How to harvest a turkey.

Turkey's Hanging Until Harvest

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.

Turkey bleeding out

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.

Dinner!

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!

Prepping to Pluck

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!

Plucking the Turkey

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.

Final Plucking

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.

Gutting the Turkey

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.

Ready for Cooking!

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.



Update (March 9, 2009):

Sometime in the last year, the VegPage folks added comments to their site.

I copy/pasted pretty much exactly what you see below into a comment with two changes. First, I acknowledged the addition of comments (and thanked the site admins for doing so). Secondly, I commented that I seem to remember there being some decent vegan recipes at the site and, having lived with a largely vegan — some cheese/farm raised eggs — family, that continued availability of high quality recipes would probably do more for their cause than anything else.

Within about 10 minutes, “Adam” both the comment and the entire post.

Guess “Adam” disagreed.

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.

Unfortunately Adam’s site doesn’t allow comments or I would respond there.

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.

Your claim that I somehow harvested this turkey as a means of proving or improving my manhood is just complete jackassery.

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.)

Or, WordPress copy of the original. The original has a boatload of comments on it.



37 Responses to “How to harvest a turkey.”

  1. Matt says:

    Seems I ruffled some feathers…

    Har! Good one, Bill!

  2. Robert Fenerty says:

    I used to be dismissive of hunters, considering them to be blood-thirsty jerks. Then, 10 years ago, I found out that I worked with one. After many long discussions about how my meat arrived (processed, packaged, sterile, anonymous) and what he did to put food on the table, I decided I was the immoral one. Still haven’t hunted or killed any of my own food, but i have respect for people who do.

  3. BWJones says:

    It’s interesting but the first time I went hunting and shot a deer, I remember feeling pretty bad about it even though it was a very clean kill. My Dad looked at me and asked “What’s wrong?” to which I responded “I feel horrible”. The response surprised me as he said “Good, you should feel bad. Because you need to understand what is necessary to put food on the table and where that food comes from”. I’ve always remembered that and felt that it was an important lesson. By the way, this was a time when both of my folks were graduate students. We were very poor and did not have much in the way of financial resources, so that deer provided meat for a family of four for an entire year.

  4. Ian Bicking says:

    I think death is just morally… difficult. It’s very hard to approach rationally. The vegans wouldn’t really argue that letting the turkey die of old age is preferable. Certainly this is a more pleasant death than getting turkey cancer, or whatever it is that might kill a turkey. Nor can you really argue that the turkey was going to do much with the extra years of life it might have. Would it finally write that novel it had been thinking about? Would enjoy becoming a grandparent? There’s a monotony to its life, and a lack of reflection or learning, that makes it hard to distinguish two years of turkey life from three, four, five.

    Vegans generally don’t object to the simple act of killing and eating an animal. They object to the subjugation of animals (otherwise they’d probably just be vegetarians). So really the vegans are saying that this turkey should not exist. As an individual it shouldn’t exist, and as a corollary its entire species should not exist (because without its utility to humans, such a species would not exist and could not exist in the future). From the perspective of this animal, killing an individual seems much more reasonable than the turkey holocaust that the vegans implicitly prefer. At least this turkey probably had viable offspring, which is one of only a handful of things that defines a Good Life for animals.

  5. bbum says:

    Please see comments on the original post: http://www.friday.com/bbum/2006/11/21/how-to-harvest-a-turkey/#comments

    WordPress, in its infinite wisdom, decided to dupe the post and leave the comments behind. Go WordPress! I have closed comments on the original post with a message to add any comments to this post.

