Chapter 1 – Jumping Jacks
Gracie and Susie were in their bedroom playing with their American Girl dolls. Gracie loved being Kit and Susie’s favorite was Samantha. Suddenly the front door banged open, and huffing like a freight train with his breath rolling like steam from the cold November air, their one and only brother burst into the house. He slid to a stop at the bedroom door and panting to catch his breath huffed, “That is one dumb bird – no make it two dumb birds.” Scotty is their brother’s real name but lately he adopted the ‘handle’ KFC, which stands for Kung Fu Cat. Since he helped Susie and Gracie and the NGA club rescue the baby farm animals from a couple of mean and nasty crooks, KFC thought he was the coolest, bad’est (in a secret agent way), and Kung Fu’est cat around.
The girls stopped playing with their dolls and stared at their brother and together asked, “What is going on?”
After another quick gulp of air, KFC explained, “Twitter has Tom Turkey doing exercises and running laps around the pumpkin patch.” He took another deep breath and continued, “Tom has to lose a lot of weight before Thanksgiving.”
The girls hurried to the bedroom window and looked out. Sure enough in the middle of the yard was a very large white turkey doing his best at something that resembled jumping jacks. As Twitter called out ‘ONE’, the large turkey would jump barely an inch off the ground and land with his feet apart and his huge wings pointed above his head, as white feathers broke loose and floated about. When Twitter squawked out ‘TWO’, the big turkey jumped back to attention with legs together and wings straight at his side. The girls laughed at the strange site as Twitter counted and the roly-poly turkey jumped up and down. All of the farm animals were crowded around cheering on Tom Turkey.
Susie turned to KFC and asked, “Why is Tom trying to exercise?”
KFC explained, “Because Twitter told him that he was so big and fat, Mrs. White would be cooking him for Thanksgiving dinner. Twitter is trying to help Tom lose weight so he won’t be eaten.”
Just then Tom stopped his turkey version of jumping jacks and started to awkwardly run around the pumpkin patch. Because of the turkey’s great size, he thumped from one leg to the other like a wagon with square wheels. Twitter chased after the big white turkey squawking ‘faster – faster’. What a sight, Twitter loping on long knobby legs and his skinny head bobbing back and forth, and Tom Turkey thudding along like a freight train with white feathers swirling around looking like smoke.
Gracie had to agree with KFC, these were two dumb birds and said, “Farmer and Mrs. White would never eat Tom for Thanksgiving dinner. They have never harmed any of the farm animals. We’re like their family since they don’t have any children.”
Not wanting to miss one second of excitement, KFC shouted ‘BYE’ and hurried outside to join the animals loudly cheering as Tom and Twitter circled around the pumpkin patch. Gracie and Susie shook their heads in amazement and returned to their American Girl dolls and spent the rest of the afternoon pretending to be Kit and Samantha.
Chapter 2 – Who Who
Late afternoon the following day, a dusty and dirty KFC stomped up the front porch steps and exclaimed, “What a day. We’ve looked all over and can’t find Tom Turkey anywhere. It’s like he just disappeared into thin air.” KFC plopped down in one of the porch chairs and let out a very large sigh.
Gracie and Susie stopped sorting all the colored fall leaves they had picked that day to decorate for Thanksgiving and asked, “What happened to Tom?”
KFC explained that last night Mrs. Cluck ordered Tom Turkey out of the chicken house. Tom was making such a fuss about being the main course for Thanksgiving dinner that none of the hens could go to sleep. Mrs. Cluck said the hens needed their rest in order to lay the big brown eggs that Mrs. White collected every morning. Twitter asked KFC to help him find the over-weight turkey for day two of the exercise program. After a full day of searching the farm, the big frightened turkey was nowhere to be found. Susie said out loud, “I would disappear too if I was Tom. Twitter is crazy if he thinks Tom can lose enough weight two days before Thanksgiving.”
Gracie whispered to Susie, “Want to take a walk and see what we can find?” She didn’t want KFC to get upset thinking his sisters were interfering with his turkey hunt. Susie nodded yes, and the girls slowly stepped off the porch and into the yard.
