Great Expectations

  (Mooresville, Indiana)
A Journey Into The Unknown!
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So, how many ways can you use turkey, anyway?

We partnered with a really great guy from here on LocalHarvest to take our turkey's and his to be processed together.  He already had an appointment and generously offered to let us share it with him.  This was his second year and our first.  He has a great place and also had a truck with a stock trailer for hauling.  So, the day before "The Event", I nervously called this poor gentleman 6 times if I called him once, terrified that I had promised turkeys to people and something would transpire that would prevent me from being able to send my birds with his.

Finally, I got a call back and the calm voice on the other end of the phone says to go ahead and bring our guys over. We would put them in his trailer where his birds were already waiting and he would head out first thing in the morning.  So, my son, husband and I back our pickup next to the barn and start putting the turkeys in the bed which has a cap (of course!)  This process went along very nicely... for a while.  Thankfully, my son is very capable and quickly figured out how to scoop up each unhappy bird and put them into the truck.

If you read my previous post, you'll know that my Tom turkeys weren't really on speaking terms with each other. Mostly, they hated each other.  So now, here they are, squished together in the back of the truck with the two biggest guys pecking and poking and yanking each other's heads around.  Thankfully, our drive to the other farm was relatively short but I couldn't tell you how we got there.  I was busy sitting backwards waving my arm through the window into the back of the truck bed and yelling, "Hey, quit it!"  Surprisingly, this actually worked a couple of times.  I would like to say that the hens were the only ones who had the sense to sit down and ride calmly and safely. 

Anyway, we arrived at our partner's farm and we proceeded to pry the turkeys out of the back of the pickup bed.  His turkeys were a Heritage breed and looked very elegant next to my scrappy white turkeys.  They were also MUCH smaller.  So, I worried all night and into the next day that either, 1.) My turkeys killed all of his turkeys in the night, or, 2.) During the transport, my giant birds rolled all over his turkeys and squashed them. 

Neither happened, of course.  It went smoothly, we came back the next evening to pick up our, now processed, birds and settle up with the cost of transportation and so on.  In the end, our biggest bird was, get this, 35 pounds!  I love turkey but I'm not sure I know enough ways to fix that many leftovers! I'm still trying to figure out how I'm even going to cook something that size!

In all, it has been a great experience and I plan on doing it again next year but I've learned some things.  First, make an appointment with your butcher EARLY, EARLY, EARLY!  Our turkey partner made his in July and November 19th was the earliest time available. It's not always easy to find a place that is certified that does birds in my area.  Next, if I get BBWs, I will plan their arrival time better because NOBODY wants a 35 pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner!  They were processed at 19 weeks and 17-18 would have been ideal.

Last note, every night we've been missing a  chicken when its time to lock them up but I knew they were hiding in the loft.  Tonight my husband did some exploring.  He found the mysterious secret clubhouse with an Easter Egger and 28 beautiful blue, green, pink and brown eggs.  I guess they've liked that spot for quite a while, eh?

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I loved reading your post about the turkeys. It made me think of my first turkeys, fifteen Broad-Breasted Whites. Our biggest tom ended up being 38 pounds oven-ready. We had so much meat we had to buy a second freezer! This is now my third year of keeping Narragansett turkeys, a lovely heritage breed that was developed in Rhode Island about 400 years ago. My 26 to 32-week-old Narragansett toms ranged in weight between 15 and 19 pounds oven-ready this year. If you liked Broad-Breasted turkeys, you'll love heritage turkeys. Heritage turkeys are friendlier (at least to humans) and more energetic than the Broad-Breasteds. I'd really encourage you to give heritage turkeys a try next year!

Posted by Laura on December 06, 2008 at 01:04 PM CST #

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