Turkeys are my teachers. I recently changed the type of turkeys I raise, and the new breed of black, broad-breasted turkeys have taught me a lesson about relationships.
The breed I used to raise—standard bronze —would always run from me when I went into the pen. They would squawk like I was trying to get them or like I was a mean-spirited critter there to do them harm.
When I first got my new flock of 20 black, broad-breasted turkeys, I kept them indoors, and they squawked like all the other turkeys I’ve had.
They were growing like crazy, and I moved them to a pen outside. Suddenly, their personality totally changed.
I’ve never seen anything like it with a group of animals.
The black, broad-breasted turkeys come running as I’m leaning over to fill their water and their feeder or doing maintenance on equipment.
They walk up and look me in the eye. They stand on my foot looking at me.
They look down at what I’m doing, and they look back up like they’re saying, “What ya doing?” “You’re doing that wrong.” “Shouldn’t you be doing it another way?” “Does anybody know you’re doing it this way?”
That’s the way it seems to me. The entire flock does it.
I can’t get things fixed in the pen. When one of my automatic waterers broke, I had to take it out of the pen to fix it because they wouldn’t leave me alone. As I’m pouring water in, they’re sticking their heads in.
This behavior got me thinking.
I’m a very relational person, but I’m not very social. I will be social with you because I value our relationship. I force myself to be outgoing. “Hey, how are you?” “How’s your day been?” How are the kids?”
My instinct is to notice you but to act like I don’t see you in Sam’s. I’ll duck down an aisle because I just don’t want to talk. It’s nothing personal; I just don’t want to talk.
I’m only social because I know that it enhances my relationships.
The turkeys I had before, the ones that ran from me, I didn’t see as pets. I didn’t see them as friends.
With the new ones, I’ve developed a fondness.
When I talk to you, it enriches and enhances me. It enriches and enhances you. It enriches and enhances our relationship.