Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wild Turkeys

Turkey Attack
    All of us here at Joyce’s Take hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and were able to kick back and watch a little football, eat some nice home cooked food, and visit with family members no matter how much you may or may not hate them... especially Uncle Wilford, the miserable son of a bitch.
   As for myself, I am currently visiting my lovely sister Cheryl, niece Keri, and grandnephew Jaxen, in good old Bullhead City, Arizona. I’m ashamed to say we had turkey (my sister insisted), dressing, mashed potatoes (I mashed. It was the least I could do), yams, green beans with bacon, cranberry sauce, gravy, apple salad (secret family recipe), pumpkin pie, and monkey brain pudding with whipped cream. It was wonderful.
   The weather here is mild, the temperature 78.8 degrees, which is down right cold for this town. It is clear, but a tad windy. I walk around the city a couple of miles a day to burn some of the calories I’ve accumulated by eating so much. My invisible cat Herkimer and my sister’s cat Circle are getting along fine, and I’ll be headed back to L.A. Monday morning, arriving at 8:15AM. Today I am making turkey enchiladas.
   I’m glad you brought up the issue of turkeys considering the current crisis around the country. It’s a sad, sad thing, and like Custer’s Last Stand, most Americans will think of this uprising as a unprecedented massacre, yet others a desperate action of self defense.
   Trying to make sense of all of this I’ve looked back at the history of our country for some background.
   In September of 1620 the 100 foot Mayflower, a cargo ship, left Plymouth, England headed for the new world, fleeing from religious persecution by King James of Great Britain. Aboard were 102 English and Dutch Separatists and other adventurers referred to by the Separatists as "the Strangers." There were 30 crew members.
   The ship experienced severe weather during the second month of the voyage causing structural damage. There were two deaths during the voyage,
   On November 9th land was sighted, Cape Cod. They had intended to sail on to an English colony in Virginia, and after reaching Cape Cod they tried to go there, but foul weather turned the ship back and they anchored in Provincetown Harbor.
   These people, the Puritans (the term Pilgrim would not be applied to the settlers until 1630, by the colony’s governor William Bradford, denoting a person who has made a pilgrimage) founded Plymouth Colony in December, and immediately began fighting with the Indians who lived nearby.
   The Puritans had a hard first winter. The Mayflower was still in the harbor and was used as a shelter until houses could be completed ashore. Nevertheless, exposure, malnutrition and illness led to the death of half the group, both passengers and crewmen.
   After the weather improved people began to recover from their winter illnesses, crops of wheat, barley, Indian corn and peas were planted in early April, and the Mayflower took off back to England.
   In March of 1621, Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag Indians, visited Plymouth. He signed an alliance which gave the English permission to take about 12,000 acres of land for the colonists.
   The event celebrated as the first Thanksgiving has been debated in this country since the late twentieth century. Many Native Americans argue against the romanticized story of the Wampanoag celebrating together with the colonists, but there are two known accounts of the 1621 event. Others say that the first "thanksgiving" occurred two decades later and shortly after the Pequot War in 1637.
   However, for more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
   Let’s suppose that the first Thanksgiving feast did occur in 1621 between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians. How is it that turkey has become the traditional main course on this national holiday (forms of thanksgiving are also celebrated in Canada, Germany, Grenada, Korea (both North and South), Japan, Liberia, The Netherlands, and Norfolk Island (a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia).
   Since lobster, goose, duck, seal, eel, and cod were plentiful during that time, those foods were most likely the main courses of the first feast. Deer meat and wild fowl (although historians cannot say for sure which types of fowl were served up that day, a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow mentions a turkey hunting trip before the meal) are the only two items that historians know for sure were served during the celebration.
   Another theory attributes the Thanksgiving turkey to Queen Elizabeth (you know, the same one Cate Blanchett portrayed in those two Queen Elizabeth movies) of England.
   According to legend, the Queen received the news of the sinking of, or grounding on the Irish coast, of about half of the Spanish Armada that had been sent to do battle with England, and the subsequent departure of the remaining ships back to Spain, while eating goose for dinner.
   She was so thrilled that she ordered another goose to be served. Some historians say the early settlers were inspired by the queen’s actions and roasted a turkey instead of a goose.
   Then there was what is considered the classic menu of turkey with stuffing, gravy, and monkey brain pudding that was popularized by Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843 and very popular in the United States. Some food historians believe Scrooge's gift of a Christmas turkey to the Cratchit family helped cement the turkey's place at the center of the holiday meal for both middle and upper class households.
   Wikipedia tells us: “A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species.
   Turkeys are classed in the taxonomic order of Galliformes. Within this order they are relatives of the grouse family or subfamily. Males of both species have a distinctive fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak—called a snood in the Wild Turkey and its domestic descendants. They are among the largest birds in their ranges. As in many galliform species, the male (tom or gobbler) is larger and much more colorful than the female (hen).
   And 300 million of them are killed each year in the United States, 45 million during Thanksgiving alone.
