Thursday, Mar. 29, 2007
Dear Diary:

Who, I ask you, who amongst us has not heard the phrase "free as a bird"?

Well, apparently wild turkeys haven't, that's who.

We've been adopted by the two wild turkeys I first saw last week. I have christened them Fred and Ethel. Obviously, this is in error since their markings and colouring are identical and as we all know males of the bird species tend to be a big plenty more showy than the females.

Thus, I'm either watching two males (making them Fred and Fred) or two females (meaning I have a teensy flock of Ethels). I blithely ignore this ugly reality, of course. Fred and Ethel it is.

It turns out that Fred and Ethel have no truck with this "free as a bird" notion that afflicts such flibbertigibbets as the finches, woodpeckers, and blue jays who use our feeders. Fred and Ethel are the time management specialists of the bird world. Every morning between 8:30 and 8:45 and every afternoon between 4:30 and 4:45 I can plan to see them come sauntering out of the woods and over to my bird feeder.

I fully expect to see them hoist a palm pilot out from under a wing one morning, pull up a task scheduler, and mark off that they have, indeed, breakfasted chez Marn and the spousal unit. It's that precise.

I also suspect that they have music capability on their palm pilot because as they saunter over it looks like they're listening to The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian". Seriously. As they saunter, they've got the whole neck move thing happening. Who knew that wild turkeys were into 80's pop?

Certainly not I.

Last fall our big lionine cat, Zubby, disappeared. It was right around the time my mom-in-law's health began its final big crash. He was diagnosed with a serious heart murmur three years ago so I knew that he wouldn't live to a ripe old age. To this day we don't know what happened to him.

I suspect the fact that we don't have Zubby doing homeland security anymore explains the appearance of the turkeys. We've seen their tracks all around the perimeter of the house clearing for years. This is the first year they've ventured in to our yard from the woods.

With Zubby gone, Binky (a.k.a. Mr. Evil) clearly feels he is now the alpha cat and all homeland security is his responsibility. While Mr. Evil has 'tude to burn, alas, he is a small cat. He may swagger, but he's writing cheques his butt can't cash.

For the first time since Zubby's arrival, stray cats have begun to break the perimeter. Two nights ago someone had the temerity to spray our porch, meaning that we are greeted with the pungent "present" of male cat urine when we walk out the door.

Aye carumba. It's only a matter of time before Binky gets his butt handed to him on a platter by one of these intruders.

I try to keep the cats in the house during the scheduled turkey visits. This morning Mr. Evil managed to scoot out very early when the spousal unit left for work and he eluded my attempts to lure him into the house pre-turkey. When Fred and Ethel sauntered out of the woods, he did his best to herd them back into the woods away from his bird feeders.

It didn't work.

When you eyeball them, Mr. Evil looks to be physically about the quarter of the size of a wild turkey. This morning he charged them and they edged away from him, but always in a direction that got them a little bit closer to the bird feeders. I think it was a bit of a game for him, because when he ran towards them his tail was always straight up in the air, a cat sign of happiness or playfulness.

Eventually the turkeys got to the feeders and started gorging. Mr. Evil was forced flop down near by, feverishly lick his buttal region, and feign that the turkeys were breakfasting under his magnanimous sufferance. It was pretty funny to watch.

But here's the deal. It's one thing to charge adult turkeys when they're free of young. It's another thing to charge them when they have turklings to defend. A few summers ago when I was walking a neighbour's dog down on the road, completely minding my business, the dog and I got charged by a wild turkey. The bird exploded out of the woods at us in a mass of infuriated feather, beak and talon because apparently we inadvertently got too close to where it was herding its young.

I am significantly larger than a turkey. Mr. Evil is not. I also now know better than to get anywhere near a turkey with poults in tow. Mr. Evil? Despite last summer's buttal abscess, he seems oblivious to the potential feathered danger. My guess is that Binky will take one look at a turkling, decide he can take it easily, and I will be rushing a small, terrifically shredded gray cat to the vet's as fast as the Marnmobile will travel.

How sure am I of this? Well, over at ING I have opened a new savings account. I have named the account Vet to Florida because I figure I'll be putting enough money into my vet's hands this summer to handily cover at least part of a nice Florida getaway for her. *Sigh*.

The spousal unit and I have discussed the possibility of adopting a big honking male cat to replace Zubby. The upside of this is that we would get a new fuzzbutt to lub. Our perimeters would be secure and we wouldn't be greeted by the pungent aroma of cat urine each time we leave the house.

The downside of this is that the odds are good that Binky would feel the need to fight the intruder and probably get himself thoroughly whupped, humiliated, and perhaps injured. Many times. The newcomer might also feel the need to smack Banana and Enid around as well, ensuring mass fuzzbutt discontent.

As well, we'd be back to four cats, pushing us firmly into crazy cat people territory. With our current three cats we can pretend that we're normal.

Sort of.

I guess.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 50.73 miles Ten percent there rubber duck.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2007: 500 miles


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