Delinquent ­turkey’s delusions of ­grandeur

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No chickens this week. Or chicks. Or rally cars. This week I’m talking turkey. Well, one turkey in particular. A turkey that is trouble with a capital T.

My original “phew-we-escaped-the-Christmas-dinner-menu” turkeys have been poddling around here for the last three years now. Because that’s what turkeys do. They poddle. Chickens strut or scuttle because they always have a destination – feed, water, Gamford broadcasting corn in the run at 5pm (which is when they usually prefer to take their afternoon tea) – but turkeys poddle.

Turkeys have no purpose to their day. They drink if they happen to find themselves by the drinkers. They eat if you put food beside them.

Otherwise, they idle away their days like the upstairs cast of Downton Abbey. To quote the Dowager Duchess of Grantham (aka Maggie Smith): “What is a weekend?”

The minute you do something interesting – mend a fence, muck out a coop, turn over the compost heaps – they are at your elbow. Intrigued. They will lift nails out of toolboxes, peck at bags of sawdust, poke about where you’re just about to fork over some compost. Just like Dame Maggie, they have nothing better to do with themselves.

Now this particular turkey (a Bourbon Red called, unimaginatively, Cilla) has decided that to liven up an otherwise pedestrian day of luncheons, social calls and poddling, a Fun Thing To Do would be to lay her eggs – and sit on them for ages – in the chicken coop.

Large entrance? Check. She can hop in easily. Nest boxes? Check. Not so easy.

The first hint a new game was afoot was when Gamford had to extract her from one of the boxes after she had managed to stuff herself in. A turkey in a chicken-sized space. And couldn’t get out.

All you could see was the rear half of her sticking out.

Not very Dame-like behaviour. And not good for profits – she had crushed two hens’ eggs.

Next, unwilling to repeat this undignified act, she took to raking out the hens’ eggs and sitting on them in front of a nest box. Result? More crushed eggs and unhappy chickens which couldn’t get in to lay. So Gamford set to work on an anti-turkey device to make the coop entrance smaller – too wee for her, but fine for chooks. This is now in its third modification after she still managed to wriggle her way in, with just a few ruffled feathers on her back.

But, like Carson in Downton, if Gamford is cross there’s only the occasional raised eyebrow to betray it. He soldiers on, stoically sticking to the system, despite Cilla’s attempts to buck it.

Secretly, though, I am sure he’s thinking: “Wretched turkeys. Just for Christmas, not for life.”