  6. Luke Burton says:

    This is a carryover from @JonBen’s arguments on the original post. Bbum closed the comments while I was in the middle of typing 🙂

    “… but I do know that chickens are capable of feeling” – this is a fallacious argument, and a classic mistake. Anthropomorphizing the psychology of animals is something that toddlers and young children do. Adults realize – through direct experience with animals and scientific experiments – that most of what we ascribe as being an “emotion” that an animals displays, is really the animal responding to stimuli just the way nature evolved it to respond. A fish that you describe a “risk taker” is not feeling an emotion – it didn’t go to fish school and learn how to judge the best time to take risks. It came out hard coded like that. Bees sting intruders to the hive because evolution favored bees that exhibited this trait, not because they are “angry” at you for disturbing their contemplation about the universe.

    How closely an animals behavior appears to us to be human in nature varies greatly, to the point where the lines start being blurred when you reach animals very close to our evolutionary background, like apes. To play the fundamentalist card and lump the capacity of animals to “feel” in one huge bucket labeled “just like us” is incorrect. Ultimately the only animal that experiences the world like a human, is a human.

    “In no case is the use of animals necessary!” – actually you can thank the exploitation of animals for the fact that human kind survived long enough to evolve to the point where it could prop up your lifestyle, while still giving you all the modern trappings such as medical care and internet access. How do you think your ancestors in pre-agrarian societies survived? Consumption of animals was necessary because they are an extremely convenient packaging of caloric energy. Their pelts kept us warm. We fashioned their bones into tools. Our ability to exploit other animals around us to such an advanced degree is the whole freaking reason I am alive today and typing on a keyboard. It is a trait that we evolved, and which conferred upon us a huge advantage over all other species.

    Is such a lifestyle necessary today? One could claim that we don’t need to eat meat because we have “evolved” beyond that. Unfortunately for vegans and vegetarians, meat is something we still enjoy the taste of and gain significant nutritional value from. If technology permitted us to have an implant under our skins that bled nutrients into our bodies over the course of years, negating the need to consume food, *we’d still eat meat* because we enjoy the sensation of eating it. It’s hard coded. Feed a young baby cooked ground beef for the first time and watch their eyes shoot wide open – they love the stuff. Our bodies flood us with positive feelings upon the consumption of meat, as a reward to encourage that behavior in the future.

    “There are also ZERO health risks associated with being vegan, as a child, as an adult, as a pregnant mother, etc… ” – have a crack at this for a fact. One minute of googling reveals this study on neurological impairment of children born to vegan and vegetarian mothers, thanks to vitamin B12 deficiency. Oops. I’m sure a few more minutes of googling would unearth more. Your use of the word “zero” also scores points on fundamentalist-o-meter. Vegans who don’t like the taste of meat would be dead if they weren’t born in the later half of the 20th century.

    There is no arguing with fundamentalists, because they have customized their belief system to compensate for stark naked facts presented to them. I am cool with the fact you are vegan – it’s your choice. But if a vegan tries to justify his or her lifestyle beyond stating “I do it because I like it”, then I will attack it. Why? Because it is a belief system more riddled with logical holes than delicious swiss cheese. I’ll attack it as vigorously as someone who claims the moon landings were rigged or that Jesus lives in our hearts – even if I know that virtually no amount of logical argument will sway a true believer. Plus, I enjoy it.

  7. JonBen says:

    Luke — Labeling me a fundamentalist, is interesting, I’m not sure what you really mean or why you somehow feel that this applies to me. I could label you a fundamentalist meat eater, and try to insult you by saying it, but it isn’t really saying anything more than ‘we don’t agree’, so it must be meant only as an insult… In any event, a small discussion such as this cannot touch on the wealth of information available on all aspects of this topic. Being a very logical person and scientist, well acquainted with scrutiny of my beliefs and the stark naked facts, I find it rather inappropriate to suggest that I’m incapable of logical thought, when the opposite is clearly the case. Especially considering the logical presentation of my belief system I have made here.

