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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Here & Now #87: Hell’s hen

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Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

My place. Sunday, 11.20am

I am generally a man of peace.

Like a mountain in a storm, I am an immovable monument to unflappability. Like a smiling Buddha, my belly normally wobbles with phlegmatic drollery, not trembles with rage.

Generally. Most of the time.

But here and now, I am no meditative mountain. I’m a volcano about to blow my top. I am Krakatoa spitting furious fire-chips and ready to let out the biggest bloody sound the world has ever heard. A boom of anguish and vexation.

My war cry will circle the globe seven times, causing birds to take to the sky, crocodiles to the water, and drunks to the bottle. Shops will be closed (despite the post-Xmas sales), churches filled (despite everything), and internet jammed. Politicians will look appropriately grave and have their photos taken with a hard hat on. The army will invade Iraq. (I don’t know why. It’s just what you do.)

At this moment, I’m no chuckling Buddha steeped in calm compassion. I’m a deadly serious Nemesis shaking with revenge. (Okay, Nemesis, the Greek god of revenge, was female, and ropable though I be, I’m still a man. I know that. But such is my rage, metaphors are breaching the barriers of gender restriction, turning me into a seething shemale god S of wrath. Yes, this is getting weird, but that’s anger for you…)

Why this fury?

Why has this mild-mannered writer turned into a hateful horseman of the apocalypse?

Why? WHY?

I’ll tell you why in one word – bush turkey. (Alright. Two words.)

Bush bloody turkey. (Three.)

Scourge of the gardener. Hen of Hades. Wrecker of equanimity in even the most tranquil of men.

For weeks I have been creating a little garden in a pot on the verandah of my shack. A basil, some dill, some parsley – even tumeric – was growing very nicely there.

I also had a rare native plant (tastes like cooked banana) given to me by a wise old hippie who had blessed it daily with holy water and mulched it with a dreadlock that fell from his head in 2012. He said this plant cured cancer, baldness and erectile dysfunction. (Not that I have a hair problem…)

Being a busy person, I don’t have time for farming, but I do love to grow a garden, however small. It keeps me grounded in a spinning world.

And you would think a garden on the verandah would be safe from marauding animals, wouldn’t you?

Wouldn’t you?

Ten minutes ago I arrived home with a freshly harvested broccoli from a friend. I was led up the garden path by pleasant thoughts of a home-cooked broccoli lunch: basil, dill, parsley and tumeric, with maybe some Billie Holiday – a perfect Sunday.

But here, at the top of the stairs, on the verandah, a scene of total destruction awaited me. The garden is ripped apart, gutted. Its drying innards lie spread across the path like bodies on a hairy battlefield. It is Mordor. Metnal. Metgasco.

Behind me, a scratch, a rustle – bush bloody turkey!

Our eyes meet, mine contemplating murder; his contemplating dessert.

In a world where a government will let a reef die so a deal can be done; let a child suffer so an election can be won, it’s impossible not to get angry. All that anger, usually locked away deep inside me, is unleashed and directed at an ugly avian head which looks like the creature that burst from Kane’s chest in Alien.

With a yell embodying universal rage and frustration, I chuck the broccoli hard at the bush bloody turkey.

I miss.

The turkey, so suited to the modern world, wanders over to the broccoli and pecks at it.



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  1. Brush turkeys are wonderful teachers. I was where you are, but with projectile lemons, about seven years ago after I arrived home to a huge new garden bed I labored over for days was completely rearranged by my resident nest builder, Bruce the brush turkey. A tantric guru just happened to drop by and saw my utter frustration and declared I either needed to eat it, or love it. I chose to love it and we’ve turned out to be the best of friends. He’s got ancient pathways he likes to move around, so I make the garden accordingly. He likes a little bit of oats and the odd pecan. A fence around the vege garden keeps him and his retinue out. I pile leaves up for him to move to his mounds. It’s bliss now.

  2. I have shared your frustration until someone recommended placing mirrors about the garden you wish to protect. Bush Turkerys are territorial. When they see a rival ( themselves in this case) they will keep away. Of course it helps if you have some sort of fence around your garden too! Good luck!

