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November 2006
Unexpected Converters

By Jenny Brown


Turkey Snood in Swing. Photo by Derek Goodwin

I am frequently asked “Is it true that turkeys are so dumb they’ll drown in a rainstorm?” In our experience at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, we’ve found that turkeys, like people, are all very different. There are some people, for example, who are so dumb they would ignore a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” and there are some who wouldn’t. Turkeys are pretty much the same. And fortunately our turkeys don’t appear to be weather-challenged—like any sensible being they simply waddle their butts inside when it’s raining.

Boone, Alfonzo and Hershel, all males, were destined to become Thanksgiving dinner before they were rescued by Farm Sanctuary and then brought to us. They are free to roam the farm during the day—and they do, constantly seeking the company of other two-legged ones (the humans, not the chickens). Wherever people are gathered, there they are. Wherever someone is raking hay or collecting feed bowls, there they are. When we go inside the house, they often take a rest in the bushes just outside the front door. And in the evening, when we sit on the front porch and crack open a cold one, yep, they’re there—ready to pick at the shiny bottle tops or the glitter of my silver ring, curious and eager for attention.

Turkeys are lovingly known around here as “The Welcoming Committee”—often approaching new visitors in a row formation, all puffed up peacock-style. And with heads that appear to be inside-out and a chameleon-like ability to change skin color depending on their mood, they almost seem like something Dr. Seuss would have invented. Despite this somewhat odd appearance, many have commented that they carry themselves like elder heads of state (all they’re missing are monocles). Other people pointedly express they look like the “Three Stooges”.

They are consistently dazzling and amazing everyone, especially those who have never been up close and personal with a turkey. Boy, they’re wild looking, can I touch them? What is that big bristly tuft of hair sticking out from their chest? (Their beard.) and what is that dangly thing hanging over their beak? (The ever-perplexing snood.) All the while, Hershel, Boone and Alfonzo stand by politely, allowing the curious to reach out and touch their heads, snoods, bellies, feet—often with a squeal of delight by the toucher and an enthusiastic gobble in unison by the touched.

After an encounter with these birds many people feel compelled to bring friends specifically to show them the turkeys. “Here for a tour?” “No, I’ve had one—I’m just visiting the turkeys if that’s okay.” I’m not exaggerating—this is common. And the good news is, I’ve had many people tell me that they can no longer eat turkey after meeting them. People say turkeys have more personality than they ever imagined and now view those cold cut slices as something other than just lunch.

Jenny Brown is the co-founder and Director of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. To learn more or attend their upcoming Thanksliving Celebration, Sunday November 19, visit

A Special Kind of Thanks

One of many letters written to the founders of WFAS, Jenny Brown and Doug Abel, expressing thanks.

Subject: Thank you!
Date: September 6, 2006

I am not sure if you remember who I am. I visited the Sanctuary with my husband, Enzo, and two children, Cara and Noah on a rainy day the end of June. Since that day I have been wanting to write you this little note. It felt so good to be at your place. Not only because it really feels like a farmed animal sanctuary but also because it feels so good to spend time with someone who is passionate about what they are doing. You are obviously doing what you are supposed to be doing in this life. Your commitment to the animals, your devotion to bringing the truth out and your will to make a difference in this world have struck me deeply. I am very grateful I brought my children to see you. They learned a lot that day and were very moved by what they saw and what you told them. As for myself I not only was amazed [by] what you have accomplished there but I also so bonded with your welcoming committee, the turkeys... something I would have never thought possible before I came to your place!

Thank you for taking the time that day and thank you for creating a space on earth that is filled with love and care.

Good luck in all you do! May you always be blessed!!!