Meet The Turkeys - Willow

From now until Thanksgiving, it's all about the turkeys who call Animal Place sanctuary home. As you meet the turkeys, I hope you will reconsider the main course for the upcoming holiday. To help you, I'll be adding recipes and purchase suggestions at the end of each post. All of these entries are in honor of the turkeys not lucky enough to end up at a sanctuary...spare them a thought this holiday.


Look it up, it's French. Willow thinks it a lot. If she spoke French, she'd utter it frequently in a nasal tone. This is because she mocks others, please don't take offense.

Willow is from a junkyard. I cannot say she was being raised for her flesh - she was nearly a year old when we rescued her (most turkeys are killed when they are only four months old). I can say that her life before Animal Place was one of deprivation and danger.

The lot she lived on was littered with broken glass, wreckage from damaged cars and years' worth of garbage. She was not the only victim. The property also housed nine rabbits in a cage so small, they could barely turn around. Ducks and geese lived in deplorable, unsanitary coops with no access to water. When animal control confiscated all the animals, life changed for the better.

Willow is not a socialite. She does not curve her body to the contours of another on the perch at night. During the day, dust bathes are not social events spent gossiping with the other turkey hens. Willow is a loner. I am not sure if this is from her lack of socialization early on or if this is just who she is. The beauty of a sanctuary is it does not matter. Willow gets to be whomever Willow wants to be.

Unlike the big white and bronze-breasted production turkeys, Willow is a rangier, smaller bird. Her breed is raised for their flesh and called "heritage" as if this is something for which to be proud. While I have no doubt Willow is a proud bird, it's not for her flesh or because of her breed. Willow can fly and roost on the highest perches. If she wanted, she could fly into Morris' enclosure and mate naturally - a feat production turkeys cannot do. (She does not want.)

We don't know Willow's age, but I think we underestimated it. She suffers from recurring health problems normally seen in older animals. She receives special treatment, sometimes to include subcutaneous fluids. I can say she does not enjoy it. There is an ache in all of us here for causing a small discomfort in order to heal. Maybe I should try French with her.

On a side note, Willow reminds me of why turkeys are one of the closest living relatives to dinosaurs...those ancient animals who had more in common with birds than reptiles. Look at her! I have a public fantasy of attaching (humanely, don't hate) little tiny arms to the chickens and turkeys. Then I would create this amazing back drop of some big city but miniaturized and let the chickens and turkeys stomp their way through. It would be pretty awesome.
Alternatively, you could just make this Thanksgiving awesome with some animal friendly noms. If Willow sat down to eat with you, I think her favorite dishes would involve cranberries.

Willow approved cranberry dishes:
A moment of your time, please. I love the jellied cranberry goop - you know, the kind in a can with the can ridges in the middle of it. LOVE. I get mocked mercilessly for this. One year, there was an epic debate of jellied versus sauce and I lost big-time because APPARENTLY I'm the only one who likes the stuff. Which I doubt, because why is it always in the supermarket? And also, it lasts like forever.

So if you are a secret jellied cranberry goop lover, check out this vegan version!

Alternatively, you can go the non-jellied route (whatever).

Previous Turkey-Friendly Entries include Morris and the Main Course (of which he is not it).