Posts Tagged ‘Azul’

The Turkey Who Lived, the story of Azul as told by the girl who loved her most,
© 2004-2009 by Dee. All rights reserved.

She was a blue so light she was almost gray. Jim got her at Miller Feed Shop in Albuquerque’s north valley after first buying and then losing a white baby turkey to a hawk. That turkey, we were later told, would have eventually grown so big that its weight would have broken its legs.

But Azul was a lean heritage turkey. She was made to roam fields. And roam she did. She had an easy relationship with our dogs, who seemed to know that she was as much a part of the family as they were. And she was docile with the girls, which put me at ease. A man I once worked with told me that you should never have turkeys around small children, as the turkeys would see the kids’ shiny eyes and peck them out.

Azul became famous ’round these parts. We lived within walking distance to the elementary school, and my daughters’ teachers regularly took their classes on field trips to our house. Twenty or so excited kids would stand at the fence around the bird pen to see Azul and the other turkeys, along with our chickens and Roosevelt the duck. We even had two bunnies, Diamond-in-the-Rough and Snowball, which if we could catch (they burrowed tunnels from the pen out to the yard) we’d let the students pet.

But Azul’s fame derived mostly because she survived an attack so severe that her innards were exposed. She had flown into the neighbors’ yard, not knowing that their dogs were unfriendly. Immediately a Bassett Hound and German Shepherd cornered and jumped her. The daughter was inside alone but had the wherewithal to call the police. She then went outside and chased the dogs away from Azul until Animal Control arrived and took the wounded turkey to the village offices.

Normally, with injuries that grave, Azul would have been put to sleep. But when the mayor of the village saw our daughter, who with Jim had pulled in seconds behind Animal Control, crying her eyes out when she saw how gory Azul looked, the mayor ordered Frosty, the head dog catcher, to rush the turkey to a local veterinarian. This mayor, who was also a sometimes-actor in Western films, then told Jim that the village would pick up the cost.

Lo and behold, Azul pulled through. She went on to live a relatively long life, giving birth to and raising three or four poults, a combined 20 to 30 turkeys.

Just a couple of weeks ago, however, Azul went missing. We looked high and low for her. She was always the leader of her flock, until this past year. We were down to four turkeys, one being Azul. The two males had plucked out large patches of her feathers. We let her stay outside the pen, being as how she roosted high in the trees to sleep.

One night we heard a commotion and chased off whatever it was that had come around. The next day Azul was gone. There were no feathers, no sign that she’d been taken or hurt. We searched for her for several days, thinking she might have laid eggs underneath brush and was hidden, safe and sound.

We still like to think she just flew high up into the trees where we can’t see her. But she was old for a turkey, and in our hearts we know that she’s gone for good.

Here is the story that Dee wrote about Azul back in 2004, just a few weeks after Azul was attacked by the dogs. Dee was 8 years old, and Azul was just over a year. I’ve corrected typos for ease of reading.

The Turkey Who Lived

One fall day, my dad, M., and me were shopping at K-Mart. We got a lot of stuff. Finally we were headed for home. When we turned on Mockingbird Lane, we saw the Animal Control leaving the road. My dad had a feeling something was wrong!

When we pulled up at our green gate, my dad saw a note left from the Animal Control which read “Your turkey has been attacked by some dogs next door. Sincerely, Frosty.”

My dad told us and I cried, but then I said, “I’ll kill those dogs!”

We met up with them [Animal Control] just in time. Before my dad got out of the car, he said Azul might be dead or dying. While my dad talked I could not tell if Azul was dead or alive, so I got out of the van and went to my turkey and cried when I saw her.

“We will put her to sleep,” the man said. “No!” the mayor said, “you will take her to the vet.”

So they did. The vet stitched her up. We had to put red medicine on her for a week. Now she is better, as if it never happened.

In Memoriam

azul azul and baby in fall

fall humps goodbye azul

Azul and her flock on red Ravine

Postscript: Even though she’s no longer with our flock, we are grateful this Thanksgiving holiday for having had Azul in our lives. She taught us that turkeys were not just some dumb bird you eat once a year. They’re regal and sociable. They’re funny, and most of all, they’re tough.

