What it all boils down to is that I didn’t expect to like them so much.
But hold on, let me back up a bit.
For years I’ve fantasized about raising our own turkey to eat for Thanksgiving Dinner. I don’t know where this idea came from, or why I held on to it instead of just letting it pass like a million other ideas, but it stuck.
And so, through local eating challenges and setting higher intentions about where our food comes from and how it is raised, the idea of raising our own bird has become a bit of challenge on its own for me.
You know, how cool would it be to purchase an itty bitty turkey, raise it up for several months, then share it with my family at my favorite holiday?
And so this year, with it’s move to a massive property and a coop split in two to keep both turkeys and chickens, afforded me the very first opportunity to actually put this idea into action.
We were told turkeys are stupid, so buy twice as many as you’d like to survive. So, we purchased four, thinking we’d be set with two (one for Thanksgiving and one to stash in the freezer for later).
Well, all four survived and have grown exponentially.
Being Broad Breasted Bronzes, they’re massive. It’s what they’re bred for…big breasts, lots of meat.
We were also then asked by some friends to raise a few for them in exchange for feed costs. We told them to purchase “just a few” because I was worried about space. They purchased eight (four for one couple, and four for the other).
Three of theirs have been taken out by predators.
Bourbon Reds, being a heritage bird, grow slower, leaving them more susceptible to predators for a longer period of time.
This has all left us with nine birds to harvest (kill…cull…) this coming Sunday in preparation for everyone’s Thanksgiving tables a week from today.
And I am so sad about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy the meal I’ve waited years for and worked very hard for day in and day out…
And I trust that everyone else will enjoy it, too.
However, this is the first time we have raised an animal for the sole purpose of killing it for it’s meat. It’s new and different and hard and sad and requires, I think, some sort of beautiful ritual/prayer/acknowledgement beforehand.
But I’m at a loss.
See, I’ve found that I really like keeping turkeys.
They’re hilarious and sweet and fun and curious and gorgeous!
I enjoy their gobbles and sweet chirps and waddles.
And, in the beginning, I didn’t think I’d like them as much as I do.
(Yes, despite their massive, stinky poop and pain in my ass resistance to going inside at night, I really, really like them.)
And so, each morning when I let them out of their coop, I feel a twinge of sadness, because there are only so many of these mornings left.
And each evening when I lock them back up, I feel incredibly protective of them, because I really don’t want any nasty predator putting an end to them that I can’t control.
And I don’t want them to feel afraid.
And so, I’ll need to sit with this all over the next few days and figure out what will feel best to me as a way to honor them in their last hours and minutes because I am so very (really and truly) grateful for the experience these silly birds have given me.