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Wrangling Turkey

Thunderstorms swept through at about 3am today, which meant the dogs were off and on my bed, shaking and pressing close to me before overheating, hopping down, and padding into the loo to sprawl on the tile and cool off.

Which means I’ve been up since three, and am on my second jolt of coffee. I could have had a bit of a lie-in if I wasn’t wrangling all sorts of livestock for friends on vacation.

Speaking of which, I have decided I dislike turkeys, but I’ve also found out how to whistle a small herd of goats into behaving properly. (At least, for a while.) Imagine my surprise when I found out goats prefer Ennio Morricone spaghetti western music to any other.

…yeah, it’s been that kind of week. The turkey1, though. My gods.

It wasn’t so bad when he was younger, but said fowl has just arrived at two years old and autumn is the beginning of mating season. So, he’s feeling his oats (such as they are) and while he’s happy to be hand-fed by his regular human, he decided after a few days of my visiting the coop (to take care of him, the geese, and the chickens) that he was called upon to defend the egg room from my depredations.

Said depredations included putting chicken kibble in the trough and collecting eggs. For some reason, the newly adult turkey was unwilling to countenance that, so he came at me in the close confines of said egg room.

Now, he had been getting a little aggressive even with his usual human, so she’d warned me to arm myself. Which is why I had the shovel.

Regular readers will note that it was not the Serious Bizness Shovel featured in SquirrelTerror, but a similar shovel used for coop cleanup and scraping. In short, the Coop Shovel is a serious bit of business in its own right, and he got the back of it when he flew at me in the egg room, his spurs out.

The fellow got cursed and whomped for his pains, and herded out through the door with said backside of said shovel. Now, please note I did not strike even close to hard enough to harm him in any fashion, I just wanted to get him down out of the air and hustled out of the egg room.

But it was a defeat, and like Napoleon, this turkey did not take defeat well.

As a result, I’ve had to think one step ahead of this goddamn fowl for about two weeks now. At first menacing with the shovel in his general direction was enough, but then he figured out I didn’t want to hurt him (because it would make his human sad) and started getting frisky again. I finally arrived at changing up the sequence of feeding at the coop in order to throw him off, but he solved that problem by lurking in the egg room for as much as ten minutes at a time, laying in wait.

That was when I brought in Shirley.

Back when my writing partner owned the bookstore, I would often cruise the Archie McPhee catalogue and find things the place couldn’t do without. Like Clara, the big rubber vulture, or a whole cavalcade of sock monkey merchandise (long story, don’t ask).

Anyway, one of my most amazing finds was a two-foot-tall plastic penguin. I figured her size and strange coloring would keep the turkey’s interest–and ire–for a while, and that would mean I could get the kibble down in peace.

Shirley in her natural habitat. She came to live with me when the store closed.

And it worked. Sort of. For a while.

But then… the turkey got wise.

To be continued…

Notes

  1. For the curious, he’s a heritage Blue Slate or Blue Palm; I can’t figure out quite which.