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Friday, October 31, 2008

How I caught my Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkeys are fascinating creatures. Throughout the summer, whenever we passed by the barn where the turkeys were being held, the slightest noise would set them off. One would start with a single “buck!” and the rest, by some sort of turkey telepathy, would all join in a chorus: “gobble gobble gobble gobble...” It was truly the weirdest thing. The turkeys held the interest of more than one visiting relative from the city.
The day eventually came when it was time to take the turkeys to Berube’s processing plant in Hallville. I was sound asleep one morning when I suddenly received a rude awakening by the alarm, just before sunup. My husband was already fully dressed, sitting at the end of the bed.
“Where ya goin’?” I asked the Farmer, thinking he was off to wait in the stone fencerow for that wiley coyote who prowled at sunrise.
Much to my surprise, my dear husband took one end of the warm comforter and yanked it off the bed. “Come on, it’s Turkey Day! How can you write about it if you don’t help out?”
I had to admit he had a point there. I shrugged my work clothes over my head and wandered out to the barn. It was the first time I had been up that early since lambing season. I had forgotten how incredible the sky was at dawn, and how sweet the air. Birds began to announce the coming day long before the sun poked its head over the horizon.
Once in the barn, I hauled myself over the half-wall and into the female turkey pen while my husband gave direction.
“Grab a tail. That will stop them. Then you can pick them up and put them in the cages. I’ll get the males.”
I grabbed at a tail. And ended up with a handful of tail feathers. The startled turkey moved out of my reach. I tried again, this time going for a gnarled turkey foot. My mind shifted back five years, to my first week in Taiwan. I had been wandering through the street market, when I smelled what I thought was french fries. Sure enough, the pretty young woman approaching me was carrying what looked like a small cardboard takeout carton of fries. But when she reached in, she pulled out a chicken claw and bit down on it. By the way the girl gnawed on the foot, I gathered they were somewhat chewy.
My husband’s voice brought me back to the present. The foot in my hand was attached to a frustrated thirty-pound turkey.
“Watch out for the wings.”
The hen began to beat me about the face and shoulders. I let go of the foot, brushed the feathers off my face and took a deep breath.
I was damned if I was going to be defeated by a stupid turkey.
Turning my face away, I swooped under the fattest one I could find, grabbed both feet and yanked her up into the air. She beat her wings a bit, so I brought her fat chest in between my knees and held her there for a moment, warm against my thighs. She quieted.
I flipped open the door to the cage with my foot and guided her in. I continued my winning method, and we filled the cages.
After half an hour of lifting twenty-five pound turkeys (and those were the runts), my arms were achin’ and my legs were shakin’.
The Farmer tied the cages onto a trailer behind the truck. The turkeys seemed fairly content, as they quietly discussed their possible destination. Paris? Mexico, perhaps? I smiled, wondering if my husband was planning to stop at Tim Horton’s on his way through town.
Yessir. Those farm-raised turkeys sure are fascinating. Not to mention, delicious.
The Accidental Farmwife would like to wish each and every one of her readers a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. May your blessings be abundant.

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