How A Thanksgiving Meal Became A Beloved Pet

          No one told me. No one prepared me that I would step into a world where a pet would own me as much as I owned it. A pet that assigned me a special greeting alerted to strangers as far as a dog and demanded attention as much as a cat. No one else uttered insane phrases like, “I have to get back home for “cushion time.” Confused looks were the unusual response, but I did not have the time to explain. “Cushion time” occurred every evening that summer. 
Darjeeling would be waiting before he went to roost. I would place a patio chair cushion on the lawn and a large, forty pound, Broad Breasted Brown turkey would clamber into my lap, lay his head in my arms, and be serenaded to sleep. Darjeeling lived to the ripe old age of 18 months when he lumbered onto my lap for the last time. I did not understand that I would have a pet for such a small amount of time. But Darjeeling was one of the lucky ones. No one prepared me for the horror that a simple trip to the grocery store around Thanksgiving would bring. Supermarket freezers are bursting with frozen lumps that were allowed to live only five months.

Our 1st Christmas with Mrs. T
          Seven years ago, almost to the day, I adopted my first turkey. It was a week before Thanksgiving, and a friend of mine wanted to trade a turkey for electrical work on her barn. She happily expressed that she would be happy to "dress the turkey out" for me. Quickly, my mind realized that meant to kill the turkey. Kill it for Thanksgiving dinner? No! Could I have it as a pet? Would my city allow it? Would my husband go for the idea? What does a turkey eat? Can I have it in the house? Ah, we’ll figure it out! We headed out to Black Forest (an hour drive), loaded a bright-eyed, white turkey in the back of our Jeep and started home on our new adventure. We named her Mrs. T and quickly adopted her into our family. I soon found out that turkeys love shiny bright things so when we introduced Mrs. T to the Christmas tree, it was like showing a child Disney Land! Mrs. T assigned a unique chirping sound to the Christmas tree. In fact, she had a distinctive chirp for each of the members of the family. I introduced Mrs. T to the world by setting up her a Facebook page, sent articles to the newspaper, and magazines. From the minute I owned Mrs. T, I stopped eating turkey. She became our reality check about the cruel world of the meat industry. Honestly? Could you devour your baked and biased dog or cat for a family holiday?

Marco, a White Breasted Turkey

           I am not going into turkey housing conditions or how painful their death became. I am sure you know that the turkey you eat is a White Breasted breed, chosen because they grow briskly to get them to market. Obviously, I cannot stop people from making the turkey the main course of Thanksgiving so how can I make a difference in a silent war that I accidentally signed up for?  Around two years I legitimized my new obsession by creating a bird sanctuary where we take in birds, not just turkeys that need forever homes. Our hurdles have been having enough money to buy feed, bedding, electrical bills, and the non-profit application fee. Currently, we have five turkeys of various breeds that we have saved from a Thanksgiving fate on the plate. You can meet our turkeys at our Feathered W Sanctuary on November 23rd, Thanksgiving Day, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm., as long as the weather is cooperating. We will provide pumpkin, cranberries, and associated vegetables for you to feed Jackson, Pebbles, Ole’, Beignet, Louis Vuitton, and the rest of the feathered cast of chickens and ducks. Check out our Facebook page for weather updates that may affect our visiting times.

Meet Jackson, a Royal Palm
The Feathered W Sanctuary
227 Plainview Place, Manitou Springs, Colorado

For More Info: 719-233-4773

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