Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jive Turkey, Anyone?

We have seen a bumper crop of turkeys this year. Charley Hill Road should be renamed Turkey Hill Road, but for the birds and not the ice cream. The fall turkey season is but a blip on the radar in our part of the country, lasting a mere 19 days. The spring season is the one of bird high anxiety as it lasts the entire month of May.

We often see flocks crossing the road, usually farther down from our house, but this year the gals have been everywhere, and large flocks, too. One flock hung out in our Pasture A for a couple of days in a row. The horses seem nonplussed but Augie wasn't quite sure what to make of them. They have also been hanging out in the neighbor’s yard across the street and march right down the middle of road to the beat of their own drummer.

Turkeys can, and do, fly. Much like the chickens, they won't be denied their freedom of flight but, also like the chickens, they aren't very good at it. Driving home one day, a turkey and I spooked each other and it started flying, barely getting up and over the roof of the truck. I freaked out because where the heck are you supposed to go when you see that? Far worse is if they actually do hit your vehicle; Cherie hit one with her Tahoe last year and it did several thousands in damage to the front end.

Larry did get a turkey this year, out in Pasture A. I felt very Little House on the Prairie as My Man cut off appendages (of the bird, not himself), gutted it in the field, then brought it back to the house. Larry pulled off what feathers he could while I got a big pot of water boiling, then we dunked the carcass and were amazed at how the feathers came right off. My first dose of reality was that, once stripped of all its feathered frippery, it didn’t look very Butterball. No huge, white meat breasts, no huge turkey legs. It also smelled slightly funky, but I suppose if someone had just gutted me, I wouldn’t smell too great, either. (It made me wonder where do they get those massive turkey legs for Renaissance Fairs, anyway? Is there some mutant turkey farm somewhere?)

The most notable thing about this whole process, from the first exciting sight of the bulky bird pecking about in the field to when it was ready for the freezer, was how small it kept getting with each step. It looked pretty darn big in the field. Once it was dead, it didn’t look that big hanging limply from a fence post. Without feet, wings or a head, it was barely recognizable as a turkey. Without feathers, it was beginning to look a lot like our molting chickens (who, needless to say, were watching all this a bit anxiously). Totally cleaned and ready for the freezer, it was a lot of work for what appears to be a relatively minor amount of eating material. Larry proudly declared, "There’s Thanksgiving dinner!" It’s hard to deny him his enthusiasm, and it’s certainly more than I could have done. I just hope we don’t have to feed too many people on Thanksgiving. Extra helping of stuffing, anyone?

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