Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turkey 101

Dare I say it, I think everyone had fun. The turkey processing workshop this past weekend was a success. The smiles were big on the way to the car, arms loaded with onions, potatoes, squash and herbs to dress the bird with.  

 There were families with kids, husband and wives, fathers and sons, and folks excited to take home their hard morning's work to share with their family for the holiday.

 Everyone chose their own bird.

 The hardest part is the kill. I believe whenever life is taken, the universe shifts a bit, and you feel this most when your hand is part of the process. The kill is heavy, loaded, and full of angst.

And then, you slowly find yourself on the other side of life. The first time you process meat, it feels like an eternity as you wait. But, as you make your way through the next steps, you begin to make peace with the your choice to eat meat and the sense of pride in having a hand in the process starts to build.


Pretty quickly, your beautiful bird transforms to something more closely resembling  what is usually equated with a Thanksgiving feast.

Feet are saved to make a thick, delicious stock (minus the toenails).

 Everyone moves through the work with questions, declarations, wonder and thoughtfulness.

And when we finish, I am filled with a sense of admiration at a group of folks, trusting enough to let John and I walk them through a loaded, intense experience. Helping these wonderful folks learn to process poultry reminds me of the importance of sharing skills. The sense of pride in the eyes and smiles of these attendees as they left with their bird in hand is enough to carry me for days. There is nothing I love more than to increase the self-sufficiency of our local community.  

This week's harvest:
Diakon Radish

Blessings on the meal,
Stacy more about meat processing here.


  1. looking carefully through your photos is so sobering. Those funny, lively, feathery critters at the beginning to - as you described - the animal we associate with our roasting tin. Clearly I'm miles to far away (the south of Australia) to ever make it to one of your processing workshops, but your hard work and the skills your share have inspired me to look around my corner of the world to find a similar farm where folks can practise these ancient techniques and make that next step to becoming more self sufficient - and more aware of and grateful to the animals we want to eat. It is a big responsibility and one that I think the majority of us have become completely divorced from - and it always amazes me what cruelty we tolerate when we we are blinded and ignorant (i.e., only seeing our meat as those tidily packaged parcels in the supermarket as opposed to the outcome of hideous factory farming). thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing these, it bothers me that seeing these photos bothers me and it bothers me that this practice isn't the norm anymore. I would much rather be eating meat that was raised and processed the way you did your birds, the way my grandparents raised their meat, instead of factory farmed meat where the animals live in horrid conditions and die a cruel death...seeing these photos and the process is makes it a bit more real and hopefully, if others share their experiences like you have, eventually the squemish-ness will go away and only complete respect for the animals will remain...

  3. My brother was there, and I know our family will appreciate Thanksgiving dinner more because of the work he did to bring it to the table. Thanks for making this happen (and thanks to my brother John for participating)!

  4. I am a fellow boarding school brat, as a kid I went to a farm school in upstate NY. Each fall one of the first school events was the Chicken Harvest, or Chicken Plucking Day as we called it. The kids participated and quickly understood the circle of life and where our food comes from. That combined with growing food and composting waste from the farm and school provided a unique experience that most kids don't get.

    I never liked Chicken Plucking Day, but had more respect for the food we were eating.