Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry. ~Jack Kerouac
It’s no surprise, I totally get a kick out of our chickens and turkeys. Truly! So when a story as amazing as this one presents itself, I feel obligated to share the experience.
We need to step back about two and half weeks. Dad just mowed the lawn, which was pretty high from the continuous rainfall for the last two months, and he asked me to rake up some of the bigger piles of grass to feed to the chickens and turkeys. Great idea! They love fresh grass and it’s healthier for them and us too. I raked the chlorophyll strands into a five gallon bucket, and headed to the turkey coop first, since it’s further away.
Please note, normally our turkeys are very docile upon entering their domain. They either huddle together opposite to the door, or they remain steadfast on their roosts. So you can imagine, any other behavior would take me completely off guard.
From the minute I opened the door, the story began. I entered the turkey coop with my bucket of fresh cut grass and simply turned the container upside down to release the contents. Well, the turkeys didn’t welcome such actions, and all eleven, yes there were (keyword here is were) eleven turkeys, each weighing about ten pounds or so, nearly fully grown, flapped their wings. They flew in all directions and quite frankly freaked out! Can you picture it? Me standing in the middle of a feathery wind tunnel with large projectiles flying at and around me. Just then, I saw two turkeys heading for the opened door, mid-air. I leaned back, pretty gracefully I might add, and swatted the one bird back in the pen. However, the second frantic bird made a break for it and succeed. Oh crap!
My dad was still on the lawn mower doing the upper part of the yard. I immediately, jumped out of the crazy hen house (pun intended), closed and locked the door behind me, and ran to the house to get the large fishing net. While I was running around like a chicken myself (pun also intended) I stopped dad to explain the situation. Thinking he was going to be really made at me, he rolled his eyes, sighed, and got off the lawn mower to assist in rounding up the bird.
Dad and I cornered the escapee in the woods in the brush. Yes, I was running around the woods with a long handled fishing pole while my dad was trying to work the bird in my direction. At one point, we swopped and dad had the pole. Did we capture the turkey? Nope. Of course that wouldn’t make much of a story. The bird took cover under some very thick brush, and we couldn’t find it, even though we heard it calling.
That happened about midday, so we had no choice but to return to our chores. That night, as dad I were sitting on my parent’s deck, I looked up the hill. Low and behold the turkey was strutting around the turkey coop. It was too comical. This time, I had the big guns with me, Kyle! We each grabbed a long handled fishing pole, and we went turkey hunting. We were doing pretty good too, keeping the chase out of the thick brush, at least for a while. I got the turkey by its back once, but it slipped out. Kyle did the same. To be honest, I actually had a fun time running around the woods, chasing the turkey with Kyle. It’s been too long since Kyle and I have been involved in a silly situation like this one. My little man did a great job assisting me, but alas the bird eluded us and we lost it in really thick brush. I didn’t want to keep pushing the bird in the opposite direction toward my cousin’s fields. I wanted to keep it close, so we gave up for the night. We came back to the house empty handed, and decided to make mountain pies and s’mores on the fire.
That night, the following day and into Sunday it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained hard! To me that was a good thing considering most animals hunker down in storms, meaning they wouldn’t be out hunting. Not to mention, the rain helps to wash away any turkey scent. On Sunday, Kyle and I went back into the woods, yes with our fishing poles, to look for our runaway. Did we see her? Sadly, no, but I also didn’t see a crime scene either. Good sign. (Imagine what we looked like walking through the woods with long handled fishing poles!)
Upon exiting the woods, I decided to throw some feed alongside the turkey coop in case it would come back.
This brings us to Tuesday, of the following week! The turkey lived for over a week in the wild. Every once in a while we’d see it prancing around but couldn’t catch it. It was too big, too fast and now it was flying. Keep in mind, a couple hours earlier that day, I was informed my Gram passed away. I happened to be at my parent’s house getting work down, since it was a really nice day. I got a text from my cousin Mikey saying, he just saw a strange looking turkey on the road near my mom and dad’s house. That’s our turkey! She’s still alive!
Excited over the good news, I put Gram’s death aside, and ran out of the house to be struck down. As I slammed the front door and walked down the porch steps, something came up from behind me, landed on my neck right behind my jaw and stung me! Can you believe it? I was stung in the neck! Joking, I said that was Gram fighting one last time.
