Turkey Lurkey awoke with a start. Rowdy Rooster was going “cock-a-doodle-do” again. It must be time to wake up. Henny Jenny and her friends were already scratching in the barnyard dust, looking for bugs and worms. Turkey Lurkey looked around and saw Herbie Hog chewing on a corn husk. Several kernels of corn were slipping through his lips and falling to the ground.
“Move over,” Herbie, Turkey Lurkey ordered. “I’ll eat some of the corn kernels you’re dropping on the ground.”
“All right,” Herbie Hog answered, “help yourself. This dust is too dry for me to stick my nose into it.”
As Turkey Lurkey picked up kernels of corn from the dust, he realized how lucky he was. Life was good. Farmer Bill kept fresh water in the drinking bucket for him and his chicken friends. And every morning Farmer Bill would come out to the barnyard and spread fresh corn on the ground for everyone to peck at.
It was going to be another beautiful November day, and it felt good to be alive.
“What’s not to love about this place?” Turkey Lurkey asked Henny Jenny. “We’ve got it made, don’t we?”
Henny Jenny’s eyes grew wider.
“Not all of us do,” she replied.
“How so?” Turkey Lurkey asked.
“Thanksgiving is only a few days away. And don’t you know what happens to turkeys on Thanksgiving Day?”
“No, what happens?” Turkey Lurkey asked
“The farmer and his wife eat them for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Turkey Lurkey gulped in fear. He suddenly realized that Henny Jenny was right!
“Oh my,” he muttered, “what’s to do ... what’s to do?”
“You could run away,” Henny Jenny suggested. “But then Yapper the fox would get you, and you’d be dinner for him.”
Turkey Lurkey sighed. Better to be dinner for Farmer Bill and Gramma Mary than for that rascal, Yapper the fox.
Just then a flock of wild turkeys flew over the barnyard. Turkey Lurkey looked up at them and wished that he could fly too. But he was too heavy to fly more than a few feet at a time. Then something wonderful happened. One of the wild turkeys flew out of the flock and spiraled down to the barnyard. It was a beautiful female turkey named Tillie, and the moment she landed in the barnyard she strode over to Turkey Lurkey.
“Hi, my name’s Tillie,” she chirped. “What’s your name?”
Turkey Lurkey’s wattles grew red with embarrassment.
“Turkey Lurkey,” he replied, looking down and scratching in the dust.
“My, you’re handsome,” Tillie continued. “You’re bigger than any of the wild toms in my flock. Can you spread your tail?”
Turkey Lurkey spread the feathers on his tail out into a huge fan. Tillie gasped in admiration.
“Oh my,” she said, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“I think I’m falling in love with you too,” Turkey Lurkey replied. “Would you like to get married?”
“Yes, I would,” Tillie replied. And so the animals of the barnyard organized a wedding.
“Good luck,” Mable the cow moo’ed.
“May you have many happy years,” Herbie the Hog grunted.
“Love is a many splendored thing,” all of the hens cackled.
Just then Farmer Bill and Gramma Mary came out to the barnyard to see what all the fuss was about.
“Well, just look at that,” Gramma Mary said. “Maybe we’d better buy a frozen turkey at the supermarket for Thanksgiving.”
“Why?” Farmer Bill demanded. “I was planning to chop the head off this one.”
“Yes, I know,” Gramma Mary continued. “But look here how he’s teamed up with a wild turkey. If we let him live, then in the spring we’ll have a whole flock of young turkeys.”
“Hm-m-m, I see your point,” Farmer Bill agreed. “Yes, we’ll let him live for another year.”
“Whew, that was a close call,” Turkey Lurkey gobbled, after Farmer Bill and Gramma Mary had gone back to the farmhouse. “Come on, Tillie, I’ll show you around your new home.”
And so Turkey Lurkey and Tillie enjoyed each other’s company and by the following Spring Tillie found a secret place and hatched out a batch of turkey eggs. Turkey Lurkey was as proud as he could be as Tillie led her new chicks out into the barnyard for the other animals to admire.
“But there’s just one problem,” Henny Jenny clucked into his ear. “Next Thanksgiving you’re certainly doomed with all these new turkeys running around.”
“My gosh, you’re right,” Turkey Lurkey agreed.
Just then Harry the Hawk appeared in the sky overhead. He folded his wings and plummeted down into the barnyard like a bullet. He was after one of the turkey chicks. Without thinking about it, Turkey Lurkey attacked, flapping his great wings and stabbing at Harry the Hawk with the spurs on the backs of his legs.
At first Harry tried to fight back. He reared back on his tail with his lethal talons clawing at Turkey Lurkey’s breast. But Turkey Lurkey was too big for the hawk. One of his spurs hit Harry on the head and nearly knocked the hawk out cold. With a scream Harry vaulted into the air and flew away.
Gramma Mary had heard the hens all screaming, and had hastened out to the barnyard. She saw Turkey Lurkey clobber Harry the Hawk. At first Turkey Lurkey appeared to be okay. But when he went over and took a drink from the water bucket, water trickled down his chest onto the ground.
“Oh, oh,” Farmer Bill said sadly. “He’s a goner. The hawk’s talon pierced his crop. I’ll get the axe and we’ll have a turkey dinner tomorrow.”
“Not on your life,” Gramma Mary objected. “Any turkey with that much spunk deserves a chance.”
And so Gramma Mary took Turkey Lurkey into the kitchen of the big farmhouse, and set him into a box with a blanket in its bottom. She moved the box close to the big woodstove where Turkey Lurkey would be warm.
She decided she wouldn’t feed Turkey Lurkey anything for a few days, but would give him all the water he could drink. On the first and second day the water still dribbled down his breast when he drank. But on the third day it had stopped.
“Well I’ll be,” Farmer Bill marveled. “Just look at that. It appears that the turkey’s crop has healed.”
Gramma Mary set the box out on the farmhouse porch and shooed Turkey Lurkey out of it.
“Gobble gobble gobble,” Turkey Lurkey shouted, as he ran back out to the farmyard.
“Hooray,” Rowdy the Rooster crowed. “Turkey Lurkey is back.”
“Welcome back, Turkey Lurkey,” Mable the cow moo’ed.
Gramma Mary and Farmer Bill came out to see what all the fuss was about.
“Well,” Farmer Bill murmured, “now that we have a flock of turkeys, I guess we’ll eat the big one next Thanksgiving.”
“Not on your life!” Gramma Mary scolded. “That turkey can live with us until the end of his days. He’s become my pet.”
And so Turkey Lurkey and Tillie settled into a long and fruitful married life. They had many more families as springtime after springtime rolled around. And Turkey Lurkey said many times in the years that followed that the luckiest day of his life was when Tillie left her wild life and became his wife.