November 8, 2006

The past week has been very busy and very stressful. This last Saturday was our day to process our turkeys for our holiday orders. I always have a hard time with this. On one hand, "it’s time", the birds are getting into everything and driving us crazy, and the whole property is like an avian jungle gym. On the other hand, we cooed over every single one of them and watched them grow and have a great life, and it is depressing on some level to have to convert them into dinner. Sometimes I think I make a lousy farmer, because I care too much. But really, I guess the day I stop caring is the day I won’t be bothering to raise birds any longer.

We did 23 birds in 7 hours. It was well organized, thanks to Drew doing the organizing. A miracle happened two weeks before, and we were given two beautiful, basically brand-new refrigerator/freezers that a local lady didn’t want any longer. She wouldn’t accept any money for them, she just wanted them gone. Talk about a gift in time! That had been a little stressful, not knowing how or where exactly were were storing the birds. We had initially planned to process them in stages, but instead we were able to condense it into one day. Other than that, it is exacting work and very tiring. There is constant washing and disinfecting. Removal of unwanted feathers and the bits no one uses has to go on constantly. And more washing and disinfecting. The biggest mistake I made was that the table we used for dressing the birds wasn’t elevated. I had to bend over all day, and the ensuing backache wasn’t pretty. That will be improved on next year! Another item that helped was Wind Dancer Farm’s invention of a home-made turkey plucker. I really thought it was a piece of mechanical genius, and it saved a lot of hassle and time by removing most of the feathers quickly. And what really helped more than anything was our friend Jeff working with us all day long. What a trooper….we are fortunate to have some great friends! All in all, we learned a new approach, and have a lot to think about for next year. Many ideas are being tossed around for if and how and when to do "turkey things" for next year. The only thing I am sure about is that I want to stay "small". I really believe that the quality we offer has to do with the attention and care that the birds receive from us. When you have too many birds, it becomes impossible to keep track, and the slide toward lower standards begins. I will never become a rich poultry farmer who supplies hundreds of birds, but I guarantee that anything coming from this farm will taste great and have had the best life a farm animal could ever hope for. Now to go find that bottle of Advil……….

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