When I first heard the work of Canadian musician Jesse Thom, I was brought to tears. His music is haunting, ethereal and emotive, yet clear, honest and innocent. I knew immediately that we had to work together on a project. Waiting for the Birds to Strike is the result.
The timing of my introduction to Jesse was particularly synchronous. The song Jesse sent me, Waiting for the Birds to Strike, arrived just after co-investigator Olivier Berreville and I returned from a Granny’s Poultry turkey barn, where, contrary to company management assurances, we documented the same cruel and abusive loading of baby turkeys that we had two years prior (turkeys reach slaughter-weight at just a few months of age, still blue-eyed and peeping). We trailed the terrified turkeys to Granny’s slaughterhouse in Blumenort, Manitoba feeling absolutely helpless to stop their killing.
The next day, we received a call from a supporter in the area telling us they’d found two shivering, ragged turkeys in the ditch. The birds must have escaped their captors during the catching. We ran out, picked up the bedraggled bundles of bones and feathers and brought them home.
The footage in the music video shows their rescue. Breaking through the darkness of their experience we see Sophie on Olivier’s lap in the car. Just 2 hours later, and now home, we see Katie, exhausted, sleeping on my lap, while Sophie peeps for her mother, then breaking through her fear, slowly approaches me to finally stretch her head back and lay it against my shoulder in what can only be described as a turkey hug.
For months, Katie and Sophie feared our hands but would stare into our faces, searching our eyes to see if it was cruelty or kindness behind them. Eventually, their fear of hands subsided and they sought even these out for comforting pets.
Our time with Katie and Sophie was bittersweet and short-lived. Katie died of congestive heart failure at just 7 months of age. Sophie, the runt, was allowed 2 additional months because of her smaller size reducing the stress on her heart. At 9 months of age though, Sophie left us too.
Today’s turkeys have been so genetically selected for large breasts to supply society’s demand for white meat that the birds themselves are kept in a physiological state my colleague Dana Medoro refers to as “not dying.” They struggle with every breath from the strain their enormous bodies put on their hearts and very quickly, they simply give out.
After seeing the depth of forgiveness of these incredible animals, I hope you too will reconsider your relationship with them. As a consumer, you have the power to change the future for birds like Sophie and Katie. Please, stop providing a reason for companies like Granny’s to continue killing them.
Please learn more about turkeys killed for food at our feature, 12 Reasons You May Never Want to Eat Turkey Again, which also includes delicious, cruelty-free turkey alternatives.
See also: How A Turkey Became My Best Friend.