By Claire Anderson
It was nearing the end of an uneventful shift for Natalie in late June when Brian at the wildlife centre abruptly changed that. He stopped her before she climbed into her car, shoved a yogurt container towards her, and said “here see what you can do with this”. Wondering what could possibly be in there, Nat peered inside and found a poor, bedraggled little body lying on its side peeping faintly. And, thus began the remarkable story of Plucky, the lone survivor in a plastic bag full of gassed, day-old chicks, destined for raptor food.
Round the clock TLC followed his unexpected arrival at the Anderson home. When he fell and couldn’t get back up (effects from the gassing), someone was always ready to lift him up and help him along. When he cried, he was immediately consoled even sleeping with Natalie on occasion! His appetite seemed insatiable and meal worms and crickets found a home in our fridge. He became a favourite with the volunteers who lavished attention and cuddles and he thrived. We watched his personality develop and Natalie and I decided there was no way we could ever eat turkey again or meat for that matter. That was the beginning of our vegetarian pledge. I feel sad that I have lived half my life eating meat when I love all living creatures. And Plucky the turkey was the catalyst to make me (and Natalie) change the way we viewed the food we ate.
In time, it was decided that Plucky needed a playmate, so when Brian collected another bag of chicks for the raptors, he also picked up a strong little fuzz ball that was nicknamed PJ (Plucky Jr.). Wherever Plucky went, PJ followed. He was also known to reside in pockets and went along for rides when he got tired. PJ was full of attitude. He would chase the wildlife centre’s mallards and showed no fear of anything. Sadly, PJ met an untimely end while visiting a friend’s farm… RIP, sweet little PJ – you were loved by many.
Meanwhile, Plucky now 11 weeks old (at the time of this writing), is fully bonded to people. He comes and goes to the wildlife centre every day and, if he stays with grandma (me, Claire), he is sorely missed. He proudly struts his stuff and increasingly shows off his fine feathered form in true turkey fashion. He has a particular fetish for footwear which seems to annoy him and he becomes big and poufy and his head and wattle become bright red with irritation.
There were a lot of sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do with this most beloved turkey that we knew we couldn’t keep… [Symbol] until the night of the volunteer BBQ, when one of our volunteer’s mom suggested Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. Never having heard of it, Natalie went Googling, found the website, liked what she saw, and promptly sent off an email with Plucky’s story. No more than 10 minutes later a reply from Siobhan was received. They would be happy to have Plucky and, amazingly, her 12 year old daughter loves turkeys. So our “handsome boy” will have a new home filled with people and other animals (kind of like the wildlife centre, only for farm animals instead ). Bonus: we can also visit him but we have to do 4 hours of chores. We don’t mind that at all.
To our amazing Plucky…you made our summer very memorable and you hold a special place in many hearts. And to Brian… we teased you for being responsible for us getting “stuck with a turkey in the house”… but, oh, we thank you so much for the wonderful memories [Symbol].
P.S.Plucky was driven to his new home on Sunday, Sept. 2 by Claire accompanied by Natalie, Kim and Tini (volunteers at the wildlife centre). He was a bit shy at first then explored the barn where he will have a stall of his own until he feels more at home. The chickens were very interested and he got pecked a few times but hopefully that will stop when he becomes part of the entourage and as he gets bigger. It was heartbreaking leaving him though, as he was a part of our family since he was a day old. Nat and I visited again a couple of days later, on our way to Guelph and, after a few pecks, we were able to pet him in his favourite scratching spots [Symbol]. Hopefully, he will remember us when next we meet…