My grandfather Loyal loved creatures large and small.
He also believed he could make a pet out of anything.
Most city dwellers hate raccoons, the little bandits who upside the garbage and infiltrate attics. They spend thousands of dollars on exterminators and taxpayers foot large bills for animal control to keep raccoons at bay.
Many farmers, too, would take shotguns to the little critters. Not Gramps.
Gramps found some baby raccoons who had been abandoned near our farm by their mother, who might have met an untimely ending. Instead of ending their lives, Gramps took them home and bottle fed them and my mother kept them as pets. They are seen here in this undated photo.
We had a pet crow, a pet wild turkey, pet rabbits, frogs and pigs. I even had a pet Banty Rooster.
The crow had been found in the field with a broken wing. Gramps took him to his workshop and created a makeshift splint for the fellar. In return for this kindness, the crow became an unofficial guard crow who once chased off a woman collecting for some charity or other. The woman made the mistake of wearing cherry red polish on her over-produced toenails.
The turkey had fallen off a truck and my brother Gary chased it two miles down the road, wrestling it to the ground. Instead of carving him up for supper, we named him Harry -- because of his scruffy bald head -- and put him in one of my grandfather's pen.
Harry was a miserable thing. You couldn't pet him. He bit anyone who even tried to feed him.
Gramps finally got tired of spending his money on turkey feed and took him behind the shed just as I was coming back from picking strawberries. I turned my head toward the shed as I heard Harry's last squawk and saw my normally gentle granddad slitting the poor bugger's throat. I was traumatized for weeks.
We kids refused to eat Harry and he was banished to my Aunt Alwyn's freezer for a good six months. When he was finally served up, we found him grisly and tough -- just as he was in real life.
Harry was the last pet we ever ate.
I think he was also the last pet Gramps ever made out of a potential food source.