A True Tale: “The Saga of Tom Turkey” by Kenosha Marge

(Editor’s Note:When this post was first published in November 2008 it became an instant classic…So, we’re making it a new tradition here at IA. Original comments follow:

***

All of us here at IA would like to extend to all our visitors our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. We hope any political differences that may be within your families will be put aside to so that everyone can reflect on the good things that life brings our way.

Before Kenosha Marge begins her entertaining true story about a particular turkey that entered her life, I want to offer a little aside about the wild turkeys I saw while living in New Jersey.  Unbelievably, I saw two birds in “full feather” emerge from a small wooded area in back of the office in Hamilton, NJ (suburban Trenton) one day as I was standing at the copy machine, gazing out the window. Needless to say, I was totally shocked, considering that the office was in the middle of a very busy area, not in the “wilds of NJ.”  The two birds were magnificent and gave me the thrill of a lifetime!

So, on to Kenosha Marge’s wonderful story…and best wishes for your Thanksgiving Day from Marge, Grail Guardian, American Lassie, Leslie, and me!  And, we give our thanks to all of you for visiting our site. ~~InsigntAnalytical-GRL)

***

The Saga of Tom Turkey (A Bird with Attitude)

~~By Kenosha Marge

Our family has a Thanksgiving story that is trotted out ever year. With a golden brown carcass of a roasted turkey having pride of place on the dinner table we tell the tale of another turkey. We speak of a turkey that never graced anyone’s dinner table.

turkey-dinner

The story starts innocently enough. The spouse decided one spring that what we needed most in life was to raise our own turkeys. Having learned nothing from the debacle of the raising of our own chickens he insisted that we had no idea of the taste delight of homegrown turkey. He had said the same thing about the chickens but only he and our eldest son and the occasional guest could attest to that fact since the rest of us were unable to eat a chicken we knew.

Our little 8-acre mini-farm was already home to an odd assortment of animals including 2 horses, 4 dogs, 17 goats and some cats. No number is given for the cats because we never knew how many cats we had at any given time.

People from miles around would drive to the end of our driveway to “drop” off an unwanted cat. We did not so much welcome them as they simply moved into the barn and made themselves at home. The saddest were the pampered house cats and the neutered males. Newsflash for irresponsible pinheads that think farm cats will welcome a neutered male into their midst; such poor animals were killed within days or were driven off to starve. Many had also been de-clawed so they couldn’t even fight back. I hope there is a special place in hell for those people that dropped neutered and de-clawed cats off at the end of my driveway.

My herd of goats is another story. It started from just one goat. A nanny goat purchased because our younger son was allergic to cow’s milk. I decided that I would keep a milk goat so that we could always be assured of a fresh supply of milk for our Joe.

I failed to realize that the goat would have to have a baby every year, aka a kid, or she wouldn’t be lactating. Because I fell in love with each and every kid we never sold any and my herd kept on growing. I got very good at making goat’s milk cheese and ice cream. Joe grew out of his allergy and I was stuck milking 16 nanny goats twice a day and feeding one very smelly “he” goat.

But back to the tale of Tom the Turkey. One cold and sunny spring Saturday the spouse came home with a box containing 6 turkey chicks or poults. Expecting cute and fuzzy we were confronted with six gangly, ugly little turkeys, six very noisy, gangly, ugly little turkeys. Turkeys who had to reside in the house because, did I mention that it was cold outside and they would die of the cold?

So the turkey chicks came into the house, or rather into the basement. No way I was going to get to know these critters. I kept the kids away from them as much as possible too. But it’s difficult to become attached to turkeys. They are just so damn stupid. Young turkeys left outside in the rain will look up until some of them will actually drown.

However our six young turkeys grew and thrived. We soon discovered that 5 were hen turkeys and 1 was a tom. That’s when things began to go awry. Tom the turkey was not a nice turkey. He was not docile like his sisters. He seemed to have been hatched with a chip on his shoulder, or whatever serves a turkey as a shoulder. Tom was hatched pissed off and never got over it. Perhaps he was aware of the fate in store for him and his sisters. As he grew, and did he grow, his disposition did not improve.

