140 turkeys (or pea-brains as the kids call them) roam about our field, flapping and bobbing in ungainly dashes, perusing the grass for bugs. One lanky fellow runs down the hill, trips on his wing, and somersaults twice before regaining his composure. If turkeys ever have composure.
Joel and Caleb arrive with grain, and suddenly every wrinkled, bald head turns in their direction. Joel walks through the field with a bucket, leading a train of eager followers. Turkeys are very focused: food, food, food, they chirp. Its all they think about. Which is why it is such an honor for them to be the main attraction on Thanksgiving day.
Unfortunately, the coyotes think about food as well, and they don’t wait patiently for the fourth Thursday in November. We lost several birds before we realized the danger. Now, each night, Ruth and Caleb herd the turkeys into a shelter. Turkey herding isn’t fast paced enough to be an Olympic sport, but it does take skill. Blocking birds from turning tail and running in the wrong direction, and running after the fugitives who do escape is a process that builds something. Most likely character. The turkeys are getting the hang of it as well, and they have shaved their time down by half. Perhaps turkey herding teams have a future in the Olympics after all.
One evening, when Caleb and Joel were herding the turkeys in for the night, the coyotes lurked on the other side of the fence, howling for their dinner. They came so close Joel could see their eyes, at the sight of which he and Caleb ran back to the house to get help. He thought about getting the 22, but once inside he paused long enough to realize he didn’t know how to shoot it . It was at this moment I wished I was a good shot, but lacking this skill, I grabbed a rolling pin and a colander.
Mama beamed the car head lights into the field and I stood by the gate to the pasture, beating a tattoo on the colander and gate with my rolling pin, making enough noise to wake the bull frogs sleeping at the bottom of the pond. Coyotes are cowards, and this concert put a temporary end to their wailing, long enough for us to get the turkeys securely stowed in their pen. No harm will come to these birds before the appointed hour, not with the guardians of thanksgiving dinner on the watch.