Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tribute to a Turkey

A year ago this week we acquired one of our favorite animals of the Koons Zoo thus far, Herky the Turkey. He was just a small boy of about 3 days, when we brought him home from the farm store. He didn't look much different from a chick at that point. Since that first day we've had a special bond with him. Those first few weeks it was too cold outside for him so we set him up in a dog kennel...in the family room. At night we would get him out of the kennel and hold him on our laps on the couch while we watched TV. I make no apologies for how redneck that sounds it's just who we are. He was just so adorable and loved to curl up in the bend of GI Joe's arm and fall asleep. Have you ever cuddled with a turkey? You should, it's very therapeutic.
I think because of that early bonding we did with him we created the tamest tom turkey ever. This guy will follow us around the yard, nudge our legs when he's hungry, let you pick him up, pet him, and has regular "conversations" with GI Joe. And by conversations, I mean GI Joe talks to him with his turkey calls and calls it "practice" for turkey hunting. I kid you not.
Back in October, Herky gave us quite a scare when he acquired what I diagnosed via my Google veterinary skills as blackhead disease. Everything I read told me it was fatal and that it would take 10 days before killing him. That was SO not an option. I called our vet who mainly deals with dogs, cats and the occasional bunny but he didn't have to look at Herky he just needed to give me a prescription for the only drug I'd found thru my internet research that was supposed to cure it. It's no different than the time I called him and told him my turkey had pink eye and he just got a prescription of ointment ready for me, no questions asked. He, of course had no idea what blackhead disease was or the drug I was talking about. He called me back after he did his own Google research and told me everything I already knew, that Herky was going to die and that the only drug that could cure it was not available in the U.S., only in Canada. Don't think I didn't think about a road trip but instead I went back to the internet thinking there had to be some home remedy for such a thing and sure enough I found one. Cayenne pepper! We were to give him a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in his food and/or water, whatever we could get him to take for as long as it took for the symptoms to subside. He was soooo weak by this point that he just laid in his house and we had to feed him by hand and give him water with a syringe. We had nothing to lose and couldn't bear the thought of losing our beloved turkey, so we stocked up on the cayenne pepper. Three times a day we fed and watered him and would you believe 10 days passed and he was still alive and actually moving around a little? Then 3 weeks passed, and before we knew it his feathers weren't droopy and he was venturing further out of his house, and within a month and a half he was completely back to normal although he still thought he should be handfed. I did it, I CURED him with cayenne pepper! It's probably my proudest farm girl accomplishment to date. You can call me Dr. Koonslittle if you want, I don't mind. And yes, there probably would be a nice spicy flavor to his meat but don't even think about it. WE DON'T EAT WHAT WE PET! Actually, GI Joe is so concerned for Herky's safety during the upcoming turkey season that he's going to buy him an orange safety vest. Typically they are for dogs, but as you can see we're anything but typical.

(Someday I promise to read the instruction manual to my camera so that I don't post pictures like this. But it's so sweet even with the odd lighting.)
We're just so glad he's still with us and in honor of his birthday I've written him a poem. Bet you didn't know that not only am I vet,I'm also a poet. The poem goes a lil’ something like this:
Herky Herky you’re our turkey
We love you more than jerky
Even at Thanksgiving you’re safe
We would never put you on a plate
A dog is what you think you are
You never wander far
You purr when we pet you
You’re the star of the zoo
Our front yard is your domain
Some might think it strange
But they’ve never known a turkey like you
For you there’s not much we wouldn’t do
We’ve fed you by hand
When you were too weak to stand
Thru good times and bad
You’ve never made us mad
We’re glad you’ve survived
And are still alive
Here's to many more
Maybe this year we’ll get you a…..girlfriend
Happy Birthday Herky!

Who knew I could love a turkey so much?

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