Since Michael's attack, we've kept the turkeys in the outside chicken run. This means the chickens have had to stay inside all day. So this morning, I decided to take a bold move and let the turkeys out in the barnyard. They are after all almost as big as the geese at this point and they can fly.
Oddly, the sheep were drawn to them. All four: Apache, Angus, Mildred and Sheryl, came up sniffing them and then sat down surrounding the chicken coup watching the chickens and allowing the turkeys to climb on their backs. It was so unexpected I couldn't help but laugh. I felt good leaving knowing the turkeys could roam about the property and be near the chickens, but no one would be injured today.
Given that, off we went to the Department of Licensing. Nick being fifteen and eight months is more than eager to get his learner’s permit. So for the second time in a week we all walked into the Department of Licensing and took a number. Awesomez and her son sat down, while I went outside to enjoy the sunshine. Henry walked to the DQ for a chili-cheese dog. Thoughts of Michael preyed on my mind. I dialed Kulshan Animal Hospital and spoke to a doctor about his condition.
“Well, without seeing him, I can’t really recommend anything over the counter. The problem with his injuries is, it depends how deep they are. I could give him a shot of antibiotics and something to make him more comfortable.” She said.
“Is it more money to come in on Saturday?”
“No it isn’t.”
“It’s just that money’s tight. If I can treat him myself I’d like to, but I don’t want to be negligent. “
“I understand. You’re doing what you can. The electrolytes you got at the farm store are a good idea.”
“I know he’s just a chicken, but we love him.” I said deciding I had to take him in. I couldn’t live with myself. “Is there something early in the morning? I have to work at 10:00 at the Everybody Store on the 9.” I asked and was transferred to the front desk where I made an appointment for Michael at 8:45AM. I felt better. Money, pigs can’t eat it. Why else was I working if not to take care of my family?
I walked back in to find a frustrated Awesomez and a disappointed Nick. Unfortunately, she’d grabbed the wrong birth certificate and accidently brought Lindsey’s instead of Nick's. They couldn’t get the permit without it or without her, so he’d have to wait until her eventual return.
“What happened to you?” She asked.
“I made an appointment for Michael in the morning.”
“Let me get this straight. You won’t buy a sandwich for yourself because you don’t want to spend the money, but you’ll take your chicken to the vet?” She marveled.
I looked into her big brown eyes trying to find the words to make her understand but I couldn’t. “That’s right,” was all I could think to say.
“Mil!” she said with an eye roll.
Just then Nick dropped his water bottle on the sidewalk, "Nick you're water broke." Henry said with a raise of his eyebrow.
"Henry!" Awesomez laughed her bawdy infectious laugh.
After that we stopped at the Whistle Work. I’d gotten a call that my fall wardrobe had arrived. I’d ordered two ensembles for my birthday – Special order because I had to order my coveralls in “short”. Naturally, I got the traditional slimming navy and a lovely shade of olive to set off my eyes – they’ll both go beautifully with my chocolate work boots. I was now set for the season.
“Maybe you should sell designer coveralls with paint splatters already on them” Awesomez said cracking herself up.
From there we went to the notary and met my sister. I’d written up a temporary guardianship document so we would have some sort of official paper acknowledging Nick. Unbeknownst to me, Awesomez was now starving and so without realizing it, I callously headed off to gymnastics without getting her any food.
This is where the day went south. You see, once again, I forgotten to feed the Awesomez her noon feeding. A Gremlin by nature, Awesomez my little Gizmo went berserk. Ok, not berserk exactly, but she wasn’t happy, in fact downright cranky. Fearing the wrath or cold shoulder of Awesomez, I dropped her, and Nick, off at a little place near gymnastics called the Common Ground. I have to admit I was afraid to return until I felt she’d been served so I stalled for a teensy bit.
A fed Gizmo is a happy Gizmo. We ran errands trolled thrift shops looking for bargains. Awesomez bought me all sorts of things from a backrest to pizza plates she wanted to make sure we’d all be ok in her absence.
“Ahh, a Crockpot™ from a Crackpot” I said thanking her for everything.
That night, we stopped at Burger King on the way and finally arrived home to a dark barnyard. As my headlights illuminated the way I saw Deli standing motionless near the garden. Strange I thought, she looked odd, but I dismissed it.
Tired, I pulled the car over to the barn and left the van lights on so we could see. The boys ran over to Amy’s to feed the gliders, pigeons and bunnies because she’d taken a trip up to Canada with her friend, Sarah.
“Will it be hard to collect the turkeys?” Awesomez asked.
"I don’t know, I’ve never left them out before, but the geese know safety is in the barn, so I imagine they will too. We’ll see. They might be more like the ducks, but I hope not.”
The lights from the van cast eerie shadows as we walked up to the coup, and sure enough two of the turkeys were sitting next to the door waiting for to be let in. I could see the outline of another one walking around just a few feet away.
“We’re missing a turkey!” I called to Awesomez who was filling up a water bucket.
“Really? Keep looking.” She instructed.
“Oh my gosh! It’s dead!” I screamed.
“The turkey! It’s dead! I can see the outline of its feathers from the lights. It's toward the compost”
“How do you know it's dead?”