    Anthropomorphizing is giving to something a human trait that it does not possess, you can accuse me of doing that when I say animals have feelings, but I’m not saying that they have human feelings. I clearly stated that animals have their own feelings, and I don’t know what those feelings are like. But given that cows, pigs, dogs, cats, rats, humans, etc… are all mammals and share much of the same genetic make up it seems exceedingly reasonable to me to assume that they do indeed have some form of emotional feeling, aside from the indisputable physical feeling they share with us… namely pain. Anyone with companion animals have experienced their ability to express themselves, this is not some childish dream world… a dog is not a robot preconditioned to act as if it is fearful of abuse, but actually not feeling any fear at all. Emotions serve many important purposes and help animals (our selves included) survive, to think that our closest relatives somehow lack a fundamental aspect of physiology/psychology seems an unmotivated leap of faith… especially when they exhibit all the outwardly signs of having the ability to feel.

    Whether or not animal exploitation was needed for us to get here is irrelevant, you could argue that war, genocide, slavery, and oppression were required for us to be here but that doesn’t make any of them ethical. Are we at an advantage today because we are in a situation where we can honestly and seriously start talking about ridding ourselves of these behaviors… yes… I suppose so. But isn’t it wonderful that we are! And don’t we owe it all ourselves to question our behavior and seek to make these things a thing of the past?

    People often get a rush out of dominating others, being oppressive and in control… power is addictive. Does this imply that the human condition is one of oppressing others? That it is hard coded in us to be mean to each other and war with one another? Just because meat tastes good (due in large part to the unhealthy saturated fats it contains) is not an ethical argument in favour of doing it.

    B12 is a vitamin that is created by bacteria, and there is some debate as to what foods contain it and in what quantities. I’ve heard people say it’s only in meat, I’ve heard that it would be found on vegetables if we didn’t clean our produce so much, and I’ve heard that it’s always present in food that contains the vitamin B-complex. I’m not a researcher in this field so I’m not in a position to make definitive statements one way or the other, but these links give some more detailed info, you can assess for yourself how biased you believe them to be
    http://www.living-foods.com/articles/b12issue.html (rather long and seems a little biased to me)
    http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/natural (seems honest but not very detailed, and heavily reliant on one person’s opinions)
    http://wiretap.area.com/Gopher/Library/Article/Food/b12.txt (seems well researched, and includes some references)

    Either way there are in fact ZERO health risks with the vegan diet, in the same way there are ZERO health risks for an omnivore diet. This statement was not meant to imply you could eat nothing but carrots and survive, it is meant to state that anyone who wishes to eat a healthy and balanced vegan diet can do so free of any health risks, and in fact most likely will be healthier.

    Stupid people do stupid things, and vegan mothers who are not supplementing with B12 to ensure they, and their children, are healthy are undeniably stupid! There are plenty of cases of nutritional deficiencies of children under the care of incompetent omnivore parents, so it stands to reason that incompetent vegan parents have the same problem.

    B12 deficiency is a problem for omnivores as well, but weighing the pros and cons of each diet from a health perspective is not productive for this argument since it does nothing to address the issue of whether it is ethical to exploit animals. It is indisputable that either diet, can provide all nutritional requirements, and it is often advisable for people adhering to either to supplement with vitamins/minerals to maintain peak health, and ensure a consistent supply of some vitamins whose origins are still unknown.

  8. John C. Randolph says:

    Well, despite all of JonBen’s moral posturing, I will continue to eat meat, and I will gain a small amount of additional pleasure from his disapproval.

    BTW, Bill: those crabs, and the smoked pork were delicious!

    -jcr

  9. John C. Randolph says:

    “And don’t we owe it all ourselves to question our behavior and seek to make these things a thing of the past?”

    Your diatribe presupposes that eating meat is immoral. It isn’t. Get over yourself.

    -jcr

  10. PGC says:

    A saw a sticker once that said: You can’t eat meat with a gun in your mouth

  11. bbum says:

    What the hell does that even mean?

  12. John C. Randolph says:

    People often get a rush out of dominating others, being oppressive and in control… power is addictive.

    Some people get a watered-down version of this by affecting an air of moral superiority, as you have.

