I would never claim to be a farmer. I married one. Not long after we began our family we had a garden, an orchard, cows, chickens and several cats. The children enjoyed the chickens and we thought it might be nice to raise a turkey for Thanksgiving. So, with the next batch of chicks we bought a turkey chick (called a poult) with the lot. It never did fit in with its bird-like kind, instead preferring to spend his days with humans.
Turkey Lurkey, as he was aptly named, grew up happily and unawares of his planned and pending doom. And with his physical growth he grew in grace and personality, too. (I have seen dogs less loyal and loving.) TL treasured being held and petted. He spent hours following my wife around the garden and interacting with the children, trying his best to engage them in conversation.
He gobbled vocally and voraciously, eating heavily and quickly becoming fat and meaty. As Thanksgiving began to draw nigh we made it clear to the little ones that the prized tom was destined for the dinner table. That celebratory time rolled around and it fell on me to fall the axe, but my heart wouldn’t do it. Neither could my wife find it within her to face the chopping block task. There was just too much human nature in the ol’ tom to off the poor boy.
Needless to say, Thanksgiving came and went. Still there was Christmas. We would have ourselves a Yuletide feast fit for an entire kingdom. But, that too passed. And then winter, and spring, and soon summer. Turkey Lurkey continued to strut proudly about the yard happy as a lark and thoroughly enjoying his freedom and life as the barnyard pet of distinction. But on the farm all things must contribute and do their part. You got fed, you had to earn your keep.
One day in late summer we made the difficult, but practical, decision to take ol’ TL to the animal auction. With some sadness we loaded the bird into a large cardboard box, said our goodbyes, placed the container into the back of the wagon, and drove out to the sale. Bidding was brisk, and then slowed as a fat farmer placed the final offer. Sold. The rotund man smiled, drool dripping from the corners of his grin, as he collected his prize. Turkey Lurkey was, no doubt, soon to not only meet his dinner destiny but his Maker as well. Ol’ Turkey Lurkey had been one good egg.
That Thanksgiving, as we sat down to our meal of gratitude—complete with a store-bought turkey—we remembered our fine featured friend with fondness, respect and a genuine prayer of thanks for the joy he’d brought to our lives.
By Gregory E. Zschomler, an author of books for children, lives in Cannon Beach, Ore. www.gregoryezschomler.blogspot.com