“Come here. I can see a wing sticking up in the air. Look!” And Awesomez dutifully came to see the twisted carcass.
“I’ll pull the car up so we can shine some light over there.”
I kept working, giving Michael water, feeding the chickens, giving hay to the goats, when I heard the ducks quacking. “Quack! Quack! Quack, quack, quack.” I figured Awesomez was trying to wrangle them up on her own, a difficult task for one person.
“Deli! GETOUTOFTHERE!! STOP!” I heard Awesomez bellowing. Dropping the hay, realizing it was Deli causing the ducks to quack. I knew she was attacking them. By the time I got to the garden where they were, Awesomez had already gotten Deli off of them.
“She killed the turkey.” I said.
“You think so?”
“Absolutely. I saw her when we drove up and I wondered what was wrong.” Awesomez held Deli at bay while I collected the ducks. The boys arrived on the scene just in time to form a sort of duck bucket brigade. I caught one handed it off to Henry who gave them in turn to Nick. When every goat, sheep, equine, goose, duck and chicken was fed and accounted for we walked over to the mangled turkey.
“I think it’s breathing!” I yelped.
“I thought so too,” Awesomez said quietly.
“Do we kill it? I guess we should kill it.”
“With a shovel? Or I could drive over it?” I suggested.
“I’ll do it.” She generously offered. "You love it. I'll do it."
How do you thank someone for offering to kill your turkey with a shovel? I don't think Hallmark has a card for that. I knew she was again trying to take care of me. I so often push those attempts aside, but as I considered how horrible it would be to kill the eight-week old turkey I shuddered. I might just let her do it.
Just then, the turkey lifted its head and looked me straight in the eye. “Oh my God! We can’t kill it! I can’t kill something that’s looking at me. Poor thing.”
Henry rushed over to the turkey to comfort it. “This is worse than a soap opera.” He exclaimed.
“What in heaven’s name do you mean very strange child?” I asked.
“Well, yesterday I hated the turkeys and was ready to eat them. Now, I feel terrible for the little guy. It’s worse than All My Children. On that, they manipulate how you feel about a character one minute you hate them and and then the next you feel sorry for them.”
“Huh. I see what you mean."
"It's like Annie Lavery. They make her evil and then you feel sorry for her. I hated this turkey a couple of days ago and now I feel terrible. Poor thing is laying here barely alive," Henry whimpered wiping his eyes.
"I’ll get the dog carrier out of the coup I've been using it for their shelter, let’s see if we can get him in and put him in my van. He’ll be safe in there for the night. It’s not cold and conveniently I just happen to have an appointment with the vet in the morning.”
The boys bravely and carefully lifted the turkey into the carrier. We took the top half off, as he wasn’t going anywhere. “He has a broken leg,” Nick said. “It’s just dangling. Do you think it's Bucket?"
"I can't tell with him lying down." I said.
"You know which one Bucket is still?" Awesomez asked.
"He's so much bigger than the others, I do when they're together."
“His wing is broken,” Henry said tearfully. “Do you think he’ll live?”
“Well, I have no idea what his other injuries are. He might have ones we can’t see. There’s not much more I can do for him tonight. He might be dead by morning. You have to prepare yourself.”
“Do you think he’s the turkey that attacked Michael?” Henry suggested.
“I wondered the same thing.” Awesomez said.
"Me too." Nick said.
“I did too. It reminds me of my father. He was hit by a drunk driver on the freeway coming home from a gig in Santa Barbara, one the fourth of July. It was a horrible hit and run, his car was spun around and flipped. I was with him in the emergency room when they brought the drunk in and put him in the bed next to my father.”
“Weird.” Nick said shaking his head.
“Stupid Deli. I hate her!” Henry said as we all went in for the night. I know I should have said Deli was just being Deli, but Henry knew that and honestly I felt the same way. I couldn't defend her. I thought of all the animals she's probably attacking and leaving for dead on the mountain.
I fixed myself a cup of tea in the still of the house after I’d called, Tom and my sister. I’d gotten into bed when I realized it was getting really chilly. Fall was definitely on the way. So I got up went to the linen closet, found some old hair-dying towels and traipsed out to the van to keep my new patient warm. I wondered if he’d be dead. I doubted he’d last until morning, but when I got there he looked up at me with his big turkey eyes. He seemed grateful.
I went back inside and made another cup of Bengal Spice. Sleep would not come easily tonight. Awesomez was still awake. “You know, I was going to kill it.” She said walking in the kitchen as I was pouring a dollop of milk in my piping hot tea. “I thought about how I’d do it. I was going to take a shovel and close my eyes. I wondered how it would feel. And wondered how I’d feel afterward, but I didn’t want you to have to live with it.”
“My sister said to be merciful we should take an axe and chop its head off tonight.” I informed her.
“Easy to say until he's looking at you.” She said sleepily.
"And what if it didn't die? Often times guillotines took several times. Henry was right, I could have served him up for Thanksgiving the other day when Michael was attacked, but tonight I'm doing all I can to keep him alive and I'm ready to get rid of Deli."
"Tune in tomorrow," she said ironically shutting off the lights.