COLUMN — Jody and Dan Spark write each week about life on their small acreage at McLure.
There’s nothing so frightening as a crazed tom turkey with a sharp beak and the will to use it.
At first I used to defend our tom. Sure he’s a bit of a macho dork, but so are a lot of guys, right?
“Not our tom,” I’d say. “He’s a heritage turkey. He’s not mean like those overbred Franken-turkeys.”
Franken-turkeys or not, toms can morph from cocky to raving psychopath when they reach full sexual maturity.
I found this out the hard way last week. I was trying to help tom when it started to snow unexpectedly by herding him back into the barnyard.
Usually, a little boot-shove to the chest sends a clear message and he retreats, but the only message he was receiving this time was a declaration of war.
Despite the fact I was wearing Dan’s steel-toed boots, that they were five sizes too big made my kicks unproductive and turned his neck bubbles crimson.
His beak plunged at my shins. I returned with a pop with the toe of my boot to his chest feathers.
Swoop.. boot! Swoop.. boot! Swoop…. boot!
This was not going well.
“Dan! Dan !” I screamed. “Help!”
The escalating confrontation and tom’s rapid fire shots made the scrap seem like an eternity. He now had me pinned against the side of the workshop.
“Help! Help!” I pleaded again, “Dan! Help!”
In my terror I realized there was only one way to get away: Lead him into the pen, leap over the fence, and shut the gate.
I knew that even though he can fly 10 feet in the air to roost and leave a terrific mess on our barn roof, the brainless idiot can’t figure out how to get over a four-foot fence. So I bolted into the pen with him shuffling in hot pursuit.
I was glad there was no smartphone or drone hovering above me to capture the moment I hauled my pregnant belly over the fence in a desperate attempt to escape. The event surely would have been viral by the time I got to the house. YouTube title: Pregnant lady scales fence in single bound to escape maniac turkey.
Of course, it was at the moment I tumbled over the fence with the elegance of a hippo doing steeplechase that my whole family came running to my assistance.
“I told you mom! It’s not good enough to kick him. He doesn’t give up!” said my eldest, referring to my instructions to just give tom a little boot when he’s confrontational.
Dan chortled under his beard and I tried to be light, though I wanted to give him the same pop I gave tom.
“Were you afraid?” snorted Dan, amused. “It’s just a peck, you know. It would hardly hurt.”
It was NOT going to be just a peck, I wanted to snap. This lunatic was right out of Hitchcock’s The Birds II: Fear on the Farm and was about to take me down, one chunk at a time, from the bottom up.
Dan’s recent insistence we pen the poultry went from a suggestion to a certain resolution.
I really hated the thought of penning my hens, though. They are so very amiable and I find it therapeutic watching them waddle around in their fluffy bloomers. I love how their bottoms puff out when they bend over, how they peer sideways when they examine the dirt.
But neither of us love the pecked carrot tops, unearthed tulip bulbs and gifts on the porch.
Even when they stay out in the back pasture, they have become free buffet for the coyotes. So yes, sadly, it is time to pen the poultry. We have talked at length about constructing a chicken tractor to pasture our hens, but until then, we have to devise a secure, healthy habitat.
I know the children will be happy to see tom incarcerated. He’s tried to mount our toddler one too many times, and stalked our preschooler with sinister intentions.
I know if it weren’t for the hope he would perform tom-ly duties with Turkey Hen, he would have been in my stockpot that very afternoon.
Dan and Jody Spark are in their fourth year of living their back-to-the-land dream on their small acreage at McLure and they are having the time of their life.