IT WAS once a purely professional relationship between a farmer and a turkey which he was rearing to create a sumptuous festive feast.
But now an audacious escape attempt by the captive bird has turned into a daily drive around Hopetoun Estate in West Lothian – creating a remarkable friendship between the pair and the possibility the bird will be spared the chop this Christmas.
The story of one man and his turkey began last month when Mike Eagers, the farm manager, was heading to the mart when he heard a noise coming from the back of his Land Rover. Pulling over, he discovered one of his turkeys had escaped the enclosure and jumped into the back seat of the vehicle.
The turkey played it cool and seemed quite calm and happy, so Mr Eagers continued on his way while receiving a few strange looks at traffic lights. However, the unlikely partnership has continued following the turkey’s determination to jump into the car at every opportunity.
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Mr Eagers said: “The turkeys are free to roam in the fields; however this particular bird is keen to fly the coop and accompany me on my daily drive around the estate.
“He stands at the gate and as soon as he sees me heading towards the Land Rover, he scrabbles to get out. I feel guilty leaving him so I just pick him up and pop him in the front seat.”
Nicknamed Rover, the turkey’s love of exploring has seen him accompany Mr Eagers to check out the cows, sheep and even to the Hopetoun farm shop to drop off a daily delivery of fresh eggs.
Mr Eagers said: “Turkeys are adventurous birds but I have never seen this before. My first instinct was to turn around and take him home the first time it happened, but he seemed so content that I didn’t see the harm in him chumming me along.
“I didn’t expect it to become a regular thing. The funny thing is, we pride ourselves on low food miles but Rover will have clocked up quite a few by Christmas.”
Rover is one of a hundred bronze turkeys reared by Mr Eagers and his wife Mary for the Hopetoun farm shop and the family say that they look forward to his yearly flock of feathered friends, who provide endless entertainment.
Mr Eagers said: “If they aren’t forming turkey choirs, they are romancing peacocks. Let’s just say a reality television series about them wouldn’t be a terrible idea.”
Yet all road trips must come to an end and even the closest friendships can come unstuck.
However, it has not yet been decided if Rover is set to meet the same fate as his feathery companions.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Hopetoun Estate said: “I think he probably would be pardoned but that decision hasn’t been made yet.
“But if he isn’t, and he was set to become a Hopetoun customer’s dinner, it would take place the week before Christmas so he would be making his final trip around the 17th or 18th of December.
“Mike has children and they have become rather attached and fond of Rover. When Mike picks them up from school, they quite like to see Rover so I think he may be coming under pressure to pardon him.”
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