We lead a fairly simple life I think. Trevor works a day-job and I work the farm. He works for a company that treats him well and pays him enough to cover our mortgage, utilities, and food and gas. Even so, some weeks we need to splurge on one thing or another. This week we needed to buy a Girl Scouts uniform which, admittedly, could probably have waited– so we have a measly twenty dollars to our name for the next week. It is no big deal really because we have food in the pantry, the animal feed is stocked up, and all the bills are paid. The twenty bucks could go to gas and that would be okay. Thursday will be here soon enough and we’ve made it through just fine before with the only complaint being that we couldn’t drop ten dollars at the donut shop on a Saturday morning.
Even with holes in our pockets we are living like kings this week!
I have calculated that we have about $1,600 in livestock on the farm. It sounds really crazy until you think about all the animals we have here currently: 7 angora rabbits, 4 dairy goats, 8 chickens, 1 beehive, and 4 turkeys. Really, that is quite the larder in itself! That means that at any given time we most likely have milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, meat, and honey. Um.. yeah, it’s awesome.
Friday afternoon, Trevor called me and asked what we wanted for dinner. I told him he might as well pick up a bag of chicken thighs at the market. He came up with the idea of doing a “test run” on butchering one of the smaller turkey hens. Brilliant! Duh! We have meat sitting right out there in the yard. Why didn’t I think of that! And unlike rabbit, poultry only needs to rest for 24 hours before baking. Sorry supermarket chickens, you’ll have to move aside for some home-raised bird.
Trevor starts work early in the morning and so he also gets home early in the afternoon. By 2:30 we were out at the turkey pen scouting out our weekend meal. We had two Bronze hens, one Bronze tom, and the one White tom that we are saving for our family Thanksgiving meal in November. Trevor picked out what seemed to be the smallest hen (they were pretty close in size) and I zip-tied her feet together. I have a friend who recommended using zip ties to keep their feet together instead of just rope after her own first experience butchering turkeys. Something about it literally running off down the drive without a head.
The turkey hen was surprisingly calm during the capture, zip, and walk over to the “processing station”, but her three friends turned bright red and purple as we walked off with an upside-down turkey. Worry worts.
I reminded Cami that when we started, she may not like it and that I was happy to go inside with her while Trevor worked. She insisted on staying to watch and so I let my little farm girl stay. One quick whack with my awesomely sharp cleaver and the turkey flailed for a few minutes in the big bin we had ready nearby (less mess). Cami was calm and curious even after admitting to a little shock that the turkey flapped so much even without a head. Two things I am always thankful for is the moment I have to say “thank you” to my animal for its sacrifice and that it is always a quick death. Those two things always bring me peace with home-raised meat.
Trevor cleaned up our turkey while I prepared the ice bath and brine. Turkey Lurkey sat in a nice cold ice bath for four hours and then made her way to the refrigerator to “rest” in her sea salt brine for 24-hours. I was sure to weigh her for you all too. Our smallest turkey weighed in at……….
Our gorgeous first turkey was baked with garden basil, farm onions, butter, and pepper. This photo may be a bit deceiving because the turkey was bigger than my head! Huge! She had to go on the second to last rack setting. By the time Thanksgiving does roll around and it is that white tom’s turn, he will definitely be a bottom rack-er. We also decided to skin the turkey because let’s face it– who likes to pluck poultry?
It turned out to be DELICIOUS! Super moist, perfectly cooked, flaked off the bone, yummy. Trevor wants to raise turkeys year-round now.
So even in the poor house, we still have a turkey feast complete with farm green beans and gravy in the fridge, home baked bread on the counter, and from-scratch cinnamon rolls with hand picked and dried raisins hot from the oven. Twenty dollars rich indeed.