Today was the day we’ve been working towards since I brought our turkeys home at 10 weeks old, on July 4th. We’ve fed them and cared for them and now, half of them are destined for the holiday oven.
A last meal, last Saturday.
We chose four turkeys to butcher, and kept them separately in cages overnight, to keep them from eating before being butchered (easier to clean). Catching them was easy, we went out at midnight, and picked the sleeping turkeys off their roosts. Sunday, Glenna came up, and Thaddeus having returned two days prior, we had a butchering party in the shop.
Thanksgiving morning: our biggest tom was only 9lbs, which is quite small! Still, all plucked and brined, he was a beautiful looking bird. You can see the difference between these animals and the Broad Breasted variety that is most often sold commercially. Ours had much longer and more muscular legs, but a much smaller chest. Overall, ours is longer and less compact than the commercial turkeys.
All roasted and ready to eat! We are grateful to our turkey for his life, and this meal. Happy Thanksgiving!
We don’t actually eat a lot of meat here on the farm, since Talina is vegetarian, but I managed to put this plate together for myself tonight. Everything on that plate was grown here on the farm, including the turkey.
On Sunday, after Sunday Brunch, we had our first slaughter on the farm. One of the turkey hens had somehow wounded herself, and over a few days she went from limping around to just sitting in the pasture sadly meeping, while her fellow turkeys just ignored her. She wasn’t able to eat or drink, so we knew it was time to let her go.
Since we are feeding the turkeys a diet of Scratch and Peck Turkey Grower with an addition of fish meal, one of our concerns has been that they might be taking on a bit of a fishy flavor. Having to butcher this turkey early was a good chance to check to find out whether this was actually the case.
I somehow failed to take any photos of the actual butchering process… but allow me to say that if we do this much more often, a feather plucking device would be a reasonable investment. SO MANY FEATHERS. And she was obviously much smaller than a traditional turkey would be at slaughter time. However, when we got her open, it was clear that she was ill beyond just the limp: her liver was green (it should be pink)!
Having just lost Colin a week ago, it is an interesting experience to have a death on the farm that was planned and intentional. The two, so close together, are a good reminder that life and death are always right there competing with, and benefiting from, each other.