A guest post by Diane DesMarias
Bernadette and Fiona are sisters who have very different personalities. Bernadette is a little larger than Fiona and while they both love wandering around in the yard and laying in the shade, Bernadette prefers you pat her sister while she looks on. Fiona, however, loves to be touched and patted, especially by children. The sisters stay in close proximity to one another and enjoy each other’s company. Bernadette and Fiona are turkeys who live at Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Penobscot, Maine. The sisters walk freely on green grass, dirt bathe, search for insects, and nap under trees whenever they choose. And here at Peace Ridge, if a human approaches, there’s no need to be alarmed.
Napoleon, a beautiful, large, puffy and showy male, strutted in front of us in all his grand “turkeyness” and is kept “in line” by Beatrice who is known at Peace Ridge as Napoleon’s boss.
Another resident male turkey, Thomas is elderly and arthritic at 3-1/2 years old. He resides in his own private quarters and watches the happenings of his fellow turkeys. Unable to walk, when his joy for life is gone, he will be “let go” humanely just as we do for our companion cats and dogs at that sad, terrible time.
Fiona, Bernadette, Napoleon, Beatrice, and Thomas are of course a few of the lucky turkeys in the United States. Seeing these birds so relaxed and doing what turkeys enjoy doing was great to see, but I was reminded of the millions of turkeys who’ll never have even one grand day as these residents of Peace Ridge let alone the rest of their lives. The millions of turkeys raised for food will never know the warmth of sunshine, green grass beneath their feet, room to stretch their wings, nor the opportunity to just be the living, feeling turkeys they are. Seeing Fiona, Bernadette, Napoleon, Beatrice, and Thomas all living in their dignified turkey way as sentient to this beautiful day as I was, made me happy for them, yet sad for all the turkeys who exist solely to be eaten and will live in terrifying and dreadful conditions until their death.
I believe if we each took a moment to spend some time with a turkey, we’d come to know their individuality, just as we know it in our dog and cat companions. If there is a farm animal sanctuary near you, I urge you to visit and get to know the turkey residents. I’m participating in the 46millionturkeys project because the 46 million turkeys who will be killed for this Thanksgiving deserve to be recognized as individuals.