Monday, November 21, 2011

A rare and beautiful bird

This morning when it was about time for breakfast, Lemuel noticed two people coming out from the house.  Now, a turkey’s vision is normally better than a humans, but Lemuel was unfortunately a bit nearsighted.  He worried as the two figures approached that maybe the farmer had found someone else who would be willing to take the whole flock for their Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps someone with a very, very large family.  He was relieved to see as they came closer that it was Bart’s daughter, Maria.  She was a very nice young lady.  She talked to the turkeys as though they could understand what she was saying, instead of either Bart’s insensitive remarks or other human’s baby talk.  

They were discussing Maria’s job, so she obviously wasn’t coming to check them out for some turkey feast she might be planning to host.  Maria was a veterinarian technician and worked for an animal hospital.  From what she was saying, she hated it.  “Dad, I love the animals, but I can’t stand the attitudes of some of the vets and the owners.  A lot of the owners are rich folks who expect the vets to be able to cure or heal anything, but then complain about the cost.  The vets are just looking to make as much money as they can.  Not that they do unnecessary procedures, but they aren’t honest with the owners when there’s really no chance that the animal will have any quality of life after all the expensive treatment.”  

Shaking his head Bart replied, “Well, that’s what happens in these real upscale practices.  Now if you worked in a neighborhood where folks didn’t have a lot of money, and the vets hadn’t built a state-of-the-art architecturally grandiose facility, I bet it would be a lot different.  Of course, you’d also make a lot less money.”  

Maria sighed.  “Well, you know that Dan is making a lot more money these days.  Maybe I should look around for another job.  One that I can go home at the end of the day and feel good about what I’ve done.”  

Bart filled the feed boxes and asked Maria if she wanted to see the lone poult that the turkeys had managed to hatch.  He laughed and said that the turkeys had outfoxed him by laying it outside the nesting boxes over in a corner.  They walked into the coop and were met with a dozen suspicious beady turkey eyes.  The hens weren’t about to be too trusting these days.  

Maria spoke gently to the hens, explaining that she just wanted to see their poult.  She told them she wasn’t going to take it or hurt it, but would like to make the little one’s acquaintance.  Courtney sensed that Maria was on the level, and moved a bit to the side so that Maria could see little Tiffany.  

“Oh, what a fine poult!  She looked at Courtney.  I believe this is yours, ma’am – and I think you should be proud of yourself.  You outmaneuvered my dad, which isn’t an easy thing to do, and look at her.”  She moved slowly closer and put out her hand.  This wasn’t the smartest move, as turkeys have sharp beaks and don’t hesitate to use them when they feel threatened.  When no one seemed inclined to peck at her she slowly scooped up the poult and held her carefully to her chest, stroking her baby feathers.  

“Dad, she’s a little marvel, but what is she doing in here instead of in the broody coop?”  She gave her father a hard look when he replied that since the poult wasn’t his idea he thought that they could just raise her in here if they could.  

Maria marched out of the coop, calling Courtney to follow her (not that she knew Courtney’s name).  “Come on mama, we’re taking your poult where she belongs.”    She opened the broody coop and turned on the heater and light controls.  Courtney, Brianna and Lydia had followed Maria and walked into the broody coop.  “Dad, go get some straw, we’re setting her up in here.  I don’t care if you want to stop raising turkeys, I can’t stand to see animal neglect, even if it’s as minor as not making sure a poult has a warm place to live.”  

She stood tapping her foot until her father brought in enough straw to set up a broody nest.  The heaters and lamps were getting up to temperature by that time, so Maria set Tiffany down in the broody box.  Courtney promptly hopped in and preened Tiffany, making sure that she hadn’t come to any harm while being held by Maria.  Satisfied, she looked up at Maria and simply said, “Thank you.”  

The next item of business was food for the hen and poult, so Maria went to the barn and returned with two cans of feed.  She filled one feed box with regular feed and the other with the special high-protein and small cut poult feed.  As she filled the smaller box she informed Courtney that the tiny feed was for her poult and it would help her grow up strong and healthy.  She could have sworn that the hen smiled at her as she said this, but figured she was just imagining things.  Although she had a higher opinion of turkeys’ intelligence than her father, she didn’t really expect that the hen understood her.  

Bart was grudgingly sweeping out cobwebs and old straw from the broody coop and shook his head as his daughter performed her self-assigned tasks.  She’d always had a soft heart, which was why she’d become a vet tech.  He could see the writing on the wall – he was going to have to raise this lone poult, which meant that he also would need to keep at least some of the hens around for a good while.  He sighed.  That meant trekking out to the run in the snow, clearing it for the turkeys and, oh, darn it; he wanted to be done with turkeys.  He loved his daughter, but she certainly wasn’t a farmer.  Then again, when she’d been growing up he hadn’t been a farmer, so he guessed that her attitude wasn’t surprising.  Next she’d been naming the little thing.

“Okay, little one.  You’re set for now.”  Tiffany fluffed out her feathers, truly warm for the first time since she hatched.  “You are a rare and beautiful bird, so I christen thee Tiffany.  You’re like a one-of-a-kind Tiffany necklace.”  

She smiled at the poult and hen, who looked at her in amazement.  What were the chances that Maria would choose the right name?  Lydia commented from the doorway, “The Celestial Turkey truly is watching over us.  We’re going to be fine.”  

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