The 5 hens just grew. They grew big. By the time it was time to think about turning them into a meal they were huge. The smallest weighed in at 31 pounds and the largest weighed 38 pounds. Where do you find a pan capable of roasting a 38-pound turkey?

domestic-turkey-2

And Tom? Well the last time the spouse was able to pick him up and weigh him he weighed 42 pounds. After that picking Tom up was not possible if you valued life and limb. To say he objected is a massive understatement.

Spouse may have been competent to dispatch 4-pound chickens but 30-pound turkeys are a different matter. They fight back. Hen number one was also shocked into sticking both of her legs straight out to the side at the moment she met her maker. This result made it easy to stuff her but impossible to get her into the oven. One leg or another kept catching on the oven door. We finally just lopped one off and stuck it in the pan. The other stuck straight up and did sort of provide a self-basting mechanism.

Spouse then attempted the demise of hen number 2 and Tom decided to intervene. We’ll never know if Tom was feeling some love for his sisters or just his usual hate for the spouse. While spouse was attempting to sneak up on the second hen, Tom was sneaking up on him. Tom was better at the sneaking part. Suffice it to say the picture of a 50+ pound turkey riding my 6’4” husband and pecking at his head is not a sight I’ve ever been able to forget. Nor the running in circles, yelling, cussing and flapping of arms of said spouse.

Hubby eventually bucked Tom off and escaped from the turkey pen. Tom patrolled the pen and Hubby retreated to the house to have me attend to his wounds. Band-aids and Bactine soon soothed the nicks on his neck and both cheeks. However only time would take care of the missing patch of hair on his crown.

Now hubby declared war! First he had to separate Tom from the rest of the herd, er, flock. Son number one was the fleetest of foot so he was bait. He stood in the driveway between the turkey pen and the barn and made noises while son number two opened the gate of the pen and then hid behind it. Daughter and I were spectators hidden safely behind the kitchen window.

Son number one ran into the barn with Tom hot on his heels. Hubby, who was hiding behind a bush by the barn, (you really had to see this part to appreciate it), then slammed the barn door. Son number one ran out the other side and closed the door. Tom was now safely contained in the barn with all the cats and the goats. He scared Minnie so bad she didn’t give milk for several days. One cat disappeared and was never seen again. Personally I’ve always believed it decided to look for a less dysfunctional family to live with.

Tom was in the barn, spouse quickly dispatched the 4 remaining hens and they were soon in the freezer. However, night was coming and there was goat milking to be done. Anyone that thought I was going into the barn with an angry 50+ pound turkey roaming around was mistaken.

Now the men folk needed a plan to get Tom back into the pen. I’m not sure what the plan was but Tom escaped from the barn and headed off into the cornfield. I raced to the barn; made sure that both doors were closed and proceeded to milk my poor traumatized herd of goats. I then raced back to the house with a bucket in each hand and the milk sloshing with every step. I assure you I felt every bit as idiotic as I must have looked.

Our thought that all turkeys are dumb was soon proven wrong as Tom the turkey continued to outsmart the men folk. They never were able to catch him or herd him back into his pen although it wasn’t for lack of trying. Tom wandered wild and free stealing food from the garden, the goats and the horses. I’m not sure he didn’t steal cat food too.

Tom wandered the countryside like some giant ball of white feathers and only showed up occasionally to chase terrified guests into the house. It’s amazing how much speed a portly female can get up to when she sees an enormous gobbling bird bearing down on her. And it’s amazing how un-gallant the men are as they take off and pass their wives at a dead run heading for safety.

Tom nearly met his match one day when a Wisconsin State Trooper pulled into the yard. The Trooper headed for the backdoor and suddenly Tom came running and a gobbling loudly as usual. The look on the Troopers face was another sight I will treasure. I know I saw him reach for his weapon although he later denied it.