Once they were far enough away so KFC couldn’t hear Susie asked, “Do you think Tom just disappeared or he’s hiding from Twitter?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s not like Tom to miss his morning and evening feed.” Gracie knew Mrs. White fed the chickens twice a day with corn and grain. It was the reason Tom was so large and the hens laid the large brown eggs. “Let’s go see Mrs. Cluck and find out what happened last night.”
The girls looked through the wire fence that surrounded the chicken coup and kept the chickens safe. “Over there.” Gracie pointed. The girls moved to where Mrs. Cluck was sitting on a nest of hay. “Hi Mrs. Cluck. We’re sorry to bother you, but we wondered if you could tell us what happened last night with Tom Turkey. Our brother is worried and he and Twitter looked for Tom all day but couldn’t find him.”
A large reddish chicken turned in her nest to face the girls. “Oh I heard and feel really bad, but Tom was making such a ruckus last night that I made him leave the coup. If any thing has happened to him…” Mrs. Cluck didn’t finish her sentence but sadly shook her head.
“Did you see which way he went?” Susie asked. Mrs. Cluck slowly shook her head back and forth.
“What time was it when he left?” Gracie crowded closer to the fence.
Mrs. Cluck thought for a moment then said, “The moon was straight up. I remember that much, but I didn’t see where he went after he left the coup.”
Gracie turned to Susie and said, “That would make it about midnight. Tom has been gone a long time without food and water. Let’s go to the barn maybe some of the other animals heard something.”
The girls hurried to the barn; the sun was starting to go behind the trees and it would soon be dark. Most of the animals were already in their stalls for the night and the girls asked each one if they knew anything about Tom, but no one had seen or heard a thing. From up above a low voice said, “You might see if Barney is awake. He flies around at night and may have seen Tom.”
The girls looked up and saw Shadow the large gray rat that lived in the barn. “Thanks Shadow. That’s a good idea. Barney has excellent eye sight.” Barney was the huge barn owl that nested in the rafters of the barn. The girls hurried outside and called, “Barney.”
A ‘WHO – WHO’ was heard, then a swishing noise came from the inside the barn as a large owl lifted in the air with wings that extended over three foot. The owl circled and landed on a fence post near the girls. “Hi Barney, I hope we didn’t wake you, but we have something very important to ask.” Susie stammered; she was intimated by the big brown owl with the largest eyes she had ever seen. The girls rarely saw Barney as he only came out at night.
The owl blinked and said, “Not at all. I was getting ready to leave when I heard you call my name. What is so important?”
Gracie explained, “Tom Turkey disappeared last night around midnight and we wondered if you saw him while you were out? KFC and Twitter looked all day but couldn’t find him.”
Barney turned his head thinking, “No. I never saw Tom last night.”
“Will you let us know if you see him tonight?” Susie asked.
“I’ll be glad to watch for Tom, and I’ll ask around to see if any other nocturnal animals saw him last night. I’ll let you know what I find out.” Then the large owl spread his wings and with a might flap flew away. Susie and Gracie made their way home in the dark.
Chapter 3 – The Plan
The next morning Barney was waiting in the large tree by the front porch for Gracie and Susie to wake up. When the girls stepped out the front door, he flew down to the porch rail and said, “I have news about Tom Turkey,” and told the girls another owl told him about a strange campsite one farm over. Barney decided to check it out and saw a pickup truck with a camper on the back and an old hay wagon that was turned into a large chicken coup hooked to the back of the truck. There were two guys sitting by a campfire that were not from any of the nearby farms.
When the two guys went inside the camper, Barney flew down to the wagon and found Tom Turkey locked inside the coop along with another dozen turkeys. Tom told Barney when he left the chicken house the night before he decided to run a few laps around the pumpkin patch, and when he ran by the road everything went dark. One of the guys dropped a sack over him and carried him to the portable coup then locked him inside. All of the turkeys had been stolen from nearby farms and Tom heard the two guys planning to take the turkeys to town tomorrow and sell them to the butcher for Thanksgiving orders.
