Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Celebrating the lives of turkeys


Three new turkeys arrived at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary a couple weeks ago. Saturday was the first time I’d seen them, since they’d been in quarantine at first.

Their story is an odd one. They were hanging around a man’s house, and he finally called someone to get them. The county thought they were wild turkeys. But what wild turkeys eat out of your hands?

They came to Poplar Spring, and it was really obvious that they were not wild turkeys! They are domesticated turkeys, and Terry is pretty skeptical of the story that the man just happened to notice them hanging around his house.

You see, you can buy domesticated turkeys from a catalog, just as if you were buying a bike or a shirt. They have many different varieties, they even have “heirloom” breeds. Many people buy these turkeys, raise them in their backyards, likely feeding them by hand some of the time, and then they “release” them and “hunt” them.

The DIY canned hunt?

So that’s a likely scenario for how these three turkeys ended up hanging around a man’s house.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it is hard to forget that when we see the turkeys at the sanctuary. For most of us, holidays are filled with baggage. Family obligations of one kind or another. The emotional impact of a holiday where a dead animal seems to matter more to those of us around us than anything else.

For me, holidays lost any sort of meaning to me a long time ago. I’m not sure when or why, but they have become a day I’m happy to have off work, and happy to make no plans for. This bothers my mother, who has never understood her children’s happiness at being solitary so much of the time. So when she asks, I always tell her that I’m spending time with friends on these holidays.

This is always true; I go to the sanctuary to help out on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

And truthfully, especially as a vegan, I am so happy to have no family local, and no omni friends local-enough to feel slighted by my preference for mucking barns to socializing with a dead bird.

The real season’s celebration for me happens the Saturday before the official American Thanksgiving Day at Poplar Spring’s Thanksgiving for the Turkeys. It is a giant vegan potluck, more giant than I could have imagined before attending my first one. 300 people attended last year, when it was bitterly cold and windy. Tables upon tables (oh, those dreaded tables!) of vegan food that people brought…and then there were the tables of vegan desserts! It is a sight to see.

Of course before the humans eat we get the food ready for the Turkeys (and chickens and guineas!). All kinds of delicious goodies, painstakingly cut in small pieces by the kitchen elves, then spread out on a couple tables, which we put down in their yard for them. Terry gives a small speech about it all, and it’s all pretty sweet.

Last year there were people videoing. One woman asked me to tell what we were putting on the tables for the turkeys, assuring me that this was better than her taking notes. Assured that I was really just a talking scrap of paper, I listed everything on the tables. You can imagine my surprise (and horror!) when Terry said she’d found the video on YouTube, and that I’d “done a good job”!

It turns out that it was a pretty decent covering of the event, with a few interviews, and a great view of how much food there is and how long the line was.

I don’t know what this video was used for (aside from being put on YouTube!) but it is nice to see such positive coverage of events like the one held at various sanctuaries around the country. The feeling is so incredible, all these people there to brave whatever late November weather is being thrown at us, just so they can enjoy a celebration OF the turkeys, rather than the opposite.

Anyone else celebrating in this way for the upcoming (and often dreaded) November holiday? Or maybe you already have if you are Canadian or went to Woodstock’s ThanksLiving Celebration (a month early for weather reasons). I know Tristan went to Woodstock’s!

And finally, this week’s piglet video of Morty and Izzy. I had to use the thrilling Flip music to cover up the sounds of the wind in the microphone. That’s as fancy as I can get, sorry! (There is always the mute button!) They were so cute as they raced across the yard to Terry, and then Morty was happy to roll over for Belly Rubs. I’m still getting used to just how much they remind me of puppies, from their play with each other, to their interactions with people.


11 responses to “Celebrating the lives of turkeys

  1. The voracious Vegan October 26, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Such a beautiful post about the real meaning of Thanksgiving; celebrating life and love and hope and gratitude, not killing innocent creatures. I wish there was a sanctuary in this country because that is definitely where I would spend my Thanksgiving.

    You write so beautifully, thank you for sharing.