I came to his rescue with my Tom the Turkey handler, a cattle prod. I never touched him with it but the buzzing noise was enough to make him keep his distance. Tom gave in to me brandishing the cattle prod and besides I’m sure he saw that Trooper reach for his gun.

I tried to appear nonchalant as the Trooper instructed me that he would be picking me up the following week to testify about an accident I had witnessed. I suspect he was now apprehensive about my qualifications as a credible witness.

The Saga of Tom the Turkey came to end in the autumn of his 3rd year. Quite a ripe old age for a domestic turkey actually. More than once the spouse threatened to shoot that damn bird but he never did. I think he thought that would be “cheating” and wanted to defeat Tom fair and square. He had come to have respect for a worthy foe.

Tom met his end in a most Tom-like way. He was chasing the neighbor’s dog down the driveway and ran in front of a Chevy Impala. Tom died immediately. The lady who was driving the car had hysterics all over my front yard, the Sheriff’s Deputy who showed up seemed more interested in the size of Tom’s carcass than in the lady’s hysterics and my homeowners insurance refused to pay for the damage on her car inflicted by Tom’s last hurrah.

Tom was buried, not eaten, and perhaps the whole episode explains why I became a vegetarian. I hope that Tom went on to a better world with thick piles of soft hay to rest his weary drumsticks on after a fulfilling day of chasing large, slow humans and various quadrupeds to his heart’s content.

Talking turkey:

Here are a few turkey facts for those of you that have nothing better to do with you time or for those of you who are just sponges for knowledge.

The brightly colored growths on the throat region of a turkey are called caruncles. They turn bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

The gizzard is the part of a bird’s stomach that contains tiny stones. It helps them to grind up for digestion.

A hen, of course, is the female turkey. A male turkey is a tom or is also known as a gobbler. A turkey chick is a poult. The flap of skin that hangs over a turkey’s beak is called a snood. It also turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

The flap of skin under the turkey’s chin is called a wattle. It also turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Scientific genus and species: Meleagris gallopavo

The turkey industry grosses over $1billion a year.

The average American consumes over 15 pounds of turkey per year.

Americans consume over 675 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, and one more fact for you; Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey.

wild-turkey-with-text1

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36 Responses

  1. Marge,

    What a wonderful story! Thanks for getting me in the spirit (although as a fellow vegetarian I pass on the turkey, too). I want to reiterate GRL’s wish for a peaceful, politics-free Thanksgiving for all!

  2. Your stories always make me laugh out loud Kenosha Marge. Maybe because they are so graphic they make me feel like I’m watching everything unfold. Or maybe because I also have an accidental farm, and have had a similar experience with a Tom turkey. Only I wasn’t trying to kill him. He got mad at me because he wanted me to be one of his hens, and I didn’t cooperate.

  3. Thank you Marge, you’ve made my day. I woke up this morning feeling a little down but your story lightened my mood considerably. I could almost visualize you running with the buckets of milk.

    You are a great story teller and writer and I get great pleasure in reading your posts. Keep it up.

  4. What a hilarious tale! I would be running for my life too!

    I was reminded of a trip to my in-laws a few Thanksgivings ago and the morning after when my sister-in-law and her husband, my husband and I all went out for breakfast in Roseburg, Oregon.

    As we drove to the restraunt we saw a group of about 15 – 20 wild turkeys gathering in the front yards ofsome homes.

    Our first thought is they were having their “We made it!” celebration breakfast! We laugh about that every year.

    You also remind me of my own menagerie of animals Marge! 2 horses, 5 dogs and too many cats to count. Between that and our love of gardening I think we must be “cosmic sisters” as well as political allies!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you at IA!

    CQ

  5. I can’t wait to share this at the T-Day bash we have on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (where I will be counting all the exploding heads when the talk turns to Teh One and the Clintons. And it will, because I know my family, not because I’ll so anything to start it.)

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    leslie

  6. so = do

  7. marge, I love your stories and am almost able to hear your voice in the telling. I am still laughing my head off at your adventures as a farm wife and those 16 goats are hysterical!

    Keep ’em coming. One thing for sure, with people like you who enjoy a true sense of humor and irony, passing that along to us is what makes this world go round.

