How the Hen House Turns: First Turkey’s Demise Was Not Wasteful

How the Hen House Turns: First Turkey’s Demise Was Not Wasteful
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

This is a tale from the days when Poncho, our “Santa Fe shepherd,” guarded the domestic birds of the Hen House when they were outside their pen, enjoying the freedom and wild grasses of our three-fourths acre lot on the canyon.

We had all gone off in a hurry to do assorted errands, and Poncho, who loved to ride in the car, had gone with us. Our only excuse for leaving the birds outside the pen was that we had not yet found an obvious way to get them all back in the pen quickly. Chickens are about as easy to herd as cats. Now we know they will follow a familiar yogurt pail filled with kitchen scraps.

When Don came home, he found a nursing coyote mother finishing off First Turkey. It was the middle of the day. The coyote’s pups were waiting for her on the opposite side of the fence. When she saw Don, she dropped the turkey dinner she was carrying and threatened him with a stance that said in no uncertain terms that she hadn’t finished yet.

Don stood still, taking in the scene. There was no helping turkey. Her carcass might as well serve a good purpose. Luckily, the coyote understood that Don was bigger than her, so she disappeared with her pups into the canyon.

Don didn’t want me to see the remains, bless his animal-loving soul, so he cleaned them up and left the good meat in the canyon for the coyote family. I was glad the killer was a nursing mother, glad she hadn’t attacked Don, but terribly sad at the loss of my bonded pal.


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