Tom the Turkey

I really can’t say for sure how circumstances led me to such despicable acts. I am a traitor of unspeakable proportions.

Okay, okay, in keeping with the theme of personal untrustworthiness, I really can say for sure. Taste and texture led me. Years ago, I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law’s home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Everything was fabulous, but the turkey was fabulous to infinity. Moist, tender, delicious turkiness; I couldn’t stop gobbling.

What was her secret, pray tell? The bird was fresh—as in, never frozen. She’d found a special place that sold turkeys mere days after slaughter, unlike the usual, vacuum-sealed, frozen bowling balls with drumsticks. Wow.

So I started thinking; I live in the country, why not grow my own and enjoy the same delicious results? Indeed, it’s not very difficult to raise turkeys. They tend to hang around with the free-range chickens and eat relatively the same stuff, but more of it. In fact, they get along handsomely with the chickens and even form special friendships. It’s kind of kooky to watch. This summer for instance, a few of my turkeys-hanging-with-chickens turned out to be bad influences, as young friends often are.

These turkey ring-leaders came to believe that our front porch was the place for them—and their chicken buddies. I’d go to work, and when I got home, squish, squish, pee-ew! I had to take matters into my own hands. One night soon thereafter, I snatched up the turkeys from their ground in the chicken coop and quarantined the three in the mobile pen in the orchard. There they have remained, on the inside, moving to fresh grass day-by-day, chicken visiting hours limited, until now, a few days before, well, you know.

Thanksgiving is Thursday. Tomorrow I complete my backstab, almost literally. In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to know if I’ve been good to them more than the coming not-so-good. The voice of organic hog farmer, Tom Frantzen, plays on loop in my mind’s ear: “My pigs have only one bad day.”

I don’t even posses the chutzpah to do it myself. I’ll go to the pen early, grab each from behind by the base of their wings, hold on for dear life until they tire, load them a bird at a time into converted portable dog kennels, and drive five miles to Fanny’s place (our Amish neighbor), where the boiling cauldron will steam in the morning’s dawn.

Thursday I will think of things. I’ll be a step or two closer than many to my meal. I will enjoy it deeply, giving thanks to a conflicting world of benefactors.