    -jcr

  13. Ben Holt says:

    bbum: “It’s a sort of threat, you see. I’ve never been terribly good at them myself but I’m told they can be terribly effective.” — Slartibarfast

    Speaking of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, I’ve long thought Douglas Adams’ Dish of the Day was extremely insightful: I’m not convinced that what an animal thinks or feels has ever been the fundamental issue, it really boils down to what any given person thinks or feels.

  14. Papa Joe says:

    … and if the veggie folks r so damned concerned about the animals, they should desist from eating the very food these animals need to eat in order to survive…

  15. Papa Joe says:

    By the way son we r gonna have rabbit for dinner on Easter.
    No Easter Bunny this year!!!

  16. Luke Burton says:

    I can’t be fucked with a long and late reply, but I just wanted to say … vegans are opposed to exploiting animals.

    So every vegan who lines up for any drug that has been tested on animals, should be denied that drug.

    You should see what my friend at Stanford does to baby mice. Vivisects the little buggers to examine the development of their lungs. Hundreds of them.

    Of course, should you ever develop or a lung condition that requires the treatments pioneers by this person, woe betide you. Because it would be ethically wrong for you to accept it.

    Can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier in the debate.

  17. Amie says:

    While we are meateaters in this household, we do go our of our way to make sure that what we consume was treated humanely while it was alive, and is as local as possible. I’ve always been repulsed by the feedlots since learning of their existence back in 1992. And after reading as much as I could stomach of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” last year, I’ve done what I could to make sure no living creature needs to suffer such god-awful misery and disease just so I can have a cheap steak.

    Your post was hard to read (both then and now) but I feel it was important to read it. I’m glad you documented the full story of your thanksgiving dinner, and that more and more people are eating local, organic foods, and “owning” what it takes to put food on the table. And I must say, it pisses me off that it was so grossly taken out of context.

  18. DNR says:

    Vegans and carnivores just need to agree to disagree. And, I’m kinda surprised there wasn’t pics of you eating the bird after all that.

  19. Ben Holt says:

    Well there are pictures of the cooking process here: http://www.friday.com/bbum/2006/11/28/a-smoked-turkey-with-an-ip-address/

    As for the eating, everyone was too busy with the ridiculously fantastic feast to pay any mind to anything else 😉

  20. Anzac Day Tours says:

    Whilst some of the pictures on here were a little bit disturbing I found it pretty interesting. And to think I only stumbled across this site searching for the country Turkey.

  21. manavgat says:

    Turkey is good 🙂 I love it…

  22. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been a meat eater my whole life. I love meat…tastes great! But in the past few years, I find myself wanting to go vegetarian, for both health and moral reasons. Though I would never judge someone for eating meat, as I still do, I find myself struggling with the idea of an animal dying just because I wanted to eat meat. I applaud you for going though the trouble of doing this yourself to know exactly what the aninal had to go through before it got to your table. Not many people would do that, i dont think. You give a whole new meaning to “being a conscious eater”. Anyways, this is going to sound funny, but i’ve been trying to gross myself out looking at pics of slaughtered animals, just so i wouldnt eat meat anymore, but it wasent working. My tastes buds always won it seemed. But the picture of the turkey bleeding out did the trick I think. The look in his eyes makes me sad and sick at the same time. I dont think I’ll be able to eat poultry again. So i thank you. (not being sarcastic here). Thank you for giving me that last push that I needed for becoming a vegeterian.

  23. Peter says:

    Regarding the whole vegetarian argument. Us humans have been relying on meat for thousands of years. Meat eating is part of who we are. Meat offers so many great nutrients essential for our body. Now I understand the argument, we have advanced alot, there are many other alternatives so why still eat meat? At the end of the day, just imagine what would happen if one day everyone decided to only eat vegetables. How would the balance in the food chain be altered?

  24. Marta Wiechowska says:

    My son became vegetarian a couple of years ago, and I’m quite supportive of his decision … although I continue to eat meat, and I enjoy it.

