Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Ruthie the turkey's great egg dream


My latest from the Tails & Tales series. If you like my writing which is always free to you, you can support in any quantity when at this link. 

“Mrs. Dunn, it’s day 25! Did the turkey have any chicken babies yet?” asked Pickles.

It all started back in late spring. Ruthie, the resident turkey, had been laying eggs as usual, and I collected them each morning. After weeks of laying, she stopped laying, which is normal, but there was one egg left in her nest and she wouldn’t leave it. I decided to let her set on her egg. I knew the chance that a passing Tom turkey had stopped in for a romantic evening was highly unlikely, even though we do have them passing by in the back woods. Knowing the egg was likely unfertilized, I played along, thinking she’d eventually leave her nest to return to normal life. But part of me wondered, maybe she knows something I don’t.

After 30 days, I said to Ruthie, “There’s no baby in your egg. You need to move on, Ruthie. I’m sorry.”

She said not a peep.

The next day, I arrived at the barn, and there was Ruthie, sitting on her empty nest. Except it was not empty, she had dragged a graham cracker into the nest to set on.

“Oh Ruthie,” I said. There’s no baby in the graham cracker either.”

She seemed unfazed and sat tight.

This went on for days. I had hoped she would give up on her nest but she didn’t. So I visited the hens and politely asked if I might take some of their eggs, knowing they were possibly fertilized.

“Excuse me? You want to my prodigy to be raised by a turkey?” asked one of the roosters.

The hens flocked together in an uproar of clucks. Everyone gathered to see what was going on.

“Rooster! Only I have control over my eggs!” said the lead hen. More clucking.

“Ruthie seems so intent on being a mother,” I said.

Earnest the pig stepped in. “Hen, I can vouch for Ruthie, I think she would be a fine mother.”

“I will get you more mealy worms,” I told the hens, as I knew they swooned over them.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” said the hen, and she gave over some eggs. Earnest and I took them to Ruthie and placed them under her in the nest.

“Thank you, Mrs. Dunn. Earnest, would you like my graham cracker, Mrs. Dunn says it has no chance of becoming a baby,” said Ruthie.

“Thank you,” and he ate it in one bite.

Well, 35 days went by, well past the usual 21 days to hatch chicks.

“Ruthie, it wasn’t meant to be this time. I’m sorry,” I said, and I took the eggs away.

The next morning as I entered the barn, Earnest the pig sat with his arm around Ruthie as she sat on her empty nest.

I reached under her and there were some rocks. “Ruthie, rocks can’t have babies,” I said gently.

“I know, but I’m practicing for spring,” she said.