|Turkey Snood in Swing. Photo by Derek
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
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
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 www.WoodstockSanctuary.org.
|A Special Kind of Thanks
One of many letters written to the founders of WFAS, Jenny Brown and Doug Abel,
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!!!