I ran back in the house holding my neck panting, “Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap! It got me dad! It got me in the neck!”
Dad: “What happened?”
Me: “I got stung in the neck!”
Dad: Calmly. Snickering at my drama. “Ya, they hurt, especially there.”
Me: “Oh crap dad! It really hurts!”
Dad: “Ya, I can imagine. It’s not so funny now that YOU got stung. You laughed at me when those bees chased me out of the turkey coop and stung me.”
Me: Snickering to myself. “No I didn’t laugh about that. I said, I’m glad it was you and not me. I laughed at you last summer when we were eating on the deck and the bee stung you in the lip and your lip swelled.”
Me: “Wow! It really hurts!”
Dad: “Maybe you still have the stinger in. Come here and let me look.” Dad looked, without putting on glasses and proclaimed. “Nope, no stinger.” Like he could see it!
Me: “What if I have an allergic reaction?”
Dad: Calmly. “Well, then me and the boys (our dogs) will take you to the hospital.”
Me: “No dad I don’t want the dogs to go along.”
Dad: “Why? They’d like to take a ride. Seven (my dog) would hold your hand.”
Me: “Dad! I don’t want the dogs to ride along to the hospital!”
Dad: “Oh, they’d be good. Everyone should have a Lab doggie by their side.” Our dogs are Labs but not my sister’s dog, even though Dad refers to her as a Lab.
Luckily, the only reaction I got was really bad soreness in my neck and down into my shoulder, no major swelling, and no trip to the hospital with the dogs.
Dad and I armed ourselves with our fishing poles, and continued where we left off, chasing the turkey in the woods till we gave up. Best way to spend the day after the loss of a family member!
Two days later, that Thursday, my sister came home for the funeral. Nicole joined in on the hunt and we gave it the old college try when we saw the turkey strutting around the coop, begging us to chase it. This time Nicole added a new element of surprise or challenge? You decide. Instead of using the long handled fishing poles, she decided to grab an old sheet. Yes, a flat sheet, like the kind that goes on a bed. A sheet! This just keeps getting better and better. I think, she was expecting to gracefully throw the sheet on the turkey, and have the sheet perfectly spread out and land naturally onto of our bird, and then she’d tackle the lump in the sheet. I’m guessing that was her reasoning. What really happened was very different.
Nicole walked around the woods holding up this sheet, while I was opposite to her with my fishing pole. (I wish I had a video of that! It was as funny as you can imagine.) If anything, I think Nicole gave that turkey a good laugh, or the runaway thought a ghost was following her around. So far Piper 0, turkey 5. All along, I’d throw turkey feed around the coop to keep our turkey in the area. It worked!
That following week, me, dad and Kyle finished building the chicken run on Tuesday, the day after Gram’s funeral. We enclosed the area so nothing could get in or out. That Wednesday, the chickens were running around in their playground, and who decided to join the fun? Our turkey. She came down to hang out by the chickens. Dad had a great idea. He instructed me to throw feed outside the chicken coop, prop the door open to their enclosure, and throw more feed inside, thinking we’d lure the turkey in.
That evening, when I went to set Dad’s trap, I came face to face with the turkey. It was roosting on the post. I couldn’t believe my luck. Thinking I could capture the bird myself, like a ninja I crabbed my trusty fishing net and threw the net up over the turkey. Did I get it? Nope. It flew up in a nearby tree.
The next morning dad said he went out to check on the chickens. Guess who was waiting for him in the chicken run, eating the feed I spread? Our wild turkey! Dad said, he simply stepped in the fenced in area with a net, shut the door, and caught the turkey!
We’re now back up to eleven turkeys, happily roosting in their coop, until this fall. That turkey had no idea how close I came to pulling out the shotgun and taking care of this problem once and for all before another wild animal feasted on our bird. To be honest, I’m surprised our dogs, especially my sister’s dog didn’t get the turkey. At one point the neighbors Saint Bernard ran across the road and chased the bird, but I intercepted him before he had a turkey dinner.
I’m sure the refugee told the others about her adventures in the wild.