A Fond Farewell to Our Turkeys

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The turkeys, much younger and smaller than they were at slaughter, enjoying the sun and the grass in their run.

The whole point of raising turkeys this year was to have healthy, free-range turkeys for eating at the end of it all. And to get to that point, or course, also means doing the inevitable butcher and slaughter that must come first when raising meat on a small scale for home consumption.

I will be honest. I was not looking forward to this. Not because I had gotten too attached to the turkeys – it’s true I was fond of them in all their awkward glory, but they had definitely not crossed over the line into pets of any kind – but rather because they were big and I was a little concerned about catching them, and also because the process of beheading, scalding, plucking, and gutting poultry is just not a very pleasant one. I’d done it a couple of times before, but was still not feeling overly confident in my abilities. And never with turkeys, which, may I remind you, are quite a bit bigger than their chicken cousins. About 12-22 lbs bigger. Yes, that’s right. In the end the smallest of our turkeys weighed in at 16 lbs, and the largest at a whopping 25 lbs, and at only 18 weeks of age, when most turkeys are butchered at 20-24 weeks!

And so it was with slightly heavy hearts that Aurélie and I set out to do the deed last Sunday morning. All in all, the slaughtering and butchering went very well, thanks, in large part, to Simone. She was a great help through it all, and is also, it turns out, an excellent turkey wrangler, being the one to catch all of the turkeys in the end. We had a only a few minor mishaps – some scraped knuckles and a couple of escaped turkeys that were quickly herded back into their pen (poor things). And while it was still challenging in many ways, by the end of the second turkey I was feeling much more confident and less squeamish about what I was doing. I will feel good about eating the meat in the end too, as I know the turkeys had good lives and we gave them the most humane deaths we could, which is a lot more than can be said about the meat of questionable origin that comes from most grocery stores in North America.

So thank you, awkward little turkeys, for entertaining us at times, helping us connect with where our food comes from, and for, ultimately, nourishing us. Your lives and deaths are hugely appreciated. I am grateful.

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3 thoughts on “A Fond Farewell to Our Turkeys

  1. I want to say if anything happens to our civilization I want to be with you as I know you will survive and then so will I hopefully.☺

    Like

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