Life And Death On The Farm

floydThey had to shoot old Floyd awhile back.
Black Floyd, as I called him, the huge tom turkey that protected his hens to the very end.
A.K.A. Pretty Boy Floyd, but who was anything but.
When he could no longer walk, or stand, or eat, or drink, the decision was made to end his perceived suffering, to speed up the natural eventuality of his death, by shooting him.
The kindest, most humane thing to do.
Hopefully it was quick, he didn’t see it coming, didn’t feel a thing.
That is always the hope, isn’t it?
I, for one, am not missing him that much.
I was afraid of him. And with good reason.
He was ready for a sharp peck of anything that got too close – including my horse Pumpkin’s nose once when he went in for a closer look at Floyd.
Floyd was so protective, I am sure he stressed himself out in a big way with all that puffery and showery that tom turkeys are famous for. Always the full-on tail fan – beautiful yes – but energy consuming for sure.
And the drumming of his throat – if that is what it is called – as he put forth a daunting vibration. Almost a threat – actually it was a threat – to not come any closer or else!
Sometimes he was loose in the yard, accompanying his hens as they wandered about pecking at this and that, scratching at leaves and dirt and piles of manure, looking for yummy morsels of protein in the form of bugs.
When that happened, and he approached me threateningly, I discovered I could sort of herd him away by keeping my bucket of horse treats between he and I, as I shooed him away from me. His throat drumming then became a sort of helpless, feeble clucking – almost cute.
But he was not cute.
In fact, he was so ugly he was magnificent.
He was so horrifyingly awful he was beautiful.
A long red piece of red loose skin, called a snood, hung long over his nose and beak.  Its purpose known only to God and to Floyd.  I don’t know how he could eat with that thing dangling down as it did.
His featherless, bare head, covered with caruncles, was often red or blue or both, depending on his mood I guess, and he had a long sac-like bag of red skin known as a wattle, that hung at the bottom of his neck.
It was sometimes blue – sometimes red.
I couldn’t look away.
His black feathers were truly something to behold. They would often gleam with the iridescent colours of the rainbow in the sunlight.
He would gobble all day long – when he wasn’t throat drumming – letting everyone be aware of his ominous presence.
He had a patch of long black hair known as a beard on the front of his chest. Again, its purpose only known to God and to Floyd. But it is a hunter’s trophy when they hunt wild turkeys. I have seen them proudly displayed and mounted before.
I wonder if his hens miss him.  Do they know he is even gone?
Part of the worry about allowing him to die a natural death is that cannibalization sometimes happens among chickens and turkeys if they sense an ailing comrade, and that would definitely be a fate worse than death.
To literally be pecked to death.
A fowl society without politics, empathy or compassion.
Only business.
The business of cleaning up, of recycling, of getting on with things and not being sentimental about anything.
Because when you’re a chicken or a turkey, if you don’t get them, they’ll get you.
That is the thought process in their little chicken and turkey brains.
And so, Floyd was shot with a hunter’s rifle and taken away to be used as a meal.
So, in the end he went to a good cause, I guess.  His death was not in vain.
A tough old bird in life – hopefully he was a little more tender on the plate.



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