Meet the Brides of
Last Chance Ranch
(Find out below how to win a copy of one of these books)
We’ve all heard of Old West cattle drives,
but did you ever hear of a turkey drive?
If you raised turkeys during the early nineteenth century and wanted to get them to market in time for Thanksgiving or Christmas, there was only one way to do it; you had to walk them.
Before refrigerated boxcars and trucks, drovers herded turkeys thousands of miles to markets or railheads. They crossed mountains, plains and deserts. In 1863 Horace Greenley walked five hundred turkeys from Iowa to Colorado, a trek of six hundred miles. His wagon was drawn by six horses and mules and packed with corn, but his turkeys fattened up by devouring grasshoppers along the way.
A breeding herd was once driven from New Mexico Territory to California, taking a year to do it. Some hired boy drovers to help keep the feathered hikers in line, others used dogs.
These temperamental birds are fast walkers
With no distractions, the wind behind them and a certain amount of luck turkeys can travel up to twenty-five miles a day. They also have strange habits. One early drover complained that if his turkeys had a mind to, they would bed down at three in the afternoon "and nothing or no one could change their minds."
Stampeding cattle had nothing on turkeys. A rifle shot, howling coyote or flutter of paper could put drumsticks on the run. One poor drover herding his rafter of turkeys through town had to give chase when a streetlight turned on.
Turkeys liked to roost in trees, but roofs were favored, too,
sometimes with disastrous results.
When a flock traveling from Vermont to Boston roosted on a schoolhouse, the roof caved in and the late-working schoolmaster barely escaped with his life. Another flock flew onto the top of a toll bridge and the drover’s profits went toward replacing the roof.
Turkeys have it easy today in comparison and so for that matter do we. Now we can enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner without having to worry about the roof caving in.
For a chance to win a Brides of Last Chance Ranch book (the winner gets to choose which one), all you have to do is tell us how your family celebrates Thanksgiving–or what you are especially grateful for this year. That’s it!
Margaret Brownley is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 30 novels to her credit including her newly released western romance Gunpowder Tea. Look for her work in the following recently released collections: A Bride for All Seasons, A Log Cabin Christmas and A Pioneer Christmas. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.