John was new to the wide-open country of the west. He had spent his life in a large city and couldn’t wait for this new experience. He had dreamed of getting away to the country and having his own small farm. During COVID, his job assignment changed, making it possible for him to continue working from home. He could now live anywhere he wanted. So, he found his little dream homestead, purchased it, and made the move.
His city friends had laughed. “You’re going to find rural life dull and uninteresting after living in the city,” one friend said. “Unless cows, chickens, pigs, and turkeys fascinate you.”
But nothing his friends said could diminish his dream. He had heard a lot about how wonderful life was: fresh air, open land, and no traffic jams. He had woken up his first morning after moving to a late fall frost on the windows, and he thought it was beautiful.
He had heard how friendly rural people were, and he couldn’t wait to meet them. In fact, though he was new there, he decided he should get out and visit his neighbors. He started by driving the quarter mile to the nearest house to meet those who lived there.
John pulled into the driveway and saw a young man, probably in his late teens, dressed in warm coveralls tied down around his waist. He was chopping wood, and sweat was pouring down his face.
John stepped from his car and walked over to the young man. The young man set his ax against his chopping block.
John stepped up and reached out his hand. “Hi. I’m John Thompson, your new neighbor.”
The young man shook it vigorously. “I’m David. David Hansen,” the young man said. “Glad to meet you.”
David pulled his coveralls over his shoulders and zipped them. “I don’t need them when I’m chopping wood. But I don’t want to cool off too much, as sweaty as I am.”
They visited, and momentarily a turkey walked by wearing a knitted sweater. John tried not to stare, but David didn’t seem fazed by it at all. They continued talking when another turkey dressed in a sweater, walked by, then another, then another. John counted five in all.
He tried not to act too surprised, but by the time the last one walked by, he couldn’t contain his curiosity.
“Um, those turkeys are wearing sweaters,” John said to David.
David nodded. “Yea. It’s getting cold.”
“But sweaters on turkeys?” John said.
“Well,” David replied, “one morning, a few weeks ago, we found the turkeys were all dead.”
“Dead?” John questioned to himself as he looked over at the turkeys scratching around for food.
“We were devastated, of course,” David continued.
“We had looked forward to a batch of baby turkeys in the spring. Granny, who grew up during the depression, was not about to let anything go to waste. ‘Those turkeys have lots of good feathers,’ she said. She insisted we pluck them to use their feathers in some pillows. So, we did.
“Later that evening, when we came home from work, we found the turkeys walking around. It didn’t take us long to realize they had gotten into some fermented grain and had just been drunk. Since they were all plucked, we were afraid they would freeze to death when it got cold. But Granny said it wasn’t going to happen on her watch, and she knitted sweaters for all of them. She got them done just in time, too, because the weather soon turned cold.”
They talked a bit longer, and as John headed on his way, he took one more glance at the turkeys. His friends were definitely wrong. Rural life wasn’t going to be dull.