How some North Carolina turkeys got a presidential pardon
Plus, the story of some cows that swam their way to survival during a hurricane, radio story time, and what Rabbit Hole readers are thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Hello! It’s Thanksgiving! I won’t blame you if you don’t read this. It’s a good day to turn off your small screens and stare at the original screen, the television, to watch parades and football. But if you do find some time, here are a few small rabbit holes for you:
How two North Carolina turkeys got pardoned by the president
On Monday, President Biden pardoned two turkeys, Chocolate and Chip. Those turkeys came from the Circle S Ranch in Monroe, which raises 9.5 million turkeys a year (!). According to the transcript of the pardoning ceremony, the president was quite gobsmacked by that number:
God love you. Nine and a half million turkeys. I tell you what. That’s like some of the countries I’ve been to. (Laughter.)”
Chocolate and Chip weigh 46 and 47 pounds apiece, and (allegedly) Chip enjoys basketball and barbecue. They each seemed fairly sanguine about being pardoned.
If you’re wondering how, exactly, two North Carolina turkeys were selected to be pardoned, well, it’s because the fix is in. The general manager of the Circle S Ranch, Ronnie Parker, is also this year’s chairman of the National Turkey Federation. Also, Chocolate and Chip weren’t normal turkeys. They listened to a lot of music to prepare for the crowd noise on the south lawn of the White House. They also interacted with children to get used to people. Those turkeys are now at North Carolina State, where they’re going to live out the rest of their days. How many days? As I wrote on Thanksgiving two years ago, usually not many.
Anyhow, you can watch the whole pardoning ceremony if you want, but just be warned that it’s full of bad puns, dad jokes, and Bidenisms. Here’s one that got the presidential dog, Commander, to groan:
But before I gobble up too much time — (Commander barks). (Turkeys gobble.) (Laughter.) I didn’t mean to get started, man. Don’t start on them. (Laughter.)
By the way, there are three times as many turkeys in North Carolina as there are people, and no county has more turkeys in it than Sampson County, in eastern North Carolina. According to the USDA, about 7.1 million turkeys live there.
North Carolina’s number two in turkey production, but number one for sweet potatoes, and no county makes more of them than, you guessed it, Sampson. The people there just have one simple request: Don’t call them yams.
The Cows Who Survived
Let’s give the turkeys a break and talk about cows for a moment. In eastern North Carolina, the horses on Shackleford Banks and Corolla get all of the attention, but there’s a smaller herd of feral horses on Cedar Island that’s often overlooked. The feral cows? Even more so. That is until September 2019, when several of them were swept away during Hurricane Dorian. Days later, three cows were discovered walking around on the Core Banks, a narrow strip of land that’s nearly four miles away from Cedar Island. It was a pretty remarkable story then, but there was a lot more to it. A lot more:
By Aretxabaleta’s measure, the absolute shortest period a cow would have been in the water is 7.5 hours; the longest is 25 hours.
“If it had been humans, it would have been incredible—I mean, like Robinson Crusoe,” he said. “The fact that those three cows survived is something close to a miracle.”
The Rabbit Hole for your earholes
On Tuesday, Rabbit Hole subscriber and occasional radio host Hayes Permar was filling in on the Adam Gold Show on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, and asked me if I’d like to hang out with him. Over two hours, we talked about all sorts of stuff, including whether the Carolina Panthers should just go kickerless (I explored this case study last year), and we also talked about the late great NASCAR driver Dick Trickle. You can listen to the podcast version of our conversation here and here, but I’d like to call your attention to two particular things. One: I got to tell my “Coach K Spills Coffee All Over Himself” story:
The other thing? We went over the write-in candidates for office in Wake County from the last election. Did God get a write-in vote? Yes! Did He win? No!
Lastly, I took my son to his first hockey game on Saturday night in Winston-Salem, where we watched the Carolina Thunderbirds beat the Mississippi Sea Wolves 8-3. The goal scoring was not the thing that we’ll remember, though. That’s because there was an honest-to-goodness GOALIE FIGHT.
Hayes and I talked to the broadcaster who called the play-by-play of that fight. I’ve played hockey for a long time, but I learned things about the logisitics of goalie fisticuffs this week. Apparently you can beef with someone who’s standing almost 200 feet away from you.
What you’re thankful for
In all seriousness, I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my health, and so much more on this Thanksgiving day. I’m thankful for all of you as well. Again, this does not exist without your support. If you’re feeling particularly inspired today, tell me what you’re thankful for below. Have a great Thanksgiving!