Posted on Nov 01, 2018
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
November is my favorite months of all time! Not just because of our Gentle Thanksgiving event, but because I get to talk about turkeys all month long! In each week’s newsletter in November I’ll be telling stories of our turkeys’ intelligence, affection, and magic, and hopefully open your hearts to turkeys everywhere. This week I want to explain how we even discovered that female turkeys love to cuddle.
I knew boy turkeys loved to show off, but when I rescued my first female turkey I was in for a big surprise. She was white and fluffy, had pink dots on her face and neck, and large pink feet. I loved her instantly. Each day when I would go out to do my chores she would follow me around the yard and we would talk. She would tell me all about her day, and, I would tell her all about mine. After about ten minutes of excellent conversation, we would go our separate ways. She would be off to flirt with our male turkey, and I, to finish cleaning the yard and filling up water buckets.
One day she followed me as she usually did, but after fifteen minutes she was still stalking me. Her peep peeps seemed louder as if she was trying to tell me something. Worried that she needed something, I put my rake down and sat down in front of her. She climbed right up into my lap, fanned her wings out, closed her eyes, and fell asleep. I kissed her pink head and stroked her velvet feathers. I loved it so much that I was afraid to breathe, lest she wakes up and leaves. But she stayed with me a long time and seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.
While we embraced, I wasn’t thinking about what I had to do that day, nor had I any memory of my past regrets. She and I were in present time together. Her capacity to forgive the human race after the torture she had gone through before we brought her home astounded me. Her need for affection was obviously the same as any dog, cat, or child. Instantly gone were the stereotypes that we wrongfully learn in our society. Our bond was cemented until the end of time in that hug. She left me speechless, healed, vulnerable, and enamored with her.
Over the last nineteen years we have saved many turkeys from Thanksgiving and once the females learn to trust us and see that they are safe, the cuddling begins. They will sit in our laps, close their eyes, and fall asleep. Once several years ago during a cuddle session with our turkeys Portia and Ellen, I fell asleep also. When I woke up two hours later, the turkeys were still cuddling with me. If you haven’t cuddled a turkey yet, please come visit us on a Sunday. It will change your life forever!