Herding Turkeys, Poultry SpeedBump, and Foul Traffic

After dropping off my son and his classmate at school today, I suddenly came upon a traffic jam on a back road. Morning traffic in New England is notoriously bad, but this particular spot puzzled me. It was well before the IRS complex and nowhere near Raytheon. What was the hold-up?

Earlier, when I was driving north on Interstate 495, I saw the poor suckers creeping along in the southbound lanes for miles. I just caught the tail end of a traffic report on the new radio station I listen to when the news on NPR is unsuitable for ten year olds in the backseat — accident at the intersection of 495 and the 3, cars backed up for several miles. I breezed by, heading the other direction but noted how long the slow down continued. On the way back from school, I thought, I definitely will not take the freeway.

So…there I was a half hour later, driving on a back road through the gray and brown landscape (most of our snow melted this weekend when torrential rains from the south stomped into New England). Then we came to a dead stop.

On my side of the two-lane road, there were only maybe a dozen cars stopped ahead, and I could see flashing lights in front of that. Oh, my, another accident, I thought. The folks in the other lane were not moving at all, but my predecessors kept slipping forward and escaping from the jam, so I rolled forward every few minutes. Finally, with only six cars before me, I saw the nature of the hold up. A turkey.

Not just any turkey, mind you, but the biggest turkey I have ever, ever, ever seen in my life. This gal was as big as a Saint Bernard!! Well, maybe not that big, but it really was huge. And the animal control guy was walking along patiently behind the thing with a loose, three-feet diameter net, trying to get close enough to toss it on the bird and thus remove it from rush hour traffic.

The turkey wove in and out of the immobile cars. The uniformed officer tailed him on foot, zig-zagging in a steady and persistent fashion. Since the turkey was moving in our direction, folks in our line were one by one being released from captivity. The poor commuters in the other lane were moving forward at a turkey’s pace … which is not all that fast.

In a split second I had a decision to make. As soon as I saw what was happening, it occurred to me that someone should help the animal control guy to herd the turkey into a tight spot so she could be captured. I thought to myself, I am your gal, mister! And I began to pull over.

Then it hit me. This guy doesn’t want some lay person interfering and maybe getting run over by errant cars or worse, freaking out the turkey. My offer of help would not be appreciated … or accepted. So I straightened the car out and watched the show instead. It was quite a sight to observe this magnificent creature and her ability to stop us all in our tracks.

Two random facts spring to mind now that I am here writing about this insignificant little event. First, I am reminded of how Grandma, when she lived in Opheim, Montana, used to herd the family’s turkeys. She would sit outdoors with them and play a concertina (kinda like a little accordion) to pass the time. She said they had no grain to feed them, so the poultry ate the locusts who had devoured the remnants of their withered crops.

Second, I recall a speed-bump in a little village in Peru. We wondered why there was such a thing on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. For the chickens, said a villager. Ah. So they don’t get run over when crossing the road. In America we just send out an animal control officer in a big van with a net to stop morning traffic. While Benjamin Franklin did not succeed in his campaign to name the turkey our national bird, one would almost think it were so by all the hulabaloo!

As for the turkey, I left her in the dust. It seemed to me that the animal control officer had met his match, but then again, as I was driving away, I heard another siren behind me in the distance. Perhaps another officer was on his way to assist in the rescue operation.

Too bad Grandma wasn’t there. She’d have done the job in a jiffy.

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4 Responses

  1. Great post! I run across this type of thing from time to time. Most recently, I saw a little group of ducks slowly crossing the street in the downtown area. Of course they take their sweet old time crossing, much like college students actually 🙂

  2. QUACK, QUACK! 🙂

  3. This is so funny. I don’t know if I could have not jumped out to help tho. (And you were probably right. He probably wouldn’t have appreciated having to watch out for a citizen along with the turkey). Your son would have gotten a kick out of it. Too bad it was on your way back.

  4. Yeh, my son would have gotten a real kick out of that for sure!

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