That Time We Fed The Wildlife

I need you to know that there are currently seven wild turkeys sitting on the split-rail fence outside my window.  They are staring at me with the exact same expressions that prison inmates have, right before one of them jumps up from the cafeteria table, signalling the plan to be put into action.  That’s usually when forty-six prisoners, armed with homemade shanks, take the guards captive, in a standoff that makes it onto all the major news networks.

I’m fairly certain these looks from the turkeys are because I let the boys feed them stale bread this past weekend…

This goes completely against the grain of folks living in Small Town, USA.  You see, we live in a bit of untamed territory, according to Chicago standards, simply because we have grassy plains instead of big malls, filled with roller coasters and Gap Kids and Cinnabon.

Lord, be near us.  We have no Cinnabon.  These are trying times.

In our neck of the woods, the deer and the antelope roam (right alongside the wild turkeys) all over our neighborhoods.  One elderly woman, a few blocks over, started feeding the deer in the area a couple of years ago, by leaving out whole watermelons and cantaloupes and corncobs for them, which caused an uproar in the neighboring blocks.  The deer who were attempting to forage their dinners from park dumpsters, which only offered up empty, grande Starbucks cups, got the word that their cousins were up on the hill, dining on fresh fruit set out on tablecloths, accompanied by linen napkins and candles and crystal goblets filled with sweet, freshly-squeezed nectar.  It took them all of three hours to pass the information along the deer grapevine, and suddenly our part of town was overrun with white tails and mule deer.  The two gangs had never mingled together before, and they weren’t about to then, either.  The mule deer and their red bandannas would arrive at this elderly woman’s house in the early afternoon and simply camp out in the yard, by settling themselves into the grass, exactly like they were waiting in line on a sidewalk for a Black Friday sale to begin.

To a mule deer, an upcoming banquet of Heirloom Tomatoes is on the same playing field as a flat-screen, 70-inch Samsung, on sale for $79.

When the white tails and their purple bandannas arrived, they would realize that claims had already been made upon the feast.  There would be every manner of snorting and hooves pawing in the dirt, as well as someone claiming that someone else’s mama had (gasp!) antlers.  In the end, one group was always beaten down.  While the winners feasted on apples and oranges hand-delivered to them, the other group would turn themselves loose in the neighborhood for dinner.

And THAT, y’all, is why Hubs and I lost every last one of our newly-planted bushes last spring.

Every.  Single.  One.

As in, I fed the deer $149 worth of little boxwoods and bayberry shrubs, which I never intended to do.  Apparently the motto was, “When there are no peaches, a boxwood is the next best thing, and these folks in that cul de sac o’er there have a fresh planting.”


Of course, some of the surrounding neighbors (who were not me or Hubs) began to walk over to this elderly woman’s home, one by one, and kindly suggest that MAYBE it would be wise for her to stop feeding the deer.  That’s when she insisted that she was not feeding the deer; she was simply discarding uneaten fruit.  Starting an outdoor compost pile, if you will.  Now, I don’t mean to accuse anyone, but one kindly, elderly woman, who lives alone, seldom buys a hundred pounds of fresh fruit on a weekly basis, unless she has a still in the backyard, is making cranberry mash, is attempting a colon cleanse, or…

… is feeding deer.

Also?  Well, the three hay bales she was having delivered every week seemed to indicate that PERHAPS she wasn’t being completely honest.

That’s because we all know that there isn’t a moonshine recipe out there that calls for HAY, which means everyone could scratch off the possibility of there being a still behind her garage.

Personally, I think this saddened Hubs.  His bucket list consists of running moonshine across a state line, and outrunning the law in a beat-up pickup, with bald tires and nothing but a coat of primer on it.

Pray for him as the Spirit leads you.

In the end, I have no idea what happened.  I still see the elderly woman puttering around in her garden when I drive by, plucking blossoms off her flowers for a vase in her kitchen in the summer months, and picking up dried, dead leaves in the winter months, when the snow clears, but she is no longer having high school boys throw hay bales out of the backs of their trucks.

And my bushes from last summer are still here, even though our yard is PLUM DADGUM FULL of deer droppings.

So, when my boys were both outside playing in the dirt (and the boy would want you to know that HE, being fifteen, was not PLAYING in the dirt, but simply holding the toy John Deere tractor trailer steady while Thing 2, who WAS playing in the dirt, filled it with dirt clods) and hollered inside for leftover bread to feed to the turkeys, I told them, “Have at it.”


I did.

I said the exact phrase of, “Have at it.”

In other words, I granted my permission and very possibly gave my blessing upon the criminal activity.

Thing 2 was powerfully excited to break the nearly-stale bread into chunks and toss them to the wild turkeys, who were detouring their walk through our yard.  He was SO EXCITED, in fact, he tended to throw whole slices of whole grain, organic, made-with-nuts-and-tree-bark breadFINE!!!… It was nutritionless white bread… instead of just throwing small pieces to the big birds.

And the turkeys?

Well.  They showed exactly the same manners as the different deer gangs did.  The biggest tom turkey spread his wings wide like a jet about to take off, sweeping the area and grabbing as many pieces as he could, while the women squawked behind him and begged for scraps and mumbled words that no ladylike turkey should ever say out loud.  I told him that I was POWERFULLY DISAPPOINTED in his behavior, and then Thing 2 did some yelling at him, too.

Sadly, I don’t think he’s found Jesus, because that tom turkey had zero-point-zero shame in what he had done.

We have dubbed him The Bread Hog.

Then, my boys fed the turkeys the following day, too.

Except on the following day, they used the good bread, which I had bought for their lunch sandwiches.

That explains why there are no lunch sandwiches this week.

And now?  Yes.  The turkeys are staring at me, as they perch on the split rail fence, wondering why their dinner is late.

It’s because the college rodeo team hasn’t shown up yet with three hay bales stacked in the back of their 1976 Ford F150 for us.

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