Nearly every afternoon, a flock of turkeys comes through my yard. Today, they arrived around 3:40, emerging from the woods in a tidy single file line, like a group of school children.
There are 9 of them now, down from the original 14 that I counted over the summer. But they are a healthy and robust crew, and it’s always a pleasure to watch them scrape and scramble eastward through the yard. Turkeys travel one to two miles a day, and I feel honored to be part of their route.
There is always one tom that keeps an eye out as the others forage. My cat, Buster, and I both angle for a better view of them scratching and pecking their way to the garden. Buster jumps quietly onto the big rock outcropping, as I sip my afternoon coffee from the deck.
The turkeys seem to love feasting in the garden. With plenty of worms, bugs, and tender greens, who could blame them? I don’t mind that they help themselves to the raspberries – pecking them right off the bush – because it’s just so enjoyable to watch them. Overall, I’m pretty generous when it comes to sharing my garden bounty with wildlife. After all, they can’t just go to a supermarket and I can.
Buster slinks over to the garden and hides behind a curtain of leeks as the turkeys totter to the far edge of the yard. I watch, amused, as they flap their wings awkwardly and shuffle away, clucking all the way Turkeys actually have 28 unique vocalizations, each with their own meaning, but I admittedly have yet to distinguish more than a few.
I can’t help but think of their domesticated counterparts, who will be spread – fattened and roasted – on tables across the nation in a couple of short weeks.
I live a short distance away from a farm that raises turkeys and I can occasionally hear them gobbling across the Millers River valley. I feel sad knowing that their lives are coming to and end soon, but I am grateful for the sustenance they will provide.
As for the wild winged crew that saunters through my yard each day, I hope they continue to roam and wander freely for many days to come.