   Well turkeys are fed up. There are 10,000 species of birds on this planet, and turkeys are getting tired of being picked out, and on, and slaughtered in the bargain.
   Roberta Schnoor, a resident of Brookline, Mass., says she first started seeing the turkeys in her neighborhood outside of Boston a few years ago. Initially, she just noticed one large male turkey — a tom, staring at her. But then she started seeing more. A flock started roaming backyards or walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic. And, Schnoor says, "They became progressively more aggressive."
   After being hunted almost out of existence more than 100 years ago, wild turkey populations are on the rise. Wild turkeys had been reintroduced with great success over the years, along with other native birds, such as eagles and hawks. In 1950, there were about 350,000 wild turkeys nationwide. Today there are around 3 million, and some are unexpectedly turning up in suburbs and city parks waiting, regrouping... biding their time.
   Wildlife experts say that birds who get accustomed to suburban life apparently start to see people as other turkeys, often displaying aggressive social behavior in attempts to establish their "turkey dominance."
   Turkey Dominance, oh yes. That’s what they strive for. That’s all they care about. They will not stop until they achieve their turkey goals.
   Turkeys are still pissed that they are not the national bird... the wild turkey is a native of North America. As a result, Benjamin Franklin claimed this made the turkey a more suitable national bird for the United States than the bald eagle (wait a minute. The bald eagle is also a native of North America. I think Franklin needed to stop hitting the sauce).
   Not everyone agreed with Franklin, however, and the bald eagle became the national emblem for the United States in 1782. The bald eagle may be America’s bird 364 days a year, but the turkey has one day all to itself — Thanksgiving, an honor the turkeys could do without. As the national bird you rarely see bald eagles being served up on a plate, filled with succulent stuffing by the millions every November, now do you?
   Schnoor's neighbor Louise Dionne was attacked by a large male tom. It jumped on her back, beating its wings and scratching at her with a talon that turkeys have on their leg. She made it to a neighbor's house after kicking the turkey in the chest.
   "You don't trust those turkeys you see now," Dionne says. "It doesn't take much for them to go berserk."
   Turkeys gone berserk (a corollary to “Girls Gone Wild”). Paints quite a picture doesn’t it?
   “Then, the turkeys came and started attacking my front door,” she said. A second run-in came a few weeks ago as she walked nearby. “I looked back and three of them charged me,” she explained. She moved to the center of the street to avoid the animals, but it wasn’t enough, the birds jumped up and grabbed her by the back and arms, her neighbors say, and flew off with her. She hasn’t been heard from since.
   Yes, despite what you may have seen on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” turkeys can fly... wild turkeys at least.
   And they can run at up to 20 miles per hour. Considering the average human can run at about 11 miles per hour, the turkeys will outrun you... they will catch you... they will have their way with you.
   According to Illinois wildlife officials, wild turkeys are in every city in the state. Even big ones, like Chicago. They seem to be... infiltrating, gathering intelligence, patiently waiting for the best possible time to spring a massive turkey uprising.
   Reports of wild turkey attacks at Butterball domestic factory turkey farms at Lenoir, Duplin, Onslow and Sampson Counties, and Shannon, Hoke County, in North Carolina have resulted in massive break outs of their white breasted domestic cousins, thus swelling the ranks of murderous, antagonistic turkeys with the destruction of the human race as their only goal.
   Turkey battalions have been seen mustering in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles, and in the New Jersey Meadowlands just 11 miles from Manhattan. In the Middle East, the New York Times has reported that the Turkeys have retaliated after Syrian shelling killed 5 within their border. Bodega Bay, California was completely inundated by the birds, and all communication with that area has ceased. Washington D.C. has been surrounded by enraged gobblers, and so far the military, the largest in the world, has been helpless in stopping them (indeed, what good is a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier against millions of marauding gallinaceous fowl within our own borders?).
   Oh Lord (that does not exist)... what will become of us?
   How did things get this way?
   It wasn’t always like this. Here’s 13 examples of how it all began:
La Matadora

Class Warfare
Under Siege
Gang Turkeys
This man has never been seen again...
Turkey infects Harvard reporter and with Turkey Virus, who turns into a zombie turkey.
Turkey jail riots
“Come a little closer sir...”
“I know you’re in there!”
Car drove into a turkey pit, and then... the turkeys descended.
Ugly Turkey Hysteria
It’s Not Only Congress That’s After the Postal Service
The Blair Turkey Project
    Did you think this would never come to pass, dear readers? We’ve known about the problem for decades, but we did nothing. The Republican Party said it was the greatest hoax perpetrated upon the American public throughout the nation’s history. Lobbyists from Butterball are seen entering and leaving congressional offices as if they were their own homes. Turkey deniers dominate Fox so-called News. The issue is still considered untouchable by politicians, and wasn’t even mentioned by either candidate during the last election.
   Yet the turkeys are out there. They exist, and they’re not going away. We caused the problem, and we can solve it (or mitigate the destruction). But we have to start now, for our sake, and the sake of our children and grandchildren.
   The time to act is upon us, before the turkey disaster capitalists get their way.
   Americans have united in the past when facing a common enemy.
   We must do so again.

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