(NOTE: This is an excerpt from the book “When Girls had Cooties” that I am working on – enjoy)
Our field was now gone. There was no looking back. We had moved all of our stuff over to the field behind Mr. Russell’s store. There was not anywhere near the hiding places in our new field as there was in the old one. War would be very different. There were very few rocks which was probably ok as this field had horseradish trees in abundance. Clods were also plentiful. There were no hills to hide behind and there was not even one ditch. The wars that we did have centered on the dozen or so horseradish trees that lined the eastern side of that field. That was the side of the field where the old farmhouse sat which meant we had to watch out for the old turkey that had the run of the place. He got hold of us more than once during our days there. Right smack in the middle of a war, somebody would dart from one tree to another and that stupid thing would be standing there. If you made the mistake of spooking him, he would really let you have it too. He wasn’t afraid of more than one little boy either. He’d whip two as quick as he’d whip one. We wanted to “get rid” of him but he was owned by the old lady that lived in the farmhouse. She was the meanest woman on earth and she had made that turkey the meanest bird on earth. We got to where we sent spies out to find out where he was so we could avoid him. It didn’t do much good as he would hear us and come after us. There was not a day that would or could go by without him whipping one of us. That’s when I had an idea.
“You see how fat that turkey is?” I asked the guys one morning. We were in the middle of the field one morning and he was walking in amongst the horseradish trees waiting for us. “So what, he’s fat. Big deal,” Mark answered. “What’s that got to do with us?” “It’s simple,” I explained. “He’s fat because he’s always eating. Why don’t we give him what he wants? Let’s get some turkey food or whatever it is turkeys eat and put a whole pile of it out for him to see and get to. He’ll spend all his time eating or sleeping off what he ate. Then we can do whatever we want.” A long silence took over the group as they pondered my incredible wisdom. Finally, Tom popped up and said, “That’s a good idea except for one thing. We don’t know what turkeys eat and, if we did, we don’t know where to get it.” Randy thought they ate worms and Steve thought they ate special turkey food. “Whatever it is, we need a lot of it and we need it now.” We all looked up to see that old tom heading right towards us at full speed. You never saw a faster moving bunch of boys than we were at that moment. Most of us got away but poor old Rex was not fast enough. That stupid bird put a terrible whipping on him. We threw stuff at him and kicked him and eventually he left. He sure did rough Rex up. “That tears it,” Rex said as he held his bleeding nose. “That thing’s got to go and go now. Where’s the nearest feed store.”
We didn’t know whether they ate worms or feed so we split up. Half of us went to dig worms and the other half went looking for a feed store. What followed was a week long project of highly dubious value.
Me, Mark, Randy, and Gary went looking for worms. There are more snakes in the Texas Panhandle than there are worms. We didn’t find very many at all. We did find at least five snakes but my brother said that turkeys won’t eat snakes. “If you gave him one, you’d’ just make him mad. He’d kill the snake and come after you for revenge.” So, we got rid of the snakes and kept looking for worms. We went up to the old field after the construction crews were gone and did find quite a few there. We put them in a bucket and Rex took them home. We were going to wait until the other guys had gotten some bird food and then we could test which one worked best. It took two or three days for the rest of the guys to come up with what they said was turkey food. Steve’s dad had bought a big bag of wild bird food for us (and took it out of Steve’s allowance) to try out on the turkey.
The next morning, the whole gang met at the fort. Steve brought his bag of feed and Rex had a bucketful of worms. Tom took charge of the test. You will have to read the book to see how this ends…