One life ends, and another begins

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We are back to the Alice’s Restaurant scenario again at Shoogly Towers – closed on account of a lot of death. Except, of course, we are not closed.

We can’t be, as we were never open in the first place.

Anyhoo, hard on the heels of the death of Bruce the gout-ridden cockerel (and Bruce’s heels were very swollen and gout-ridden towards the end), we lost our wee Sally this last week. I say “wee” Sally, as although she was the smallest turkey, she was a turkey nonetheless and therefore, by species, much larger than a lot of birds.

We originally bought Sally as one of 10 poults, eight of whom eventually met their deaths as turkeys do at the end of each year. Well, that’s a bit of a fib, because two of the 10 were Lurch and Lurch 2, the stag turkeys we kept (one main, one reserve). Lurch, you may remember, was so gargantuan he went off his legs and had to be despatched. Lurch 2 nervously stepped up to the plate (not literally, as he was never destined to be Christmas dinner) only to be despatched – by our Patterdale.

Post-Chrimbo, just Queenie and Sally, our turkey girls, remained. Wee Sally Bally Bee, who would come waddling over at high speed the moment you entered “the chickens” (as the fenced-off half of our grounds is universally called at ST) and then follow you round like a beady-eyed, beaky wee dog, having a nosey at everything you did. She had a penchant for shiny stuff – rings, nails, tacks, watches.

Like a large bronze and grey magpie, she would peck and pull at stuff that caught her fancy, including the buckles on your wellies. Odd.

She was a big hit with the Young Mistress, who styled herself Queen of the Turkeys and loved her favourite, Sally Bally Bee, to bits.

We got used to shouting for her, and she got used to coming to call. Always there.

In the last couple of years, due to the ineptitude of Vic, our stag turkey, poor wee Sally – desperate to be a mum – would sit on eggs ... any eggs ... she wasn’t fussy whose they were. Two days before she died she had been sitting on the (much rejected) Old English Pheasant Fowl eggs rejected by all and sundry. She sat tight for three weeks, but to no avail. Gradually squashing them one by one with her heavy turkey body, she was finally left with two – which, sadly, didn’t hatch.

We lifted her off and removed her from the broody coop she’d been in and I could swear she looked sad. If turkeys can look sad. She hung about, listlessly.

Gamford, remarking on her uncharacteristic state, said: “She’s on her way out.”

And she was.

The next morning, he let the chooks and turkeys out, and she didn’t want to leave the shed. It was a warm, sunny morning. At 9am, I went to take her water in a wee drinker so she didn’t have to move, and she was lying down, eyes closed. Nite, nite Sally, sleep tight.

The Young Mistress was distraught. And the relentless cycle of life rolls on. For every yin there’s a yang, and the same day that Sally died the first of our bought-in eggs hatched and a lovely, fluffy wee yellow chick was born.

Bye, bye, Sally Bally Bee, you will be sadly missed.