Tom the Turkey-A True Story
About thirty years ago in the 1980s my husband, Bill brought home a newly hatched Bronze turkey chick. He thought it would make our kids a good pet.
“Let’s name him Tom,” said Bill.
We agree Tom suited him. Tom grew very fast and Tom thought of Bill as his brother I think, because he was constantly by his side whenever we were home. We caged him when we left so he would be safe. Tom became more of a pet for Bill than for the kids. They enjoy their play time just like a couple of kids would do.
“Tom, come here boy,” Bill hollers as he holds out his arm and Tom flies up and perches just like you see people with falcons or parrots do. The only problem was, Tom is growing fast and gets much bigger than the birds most people let perch on their arm.
Everyday Bill would play his game. Tom would fly up and land on his arm. One day when Tom is nearly ten pounds or more he flies up and nearly knocks Bill down. Bill is big himself and nearly six foot eight inches tall with the power to hold back a fairly strong blow, but Tom gets to be quite a heavy weight even for him. Tom spends more and more time penned up.
Tom plays a little rough.
Tom gets bigger and bigger. Most people would have had him for dinner, but you just can’t eat something you have made a pet of. Bill built him a coop and fenced in an area complete with the top closed in to discourage him from flying out. He stays there while we are away and Bill lets him out for a few hours when we get home. He seems content with this arrangement.
The older Tom gets the more of a character he becomes. I swear he must have some crow in him because he loves shining stuff. He will peck at you and try to steal your watch or jewelry.
Back then, we had a friend who stopped in now and then. They wore a hearing aid. The friend would plague Tom and kneel down beside him knowing full well Tom did not like him much.
The friend said, “Big old bully aren’t you, fella?” Then he would grab at Tom’s head to pick on him. Tom’s head turned all sorts of colors as a turkey don’t like being messed with. Tom nearly has a hold of the man’s hearing aid and leaves nasty digs on his ear. I really could not blame Tom for his actions.
Sometimes he would try to get Bill’s eyeglasses or grab at someone’s watch and rings. I really think he was only playing with them, but he would get a little rough sometimes. Many were afraid of Tom. His aggression could not be over looked anymore. For the most part Tom could be very friendly, but could not be trusted to stay that way.
Tom meets Thelma
Tom must have weighed about thirty pounds before Bill put a stop to him roaming freely for any period of time. No matter his size Tom would still try to perch on Bill’s arm, even though he was told not to.
“No, I said, you can’t be doing this anymore,” Bill would yell at him and put him inside his fence. Tom clearly had a mind of his own and he developed a ritual which was about to end. Enough was enough.
Tom made us feel sorry for him. He would beg to get out and he was very vocal. Bill thought he should have a mate. We search the classifieds. We asked the neighbors. We could not find a Bronze hen for Tom. We did however locate a white girlfriend for him. We called her Thelma. It was an odd match which seemed to be working. Thelma laid some eggs, but never paid enough attention to them to ever hatch any.
A New Home for Tom and Thelma
We cared for Tom and Thelma throughout the winter. Come spring we had a neighbor from the hollow a mile away from us keep asking Bill if he could buy them from him. At first Bill had no part of it because he knew they would likely end up on the dinner table. These were pets. The neighbor agreed to let them die of old age and had planned to let them roam free as they pleased around his property. He was there all the time so he had no need to cage them.
Tom with his girlfriend, Thelma quickly made himself comfortable at his new home. He soon got himself into mischief also. You see, the neighbor lived down the road from a big dairy farm. Often a tanker truck passed by where Tom lived, I don’t know if it was the sound of the air breaks or what, but Tom did not like it at all and he would chase the milk truck up the road. When it returned he would chase it down the road. This routine ritual went on for months. Tom even had his girlfriend Thelma chasing it. If only it had stopped at that, then maybe it would be okay.
Chasing things seem to get more frequent and sometimes the mailman, Herb had problems with Tom getting on top of his car and pecking him as he filled the mailbox. Herb blew his horn and swatted Tom with his hat. Often he would have to drive off with the Turkey on his hood to make him get off. Ironic as this was it was not the only encounter this mailman had with a turkey on his route. Most letter carriers deal with dogs not turkey. Herb dealt with turkey. One of our neighbors up the road had one running loose as well.
Tom and Thelma are gone, but not forgotten.
Instead of building a place to pen the birds up, the new owner decided the time had come to put these trouble makers in his freezer. My husband was very disturbed by the news, so much for them living until old age. It was sad, but he knew it would happen sooner or later. Tom and Thelma were unique birds. I think of them every now and then, especially around Thanksgiving time.
The moral to this story would be, “It is not wise to make a pet out of something meant for you to eat.” or “Don’t treat your turkey like a dog.”