  2. b October 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Deb, I’ve been lurking all month and finally need to say that I LOVE how much you’ve been blogging – about food, about the animals, everything. It brightens my day so much every time I see a new post from you!

    I’m right there with you about the holidays. I absolutely loathe them (my birthday is Xmas Eve, which complicates it even further), and if I was where you are geographically, you can bet I’d be joining you on the farm during the holidays instead. Morty and Izzy are so precious and nearly made me cry! You rock Deb.

  3. Deb October 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    @tvv – I’ve been so spoiled in some ways having the sanctuary so close. Maybe next year you can come to the states for the holiday! 😉

    @b – Aw, that’s so sweet! And just when I was convinced that my blogging about food was semi-ridiculous and boring. lol. It is tough to blog so often, but I will try to keep it up to some degree even after veganmofo has ended. (this week!) Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! I would have sworn that people were just waiting for the piglet videos. 😀

    Does it get crazy over there during the xmas season?

    I’ve already put in my vote, but I’ll do it again – I vote for here when you move back! 🙂

  4. b October 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Holidays here are funny. If you have a traditional family (and by that I don’t mean conservative, I just mean folks who love the old school decorating and celebrating), you get to dance around a tree lit with real candles! They sing songs too, but of course, I haven’t quite mastered that yet!

    DC is on the list, don’t you worry! Worst case scenario, we’ll be back in Boston but will have to come down pretty regularly. I need to meet the piglets!! And besides, us hermity vegan types have to stick together 😉

  5. Deb October 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    @b I bet the candles on the tree are gorgeous! But nervewracking. I’d be waiting for the whole thing to go up in flames!

    I’d love it if you two ended up in the DC area! But definitely, us hermity vegans need to stick together. (Why does that sound so ironic? lol.) 🙂

  6. Mindy October 29, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I just love your blog – especially videos and pictures of the beautiful animals! Keep on posting!!! 🙂

  7. Deb October 29, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    @Mindy – thanks! 🙂

  8. Olivia November 1, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Izzy and Morty are puppies, and our canine pups are piglets. They’re all the same: children of the same wonderful Creator!

    I went to YouTube to watch the Turkey Day celebration, and it sure looked yummy for everyone. I rated it awesome even if I wasn’t able to write a glowing review. The only slight “negative” was that, in her very last sentence, the nice reporter used the word “which” instead of “who” when she was talking about the rescued animals. Sort of proved she hadn’t quite gotten the point. Oh, well, it’s all a matter of education, isn’t it? It was for me, and I’m be forever grateful to have learned — from our friends the animals.

  9. Deb November 1, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    @Olivia – I couldn’t get a read on the reporter/narrator from the clip, so yeah, I’m not sure if she got it or was just reporting on it in a favorable light. Either way, I thought it was good coverage. The usage of “which” could be an indicator, or not. I hear well known and widely published animal rights authors use “which” and “that” referring to animals sometimes…but in the same way that they’d use it for human animals. Hard to tell sometimes!

  10. kelly g. November 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Look at y’all, bundled up in your Thanksliving finest! Brrrrr! I got the chills just watching!

    I think I’ve fallen for Morty and Izzy; they kind of remind me of my Kaylee and Rennie. Same teeny tiny, pokey little wiggle bodies. Too cute for words.

  11. Deb November 2, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    @kelly – I can’t remember the temp that day, high 30’s, I think, but it was windy, and the wind was freezing. We had to cover all the tables, and it was hard to handle the tape w/ gloves on, but if you took your gloves off your hands would freeze in seconds. Brr is right! But so many people came out anyway!

    Isn’t it amazing how much like dogs the piglets are? I mean, we know they’re smarter than dogs, etc etc, but when you see them this size, it is so clear that they’re more like puppies than not!

    One of the young adult pigs, Mork (he’s one of the ones in my blog banner, as it happens), had to have surgery on his foot. He’s back now, but he had to stay at the vet’s office for a few days. They loved him so much there, and they said he loved to play with a soccer ball. He’d kick it around and around his pen, playing!

    They’re pretty amazing, really.

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