no Gob­ble Gob­bling...

Bar­bara saves birds from the slaugh­ter­house

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS - Bar­bara 'Mama-hen' Mladek, 53, Moira, County Down

It’s that time of year again. Ev­ery­one’s on the hunt for the per­fect fes­tive bird. I’m no dif­fer­ent. But in­stead of search­ing for a plump, juicy turkey to stuff and sea­son, I’m look­ing for live birds to save.

See, I’m a turkey res­cuer, sav­ing these birds from their fowl fate.

It all started in 2010. An an­i­mal lover, I’ve al­ways kept cats, dogs and rab­bits.

But, next, what I really wanted was some feath­ered friends...

So I got a chicken from a lo­cal farmer.

By March 2011, I had my very own hen party, with five more.

And my flock just grew and grew.

By that De­cem­ber, I had dozens liv­ing in my gar­den. It’s three-quar­ters of an acre, so they had plenty of space to run around.

‘There are so many more birds that need res­cu­ing, though,’ I told my mates.

So I set up my own char­ity, called Nut House Hen Res­cue and Re-hom­ing.

And, over the next cou­ple of years, I went from hens to sav­ing all sorts of farm an­i­mals. Goats, pigs, geese… In De­cem­ber 2013, I res­cued my first turkey.

It was just weeks be­fore Christ­mas and I couldn’t bear the thought of them end­ing up on a fes­tive din­ner ta­ble.

So I con­tacted a lo­cal farmer. ‘Have you got any tur­keys ready for Christ­mas?’ I asked. ‘Loads,’ he replied.

It was too late to save some of them. But what about the oth­ers?

‘I’m after some that are alive!’ I told him.

A bit taken aback, he agreed to sell me some. I got two bronze birds and named them Merry and Eve, and two white tur­keys called Cran­berry and Tofu. They really loved stay­ing with me. Tur­keys are ac­tu­ally very af­fec­tion­ate and like to be sung to. And they fol­low me around like dogs. This year, I saved 14 more.

I try to res­cue them from farm­ers at the end of Oc­to­ber – be­fore they’re prepped and fat­tened up for Christ­mas. Last year, I went to a farmer who had 9,000 tur­keys. I bought 22 birds from him. But back home,

I dis­cov­ered that they were all sick and mal­nour­ished. Sadly, most of them died within six months.

It’s made me more de­ter­mined to help more tur­keys, though. I’ve be­come known as Mama Hen in the lo­cal com­mu­nity. I love it, and even had it legally added to my name.

I’m veg­e­tar­ian and against eat­ing an­i­mals. But I know peo­ple will still be buy­ing big birds for their Christ­mas din­ner.

My only ad­vice would be to source your turkey from a lo­cal farm and try to check the bird’s liv­ing con­di­tions. It’ll help you to pick one that’s been treated well. Or per­haps you’ll leave with a live feath­ered friend... Now, that would be cluck­ing amaz­ing!

They like be­ing sung to, fol­low me around like dogs!



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