Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Sister-in-Law's Turkeys

I have two sisters-in-law. One of them raised turkeys and the other one didn't.

One day my turkey raising sister-in-law's husband was telling me about how intelligent the turkeys were.
“That's 'cuz you raise sheep,” I replied. “Anyone who raises sheep is bound to think turkeys are intelligent.” I think this is a just observation. In my opinion trivets are smarter than sheep.

But then he told me some stories about their turkeys and I had to admit that maybe they had a brain cell or two in that cavity above their wattles. For one thing, the turkeys hitched rides on the sheep. Apparently they could charm the sheep into trivet mode, and then ride around the farm sheep-back, two birds per sheep. Eventually the sheep had raw backs from the turkeys digging their talons (claws? toenails?) to maintain their balance. But the sheep never seemed to lose their enthusiasm for turkey toting.

One day he claimed the turkeys discovered they were sharing their pen with a rattlesnake. They went into defense mode instantly. They lined up single file and the lead turkey struck at the snake with a set of talons (claws? toenails?) and immediately retreated to the end of the line. His place was taken by the next turkey who repeated the performance. I can't remember now whether the turkeys actually killed the snake or he simply went away because large birds were being mean to him.

I was very impressed, not because turkeys demonstrated they were smarter than sheep – that was a given – but because the birds had the discipline to follow a plan. I know some people who could learn from that example.
In fact, I'm one of them.