    You brought a smile to my face once again and that is some pretty powerful magic in this day and age.

    Love you!!!!

  8. Loved the story!

  9. Awww, I’m SAD for Tom! Ht by a car is never a good way to go “out”. 😦 He sounds like he made an awesome Guard Turkey.

    My mother had her own wild turkey “pet” that would come around their yard (over in Massachusetts, where there are lots of wild turkeys and fewer hunters than in the midwest/south). Apparently he would come around every day to say hi. And then he stopped coming for a while…turns out Turkey was busy making a family, LOL! The whole family came by a few times to say hi.

    I like most living creatures. Sure, turkeys can be really stupid, but my mother’s turkey was a docile one, for a wild one.

  10. Ah, Marge, you made my day. I can see your husband running around trying to shed an angry tom turkey.

    I really enjoyed your comment on that incredibly stupid article in New York Magazine, too.

    Have a great holiday, all!

  11. OK, I have never seen a live turkey in my life. I run from ducks, and my kids leave me in the dust in our haste to run. I can’t imagine what I’d do if a turkey chased me.

    Great story.

  12. Here in north Jersey, I hit a turkey on a state highway one morning on my way to work some years ago. The light turned green and I was accelerating with a bunch of cars behind me. He came right into the road and what could i do? I hit him, but not before he looked at me and raised his wings and he had this squawky look on his face right before i smashed into him. Awk!! I looked in the rear-view mirror and all I could see was feathers.

    This month there was this crazy turkey that was causing all kinds of traffic problems on the same road. The cops finally caught him and relocated him.

    Lotta wild turkeys in north Jersey now. I dunno, fewer hunters, maybe?

  13. nene…whereabouts in N. Jersey?
    I grew up in Rutherford, have relatives in Oakridge and Butler…

  14. Great story. I came here from Confluence and really enjoyed reading it. We have a small farm, and 17 goats… no turkeys! Maybe never turkeys!

    Next we are after two weener calves for beef and some chickens, although I am dubious about the chickens, I must admit.

  15. PUMA John, don’t be sad for Tom. Being hit by a car may not be a “good” way to go, if there is such a thing, but it beat the alternative, for a turkey.

    Tom was gaining on the neighbor’s German Shepard when he met his end. That must have put a smile on his beak at the end.

  16. Thank you for the laugh! Great story! Here’s to Tom!

  17. Happy thanksgiving to my friends at IA!

  18. Hey, Insight: Bloomingdale and the road is Rt 23

    I hit the turkey just past the bottom of Riverdale hill.

  19. We get flocks of turkeys that show up where I live and just a couple of weeks ago a group walked across my mother’s lawn. They seem to be everywhere, yet when I was younger, we rarely saw them (kind of like the bears and even coyotes).

    Fewer hunts, shrinking habitat, I guess.

  20. What a great Turkey Day Story!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all from across the pond!!! :OD

  21. I laughed at this ’til I cried! Too funny…Happy Thanksgiving, PUMA siblings!

  22. Marge, I commented yesterday but I had to come back and tell you what a success your story about Tom was when I relayed it to my family. I couldn’t do it justice so I pulled the post up on the computer and let them read it for themselves. It would have been a sight to behold if anyone had been watching us. Imagine four grown adult people huddled around a computer laughing their heads off with tears running down their cheeks. You have no idea how much you have added to my Thanksgiving day.

    I have a lot to be thankful for but sometimes I get caught up in the everyday world and forget to take a few minutes to sit back and reflect on what’s most important in our lives. Family, friends and a good laugh once in a while. Thanks again.

  23. I almost forgot. Happy Thanksgiving day to all of you here at “insight analytical.

  24. Thanks for the nice comment and compliment too Lee. Everyone else too.

    You have no idea how much you made my day! A good laugh, some good food, and some family friendly bonhomie makes us better able to gird our loins and prepare for the next battle wherever it may be. Personally I’m gonna gird in spandex.