KFC sleepily stumbled out on the porch to find out what was going on and Barney nodded to the small black cat and continued, “If we help Tom and the other turkeys it must be tonight after those two guys go to sleep. There is a bird sanctuary about two miles away on Beaver Creek, and if we can get the turkeys there before the guys know they’re gone, they will be safe. It won’t be easy trying to keep all those turkeys together; it will be like herding cats.”
KFC still trying to wake up rubbed his eyes and grumped, “You can’t herd cats!”
“That’s what I said and you can’t herd turkeys either.” Barney answered and winked at the girls. Barney said he was tired from the night’s activities and needed to get some sleep but he would meet them by the barn at sunset.
Gracie, Susie, and KFC started planning what items they would need to rescue Tom and the other turkeys and spent the day getting ready. The three cats were waiting in the yard when Barney flew out of the barn. The Rescue Girls were dressed in their uniform of jeans, long sleeved green shirts, and boots that laced up. KFC was decked out in his red mask and cape. Tin Can had joined the rescuers in case they need some muscle for the night’s rescue. “Is everyone ready?” Barney asked as he landed on the fence. Gracie nodded and held up the back packed loaded with flashlights, wire cutters, and jackets when the night became cold.
“I’ll fly low so you can follow me. We’ll wait in the nearby trees until the guys go to sleep. I hope those turkeys cooperate or we could be in trouble.” Barney wasn’t too sure about the turkey rescue mission. When the first star twinkled in the night sky, the group headed out. No one spoke a word; all were thinking about what Barney said and getting into trouble. They were walking fast to keep up with Barney when he finally flew to a stand of trees and landed on a low branch. After the rescuers crowded around Barney whispered, “We’ll stay hidden here until the guys go inside the camper. I need someone to sneak over and let us know when they are asleep.”
“That’s me.” KFC volunteered. Gracie and Susie agreed, KFC was the best at sneaking around and spying on others. He had practiced enough on them.
“We’ll wait here for you and be careful.” Barney told the masked cat as KFC slipped into the dark to keep watch on the guys around the campfire.
Susie jumped when KFC sprang out of the dark. KFC was excited, “Finally those two guys went to sleep and are snoring so loud they wouldn’t hear a freight train. They are already counting their money from selling the turkeys to the butcher in town. Boy, do they have a surprise coming in the morning.”
“Follow me and be quite.” Barney spoke in a hushed voice and silently glided to the wagon where the turkeys were caged. Gracie and Susie cautiously followed behind. KFC and Tin Can came last. Barney landed on the wagon next to the coup and whispered, “Tom are you ready?”
The large white turkey pushed through the crowd of turkeys to the door of the cage. “As ready as possible. I’ve tried to get these guys to understand why we have to break out of here. I’m not sure they’ll cooperate.” Tom Turkey looked like he was ready to pull out all of his tail feathers.
“Get everyone back from the gate. When we get it open you need to lead the other turkeys out of the cage and down the road and tell everyone to keep quiet.” Barney gave Tom orders and then turned to Susie, “Can you climb up and open the gate. It doesn’t look like much of a lock.”
Susie nodded and quickly jumped on the wagon and reached up and pushed the hook out of the latch. It was a good thing the gate opened in the other direction or Susie would have been squashed flat, because as soon as the lock opened a turkey pushed his way out squawking ‘I’m free – I’m free’ and jumped off the wagon. The other turkeys panicked and started loudly gobbling, squeezed out the door and jumped off the wagon. It was turkey pandemonium as its best. Gracie and KFC ran after the terrified turkeys trying to herd them down the road and away from the campsite, telling them to quit their gobbling.
“Which way do we go?” One turkey loudly squawked.
“Why is that cat wearing a mask? Is this a holdup?” A turkey asked as he ran.
“I can’t move my wing. It was so crowded.” Another turkey complained.
One turkey sat down in the middle of the road and said he couldn’t take another step. Tin Can came up to him and huffed, “You haven’t taken one step yet. Get up and get moving.” When the turkey didn’t move Tin Can lowered his head and with his large horns booted the stalled turkey in the rear end.
