Turkey Chicken

I started writing this blog over a month ago because I wanted to share a really nice story about being thankful in November. I still am, but my perspective changed….yesterday on Halloween. The following is what I wrote in September:
What does November mean to you? Elections, Veterans and Thanksgiving? What a great month for reflection!
You know what I am especially thankful for this year? My chickens! But especially one…..who is named Turkey. My kids named her because she is very shy and has been the last one to try a new food. The other five chickens have always eagerly tried a new snack…..cabbage, flax seeds and even a few pieces of leftover steak. But Turkey always waits to see what Serena’s reaction to the new food is first. Serena is the leader and she is Turkey’s mentor. That was life until Turkey had a life-changing experience. Early September she had an infection in her vent. You know…the part of the chicken where the egg comes out. I didn’t notice it, but when flies were surrounding her on a Monday afternoon, and my daughter asked why Turkey was slumped by the fence, I knew something was wrong. I will skip the majority of the infection details, but to those that understand farm life….she had fly strike. Save yourself from pictures if you are tempted to Google it. It’s nasty and if not attended to early, the chicken will pass. Of course my husband was out of town and I was left to deal with the situation. Let’s just say I am a nutritionist for a reason and this is another reason I am not a nurse! Turkey was very weak and she let me take care of her. I washed her off, sprayed hydrogen peroxide on her and kept her in a covered area away from the other chickens and the flies. She slept on a towel for three days and barely ate or drank. She let me syringe water into her mouth after a day or so and when my husband returned home another day later he too helped with wound care and even gave Turkey physical therapy! After the third day my oldest son offered her a piece of bread and she strained her neck out to eat it! She grew stronger with each passing day and a week later she was well enough to hang with the others. It really was a surprise; we dug a grave for her.

October 31, 2013

Turkey passed away today.
Turkey went back to life as usual in September with a few changes. No more eggs of course from her and she ran slower than the others, but she also had a boost of confidence. She trusted me and she always let me stroke her feathers. She ate out of my hand without watching to see if Serena would check to see if the food was poison! She also started to chirp again. She was always the quietest of the group, but if you talked to her she would talk back when in a one-on- one conversation. Is this where you are thinking I am crazy or obsessed with my chickens? Here’s the deal: we bought the chickens for the eggs and we did not expect to see six different personalities. Chickens are very smart. In five short months we have really become a bigger family.

You know I have three kids and Halloween this year is a big deal. It is my youngest son’s last year of preschool and I am finally able to be a volunteer for their morning fall festival since I do not have a younger child in my arms! So this morning I had a great time with other 4 year-olds for a few hours and then I had one hour to myself before I picked the boy up for lunch. I decided to go to a local park and walk outside for the hour. As soon as I got out of the car and looked back in I saw my car key on the front seat. What to do? I was a mile from my house and I now had 40 minutes to walk home, break through a screened window, grab the other car key and bike back to the car before pick up time. I did it too. The only glitch was when I was climbing into the window (this is normal, right?). I glanced at the chicken coop and saw Turkey on her side by the perch. I knew. What happened? You know how on a mystery show a person finds a loved one on the floor and are hoping the loved one is just faking or is sleeping? I screamed at her to wake up. I poked her. Tears were flooding down my face out of nowhere. What is happening? I have to get out of here to pick up kids. I ran into the house, grabbed a towel and placed it over her, got the key and bike and I got on with the day. So we had a funeral yesterday before trick or treating. I was more upset than the kids, but this is their first “pet” to pass.
Everyone knows that animals touch people. I’ve talked to pet store owners that say pet parents are more likely to buy their pet’s food than their own due to budget. I get it.

God gave me a really great moment yesterday. I know this because it was a stop-in-your-tracks moment and I am so grateful to have had this moment before today: Wednesday nights I teach a teen weight loss class and I was getting ready for it along with making dinner for the family. Before I left I went out to check the chicken’s water supply and saw that it needed changing, so I changed it. When I brought the water jug back out, one of the chickens walked over to get a drink while I was fixing the container. No shyness there. Then Turkey walked over right next to me and drank her share while I stroked her feathers and was talking to her. This went on for at least five minutes, which is long for a chicken! She chirped at me as if to say, “thank you, Mom”. Maybe she knew that was our last special time together? Maybe she was saying thank you for everything.

Thank you, Turkey. You changed our family’s life for the better and I am so thankful to have known you.