A Thousand Drumsticks on the Hoof (and Chance to WIN $100 Gift Card)


We all know about the 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 refrigerator 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 packed with corn and drawn by six horses and mules, but his turkeys fattened up by devouring grasshoppers along the way. 


A breeding herd was once driven from New Mexico Territory to California.  One can only  imagine the condition of the drover when, a year later, he finally reached his destination.


Some farmers hired boy drovers to help keep the feathered hikers in line; others depended on dogs.


Turkeys are temperamental birds, but they are fast walkers.  With no distractions and the wind behind them (not to mention luck) they can travel twenty-five miles a day.  They also have strange habits. One early drover complained that his turkeys sometimes decided to bed down at three in the afternoon and nothing or no one could change their minds.


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 roof of a toll bridge and the drover’s profits went toward replacing the roof.   


As far as stampedes went, 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.


Turkey merchants 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 hundred dollar Amazon or B&N gift card from my publisher, preorder my new book Waiting For Morning and forward the receipt to ipreordered@gmail.com.  That’s all there is to it.  Good luck!


 RT Review: 4 Stars

“Waiting For Morning is a sweet, enduring historical romance with characters who are charming and witty. Readers will delight in how Brownley skillfully sketches an evocative picture of the 1890s Colorado and Arizona Territory”


If Molly Hatfield’s purple attire doesn’t blind you, her dazzling smile will.  She doesn’t just sing to the cattle, she puts on a whole show.

If only she wasn’t so stubborn about her brother’s care.  Or so distrustful of a certain handsome doctor…

To order kindly click cover

No turkeys, please!

+ posts

26 thoughts on “A Thousand Drumsticks on the Hoof (and Chance to WIN $100 Gift Card)”

  1. What an interesting blog. Loved it. I can just imagine how hilarious (and frustrating) it would be to herd turkeys. Oh my Lord! What a sight that must’ve been. In all my reading doing research I never ran across anything about herding turkeys. I’m going to make a note of this.

    And big Congrats for the new book. I know you’re excited. I can’t wait until it’s released. I know it’ll have lots of your trademark humor.

    Wishing you tons of success!

  2. Margaret, you’ve got me laughing out loud just picturing those turkey herds. Hysterical! Can you imagine the drover walking into a dusty saloon and swapping stories with the cattelmen. “You think getting your beeves across the river was tough, try it with turkeys.” The poor guy would probably get laughed out of the bar.

  3. Hi Linda, I came across this information quite by accident. You just never know what you find during research. Never had occasion to use it in a book. Maybe one day.

    Have a happy turkey day!

  4. Hi Karen, I thought hilarious, too. It’s surprising that so few people have heard of this. It kind of makes you wonder what other historical treasures are waiting to be dug up.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving,


  5. Cori, I’m so glad you mentioned having previously preordered. I think if you log into your B&N account, there’s a record of your orders. Just copy and paste that into the body of an email and send it along. We’re easy!

  6. How Crazy is this? I never heard of Turkey herding, but I raised 4 once and it may have had the same tolerance as the mass herding. They do what they want to do. From living through that, I cannot imagine herding a bunch of them.
    It could be on a par with herding cats!
    Great post, today. And great book cover. Good luck on this latest.
    Happy Thanksgiving. I will be thinking about turkey herding as I eat my store bought bird. (I will also have great story telling for the table, too. Thanks).

  7. The cat herding commercial comes to mind… Never heard of turkey herding, Margaret, but it must’ve been quite a sight. Your cover is gorgeous. Love that beautiful heroine in her purple dress.

  8. Elizabeth, I keep thinking of that cat herding commercial,too. Yes, I like the purple dress. My heroine is a former dance hall girl and they captured her personality perfectly!

    Happy Thanksgiving,


  9. Very interesting post. I would bet a turkey drive was very hard. Turkeys are not the smartest animals in the would. So I bet they had their hand full trying to drive them somewhere.

  10. I have heard of hog drives to Cincinnati (once known as Porkopolis for all of its packing plants) but never turkey drives. What a challenge that must have been. I laugh thinking about it now, but it was probably anything but funny to those “turkeyboys”.

  11. Margaret,
    I have never heard of such a thing–you always come up with the most interesting posts–so unusual. Your cover is just beautiful. I love all of your covers. Molly’s dress is gorgeous and very eye-catching. It looks like another winner!
    Hugs, filly sis!

  12. Margaret, I apologize for being late commenting, but your topic so intrigued me that set it aside to read when I had time. Festinating! This is probably one of the most unusual bit of historical trivia we’ve had at P&P in a while. I truly enjoyed it. Big hugs, Phyliss

  13. The heart of your writing whilst sounding reasonable originally, did not settle well with me after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you actually were able to make me a believer unfortunately only for a while. I nevertheless have a problem with your jumps in assumptions and one would do nicely to help fill in all those breaks. In the event that you can accomplish that, I would undoubtedly be fascinated.

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