Sometimes when we are feeding the horses there is a stray horse or two missing from the line-up. Usually they quickly realize that they are off in the pasture all by themselves and come on the run to rejoin their friends. Calling their name a few times is typically all it takes to alert them to their solitary status.
As I was feeding Largo's group dinner a couple of days ago everyone was present and accounted for except Largo. As I got everyone else started with their meal I called his name a few times expecting him to show up momentarily. After a few minutes he still hadn't arrived. I called his name a few more times and waited but still no Largo.
I start hiking. Because of the size of all of our pastures it is impossible to see the whole pasture from one location so it means a good hike is in order if you need to find a horse. I keep calling his name and looking around. Finally I spot him at the top of a hill right at the edge of the woods. He was at the spot where the horses often take a short cut to come to the gate so I assumed he was on his way. I go back to the others so I can start removing feedbags as they finish.
After everyone had finished eating Largo still hadn't appeared. I was getting annoyed at this point. He had seen me, I had seen him, so why was he not coming?? I hike back to where I saw him, except this time I go all the way up the hill to fully assess the situation. He is looking right at me as I call his name yet making no effort to move.
I stomped my way over to him and expressed my annoyance. "Largo, COME ON, why are you making me do this??" Largo just stood very still with an uncertain expression. I waved my arms and clucked at him to get him on his way to the gate when I heard a noise. Instead of just looking at Largo I looked down at the entrance to the woods, right in front of him. The strange noise I heard was coming from a mommy turkey who was surrounded by her flock of babies. She did not look pleased.
Largo continued to stand very still.
The very angry mommy turkey glowered at both of us.
We now had a three way standoff.
I apologized to Largo. "I'm sorry for being mad at you." Mommy turkey didn't like me talking and she made her threatening noise and rustled her feathers. Largo looked at me with an expression that said "save me." I looked at him begging him to do the same.
The standoff continued.
I silently racked my brain, trying to think what to do in an encounter with an angry mommy turkey. "I know you don't make eye contact with bears because that looks like a sign of aggression. But other animals you want to make eye contact with so you look scarier. Eye contact? No eye contact? Eye contact??"
I decided on eye contact since I'm bigger, and Jason is forever telling me how non-aggressive turkeys are (really???), and I wanted to let this turkey know I was taking charge of the situation. I looked at her and said, "I'm going to back away slowly. If you leave us alone we won't hurt you." I'm sure what she heard was something along the lines of "blah, blah, blah, blah." However I spoke with authority so she would know that whatever I was saying, I was serious.
I began to take a few steps slowly backward. I put my hand on Largo's chest so he would back up with me. He took a couple of hesitant steps backwards. We both kept an eye on the angry mommy. She was getting agitated, making her threatening noise and ruffling her feathers.
After Largo and I had backed up several more steps I told him "you're on your own now buddy" and I turned and ran. Largo followed my lead and quickly passed me, charging down the hill to the gate. We both made it to the gate unharmed, breathing hard from running for our lives.
A few minutes later as Largo was eating his dinner and I leaned against the gate waiting for him to finish, I saw our foes marching their way across the pasture. I am not exaggerating when I say that the mommy turkey turned her heard and glared at me from across the pasture. I'm pretty sure the gist of her message was "I'm watching you." I felt like I had a red dot on my forehead for a second before she continued to lead her brood to wherever it was they were headed. Once she had turned away from me again I took my camera out of my pocket and took their picture. I didn't have the guts to do it while she was watching me.
mommy and flock making their way through the pasture
Playtime! Romeo and Silver with Titan watching
Asterik and Lotus
Sebastian and Wiz
Sam doing his post meal licking routine with Fuzzy and Renny behind him
Clatyon, Rocky and Stormy
Kennedy, Toledo, Johnny Largo and Clayton grazing in a tight knit group
Titan and Winston
Apollo, Hemi and Thomas
Calimba, Norman and Traveller were almost hidden in the early morning fog
the work never ends; Jason mowing
Thor and Noble having some playtime