We’re also thankful today for our family (including the furry, feathered, and scaly), friends, our readers, for nature, writing, art, and all that inspires us.

Happy Thanksgiving, QM and Liz, and both your families!

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              Azul Stepping Gingerly, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved      
              Azul Stepping Gingerly, August 1, 2007, photo © 2007 by
              ybonesy, all rights reserved.

The girls are bopping around the house these days saying, “Azul’s a better mother than Eagle Eye.” Azul is the slate blue turkey who on Monday hatched a batch of 11 poults. Eagle Eye is the brown turkey who a few weeks ago brought seven baby turkeys into the world, proceeded to step on (and crush to death) one of them, lost two to something that looked like a virus, and let another become “disappeared.”

I hate the labels: good mother, bad mother. Yet, here I am, going along with them. Azul does seem to walk gingerly around her brood. She hasn’t lost any babies yet, and it’s true, she was a mama last year. This was Eagle Eye’s first round at mothering.

Azul’s Babies, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedStill, it’s a horrible judgment. Good mother. Bad mother. If you’re a mother, you know exactly what I mean. There is no role more scrutinized, criticized, revered and reviled. Who do we adults blame for our neuroses? Our mothers. Who do we make jokes about and love to hate? Our mothers-in-law.

I gave birth to my first child 12 years ago this September. I remember how nervous I was holding my newborn Dee. She weighed seven pounds. She cried and cried in those early days, and we often couldn’t figure out what it was. We ran through the basic stuff — nursing and changing diapers — before ending up fluttering all about her. Is it her ears, her tummy, what is it?? Most nights we just held her, swadled and bright red with fury, all of us miserable, especially me and Jim.

Azul and Babies, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedI do have to wonder what it is, if not differences in mothering, that explains Azul’s apparent ease with her babes. She does seem to be sure-footed, literally, with her 11 poults. Azul’s a different breed — lighter in color and weight — from Eagle Eye. Azul’s also older by a year. In turkey years I bet that’s something like a decade.

I was a more relaxed mother the second time around. Jim, too, was a more skillful parent. Em was independent, not so clingy. She stopped nursing at eight months, even though I wanted to at least complete a year. We doted on her plenty, but we didn’t freak out. Dee screamed and cried whenever we went somewhere in the car; she protested the entire drive, near or far. I remember one time pulling over on I-25 and letting my sister take over driving to Santa Fe while I climbed into the back and took Dee out of her carseat to nurse her just so she’d stop screaming. Never mind that I put us both in danger during that little episode. She stopped crying and that was all that mattered.

It’s been a tough lesson having our miniature farm. We’ve lost many animals — chicks and a baby duck, three rabbits, too many turkeys to count. Dee herself buried the last poult that died from Eagle Eye’s brood. We’ve taken extra precautions with Azul. Early on, Eagle Eye’s babies escaped their pen, got exposed to cool nights and hawks. As soon as Azul had her babies, we moved them into the most secure spot in the pen.

Azul checking things out, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedI hung out with all the turkeys for a while this evening. I wanted to observe them for myself. I shot a few photos of Azul with her 11 poults all scrambling about her, weaving back and forth between her feet. Eagle Eye seemed pretty easy-going with her remaining three babies. They’re getting big. Soon we’ll have to start finding homes for some of these babies. No way we’re going to get into the business of turkey farming.

I have to admit, Azul struck me as being the wiser of the two. It’s not a judgment against Eagle Eye, though. Azul just has a certain gentleness about her. She always has. She lets you hold her, and she doesn’t fret when you get close to her babies. Eagle Eye was raised under different circumstances. She’s a turkey’s turkey. There were lots of birds in the pen by the time she came around. But that doesn’t make her a bad mother. Nature is nature. No one ever said it was easy.

                         Eagle Eye on the other side, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
                         Eagle Eye on the other side of the fence, July 2007,
                         photo © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

posted on red Ravine, August 1, 2007

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