Pastured, free range turkey

Turkeys are curious, social creatures.  We enjoy having them around the barnyard every spring and summer.  They gobble, strut, and puff their feathers into impressive display. This year’s batch of turkeys liked to follow the horses around the pasture, almost as if they believed they were part of the same herd.  It is always bittersweet to dispatch turkeys.  Sweet that we can provide our own food for Thanksgiving; sad that they have to go to make that happen.

Processing turkeys takes quite a bit of work.  Alive they weigh at least forty pounds.  When we let them free range over a five acre area, that can make for a heavy haul up to the dispatch area if they happen be on the far side of the pasture.

Look how big their foot had gotten!

Look how big their feet had gotten!

Remember the turkey debacle from last year?  It was traumatizing for all of us so we knew we needed a better, more sure fire way this year.  Hubby created a device to hold the turkeys and it worked very well.

You place the turkey upside down inside a traffic cone that has been modified, causing increased blood flow to their brain.  This seems to calm them down.  Then hubby takes an extremely sharp knife and cuts the carotid artery.  The cone was strong enough to hold the bird in place.  No more trauma.

Hubby takes care of dispatching. Thanks, hubby!

Hubby takes care of dispatching. Thanks, hubby!

After that we lifted each bird into hot water for a few seconds and then manually plucked them.  Once plucked, we removed the internal organs, washed the bird inside and out, and stored them in a turkey bag.  Next, we wrapped them in freezer paper and weighed each bird. Our smallest bird was 17 pounds and the largest was 23 pounds.  Total dispatch time took about one hour per bird.

We want to make this clear.  We aren’t trying to compete with grocery store pricing.  Those turkeys were produced in a factory setting.  Google turkey factory images.  Do you see hundreds of birds packed into a building?  Injuries caused by the lack of space?  No sunlight?  No grass or bugs?  Injected with who knows what?  We strive to be the opposite of factory.  Our birds had free range of five acres, plenty of grass and bugs, and we never injected them with anything.  They were cared for with respect.

You have a choice this Thanksgiving.  Buy an 89 cent/pound bird that lived a miserable life; thereby supporting the turkey factory business or buy a $2.00/pound bird that lived a clean, happy life and support local farmers.  You vote with your wallet.  This year we only have a few birds.  If you can’t buy from us, then consider buying from another local farmer.  Or skip turkey and buy one of our hams.  😉