Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Christmas Turkey

 Over the last few years we've completely changed how we eat.  We grow a great deal of our own food now and we source the rest locally.   This is a far cry from years ago when everything we ate came from the grocery store without a thought about where it was from, how it was produced or what was in it.   

Our friends farm organic grains a few miles from us and each year they raise a small amount of meat (a few pigs, chickens and turkeys).  We were fortunate enough to be offered a Christmas turkey from their farm and today was butchering day.

I've wanted to learn how to butcher a bird for some time but all the YouTube videos and books in the world just can't take the place of learning from someone who has experience.  I have no living relatives to teach me this skill so I jumped at the chance to learn how to humanely dispatch a bird and prepare it for the table. 

The scalding pot sprung a leak but in the end it was for the best because we ended up dry plucking (which was much easier than anticipated).  I felt just how much easier it is to pluck when you get the angle right.  You just can't learn that from a book, you have to be shown and you have to feel it.   The gutting was quick and I was quite surprised how uncomplicated it all was (and that I could do it with ease).   The entire process was much faster than I expected which really surprised me.  I had it made out in my mind that it would be a much more complex and long winded affair.

In the end, I left the farm with our turkey and a huge sense of accomplishment.  I've been pondering the feeling all afternoon and I think it can be summed up as a sense of satisfied connection.  There's a certain level of detachment when we buy meat butchered and wrapped.  Even though we know the farmers we buy from (and most importantly, know their farming practices), we are not truly involved in the process of "putting meat on the table" when we buy food in this way.  

I'm not saying that everyone needs to butcher all their own meat, but I do think that if we choose to eat meat, we should be a whole lot more involved in the process of how that meat gets to the table.  After today's experience, I feel deeply committed to involving ourselves much more intimately in the process of putting meat on our family table.  There's nothing quite like the act of butchering an animal to put it all so clearly into perspective.  With that in mind, we'll enjoy our traditional Christmas meal with a great appreciation for the life that was taken in order for us to eat it.


  1. I admire your commitment to your principles.

    We are going camping soon, and I've been thinking about trying to catch, kill and cook a fish, something I've never done before, but given my emerging food values, I feel I need to push a few boundaries. I'll get bak to you on how that goes!

    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours. It's Christmas Eve here in Australia. I look forward to reading about what you get up to in the coming year in that gorgeous little cottage!

    Cheers Cheryl

  2. well done for getting involved and learning a valuable, we butchered our turkeys at the week end, working together we did all the process, I was saying to hubby at the time if everyone had the opportunity to try it just once they would appreciate the meat on the table and waste less, Enjoy your dinner and Merry Christmas :-)

  3. I'm so far behind in my blog reader (5 days!) so I'm wishing you a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!