As you probably already know, it doesn’t matter if you’re the most beautiful, or the smartest, or the most gifted of turkeys . . . you’ll most likely be eaten.
My fellow turkeys don’t seem to mind; after all, they say—we all wind up in Turkey Heaven and that’s not so bad.
Lots of the old-timers who darned near died from that ornery new cow dog chewing on them or from a certain brat, I won’t mention any names, who lives here on Hollyberry Farm and loves to throw rocks and rusty cans at us. . . anyway, those old timers come back from their near-passed-away experiences just gobbling with lively stories.
They say up there has majestic blue mountains with crystal waterfalls and silver feeders bulging with corn, oats, wheat, spelt, barley, and golden glow worms sitting there on the sides of the water troughs, smiling as they bend their little heads to wait for you to slurp them up.
Shoot, some of those old coots said they saw angels passing out emmer up there in that pearlized turkey paradise. If you don’t know what emmer is, you’re probably not a turkey. It’s Eurasian wheat first cultivated by the Babylonians, and it’s the tastiest thing this side of the cracked corn from Old Man Burnie’s Feed Store up there in Dango. Dango’s about 20 miles from the farm, but I guess that’s not important to my story.
My turkey lurkey friends in the barnyard wouldn’t know about emmer or anything else if I wasn’t so nice hearted and prone to share what I read in the morning newspapers I scrounge from the farm dump.
Fact is, I’m just not like the other turkeys. Not one bit. Smarter, I am, and lots more handsome.
So when I noticed the leaves turning that orangey brown yellow like they do when people get to eyeing us with that strange glint in their eyes, I decided right then I had to take action.
Here’s what I did first. I started hanging out with Mean Gene, the head rooster here at Hollyberry. I was dogging him one morning and trying to turn my melodious gobble into a scratchy crow sound when my dang ol snood wrapped around my beak and guess what? I almost suffocated!
Back to what happened. Well, right there in the barnyard. I fell over gasping. Fred the duck waddled up quacking, “Your wattle is blue! Your wattle is blue!”
Can you imagine my mortification?
Everyone gathered around and made more fuss than a space ship landing in a haystack. Old Hurricane, the speckled guinea fowl and my best friend, is the one who saved me. She streaked right over and grabbed my snood with her beak. She ran underneath my head and flew over my neck, then back under my beak two or three more times. Finally, it came unwound, and I could go about my business, which is what I did with no wasted time.
I sat in the shade of the tractor a long time until my wattle cooled down and I didn’t feel so ruffled. The whole rafter of barnyard turkeys was discussing me that day, and my beautiful face burned with shame.
Next thing I did was drastic, I admit it. Hold on to your hats because I had Hurricane bite off the end of my snood. That hurt my feelings more than anything, but I was desperate. I even asked the lady turks to help me dye all my feathers a lovely russet brown. Now if that didn’t look like a chicken, what would?
I hung out with those cackling biddies for oh, probably a week. My plan seemed to be working fine until I overheard the farm missus telling the hired man, “That turkey over there has gone plumb crazy. I gotta believe he fell on his head, the silly thing. Give him some extra feed, George. He’ll do fine this Thanksgiving.”
That did it. I had to get away.
Next bus came down the road, I was on it, brother, and I never even looked back once. That bus didn’t stop until it hit Florida. I watched out the window and couldn’t get over those crazy trees sticking out of the ground with their green roots sticking in the air. Some lady with a yellow moo-moo covered in purple flowers told me they were palm trees.
A slick looking guy wearing a pinstriped suit and a straw hat was hanging around the bus station when I came off the bus. He stared me down right away, and I have to say it made me nervous. Next thing I knew, he sidles up and asks if I was one of the Underground Turkeys that flock to Florida to escape the knife. I almost went into shock! What could I do but shake my blue and grey head yes. He looked all around and handed me, secret like, a brown bag.
“Wear this and hang out on the beach for awhile and don’t make any waves,” he said. Told me he was a fowl rescue ranger and he understood my pain.
Now who ever heard of wearing a suit that looks like a headless turkey? But I did it. Had to look through some little pin holes to see anything. Oh, the humiliation I’ve known, but that doesn’t get us to the end of the story, so here I go. I learned something real quick—I’m just no good in tropical weather. It wasn’t long before I started suffering with mildewed feet.
That rescue guy, he suggested I move to Albuquerque. It’s high and dry, and he had a friend there who might get me a job as an assistant tour guide.
Well, son, I knew that was right up my alley. I agreed to ride out there with a car full of turkey-loving people—and I have to say they were awful nice except for that little toddler who tried to suck on my head when they weren’t looking. I perched right up there in the back seat on a stack of boxes and watched the scenery pass by all the way to New Mexico.
I have to tell you, it was love at first sight! I was a New Mexican Turkey as soon as I crossed the line!
Now I can’t tell you where I live or work these days because I’m incognito and part of the Underground Turkey Railroad Group. We have to lay low, and keep our beaks clean and not gab about our work.
Do I miss Hollyberry Farm? Just a speck. Sometimes at night when I’m just about asleep under that nearly mile-high sky and the stars are twinkling just so and pine and sage smells are tickling my craw, I think about my friends from my other life. I admit I sometimes get a little lump in my throat. That’s when I snuggle up to my red chile ristra and go sound asleep, snug as a mouse in sawdust.
Deep in my turkey heart, I know I made the right decision coming to New Mexico. Let me tell you this . . . next time you’re in Albuquerque, squint your eyes toward those Sandia Mountains.
Who knows? You might get lucky and see a gorgeous Albuquerque Turkey darting across the ridges.