Today we butchered our first turkey's. They were bigger than life, and were the highlight of my trips to feed every evening. So it was with heavy hearts that we went down to do the deed that no one looks forward to. For this adventure there was no killing cone big enough, no single arm strong enough- so armed with a pillow case and a knife we together blazed a trail into the unknown with just enough knowledge to be dangerous.
The pillow case was cut on one corner to provide a swaddle for the Turks so that we could handle them without harm to us or them. Then I held the legs and gently sat/ pinned the Turks down while Dain executed the cut to the carotid. What normally is a quick end (with a chicken) turned into a much longer wait with the sheer size of these birds; and when the end did finally come it was with a swift and sudden burst of violence that at one moment threatened to launch me from my perch. I gently spoke farewell and wished them well while silently hoping for it all to hurry up and stop. This killing of the livestock you try so hard to raise is often the hardest of things to do, making one wonder if there is ever anything easy about farming.
These birds were five months old, and reached a dressed weight of 25 pounds. 75 lbs of meat for the three lives taken. All in all the experience of these birds 100% better than the 60 meat birds we raised and butchered this year.
Our losses totaled about 2 total meat chickens, both from predators. This being a feat considering the usual loss of meat and laying birds every year, mostly to predators. The turkeys were allowed to free range with the laying chickens every day and we lost not ONE to predators. The meat chickens were in roaming tractors and we lost two. So while it was insane butchering these birds, as well as finding something big enough to scald them in- I'm leaning towards doing it all over again...
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.