Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fact to Fiction

With the exception of about a half hour this morning, we spent most of the day finishing up the butcher of our turkeys.   This is an untouched first draft, non-revised.  It is fiction, a piece I may use in the novel I am writing.  It is based on yesterday's facts as they unfolded out here JOTOLR.

Rough Draft #1
January 27, 2011
Turkey Killing Scene

The dog’s bark was sharp. Not the mellow sound of Tess’s bark or Ross’s Kate. Mysteriously-- almost gleeful in tone—it seemed celebratory, like a declaration of conquest. It was as if the dog was cornering something as the sound ebbed and flowed with each change of direction.

Andy scrambled out of her chair knowing there was only one thing worth cornering in that part of the yard. Worming into her jacket she brushed the curtain aside and took a quick look out the south window, but couldn’t see a thing for the thick snow coming down. She struggled fiercely with her boots, still damp from this morning’s work, then grabbed the loaded Winchester at the door. On the way out, she reached into the drawer on the secretary, and just in case, pulled out some extra shells and jammed them into her pocket. Gun in hand, she managed to open and close the door quietly, sneaking out in long strides beside the rosebushes in the silent snow. The noise level increased, revealing at least two dogs. They yipped and howled. Upon reaching the corner of the barn and taking a look, she wanted to vomit. It was a grisly orgy playing out before her.

Brownish grey feathers were everywhere. Sizing up the scene she saw a tri-colored coon dog and a black-and-tan. They had the big tom turkey cornered between them up against the barn, one on each side of the bird. Streaks of blood and pieces of turkey were splattered and shredded across the snow as if some wild-eyed artist had flung red paint in all directions, making a ghastly nightmare of the pristine landscape. Snow was coming down at a furious pace, now, all but blinding her. She could barely make out the turkey. The hounds were alternately diving in, ripping out a mouthful of feathers and flesh, and then re-cornering the poor bird, lunging in for successive attacks. The other four turkeys had already been severely crippled and were hunkering low to the ground, trying to hide or simply endure, with huge chunks of flesh gone--torn out from their bodies, leaving bloody, gaping holes in their sides.

Andy didn’t waste any more time. Marking the approximate position of the tom, so as not to hit him, she strode forward, firmed the shotgun against her shoulder, took aim and fired. The loudness was deafening.   The nearby woods reverberated with the shock. Squeals of pain erupted from the first dog. She’d hit it but had only caught it on the side of the head. She pumped the shotgun, aimed a little lower, fired, again and silenced the dog. Andy pumped the gun again, but instead of firing, there was an audible click. The gun was empty. Thankfully, the dog stood still, wagging its tail, looking at her, not sure what to do next. Quickly she re-loaded, chambered a shell, ignoring the pitiful look of the hound. She fired. This time the black-and-tan fell silent and sank to the ground.. An eerie quiet settled over the carnage. Andy lowered the gun and leaned it against the side of the barn. She stood for a moment trying to gather her thoughts.

It was obvious the dogs weren’t hungry, She could possibly have excused them had that been the case, but there were no ribs showing. They’d been well fed and had only one thing on their minds: playful bloodlust.

The sight of the once-majestic tom, cowering against the barn, brought a sense of deep sorrow as she recalled the day she’d found the nest of turkey poults, late last spring hatched only hours before. Perhaps the destruction of the nest had been a harbinger of things to come. The mother hen turkey, obviously had tried to defend her brood against some predator, but lay dead beside the nest. Andy had gathered the five remaining poults into her shirt and taken them home. Without any other ideas as to how she was going to care for them, she put them in with the baby chicks and the old setting hen.. The hen didn’t seem to mind, and scooted them under her wing. And from that time on, the turkeys had made a home and claimed it.

They had not only survived, but grown into exquisitely beautiful creatures, so tame and trusting. Quiet, low key, and regal were words that came to mind as Andy thought of their presence here on Rimglow. She found herself regretting she’d ever taught Tess to herd them, or more to the point, had taught the turkeys to allow Tess to herd them, taught them that such behavior, despite eons that warned otherwise, would cause them no harm..

Photo taken January 26, 2011


  1. I'm still trying to find words. You, on the other hand, have captured the scene with great emotion and detail. I'm so sorry for the loss of your birds.

  2. Hard times. We've seen them too. Good to write it out while it's fresh in your mind.

  3. Thank you much, Debbi. I thought about simply not saying anything here, but then, again, it seems that people are unaware of the damage their "pets" other "pets" (farm animals) and need to know that their free-running canines inflict great trauma.

    Hey, Vicki! Thanks. Figured I should make some use out of the tragedy and it challenged me to find another way of conveying the incident other than simply telling it.

  4. Oh how dreadful and what a waste. I think you should print up that photo and plaster it over your local settlement, pet shops, stores or anywhere that dog owners visit to show them exactly what their pets can get up to.