This may sound hard to believe, but I can say with almost complete certainty that October marked the first time I saw a real, live turkey up close and personal. Sure, I may have seen one at the zoo, and definitely have seen the turkey the President pardons every year, but I have never seen one on a farm … you know, livin’ a turkey life in a turkey’s paradise before they end up on a holiday table. (Or not. Who knows, maybe this farm just keeps turkeys as pets.) (And if you didn’t read ‘livin’ a turkey life in a turkey’s paradise’ a la Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, I’ll give you a few seconds o go back and read it again like Busta. … … … … … … … … … there. Wasn’t that fun?)
A few things about turkeys:
1) Their gobbling is entertaining. The rafter of turkeys we saw would all gobble together after the biggest one did – kind of like an echo. (And, no, I didn’t know it was a ‘rafter of turkeys’. I Googled.) They also grunt, which is slightly disconcerting. The gobbling, however, is a pretty neat sound. Startling at first because it comes on suddenly and sounds guttural and frenetic, not like the pleasant, almost melodic ‘gobble, gobble, gobble’ as we’ve all come to say (especially as we read our children books!), but more like ‘gahble,gahble,gahble’ – super fast and clucky, like the turkey is on speed and scared to death. After their initial shock at the sound, our kids giggled uncontrollably. (Well, until they realized that turkeys, and their chicken neighbors right next door, actually kinda stink, which brings me to my next point…)
2) Turkeys (and their chicken friends) stink. I mean, I didn’t expect them to smell delicious like they do after roasting in an oven, but I also didn’t expect my nostrils to burn. Luckily, this particular farm kept the poultry birds outside, with an optional in-house coop, so it wasn’t as offensive to this “city” family’s noses, but definitely still rank enough that you didn’t want to hang around long.
3) Feathers are not my favorite. Turkeys do this thing like peacocks, where they raise their tail feathers, albeit in a decidedly less dramatic fashion. We could see where the feathers entered the skin on some of the turkeys, which was …yea. No. I can’t unsee that.
4) Turkey skin – as in the caruncle and waddle – is just as you’d imagine it, except picture it with little black hairs and giant pores. I wanted to touch it, but since the skin changes from gray to red, white, and blue (how about that!) when a turkey is stressed or excited, and not one turkey in the rafter had gray skin … I decided I my love for fingers was more precious to me than the desire to know what that turkey skin feels like.
As we were checking out the turkeys, Grace made the connection that when I serve her turkey, I am actually serving her an animal. She exclaimed, “Wait! Those are turkeys?! Like the ones we eat?” I said, “Yes.” She crinkled up her nose and said, “Ew.”