June 28, 2013
Happy Turkey Lover’s Month
To celebrate this holiday I had a turkey sandwich. I ate my delightful turkey sandwich and then realized that I probably celebrated in entirely the wrong way. I should have had a hamburger and spared a turkey it’s life if I really loved turkeys so much. So for the rest of the month I’m not going to eat any more turkeys. Ben Franklin apparently had a love for turkeys much more than the eagle, who he thought was a deceitful creature apparently. I’m not sure why he held the turkey in such high esteem but to each their own preference of feathered fowl.
A few years ago at camp, the wild turkey population got it into their brains that my car was a imminent threat to their survival. They spent nearly the entire summer staring themselves down in their reflections on my car doors. Coming out to find a turkey pecking the hell out of your car is an exciting way to finish up a camp session that’s for sure. One counselor reported that she saw one standing on my car roof and giving it the what for. All I got out of this adventure was a few scratches (luckily Saturn door’s are plastic so no dents), some turkey feathers, and a good story to tell around a campfire.
Before the turkey vs. car showdown, I mostly remember stories of old rancher’s in Wyoming saying that if it started to rain you had to get the turkey’s inside the barn because they would drown. I’m not sure if this is fact or fiction but the stories go that a turkey will look up to see what’s hitting it on the head and die because it doesn’t have the common sense the God gave it’s wild cousins. This is why domestication of some animals has breed the smarts right out of them…I guess this is how it works with any animal after that much domestication (why silkworm moths don’t have mouths for instance, and if they fall off a leaf don’t have the wherewithal to get back up on it). I hadn’t realized that Native Americans had been domesticating the turkey for sometime before the Euro-invaders had the first “Thanksgiving” or whatever that romanticized meal was.
Anyway, I digress. Here’s to the turkey, that wonderful and stupid bird that many people love and many more people love to eat.
Here are a few fun facts about turkeys:
– Turkeys have been successfully introduced into Germany and New Zealand as game birds.
– Turkeys are members of the pheasant family.
– The President of the United States pardons a live turkey every Thanksgiving. The tradition started in 1947.
– Turkeys sport Caruncles, Snoods and Waddles. A Caruncle is reddish skin that grows from a turkey’s head to the back of the upper neck. A Snood is a long strip of reddish skin that grows at the base of the beak and hangs down over the beak. A Waddle is the bright red skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck.
– 90% of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
– Until 1863, Thanksgiving Day had not been celebrated annually since the first feast in 1621. This changed in 1863 when Sarah Josepha Hale encouraged Abraham Lincoln to set aside the last Thursday in November “as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.”
– In Mexico, the turkey was considered a sacrificial bird.
– Domesticated turkeys (farm raised) cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at up to 55 miles per hour. Wild turkeys are also fast on the ground, running at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
– Only male turkeys (toms) gobble. Females (hens) make a clicking noise. The gobble is a seasonal call during the spring and fall. Hens are attracted for mating when a tom gobbles. Wild toms love to gobble when they hear loud sounds or settle in for the night.
– The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds — about the size of a large German Shepherd — and was grown in England, according to Dr. Sarah Birkhold, poultry specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
– Mature turkeys have 3,500 or so feathers. The Apache Indians considered the turkey timid and wouldn’t eat it or use its feathers on their arrows.
– More than 45 million turkeys are cooked and 525 million pounds of turkey are eaten during Thanksgiving.
– Ninety percent of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Fifty percent eat turkey on Christmas.
– North Carolina produces 61 million turkeys annually, more than any other state. Minnesota and Arkansas are number two and three.