Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Thankful Turkey Harvest

This post is a summary of our turkey slaughter. Some of the pictures will be graphic, so this is a warning to the squeamish.

This is our turkey just before the processing.

We chose to hang the turkey. It did calm the bird, but after cutting the jugular veins there was one burst of wing flapping, and then a settling down.

The next few pictures are of the process of plucking the bird. We heated two pots of water and added them to some cold water in the red plastic tub. We didn't have a pot big enough, so the tub was used. The water should be warm, not hot. We read 160 degrees, but we didn't check on ours.

After waiting a bit over a minute the turkey was transferred to the wheelbarrow to begin the plucking. We had seen the wheelbarrow idea online and it did help. Being in the wheelbarrow allowed more than one person to pluck at the same time.

After most of the plucking was done, we hung the bird up again. We were tired of bending over to get to the feathers.

The next step was the eviscerating and cleaning of the cavity. We had a bucket with two trash bags to catch the organs, which this year we decided to discard. Care must be taken at both ends. The incision at the bottom end shouldn't be too deep to avoid cutting the intestines. It was fascinating to have most of the organs almost fall out once the hole was big enough.

A piece of plywood was used as a cutting table. Formica would have been better because plenty of water was used to wash the carcass, constantly.

We know what this is. . .

. . .But what are these?

The finished product. The pan weighs 4 pounds, so the final weight was 40 pounds. As a side note, we didn't have a pan big enough to cook the bird, so we cut it in half and froze one part. Also in hindsight we found out we could have cooked the bird at the full 40 pounds with the proper pan. It just would have taken 7+ hours. Has anyone smoked a turkey before?

After thinking about the event and writing this post, some final thoughts came to mind. Overall the process wasn't as daunting as it was imagined to be. With little slaughtering under our belts before, there was some apprehension before starting. Now, afterwards, it doesn't seem too hard, just a bit of work. The chickens look to be much easier now.

Some thoughts about the past and the future came to mind. Seems like slaughtering is natural and normal for meat eaters. I could imagine our grandparents doing this. We could also see having to do this in the future if food becomes scarce or questionable healthwise. Being connected to our food source in a hands-on manner has to be better for us in the long run.


Lynda said...


Kathy said...

They are testicles :)

Rose said...

Yes, Kathy is correct, they are testicles. If your turkey had been older, they would have been much bigger! We've butchered many chickens, and hope to have a turkey to butcher next year. Nice job on the plucking, it is not pleasant to do.

Maureen said...

I thought they were kidneys too Lynda...and I'm very glad we decided to toss out the innards this time around :)

Kathy said...

I have had some bantam roosters that had bigger ones :) The bigger they are, the more aggressive they have been we noticed.

The kidneys are along the spine inside the cavity. You kind of have to take the back of your thumbnail and scrape them out. Did you save the gizzard? If you can get past cleaning it, they are very tasty.

Mo said...

My favorite two photos: the first one with Steve contemplating killing the turkey as it enjoys its last few moments. And the one where Steve is cleaning the turkey and the puppy is watching. Priceless.
Good job by the way!!! It looks so healthy and I bet it was sooo good (this coming from a vegetarian. And 40 pounds, Yowza!!! Saw Brad on Sunday and he said it was the best turkey he's ever had.

MommaofMany said...

Good job!! I'll bet he was a mighty tasty turkey! -PS, sorry about the double post. Silly computers!

Mike said...

I remember when we butchered the geese with Butch. Much the same thing, but I recall he swung their heads against the chopping block to knock them out first before the actual chopping started. And don't you watch Anthony Bourdain? The testicles are a delicacy. You know, rocky mountain oysters. Ok, those are from a bull, but same thing.