August: adjective- inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; profoundly honoured; majestic.
And August is also the name of one of our dear turkey friends, who arrived at our sanctuary on the 21st of December 2012 as a tiny, chirping and curious young poult. Along with his buddies April, May, June and July; August got to do what very few turkeys ever do, and that is to experience a life worth living. As the months have rolled on and seasons have changed, so too have our turkey friends; morphing from happy vibrant little critters into ginormous aberrations of the beautiful, majestic creatures nature intended them to be. This is all thanks to human ‘ingenuity’. Being factory farmed birds, these hapless creatures grow way faster than nature intended, so much so that their poor little bodies will eventually succumb to this human imposed cruelty way before Mother Nature would have sent her calling card for heaven.
Factory farmed turkeys live short impoverished lives in barren, cramped and unwelcoming sheds. Lights will be dimmed to reduce fighting as sentient beings are reduced to nothing more than mere production units. Even the small minority of commercial turkeys who are raised outdoors live within prisons from which they can never escape. These prisons are the birds’ own bodies which grow rapidly and unnaturally, without the addition of growth hormones as is often believed. Sadly their existence ends at just around 10-12 weeks of age, once they have fulfilled their commercial purpose.
Yet over the months that our ‘calendar’ turkeys have shared our world, they have enriched our lives beyond belief. And so, we have endeavoured to return the favour by showering them with everything we could, watermelons, treats and speciality turkey mix (designed to aid and nourish their Frankenstein-like bodies, yet not add an additional weight burden for them), a lovely, warm and comfortable straw filled house to sleep in at night, fields to roam about in and friends to meet. Indeed, we have provided them with everything we in our power, except the one thing they really need- a body as nature intended. This sadly is one thing we can never provide. However, you can help these hapless creatures. The only reason they live and die the way they do is because people purchase the products of their suffering.
And so, the reality we recently faced was that August’s last days were approaching, far sooner than nature intended. As August crept onto his final days, walking for him became more difficult and would soon be impossible. And although it broke our hearts to even consider, today we faced the heart wrenching task of respecting August’s plea to help him move from this world to the next. However, the final decision we did not have to make as, relieved from his pain, safe and comfortable, August gently slipped from this world surrounded by people who loved him and who will remember him always. We cradled him lovingly in our arms, as we whispered our goodbyes into his ear. We will told him, one last time, how much we loved him as his days on this earth came to an end. And as dear August took his final breaths, we were forced to ask ourselves just how on earth mankind, in the quest for profit and convenience, could ever be so cruel. Our hearts will continue to ache once more, but the promise we made to August and all those like him will be ever-strengthened. We will tell their stories.
To find out more about turkey farming in Australia, visit bigbirdsbigcruelty.org