    Your post is very brave and true I think. I have no moral qualms about eating meat; but I do have moral qualms about being indifferent to the the fact I’m eating an animal. As other commenters have pointed out, we should feel a certain discomfort in the taking of a life, even if we’re willing to do it.

  25. Dumaguete Guy says:

    I have seen some much worse butchering rituals here in the Philippines, this bird does not seem to be under stress or severe pain, but I understand the vegan guys are going a little nuts over it.

    Good and informative posts and you got very clear pictures – what camera are you using?

    Guy

  26. rahul says:

    Hi,
    I am a Vegan.
    My only concern is that the overall process of slaughtering should be painless.
    We have made so much of advancements in almost every field….why not in the way we slaughter.

    If we are ready to pay additional money for anything with a label Organic’
    Cant we pay additional for meat with a label ‘Slaughtered Painlessely’
    Even though as a Hindu, I am not supposed to eat Meat..But I would start eating meat if that happens.

    Regards
    RG

  27. dave says:

    I raised some Turkeys once. Named them Goober and Gomer. Gomer got killed by coyotes. Goober was raised with geese and did not know how to gobble, so I taught him. It was funny as hell and he was a cool bird. He got so large he broke a hip. I could not bear to kill the bird I had taught to gobble so I had a friend do it for me. Goob’ weighed 75LBs “on the hoof” and we ended up with 55LBS !! of meat. I was apprehensive when I first bit into him, but he tasted delicious and I never lost a bit of sleep over it. It’s just the way things go – some critters get eaten by other critters, and some get eaten by us. In the end, the worms get us all!!

    Nice and wonderful conversation about this in the comments!!

  28. Sarah says:

    geez! All this fuss over one man and his step by step on how the bird gets to the table? I for one appreciate the time you took, I have never seen the process and think it is very interesting. As an ex-vegetarian I am absolutely NOT offended… even when I chose not to eat meat I certainly understood that others did… especially on thanksgiving. My husband continues to be a vegetarian (we are a mixed family) and we will leave it to our son to choose what’s right for him. Photos like yours will help him make an informed decision when he asks questions.

    Thanks!

  29. steve jenkinson says:

    it takes guts, courage, to do this. most of us quail before this moment because we are raised to find meat in shrink-wrapped packages. turning an animal into a meat is something fewer and fewer Americans know how to do. In these coming hard times, will more of us have to learn?!

  30. Joe says:

    So, to those who are opposed to exploiting animals, does that mean we have to pollinate the blossoms by hand ourselves instead of taking advantage of the work the bees do before we can enjoy a nice juicy orange or peach?

  31. DJ says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial on dressing out a turkey. I’ve done chickens and this seems pretty similar. Some comments on the discussion of technique: A lady in town agrees with one of your commenters that if plucked promptly, dipping is unnecessary, so I’ll try that. Also I found with chickens that lopping off the heads or wringing their necks just upsets them– the method you describe seems far more humane.

    I also agree wholeheartedly that I shouldn’t eat what I’m not willing to kill. I’m not perfect in this regard– I’m not willing to kill a pig (and don;t know how), I let the local butcher to it for me. But my wife and I endeavor to get as close to our food as possible. And as a result, we eat less meat than before.

    I’ll stay away from the vegetarian/omnivore debate– I’ve been on both sides of it, having been vegetarian (but not vegan) for ten years in my past– except to note that livestock production has a place in sustainable agriculture as one of the few sources of fertilizer that do not derive from fossil fuels. This doesn’t mean meat, necessarily, dairy and egg production work just as well. And I duly acknowledge that the meat industry as a whole (like the corn, soy, and produce industries as a whole) are far from sustainable. But when we talk about local, sustainable production, it would be nearly impossible without some level of livestock production.

