Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Raised with Turkeys!

No I'm not talking about siblings.....By the time I was born, mom and dad had settled down and lived on the farm that was owned by Dad's employer.  It was a turkey farm.  Live was simpler back then and our great big trip was usually to town once a week.  Town was 30 minutes away and not large by any standards but mom would pile us kids in with the laundry and we would do grocery shopping and laundry once a week.  That, however, is another memory. This one is about Turkeys.

Mom told me later that dad's employer (Howard Kaufman from the Ho-Ka turkey farm) always said if they needed the food go ahead and take one of the turkeys.  They had enough and he didn't want his employees and their families to starve.  That was generous offer but mom never wanted to do that...until one day when she didn't have a choice.

There were some turkeys that were housed in the barns on the farm and it was our responsibility to notify the office if they ever got out and we couldn't herd them back.  They did get out occasionally but it usually was pretty easy to get them back in their pens.  One day however we had to make "THE CALL".  Not only did the turkeys get out (just overwhelming numbers all pushing on the wire fence at the same time) but they (gasp) were headed towards moms flower and vegetable garden. 

Mom grabbed up a broom to try and shoo back the turkeys but it didn't work this time.  She dropped the broom and yelled at us girls to call the main office and take the dog to try and round up the turkeys.  Her plan might have worked except for a couple of things.

1)  Us girls were still young.  I was only in second or third grade at the time and my sister was four years older than myself but not a large person. 

2)  Our dog at that time was a standard size poodle (dom't ask).  The size of the poodle was good to herd the turkeys back except the dog didn't know how to herd.  It *did* know however how to run around the house and bark.  it did that quite well. 

Patti (my sister) told me to call the Office (which I could do) and she'd get the dog.  Patti went to clip the dog (can't even remember his name) to the leash but she didn't get it clipped right and it was more of the dog was dragging Patti all around while it was having fun chasing turkeys.  Patti lost her grip on the leash and she went own freeing up the poodle to have fun with his new playmates.  The turkeys didn't want to play with the poodle though so they ran (what fun for the poodle).  Mom, I'm sure, was about to pull her hair out.  She finally told Patti and I to just get the dog and tie him back up.  Pat went one direction and I went another and the dog picked my direction to come towards.  Gulp!  Let's just say (since I am writing this) that I went down and the dog went over me. 

Eventually the dog DID get caught (not sure who did it) and we turned just in time to see our normally calm mother get extremely mad at the turkey who had DARED trample through her garden!  Somewhere she had picked up a board (dad liked to work with wood) and must have forgotten (so she said) that it was in her hand.  As she waved her hands trying to get the turkey out of the garden she heard a THUNK! 

She looked down and finally saw that she had the board in her hand but more importantly saw that she had hit the turkey with the board.  The THUNK was the turkey going down for the count.  The forever count!  She had broken his neck I guess.  Mom was afraid that Dad would get fired (she wasn't thinking that Kaufman said it would be ok) so she had to hide the evidence...and quickly.  She could see the farm hands coming down the main road and almost at our long drive way.  She pulled and pulled on the turkey, stretching its neck out as she tugged.  Finally the rest of the body followed.  Patti and I never knew that the neck could stretch that far and we practiced for weeks trying to get our necks to stretch more.

Mom finally yelled at us to get the door as she slowly pulled the dead turkey into the house and down the basement steps.  Thump!  Thump!  Thump!  all the way down the steps.  She quickly got out the washtub and put the turkey in it and ran upstairs to put the hot water over.  Guess what we were having for dinner that night!  The rest of the day was spent with Patti and I running hot water from the kitchen down to mom in the basement who had to pluck the feathers out and gut the turkey before she could cook it.  That part wasn't fun so I didn't keep it my memories.

I do remember mom saying she never told dad (although I think he suspected) what had happened until one Christmas when at the work holiday party mom finally fessed up.  Mr. Kaufman had given all the ladies pewter turkey earrings and when mom saw them she started to cry and confess her terrible deed.  Mom said that Mr. Kaufman laughed so hard he almost fell out of his chair and finally reminded her that he said we could have a turkey every once in awhile if we needed it.  I guess mom didn't think she needed it so it was murder.  Perhaps later she could claim self defense.  She was guarding her flowers and vegetables.  LOL.

So when you eat your turkeys today (if you do) remember all the people who had to prepare that turkey before you got it.  From the farm workers to the cook. 

Thank you one and all.  Next month might be the memory of the Xmas party from the farms.  Mr. Kaufman always gave good presents....even if we had to dress up.

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