“Ouch.” The turkey yelled, and with his wings covering his butt, started hopping down the road.
Susie crept into the cage to hurry the stragglers, “We need to get out of here.”
“What’s the problem little cat?” Asked a turkey that was ambling around the in the near empty coup?
“You’ll be invited to Thanksgiving Dinner if you stay here.” Susie was getting exasperated with these turkeys. They didn’t seem to understand the peril they were in.
“That’s very gracious. What’s for dinner?” The turkey blankly looked at her.
Susie couldn’t take any more and yelled, “You are the dinner.”
The startled turkey ran to the door and jumped to the ground flapping his wings yelling, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”
As the scared turkey raced past, KFC turned to Tin Can and said, “Who does he think he is Chicken Little?”
Susie pushed the last turkey out of the cage and closed and relocked the gate. That would give those turkey thieves something to think about — how the turkeys went missing when the cage was still locked. The turkey freedom parade was anything but quiet and orderly, Susie and Gracie was on one side, KFC on the other side, and Tin Can and his large butting horns brought up the rear. It was all they could do to keep the turkeys on the road, bouncing from side to side like a bowl of spilled Jell-O.
Chapter 4 – The Sanctuary
Barney circled overhead looking for any sign of the two turkey thieves and thought they must be hard of hearing not to hear all of the clamor from the escaping turkeys. Barney flew down to encourage the turkey wranglers, “The bird sanctuary is just over the next hill. I can see the stream from here,” as Susie, Gracie, KFC, and Tin Can tried to herd the large white birds down the road. A turkey escaped on KFC’s side and tried to run away; Barney swooped down and flapped his wings at the turkey. The frightened bird ran back to the group squawking, “Help me. I’m being attacked.”
With Tom Turkey in lead, the crazy turkey parade made it to the high fence that protected the bird sanctuary. Barney asked, “Tin Can will you push a section of the fence free, just enough for the turkeys to get through?”
“Will do.” Tin Can replied, lowered his head, hooked his horns in the fence, and pulled open a hole large enough for the turkeys to get through. Tom was the first to go through and one by one, with some pushing from the turkey rescue wranglers, the last turkey made it through. Tin Can hooked his large horns in the fence and closed the opening, locking the frightened turkeys inside.
The turkeys were running in circles, confused and squawking, “I’m so tired. — Where’s my bed? — What are we going to eat?”
Barney flew down and landed on the fence. “Tom,” he called and Tom Turkey hurried over. “There is a family of wild turkeys that live in the sanctuary. They will teach you and the other turkeys how to find food and build nests. There is plenty of water and you will be safe as long as you don’t leave the sanctuary.” Barney sternly warned again, “Do not leave the sanctuary.”
Tom replied, “I understand and will make sure the others do. I can’t thank everyone enough. We all would be the main course for Thanksgiving dinner if you hadn’t rescued us.”
One by one the turkey rescuers all said goodbye and wished Tom and the other turkeys good luck in their new home and then turned and headed back to the farm. They were hungry, tired, and anxious to snuggle in their warm cozy beds. Barney circled above to make sure the two turkey thieves had not discovered the turkeys were gone and then he kept watch on the three kittens and one old goat until they made it home safely.
From a distance they heard, “I want my Mama. – How do I get out of here? Where’s my blankie?”
KFC put his paws over his ears and grumbled, “Dumb turkeys.”
Tin Can gruffed, “Double Dumb!”
Finally the exhausted turkey rescuers made it back to the farm; the girl’s feet hurt and Tin Can had begun to limp. Barney swooped down, landed on a fence post and told them, “Good work everyone. You did an awesome job.” Gracie and Susie walked over and thanked Barney; it was because of him that Tom Turkey was found and rescued. Barney blinked his large eyes and said, “It’s been my pleasure.” Then he flew off to his perch in the roof of the barn.
Susie turned to Gracie and said, “He’s not so scary after all.”
“Wwwhooo.” Echoed from the top of the barn.