Thursday, September 30, 2010

All turkeys are not named Tom

Kid sighed.  Another stormy day and here he was – out in the rain.  He knew he could probably get into Val’s house and find a cozy spot, but it was such a hassle to get past Buddy.  He’d need to find a time when Buddy was sleeping, or at least somewhere out of sight of the deck, and then scoot inside quickly.  No matter how much Ziggy and Bella loved him, they were not going to be interested in doing escort duty with all this wind and rain.  So, he decided to check out his alternate shelters for inclement weather. 

Bart’s farm had the best variety, but it kind of depended on which animals were in which fields.  He didn’t like the goats much.  They smelled and had one-track minds.  Food.  Food.  Food.  When was the farmer going to feed them?  What would they get?  No matter that he always brought the same thing – they were always hopeful that he’d bring something new and interesting.  The chickens were just plain insane.  They thought he’d try to catch them and eat them, despite that most of them were as big as he was.  Admittedly he did have claws and teeth that were much more effective than their dinky little beaks, but he didn’t want to kill chickens.  All Kid had to do was set foot inside their enclosure and they’d all start screaming, “Fox, fox!”  He’d tried to explain that he was not a fox, wasn’t even closely related to the species and didn’t look anything like a fox, but they didn’t listen. 

The cows were half-way decent conversationalists, but their field was just too messy in the rain.  Their huge hooves churned up the mud and puddles formed in the depressions.  They also were not clean-minded about where they dropped their, um, droppings, and when it rained the field became a land-mine of well, it’s better not to say.  So, the cow shelter was out. 

Kid picked his way down the hedgerow between Val and Bart’s property carefully, keeping an eye out for Charlie-the-dog.  He doubted Charlie would be out today, and they actually got along pretty well, but only after Charlie had his initial canine reaction of ‘cats are to be chased’.  Charlie chased, Kid ran, Kid jumped up on fence and scolded Charlie, Charlie calmed down.  Same routine every time.  Dogs just don’t learn from experience. 

Today, however Kid noticed a new creature – one he’d never seen before.  He thought it was a bird, because it kind of looked like the vultures that he’d seen from time to time.  He approached its enclosure carefully, as he didn’t know if it would try to escape or attack him. 

He called out a hello to it, and it jumped in the air about six inches.  Okay, so whatever it was, it was nervous.  “Hi, I’m Kid and I live on the other side of the hedgerow.  Howdy, neighbor.”

The creature looked at him out of one eye, head turned and cocked and gave a somewhat garbled greeting.  Kid thought that perhaps the creature was Italian, like Bart and as a new arrival didn’t speak English well.  “I was looking for a shelter from the rain, although it seems to have stopped for the moment, and I saw you here.  I thought I would be neighborly and welcome you to the area.”
The creature bobbed its head on its long neck a couple times and said in a much clearer voice, “My name is Lemuel.  I’m sorry, you startled me.  I thought I’d seen most of the animals who lived here and I hadn’t seen a cat.”

“Pleased to meet you, Lemuel.  That’s quite an unusual name.  As I said, I live across the hedgerow.  What kind of creature are you, exactly?”

Lemuel raised his head and assumed a regal pose.  “I am a turkey.  I am one of a species that is actually native to this land, as opposed to most of these other animals who were brought from other countries.  I can trace my pedigree back 200 generations.  As to my name, it was my sixth cousin’s, twice removed.  Unfortunately, the farmer here calls me Tom.  I don’t know why, but humans like to call all turkeys Tom, even if they are female.”

Kid, who couldn’t trace his pedigree back to who exactly was his father, wasn’t awfully impressed with lineage.  “Well, I’m glad to welcome you to the farm, and to assure you that I will not chase you, harass you or try to eat you.  In any case, you’re bigger than I am, so I don’t know if I could.” 

The settled down for a chat, since it looked like the rain would hold off for a bit.  Lemuel had come from a farm about a half-hour away, and had come only recently to Bart’s place.  He was a bit lonely, as Bart had bought only one turkey.  Lemuel thought that was rather short-sighted, as one male turkey does not make a dynasty on his own.  He’d come to the conclusion though that Bart was just checking out the set-up for turkeys and would bring females in a week or so once he saw how Lemuel settled in.

As they chatted, the clouds darkened again, and Kid looked anxiously at the sky.  “Lemuel, I think it’s going to rain soon.  If you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a nice dry place to wait out the next downpour.”

“It was nice to meet you, Kid.  I look forward to talking with you again and introducing you to the rest of my flock when they arrive.  It will be soon, I am sure.”  With that Kid ran off and took shelter in a neighbor’s shed, conveniently left open.  A pile of soft cushions from a lawn chair was the perfect place to nap away a rainy afternoon.  

Photo courtesy of Martin Pettitt -

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