Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?

Have you ever seen a wild turkey in the flesh before? It's a sight that will leave you speechless in mid-sentence. They're sooo prehistoric looking, with their long necks, big eyes, and neck-waggling shuffle. Looking at a wild turkey I have no doubts that modern birds and dinosaurs have a common ancestor.

This is just what a velociraptor looked like...except it's lacking the front claws, big eyes, and hunting pack.

What I didn't know was just how darn entertaining wild turkeys could be.

Several times a week a member of the Rational Living household will spot at least one wild turkey at the new homestead. In the mornings we frequently see them wandering up from the south, following the dry creek that forms the western part of our property. They then cut across our grounds to the northeast corner and continue their journeys elsewhere.

Our regular visitors are typically either a trio of hens or a solitary hen. It is great fun to run a commentary, a la MST3K, of their antics. To do this I recommend using soft English accents, similar to your favorite Masterpiece Theatre viewings. After all, animals are funnier when they have English accents. Also, I'm pretty sure that deep down inside all the hens are prim and proper ladies that would, if acceptable in avian circles, wear conservative hats and carry modest hand bags (if they had hands). Keep all this in mind.

What all the fashionable wild turkey hens will be carrying this fall.
And they definitely won't be talking about this turkey purse (I learn something new every day).

Last week the trio of hens, lined up in single file, were walking along the edge of the back half-acre when two of them ducked under the barbed-wire fence and headed east towards other pastures. The last one in the row? It was as if she was daydreaming and didn't realize the others had left. She just kept walking straight north, parallel to the barbed-wire fence, bobbing her neck in oblivion. Once the two east-bound hens were about 20 feet from the fence they stopped and had a little conversation (at least that's what it looked like).

"Oh dear, Hazel. Elsie's missing again."
"She probably kept walking to the north. Poor thing, she'd find her way to Minnesota if we didn't keep her on track."
"I suppose one of us should go get her."
"Yes, Clarice. One of us should go get her."
"Well, if you're not going to volunteer I suppose I'll run after her."

And with that one of the hens hurriedly shuffled west, slid under the fence, and headed north where she joined up with the daydreamer.

"Elsie, dear?"
"Yes? Did you notice the wild rose bushes up ahead, too, Clarice? Aren't they beautiful?"
"No, dear. We need to be heading east now."
"Oh. Really?"
"Yes, dear. Let's duck under the fence now, shall we?"
"But where is Hazel?"

"She's waiting for us on the other side of the fence."

"How did she get there already? Really, one must not be hasty!"

Elsie and Clarice both headed east, ducking under the fence and rejoined with Hazel.

On a different day, late in the morning, I spotted a solitary turkey hen in the back half-acre. She was walking north along the western border when she abruptly turned south and waddled straight to where the broken red wagon rested near the chicken manure. She spent a good minute surveying the scene: "Ah wagon, manure...clearly someone was hauling manure and had an accident." After a minute she quickly headed in a different direction, ready to be on with her business.

But once she was about 15 feet from the wagon she stretched her wings, spun around, and ran back to the wagon. Again she looked the place over. "Oh dear, I never even thought to look for chickens! There could be an injured chicken needing assistance!" After a minute of looking soothed her worries, the hen pulled herself away to leave.

Again, after about 15 feet of travel, she suddenly turned and ran back to the wagon. "Of course there aren't any chickens...chickens couldn't pull this wagon! I must look and make sure there isn't an injured human needing assistance!" The hen looked around the wagon again, head held both high and low for full perspective. After a minute of looking ruled out any humans with wagon-related injuries, she turned to head away.

Once 15 feet away the hen changed course and headed back to the wagon. And looked. And then left only to repeat the cycle again. And again. In all, she repeated this pattern at least eight times.

"Maybe if I go away and come back the magical number of times the mystic Indian maiden will appear and I can pull her red wagon across the sky like Freyja's cats pulling her golden chariot towards Valhalla."

I'm not sure if she wanted to determine if the wagon could be fixed ("Oh dear, the wheel completely separated from the axle...tsk, tsk"), if she was suffering from short-term memory loss ("Could it be? Another pretty red wagon!"), or if she was enjoying the best game of near/far ever ("The wagon is near...the wagon is far!"). I nearly choked on my tea, laughing as I watched from the kitchen window. Determined to take a picture, I grabbed the camera and headed outside. By the time I reached the back half-acre she was gone.

Who knew that turkeys could be so entertaining? I'm definitely looking forward to the next episode.

--Rational Mama

1 comment:

  1. This made my day a whole lot brighter. Who knew turkeys could be so funny?!