Lesson 281 – That thing on a turkey is just gross

People ask me all the time if I have turkeys or if I plan on ever getting a turkey. I suppose when one has chickens, one is assumed to be interested in all things fowl. (which if we’re going to be honest here, I kind of am – so no harm in the question).

Although I have thought about turkeys, in the same way I’ve thought about ducks and yes, even a peacock, the answer is no. The only domestic turkeys I’ve heard of and seen are those that are being raised to be “Thanksgiving Dinner”. In a major case of hypocrisy, I’m willing to eat turkey on Thanksgiving as long as it’s not one that I know personally.

And although turkeys must lay eggs (that is of course, how we get baby turkeys) I haven’t heard of anyone raising the roof about eating turkey eggs. I have to the contrary heard about the gastronomical delights of duck eggs which are supposed to be denser and fuller flavored than chicken eggs.

I’ve also heard that turkeys are the only birds that get ticks but I’m not sure if that’s true or if it’s just some bad news that is being spread around by the anti-turkey society. If this is true, one of the benefits of chickens is that they eat ticks, so if I had turkeys would the chickens eat the ticks off the turkeys?

I do know that domestic turkeys are not the brightest birds in the world, unlike their wild cousins who are sleeker, darker, and who have enough sense to literally get out of the rain, domestics are large, plump, and from what I saw this weekend when we went to a poultry farm – don’t know how to get down from the top of the hen house (although they somehow managed to get up).

A face only his mother could love

Turkeys also have this thing which we’ve all seen in pictures of turkeys. When we were young we colored the thing in with red crayon whenever we drew a turkey almost like adding a red hot dog to the bird’s face. What’s that we’d ask. Oh it’s just the wattle. We accepted this and moved on to the Pilgrim pictures. But nothing prepares you for seeing this in real life though. It looks very much like a crayon colored multi-tumored growth covering the bird’s face. That really is a vivid BLUE you are seeing here. How they mange to eat anything with that one hanging appendage down the front of their face is beyond me. Seriously, who would want to go near that thing?

And yet like many things in nature, the more colorful and large the growths on the male bird, the more desirable he is to the female.

While I understand this and on some level appreciate the biology behind it, suffice it to say that our chickens and more importantly our neighbors will not be hearing the shrill gobble-gobble-gobble (which is really what it sounds like) in our yard any time soon. I’m sorry to say the only turkey we’ll be having in this family is the one on our platter for Thanksgiving dinner.


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Crazy Chicken Lady, Everything Eggs, Personal, Project Chickens before the Eggs, The Family, Traditions

2 responses to “Lesson 281 – That thing on a turkey is just gross

  1. My uncle-in-law’s family owned a ranch in the high desert of California. When I was about nine, my parents decided to move “back to the land,” Los Angeles to Orange County, CA, and dumped me and a younger brother and sister on Uncle Don’s younger sister to care for as a summer job for her before she went to UCLA (where she was mysteriously murdered). The ranch looked like every movie set for a Western movie you ever saw. We clambered over rocks watching in delight and terror for rattlesnakes. Never saw one, but my uncle had one in a jar on a shelf in the ranch house he had shot

    There were a few ill-behaved horses and cows on the ranch…and the summer we were there, turkeys. I helped take care of the turkeys. Dumb? How dumb can a turkey be?

    First, you can herd turkeys. Try herding a flock of chickens!

    Second, scared of heights. (Well, a bit like cats after they climb a tree.) Each morning the turkeys would fly up to a high roost (taller than my nine-year-old head) to roost, where the coyotes would not get them during the night. In the morning, the turkeys would look down at the ground and “think” My goodness it is high up here. A bird could get hurt trying to get down to the ground. So they would freeze and maybe stay up on the perch until they starved to death. My job was to hit them on the legs with a long pole until they flopped/fell to the ground. Every day. They never learned they could fly down to the ground by themselves.

    Another reason not to “do the turkey.” They peck. Hard. Now, almost sixty years later, I still have a small hole (well, dent) in my right thumb where a turkey pecked me. Even Moll (the peckiest of our three chickens) never pecks that hard.

  2. Great post! Too funny-and I can’t agree with you more… I’ll stick with chicken raising too 🙂

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