  25. Personally I’m gonna gird in spandex.

    ROFL! You’re too much, Marge!

  26. We raised beef cattle for 3 years and never could sell the calfs or heifers to the beef processor. I fell in love with their dumbness. Whenever we had to separate the mothers from their babies, they would stand at the fence or gate and moo all day and night longing for the calfs. Once a neighbor was so mad at an escapee he couldn’t round up and get inside the fence, he went home and got into his Eldorado and ran the cow down on the street. That one did make it to the beef people and the neighbor brought me over lots of packaged beef (more than I had room for in my freezer). I tried to cook it and gave quite a bit to friends and family. But I never was able to eat any of it as I knew that old girl too well.

  27. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the True Tale…

    Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. I don’t know how I’d survive without all my insightful and analytical friends………

    A new story:

    Last night after a pretty long day at work – and an even longer-than-usual week (for an unusually abbreviated one), I went to catch the el (elevated train in Chicago).
    And there it was – – – the Santa Train coming to pick me up and take me away!

    The Santa Train is a very special train. I’d heard of it before, and once, last year, I actually caught a glimpse of it from several blocks away. It is at least 12 cars long and every car is lighted and trimmed with holiday lights, colors, tinsel, garlands inside and out! The seats are covered in special holiday covers with Santa, elves, reindeer patterns. And the CTA even pumps holiday music throughout the cars. There are staff in each car, dressed like Santa helpers who hand out candy canes and the schedules of when and where the Santa Train will travel throughout the season. Between cars number 4 and 5, there is a flatbed with snow, reindeer, lights, bags of toys, and Santa himself!

    I am well beyond childhood – in fact, in January I will qualify for the “seniors ride free” program. But I was simply delighted. What a happy way to end this week and beginthe holiday season. I was not alone in taking pictures with my phone.( I wish I’d had a real camera with me.) When I exited the train, I saw so many people with their phones out taking pictures. What Fun!! The children who were on the train were really wanting to stay aboard, and the parents – some of them – even agreed to stay on and ride around the Loop. If I’d had my way I’d have stay on board as well.

    I know Chicago – like most other cities – is in a heck of a financial mess. And the CTA is deeper in debt than ever. But what a lovely and fun gesture this is. It just brightened up every person on that train. You should have seen them. Even the workers said they were “excited” to be selected to be on the train and see the smiles on the faces of everyone.

    Again . . . Happy holidays to you all. 🙂

    • Leslie…could this be used as a separate post for Christmas?

      It’s wonderful!!!

      • IA,

        Leslie…could this be used as a separate post for Christmas?

        What a lovely thought.
        I’m planning to take some photos on Sunday.
        I’ll send them to you . . .

  28. What a wonderful idea! We all need something to lift our spirts in these times and a Santa train sounds like just the thing to do it.

    Thanks for sharing Leslie. Now when I try to think of nice things to say about Chicago, and you know how hard that is for a Cheesehead, I will have two. 1. Leslie lives there and 2. The Santa Train.

  29. What a treat! Tom Turkey and the Santa Train. With things like this to lift our spirits, we can go into the next year with a little hope after all.

  30. I am completely confused about the time/date stamp on the comments. Some say November 26 – and that makes sense.
    Others say November 27, November 28 and even November 29.
    That would only make sense if it were actually the 29th. BUT it is November 27 and the posts that are dated for the 27th, 28th, and 29th were actually posted on Nov. 26.

    I feel as though I have entered the twilight zone.

    • Sorry Leslie….I didn’t want to erase all the wonderful comments from last year…

      I don’t know if I can ‘reverse’ the order of the comments, either….

      • oh am I ever embarrassed. I thought I was lost in space. Instead I was lost in the space between my ears. . . 😉

  31. Look at the year leslie, some are from last year and some from this.

    And what makes you think you haven’t entered the Twilight Zone? I feel like that every time I watch the news. 😯

    • I have been having trouble with my intertubz connection since Wednesday. I thought everyone else might have been (having trouble) as well. I am relieved because some of those comments sounded just like the ones from last year.

      thanks:)

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