitated whenever I walked my young granddaughter up the drive. At first I thought it was her stroller that upset him, but I found that he seemed equally aggressive when I attempted to walk past his ‘hangout’ with her holding my hand. He puffed himself up and ran towards us, gobbling loudly. My granddaughter was terrified, and I had to pick her up and shoo George away.
A few days later, while I was still chewing over but had not yet digested this new insight into George’s nature, I set off up the driveway to collect the newspaper and mail. George gobbled his customary greeting as I passed the chicken coup, and followed along for a few paces before turning back towards the stream. As I approached the road one of our neighbours, who had been the victim of a hay bale falling from a fork lift, was propelling himself past the drive in his wheelchair. He spotted me and turned into the driveway to say hello.
We exchanged the usual courtesies, asking about each other’s families and such. He seemed a little ill at ease, and finally nodded down the driveway toward George and said, “That turkey of yours is very aggressive!”
I was a little taken aback. Although I had recently noticed his behaviour with my daughter, I didn’t think that George ever left our property.
“I haven’t really noticed that.” I said. “As far as I know he just spends his days wandering up and down the driveway.”
“Well, he also seems to be guarding the gate. The two little girls from across the road stopped me the other day as I was heading to town and asked me for a ride past your place. They said your turkey kept attacking them and wouldn’t let them pass. They were really frightened of him.”
“Oh dear”, I’m really sorry. I haven’t heard about that. I’ll have to keep the gate … ”
“Oh look!! He’s coming!” the neighbour cried, grabbing at his wheelchair and sliding around on the gravel driveway in an attempt to back away.
I turned and saw George sailing down the driveway towards us. He was fully inflated, and rather than sauntering along with his usual slow meandering gate, he was barrelling towards us at full speed.
For an instant I was so shocked that I just froze on the spot, but as I regained my senses I dashed across the driveway to grab the gate and pulled it shut, just before the irate George arrived. Flustered, I turned to find that the neighbour was already some distance down the road, still wheeling himself away at full speed. I was unsure if he heard my apologies, as he wasted no time in beating his retreat. I gathered the mail and paper, and headed back down the drive, past a now docile George, ensuring that I left the gate securely closed behind me.
While the tale of my neighbour frantically wheeling his retreat elicited a few chuckles from family in the telling, the real message did register. It was decided that George was destined for pastures greener – one way or another. I couldn’t bear to be witness to his departure. I was assured, however, that he was carefully, if with considerable difficulty, placed into a burlap sack and transported in the boot of my son’s car around the side streets and over the stream. There he was reunited with his two white friends and several new mates in the local wild flock. He was reportedly last seen sideling up to another large male in anticipation of combat for domination of the rafter.
One family member informed me they thought that George actually went the way of their pet lamb – “off to live on a lovely farm with much more feed,” just days before the freezer was mysteriously filled with fresh meat! However, as neither I nor anyone I know was invited to a mid-year Christmas turkey dinner around that time, I prefer to believe that George lives happily on with his wild mates.
And our property had one less hazard. George had been identified and eliminated!



Back to overview