PARAGOULD, Ark. — A gaggle of Greene County turkeys don't know how lucky they are, regardless of the approaching holiday.
No, they have not received a pardon from the governor or the president. Instead, they have been raised as pets by Lisa Gipson on her farm outside of Paragould.
"(My sister) brought two turkeys for pets," Gipson said. "I just thought they were so pretty."
But finding a breed that was unique was a challenge, she said.
"I looked on the Internet and just couldn't find (royal palm) turkeys," Gipson said, explaining that the turkeys were white-feathered turkeys with black tips that nearly became extinct in the 1920s. "So I ordered them from a hatchery in Missouri."
Gipson said she had originally ordered 16 turkeys to raise as pets, though four of them died of known causes.
"At 6 months old, I still have 12," Gipson said.
David Gipson, Lisa's husband, said he gave the turkeys unique names associated with various American holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"We've named them Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day, Fourth of July, all (holiday) names pretty much," David said. "I've got them all named."
Gipson said while she was raising the turkeys as pets, not all would necessarily receive amnesty. Some of the bird would be sold and their fates unknown.
"I had a guy insist on buying one Saturday," Gipson said. "So I sold it for $30. A full-grown turkey normally sells for $40."
Three other turkeys would be sold, as well, Gipson told the Paragould Daily Press (http://is.gd/nrC3er).
"I'm going to take three to the Ward Livestock auction because they're fighting," she said, adding that many times the male turkeys to be sold were attempting to show their dominance and were becoming a nuisance to the other animals.
David said while four turkeys were set to be sold, if the other turkeys misbehaved, they have been warned of the consequences.
"That's my threat, (to eat them)," David said with a chuckle.
Gipson's husband said normally the turkeys were not bought for food consumption at $40 per turkey, though.
"Walmart is cheaper and closer," David said.
Should turkeys be slaughtered or die of other causes, Gipson said she had found a way to actually make money from the traditionally holiday bird.
"There is a market for their feathers with Native Americans," she said. "One site online will buy their feathers for $39.99 per dozen."
But Gipson said she was really just in the business of raising the turkeys as pets with her other animals.
"We have 12 turkeys and 14 goats," Gipson said. "My husband raises nubian alpine goats. And we have five chickens."
Gipson said she and David even had a catfish pond on the back of their property west of Paragould. But farming and raising the turkeys as pets has been her focus since purchasing the turkeys six months ago.
"You can eat them and they are edible," Gipson said. "But people get them for pets. And (for us), it's really just a hobby."
Information from: Paragould Daily Press, http://www.paragoulddailypress.com/