Posted on Nov 10, 2020
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
We have been rescuing turkeys at The Gentle Barn for over twenty-one years, and we have learned so much about their personalities, affections, and intelligence. Male turkeys love to show off and strut for all to see and live to be called handsome. Female turkeys love to cuddle and will fall asleep in our laps. Girl turkeys have pink bumps on their heads and necks that are like jewelry to show everyone how pretty they are. Boy turkeys’ heads change colors with their moods; when their head is whitish blue, they are happy, and when they are bright red, they are excited. Mommy turkeys will carry their small babies on their backs and protect them under their wings.
Wild turkeys are small, live in large family groups, roost on the tops of trees, run very fast, and live till about twenty years old. Domestic turkeys are genetically engineered to grow very big, very fast, and are slaughtered at twelve weeks old, when they are just babies. Because they are so abnormally large, when we rescue them from slaughter, these turkeys live between two and four years. At The Gentle Barn, we work very hard to combat the effects of genetic engineering and help our turkeys live longer and better lives by giving them acupuncture and Jill and Joan CBD when they start having mobility issues. It must be working because we currently have many cuddle turkeys in each state that are comfortable and happy. Please come meet them when you can, you are sure to fall in love!
The first turkey we ever rescued was called Tommy. I was told he was aggressive and unintelligent. The first night he was with me I showed him where he would eat and sleep. The second night, believing he would not remember, I wanted to show him again. I could not find him anywhere and after an hour of searching the barnyard, found him in front of his door waiting for me to open it. That’s when I realized that turkeys are smart. I carried a rake around with me for fear that he would strike out at me, but after a few weeks, I realized he wasn’t aggressive at all and put my rake away. We had Tommy for four years and he was always a gentleman, kind, loving, and very smart!
The second turkey we ever rescued was a female named Chloe. She loved to talk and each morning we would have a great chat about life as I did my chores. But one particular day she was more talkative than usual and followed me around much longer than typical. I started to worry that there was something wrong, so I stopped what I was doing, sat down, looked her in the eye, and asked her if she needed something. She crawled into my lap, closed her eyes, and fell asleep! That’s when I realized that girl turkeys love to cuddle, and we have been cuddling them ever since!
It is very easy to believe that animals are dumb, aggressive, or have no personalities. Then we don’t feel as guilty eating them, exploiting them, wearing them, or enslaving them. But what if animals are as smart as we are with the same perceptions and memories? What if they are suffering the same way we would if we were in cages, research facilities, or slaughterhouses? What if we all could see not our differences but our similarities through the lens of love? We would all be happy, healthy, free, and we would see animals as our neighbors, friends, and family to uplift, inspire and heal us every day. I believe in that world with all my soul, and Jay, our staff, volunteers, and I work hard to create it. If you are not vegan already, would you consider choosing a plant-based Thanksgiving this year and join us in creating peace in a time where it is needed now more than ever?!