Update: Seems I ruffled some feathers over on the VegPage.com (free vegan community) web site.
A person called “Adam” posted this along with a link back to this article:
Wow, “bbum”, you really know how to overpower turkeys. What a man! The ladies must truly envy your potential.
I came across this “man,” bbum who has a webpage for instructing others how to kill turkeys with some lovely photos.
He also posted this in the comments of this post:
The negro answers to the racist
The battered wife answers to the sexist
The animal answers to man
A racist is a sexist is an omnivore
Your soul will suffer too–enjoy your turkey.
Adam — if you are going to call me names on your weblog, have the balls to allow comments. Since you don’t, I’ll respond here.
Your claim that I somehow harvested this turkey as a means of proving or improving my manhood is just complete jackassery. If you had actually read this post you would have seen this quote: Personally, I find it hypocritical to both eat a food and be unwilling to acknowledge how said food is produced.
That turkey died for exactly one purpose; to put food on my table. I decided to slaughter the thanksgiving bird myself because I feel it is damned important to be willing to harvest whatever I consume.
Taking a couple of photos and quotes out of context for your weblog, preceding it by false claims about the character of an individual you have never met, not allowing anyone to respond directly on your site, and then following it with an invitation to post drivel over here “in the name of the cause” is just flat out cowardly and, frankly, rude.
Worse, it does nothing good for your “cause”. Your actions leave me with the impression that your site is just another hate-based organization. Too many of those in the world, no need for another.
(Thank you to JonBen for providing evidence that not all of the VegPage community are self-righteous jackasses.)
Original post below.
Mmm…. Turkey. Yum. See that big dude on the right with the snood hanging down?
That would be our thanksgiving dinner this year. I reserved a turkey with a rather awesome local poultry farmer, Paul Hain, earlier in the season. He raised the turkeys in his walnut orchard. Completely organic.
The turkey needed to be picked up at farm on the weekend before thanksgiving and Paul invited us to come down, tour the farm and participate in the turkey harvest, if we wanted.
Ben and I jumped at the chance. To play a role in the harvest of the turkey — to actually know what happens between “bird eating bugs & grain” to “me eating the bird” — is something that we both feel is important knowledge.
Personally, I find it hypocritical to both eat a food and be unwilling to acknowledge how said food is produced.
Enough of the PC BS. If you don’t want to read about animal slaughter, see pictures of blood, or know how a turkey goes from walking around to ready to cook, don’t click through to the full story.
The first step is to catch and kill the turkey. Catching the turkeys is relatively easy. They called relatively large pens home. This protects them from predators at night and the pens are portable.
So, it is just a matter of hopping in the pen and grabbing a bird. A thirty five pound bird that really isn’t into the whole being grabbed thing. But once you have a leg, it is a matter of grabbing the other leg and getting a hold of both legs in one hand. Then you roll the bird over and get an arm around the wings, cradling the bird upside down. At this time, the bird stops struggling and will typically not put up a fuss until the final few beats of its heart.
The next step is to stick the bird’s head into a bucket with a hole cut in the side/bottom. The head sticks out said hole. Stretch the neck out and cut the neck artery. (A couple of folks asked exactly where the cut is made, so here is a better picture.) The key is to cut the artery and not the windpipe as doing so will cause undue stress upon the bird.
The bird will then bleed out with the assistance of both gravity and the beating of the heart. The turkey is remarkably calm through the entire process, including the cutting of the artery, until the very end of its life. When the heart starts pumping air, the turkey finally seems to realize that something is amiss.
A slight aside: Turkeys are really heavy. In this photo, I’m holding a 35 lbs bird prior to cleaning. I am out of shape (and fat, jeez!) but, yes, they are heavy birds!
Once the bird is dead, it is time to remove the feathers.
The first step is to dip the carcass in slightly soapy, 140 degree, water. The heat loosens the feathers and the soap cuts the oils a bit.
The bird is dipped repeatedly for a couple of minutes. What little weight was lost as the bird was bled out is quickly regained in becoming water logged. Combined with relatively extreme heat of the water makes for quite a bit of exercise keeping your hands out of the water!
Now that the bird has been thoroughly dipped, it is taken to the plucking machine. It is a rather simple device that consists of a rotating drum upon which 2.5″ long serrated rubber rods are attached. By simply brushing the carcass up against the rods, the feathers are quickly removed. The drum is not particular powerful, quickly stopping if a wing or the neck gets too entangled.
The machine does a rather thorough job of removing most of the feathers.
But it doesn’t remove all of the feathers.
The wing and tail feathers have to be removed by hand. As well, the carcass is given a fairly close once-over to ensure that no other features are left behind. Quite a few little bits of feather here and there have to be removed.
Once de-feathered, it is on to the actual butchering process. First, the head is removed. Then the neck. These are removed separately because the neck is saved. The lower portion of the legs are also removed.
A bit of a cut is made in the belly of the bird and the entrails are removed. Nothing delicate about this process. It is a matter of reaching into the bird and ripping out the guts as a hole. You need to be very careful to not burst certain organs — gall bladder, stomach, etc.. — inside the bird as they will release some fairly nasty digestive juices.
The lungs need to be scraped out as they are well attached.
Once fully cleaned, the carcass is placed into a tank of cold water to chill. From there, it is packed on ice and sent home with the customer.
Next up? I’ll brine the turkey tomorrow or Wednesday. It will then be smoked on the Big Green Egg for upwards of 12 hours. Should be delicious.