Found: One ‘rather friendly’ turkey


The lost turkey. That maybe isn't even lost. That's maybe just lonely.
The lost turkey. That maybe isn’t even lost. That’s maybe just lonely.

DIXON – So, Martha, the newsroom receptionist, turns to me first thing this morning and tells me she’s got a message from a guy who thinks he’s got a lost turkey in his yard, am I interested in a story?

I’m down a couple of reporters today. I’m knee-deep in court cases and OTHER STORIES OF MAJOR IMPORT that I haven’t had time to tackle. I need to call the state fire marshal’s office, OSHA, check on Michael Koster’s skin graft procedure. (It went well, by the way.)

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Did I mention, it’s Monday? Am I interested in a lost turkey? No, I am not. I do not care.

“What’s his name?” I ask her.


“The guy or the turkey?” (I’m such a snot. And not just on Mondays.)

I sigh. I have Martha forward me the voicemail, and, well, you know how you can tell, just by the sound of a person’s voice, that he’s kind and sweet and caring?

“Good morning, my name is Gary Ortgiesen, and I know you put notices in the paper for lost pets, and we have a turkey that has come to our door, rather friendly, and I would like to have a notice put in your paper if anyone is missing a pet turkey. He’s rather friendly, and we fed him, he’s not starving, but if you could call me or otherwise you could put it in the paper with my phone number, you could use my cellphone number, 815-44zero-13zero9. So if you want to discuss this further, you could call me at that number, 815-44zero-13zero9, a turkey that has come to our door, possibly someone is missing. Thank you. Bye.”

OK, I see it in black and white, and it’s not all that compelling a message, so I guess you’re just going to have to trust me: That Ortgiesen timbre got to me.

He has a rather friendly turkey that has come to his door. How Robert Frostian.

So I give him a call. Gary Ortgiesen does not disappoint.

Is it a wild turkey?

“He must be domesticated, because he doesn’t run away,” Gary says. “He come comes and goes, and I wish he would stay here so if someone is missing a turkey they can come get him.”

Where does Gary live? On Eels Avenue, north side of Dixon. Not too far from the river, it turns out.

Gary doesn’t know if it’s a tom or a hen. Yesterday, that turkey was hungry, and ate quite a bit, but today, he didn’t eat – just stopped by for a visit.

“He’s not starving,” Gary said, “but the poor thing seems to be so lonely.”

Of course we’ll write up something, I told him. His wife, Katie (she’s a Red Hat lady, and so, obviously, funny as well as kind), has pictures on her Facebook page. It would be wonderful, Mr. O says, if I could use one of those.

Our conversation couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or two. I know, because I started to tear up, and I had to get off the line before he could hear me sniffle.

About a lost turkey. That maybe isn’t even lost. That’s maybe just lonely.

But just in case, just in case he’s loved by someone, someone who’s probably missing him, Gary and Katie Ortgiesen want to help.

OK, so my eyes are stinging. It’s probably just hormones. I am, after all, 56 and a half flippin’ years old. It’s about time the old chemical soup starts to curdle. Maybe it’s just that it’s been a rough couple of weeks to be a reporter.

But, damn you Gary Ortgiesen, you care, and so now I care.

So please, do me and the Ortgiesens a favor. Get this bird home.

Or at least a significant other bird to pal around with.

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