  32. Le Bronne says:

    There are still some people out there like me, who needs this kinds of information and I appreciate you posting this on your site. I am hoping that Adam would find ample considerations that these types of blogs are meant to inform and not to offend anyone. I agree with you a 100% when you said that your ultimate purpose you harvested that turkey to put food on your table, and I would add to educate others on the basics of the poultry industry. As for Adam, I hope you’d also see the good in these things and not look only at the bad angle that you are faced at. People have varied opinions, respect that.

  33. fstar says:

    Do any of the vegetarians think that vegetables are sentient or have feelings? There has been a research showing that the plants in our houses (or we come in contact with on a daily basis) are in tune with us. They can register (on any kind of graph machine) when other plants or animals have been harmed in their proximity. Likewise they can feel something happen to “their partner/s” aka. house members half a world away.

    My question is: how can you feel good about eating a sentient being and feel good about it?

    They are, and you if you don’t want to acknowledge it that is up to you.

    Just because we haven’t yet truly learned to communicate with our plants and because they are not made of flesh, does not mean that they don’t feel and experience pain and suffering!

    If you wrap your arms around a tree can you feel it’s energy flow or heartbeat? Kids can very easily and we adults can too but we need to drop down into a slower space.

    To me it all comes down to…….honoring these creatures. If you raise them (or not) veggies and animals alike, talk to them and explain to them what their purpose is (to feed us), give them the richest life possible (organically I hope and sing and or talk to them and tell them how beautiful they are), chanting, singing and saying thanks when you harvest them and say blessings and thank them for their lives and nourishment when you sit down to eat them. Then you have done everything right and in a loving way.

    And that’s the best that we can do…

    Unless we become “breathtarians”

  34. noah says:

    our turkey was much to big for two unexperienced avian harvesters and and one experienced a long time ago avian harvesters to chop while holding so instead we just held its windpipe in until it died slightly inhumane?? well the only experience we had was killing 3 chickens before the 5 turkey

    although this website did give us much help so thank u mister bbum

  35. Susie Pedersen says:

    Hi – and thanks -this is a huge help! You answered many questions I had – I was wondering though what you used for the tub of hot water to dunk the turkey in.

    This is our first time with a turkey – we have done chickens but the first one which we cooked that very day – was tough – I made southern fried chicken. The next we made a soup which was great.

    Another article I read said to let the chicken rest in the refrigerator for 2-3 days – is it the same with turkey??!

    Thanks much for all your help!!!
    Susie aka cooknwoman

  36. mele says:

    I am very grateful for the information that you shared regarding killing and dressing turkeys . I have no political agenda , nor am I an artist . I am simply trying to become more self-sufficient and turkeys are good converters of protein and provide clean and healthy meat . I am looking forward to raising them ( I raise many other farm to table animals and my turkey chicks come in 2 weeks !)and would suspect that most of your ‘critics ” have not raised and killed their own food or even grown their own vegetables . I try not to waste (including feathers for artists , haha ! ) . I raise all of my animals in the best possible circumstance and want their lives to end well andyes my family will eat what we have raised and killed .
    It is far more disturbing to me to buy meat from an unknown animal in a styrofoam and plastic cover – not the right thing at all . (not a political point,or judgy , just an honest opinion )

  37. Laurel says:

    Hi
    I just want to thank you for the information supplied on this site. My sister and I have been raising and butchering our own birds for a few years now and we are always looking for better methods and wanted to try cutting the juggler but weren’t sure how to go about it. My sister gets to do the dirty work as I am unable to do the actual killing but I do assist in the plucking catching and caring.

    Because we raise our own meat birds we know exactly how they are raised and what they have been fed. We raise our birds with a lot of care and attention, we want them to have the best life possible before they hit the table not the life of a factory farmed bird. We handle all our birds so when it is time to do the deed they are not stressed or scared in the least and I think this is responsible farming not feed lots and rough handling.

    So thanks again for the information and a picture, although unpleasant, gives a lot of information that can not be supplied in print.

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