Monday, September 24, 2012

Elegy to the Turkey and Remember WKRP?

A fat and happy domestic turkey enjoying his digs at Shelburne Farms, Vermont

 I visited a farm over the weekend and snapped this photo of a fat and happy turkey. Although the poor guy does not know it, he will not be around, enjoying his life for long. He is destined to be ‘harvested’ and the center of attraction on some family’s Thanksgiving table.

Nowadays turkeys are raised for the edible enjoyment of millions of Americans as well as other people around the world. Apparently Americans love white meat, so the birds are fattened to produce the largest breasts possible. But the enlarged male tom turkeys are unable to fertilize the female hen turkeys in the natural mating position. Therefore females are artificially inseminated. Personally, I prefer dark meat and feel badly that males and females don’t get to have any carnal fun…

Modern breeding techniques have resulted in another side effect. Domesticated turkeys are dumb.

Did you know Big Bird of Sesame Street fame is dressed in turkey feathers? His feathers are died bright yellow.

Wild turkeys are native to Central America and Mexico. Mexicans were probably the first people to domesticate the turkey. The Spanish introduced turkeys to Europe in 1519; they reached England by 1524.

English farmers in the 1700’s walked the turkeys to market and it was sometimes a long march. Farmers placed little booties on the turkeys’ feet to protect them.

Ben Franklin believed the wild turkey, a multi-colored, aggressive bird of flight, should be the national bird.

Wild turkeys can fly; domestic ones cannot.

How many readers remember the 1970s sitcom WKRP? There is an infamous episode about turkeys. I still remember it, and found a clip on YouTube. Watch the first four minutes and enjoy!


  1. I don't think wyou want to know how any animals these days are raised for the edible enjoyment of millions of Americans. Be that as it may . . . funny clip!

  2. Thanks for all the turkey info. Now those facts are probably something I will retain for a long time. Now, where did I put my car keys.

  3. Unfortunately, live turkey drops were not unheard of when I lived in MO. Not so funny. At least not for the turkeys and certain outraged citizenry. And then there was the time my daughter's nursery school class took a field trip to a turkey farm before Thanksgiving. They were a day late. All the turkeys were hanging by their feet from a conveyor belt. Lotta traumatized kids. Those turkeys were beyond trauma.