On December 30, after I got home from tending errands in town, Ralphie and I went into the backyard to play ball. It was then that I noticed my pet turkey, Miss Boo Boo, lying oddly still in the chicken pasture. When I opened the gate, only one hen greeted me. I ignored the absence of thirteen other clucking hens at the gate and rushed over to Miss Boo Boo. She was belly up. Dead.
A foot away lay a gathering of small feathers. I walked the large pasture, suspicious that coyotes had been here, dreading each step that I took. Sure enough, there were seven different feather clusters and one body—all young layers. Four of the older hens were inside the coop, one was wandering around, and another hen was hiding behind the running pen beneath the eucalyptus foliage. She had a scuffed back, yet she laid an egg the next day. There hasn’t been an egg in the henhouse since. At three years old, hens produce only occasionally.
Miss Boo Boo didn’t have a mark on her. She must have fallen while trying to escape the violent massacre and suffocated from the weight of her large chest, or simply died of terror. I miss her most of all. She followed me around the pasture like a puppy. When I made a certain sound, she would fluff up her white feathers and mimic my call. She honked a friendly hello when she heard me working on the other side of the hedge in the perennial garden. Always wanting to be at my side, before she was heavy and slow, Miss Boo Boo followed me from inside the pasture fence as I walked along the driveway.
Two weeks have passed and I still miss the two Black Australorp beauties, the three fast-running Buttercups, and their amble egg supply. I miss the friendly cooing of two cute little Silkie Bantams—they were adorable. I miss the loud squawks after laying an egg, and the cackling, clucking of young hens.
Mostly, I miss the sociable fondness of a three-year-old turkey named Miss Boo Boo.