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Tom Turkey Nov 6 09

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. This is Tom, and he’s a real turkey.

I know that’s not a very nice thing to say about someone, but in Tom’s case, truer words were never spoken. Tom is the resident turkey of the small animal farm at Bowen’s Mills. He’s also about as nice a guy as you ever could hope to meet. Think of a big, friendly black Lab, only round, with two legs, wings, a beak, and covered with feathers. That’s my buddy Tom—and he’ll be your buddy, too, once you meet him. He likes people and he likes attention, and he loves getting that wrinkly, red-and-blue head of his scratched.

Tom is sort of the unofficial mascot of the Bowen’s Mills menagerie. There are plenty of other critters there as well that kids and grownups alike will find irresistible. Immense, noble Percherons, powerful enough to haul the ponderous cannon used in the Civil War battle reenactments. A long-necked alpaca with the biggest, most soulful eyes and longest lashes you’ve ever seen. A flock of sheep whose wool finds its way into the hands of local knitters. Chickens of various types, the most engaging being the silkies, with their white, downy feathers.

Speaking of which, from my point of view, chickens are chickens, and most chickens can command my attention for a limited time at best. But silkies are different. They’re beautiful birds, with feathers so fine that it’s as if the birds never outgrew their fuzzy, chick stage of development. Silkies almost beg to be cuddled and petted—though, realistically, I doubt they would appreciate the experience nearly as much as the person doing the petting. Fluffy cuteness aside, they’re still chickens, and not given to sloppy sentimentality.

The pony, on the other hand, seems to dote on getting his forehead scratched. If you can look at this gentle little guy and not immediately feel your heart melt, you’re made of steelier stuff than I am. “Awwww!” is the only appropriate response when he comes ambling toward you, and while he may be hoping for a tasty handout, he’s quite appreciative of a simple petting.

As is Tom. If ever a bird were personality-plus, Tom is that bird, and he surely enjoys a good scritching. My encounter with him being my first experience with turkey scratching, I was surprised to discover how hot his colorful head and neck skin felt to my fingers. Touching it was like touching a blue and red radiator. I was told that Tom can change the mix of those colors at a whim. It’s all about attracting a mate. I’d give it a try myself if I weren’t already quite pleased with the lady I’ve got, who would probably be less than impressed by such a display. There’s no accounting for taste.

mlTomTurkey1But I digress. This final picmlTomTurkeyture is a closeup of Tom. You can see for yourself what a handsome fellow he is. If you feel so inclined, head over to Bowen’s Mills while the weather is still cooperative and get acquainted with him personally. And if you can’t make it till after Thanksgiving, don’t worry. Tom will still be around. He’s an old turkey who has survived many a holiday. He’s got it pretty darn good as far as turkeys go. But it couldn’t have happened to a nicer turkey.




Written by Dave.