  3. Laughing here, in commiseration……!
    Only my invaders are the free-range chooks (limited now to a couple of hours of freedom in the afternoons to minimize destruction) and until recently, our free-range horse (sadly since succumbed to colic) who I think must’ve been part goat for the variety of forage he fancied! No wonder his own belly did him in, but what a fantastic lawnmower was he…..now we battle to maintain our heads above the surging sea of grass, unmowable in the wet weather! Not to mention the value of his output in the veggie garden!
    The bush turkeys around here stay safely (for them) in the forest!
    PS Throwing the broccoli only compounded your loss, haha! (Hope your belly has reverted to its normal state.)
    PPS Speaking of bellies, loved the Alien reference in your illustration! How evil does the turkey look?
    Soldier on….

  4. I totally sympathise with Steve on this issue having had a very similar experience myself as I’m normally a very calm person but after weeks of continual harassment by these marauding turkeys destroying my little garden I too became quite angry & found myself resorting to throwing objects at them hoping to scare them off. The only thing that seemed to bother them was chicken wire placed strategicly in & around the garden.

  5. Dear S Sorrensen
    I so identify with your rage.
    I had the same problem with a turkey which came every day and built a mound in my garden. Every day I dismantled the mound ( about 2 cubic metres of soil and mulch).
    I tried all the internet remedies and some new one including running and screaming at it whenever I saw it. Eventually it left but I live on a nervous edge waiting every day for its return.
    Good luck.

  6. Mirrors, man. Mirrors are the answer to the bush turkey problem. Plant them in your garden and the turkey will think it’s territory has been taken over.

  7. S Sorrensen,
    All people are what they write, just like all people are what they eat.
    Writing shows the emotional and intellectual traits for those traits come from the soul and the brain. Eating shows the physical and the physical form and line and just where the fat cat is and where the fat lies.

    I am a man of peace and this piece about a stormy mountain is about me.
    She, that other part of me, inside of me is like the scree on the side of that mountain,
    but it is still me. The thing to see that other people don’t see about me is that I see inside of me.
    Right inside of me is a mixture of female and male emotion and those two fight and there is much commotion,
    Inside me, outside me, out on the side of me so sometimes I can’t stand the sight of me.
    I can’t.

  8. I sympathise and agree. They can have a whole yard and not be content with raking htat up. Loose soil in pots or mulch are like magnets. There was a video around once showing the devastation when they got inside a kitchen. There are too prolific in numbers to me to have any sympathy for them. It’s one thing that feral cats are good for. Not that I want them around either

    I tried hanging red cloth and objects since they are supposed to be able to see the red of another male turkey. Also tried mirrors (a large broken one and the plastic kind). But in the end I had to cut down the trees on my place as it was the perfect suburban shady refuge for them with nice leaves and twigs to rake up. A nightmare. Have to enclose your verandah area with chicken wire. Very inconvenient.

  9. Bush Turkeys are like the mosquitoes for modern day meditators. They are there to trigger your rage and persist in being themselves despite your actions. Now that you hve learned about yourself,The trick is to learn about them and then do “top dog” with the information you have gained.
    so firstly Some tips on Turkeys.
    1. They are obsessives and follow strict routines. (all about getting a feed.)
    2. They are territorial and fight for territory amongst themselves.
    3, Now that s/he has discovered your garden s/he will return unless you act swiftly to deter hir.
    4 Possibilities to deter are many . we have found fishing line to be quite effective as it acts to surprise them and they dont like it .so they dont come back. Hard to deter them once they have a routine. The idea is to show them you are the top turkey. Brooms and threatening behaviour work also .
    5. Find out if it is a he or a she. They behave quite differently.especially around mound building time.
    6. Love your Turkeys …….
    havent got any more time for this now however good Luck and I say you have been blessed with Turkey Medicine. H/she is your brother ,sister and has been here a lot longer than you have. Always remember who is the invader in this situation and check out the proud colour of the Bush Turkey.
    All the best with your garden. Mati Jo Beams


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