Happy Thanksgiving! to all our friends at Acupet Veterinary Care. As we all struggle to dig our way out of the massive economic hole our masters in Washington, DC have dug for us, it’s always good to remember that although our condition here in the U.S. is deteriorating almost daily, we’re still better off as a citizenry than the vast majority of peoples around the world. I’m reminded of this almost daily, as I talk to my daughter serving in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, Africa, one of the poorest countries in the world.
And so, Thanksgiving is always my favorite holiday, as no matter what religion or creed one celebrates, and even if you honor no given deity, it is still a time we can all join and give thanks for all the many blessings we have, starting with our families and our wonderful pets. So enjoy the day and remember to give thanks, and if you can, do your share to help the less fortunate.
In the meantime, in the spirit of the day, here are some fun facts about turkeys from VeganPeace.com:
- Turkeys are large birds related to pheasants, and date back nearly 10 million years. Wild turkeys are native to wooded areas of North America, and are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere. They were first domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe in the 16th century.
- Turkeys are able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats. However, most wild turkeys are found in hardwood forests with grassy areas.
- Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. On the ground they can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour. Domesticated turkeys usually weigh too much to be able to fly. Their weight is about twice the weight of a wild turkey.
- The carancle is a brightly colored growth on the head and upper neck. The snood is the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey’s beak. The wattle is the flap of skin under the turkey’s chin.
- The bare skin on the throat and head can change color from flat gray to shades of red, white and blue when the turkey becomes distressed or excited.
- The gizzard is a part of the stomach that contains tiny stones, which helps them grind up food for digestion.
- Wild turkeys have dark feathers which help them blend in with their habitats. Domesticated turkeys have been bred to have white feathers.
- Male turkeys have black, hairlike feathers on their breast called beards. Some female turkeys have them too.
- Turkeys have great hearing , but no external ears. They have a field of vision of about 270 degrees and are able to see in color, but they don’t see well at night. They can see movement almost a hundred yards away. They have a poor sense of smell, but a good sense of taste.
- Wild turkeys often spend their nights in trees on low branches, preferably over water to help protect them from tree-climbing predators. They will fly to the ground at first light.
- Male turkeys will start making their gobbling sound before sunrise and continue through most of the morning. Hens make a clicking sound.
- Wild turkeys spend most of the day searching for food like seeds, wild berries, small insects and acorns.
- The worst predator of the wild turkey is the raccoon. Raccoons will catch and kill young turkeys and also attack a hen’s nest and destroy the eggs.
- Turkeys are social animals. They enjoy the company of other creatures, including humans. They love having their feathers stroked.
- In the spring, male turkeys puff up their bodies, spread their tail feathers, and grunt and make their gobbling sound to attract as many females as possible.
- After mating, the female turkey prepares a nest under a bush in the woods and lays her eggs. She will lay one egg each day until she has a complete clutch of about 8 to 16 eggs. The eggs are tan and speckled brown, take about 28 days for the chicks to hatch. After hatching, the babies will flock with their mother all year. The first two weeks they won’t be able to fly and the mother will roost with them on the ground.
And here are some fun Thanksgiving facts, courtesy of History.com:
- Three towns in the U.S. take their name from the traditional Thanksgiving bird, including Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363); and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270).
- Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey, not the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States.
- Originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade – to signify the launch of the Christmas shopping season – the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy’s employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Today, some 3 million people attend the annual parade and another 44 million watch it on television.
- Tony Sarg, a children’s book illustrator and puppeteer, designed the first giant hot air balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. He later created the elaborate mechanically animated window displays that grace the facade of the New York store from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
- Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history. As the Flying Ace, Snoopy made his sixth appearance in the 2006 parade.
- The first time the Detroit Lions played football on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934, when they hosted the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium, in front of 26,000 fans. The NBC radio network broadcast the game on 94 stations across the country – the first national Thanksgiving football broadcast. Since that time, the Lions have played a game every Thanksgiving (except between 1939 and 1944); in 1956, fans watched the game on television for the first time.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America, with a planned production total of 46.5 million in 2011. Six states – Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indinia – account for nearly two-thirds of the 248 million turkeys that will be raised in the U.S. this year.
- The National Turkey Federation estimated that 46 million turkeys – one fifth of the annual total of 235 million consumed in the United States – were eaten at Thanksgiving.
- In a survey conducted by the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans said they eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, which means some 690 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. during Thanksgiving in 2007.
- Cranberry production in the U.S. is expected to reach 750 million pounds in 2011. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the top cranberry growing states.
- Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York are the major pumpkin growing states; together they produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin in 2010. Total U.S. production was over 1.5 billion pounds.
- The sweet potato is most plentifully produced in North Carolina, which grew 972 million pounds of the popular Thanksgiving side dish vegetable in 2010. Other sweet potato powerhouses included California and Mississippi, and the top producing states together generated over 2.4 billion pounds of the tubers.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.