To the death.

No, not the rats. If we’re there yet, I haven’t any evidence. They should start dropping soon, though.

The Man and I have decided to keep putting up those bait blocks as long as they disappear, so a new one will go up Saturday. As for the smell that is surely coming (and we’ve had dead mice in the house, so I know of what I speak), it’s something resembling winter here, so we’re not doing this in August, thank god, and the barn, being old, is very, ummmm….well ventilated. I’m hoping the olfactory impact will be minimal.

Anyway. Today’s blog post isn’t even about chickens, but about…(drumroll)…turkeys.

It all started last Saturday. The girls had had two friends over for a sleepover, two sisters, as it happened, and their dad had come to pick them up. He, The Man and I got talking about growing our own food, and it turns out he is a committed grower of vegetables, fruit, and, as of last summer…turkeys.

Now, The Man and I decided at the get-go that we were not going to get into meat birds. I am a fifteen-year-non-meat-eater, and he, although a dedicated, professional carnivore, could not bear the thought of eating a bird he had known, however peripherally. I get that, I do.

But when this man mentioned that he had given away his homegrown turkeys to friends and family for their Thanksgiving dinners, and that he had donated a few to families who would not otherwise have had a turkey for Thanksgiving, I saw a light go on in The Man’s eyes. You see, The Man is A Good Man, a do-gooder, a man of large heart. He may be exasperating from time to time (and who among us is not?!), but he is drawn to do the right thing, the decent thing, like few people I have known.

He didn’t say anything, but I saw the light go on. And so, while buying rat poison from Chicken Debbie, The Oracle of Agway, on Saturday, it came to light that she is organising her chick orders for the spring. How cool to have some sort of involvement in this process which got me set on this track last spring! (The Man still doesn’t know we’re getting six chicks in April. Shhh.)

Knowing that Chicken Debbie also gets in ducklings and goslings, I asked if she was expecting turkey poults. No, the answer came, but they could be special-ordered. Aha. And what kind of turkeys were possible? The Turkey Man had said his were industry meat breeds, and not particularly attractive, but that it was possible to buy heritage breeds, which were much more so.

I looked up the breeds Debbie wrote down for me, and they are GORGEOUS.

Royal Palm Tom:

Blue Slate Tom:

Black Spanish Tom:

Narragansett Tom:

Are they not stunning??!!

The Man and I got as far as contemplating disabling the coop pop door, and converting the chickens’ run into a temporary coop for the turkeys. We’d get the poults in June, and they’d be ready to be eaten for Thanksgiving.

This would not be easy for me. I am a non-meat eater, and I would be the one caring for them. That said, I have much more respect for those who look their dinner in the eye and take responsibility for the circle of life than I do for those who stick their fingers in their ears, squeeze their eyes shut tight and sing Mary Had a Little Lamb (which tasted great with mint sauce). You know who you are.

Every meat animal has had a life. If an animal, which was genetically engineered and bred to be meat, is given a healthy, happy, natural, free life, as short as it may be, I can live with that, even if I won’t eat it. I can’t live with the idea that that animal had a life of torture and deprivation.

(And, please…can we not call it “harvesting”? That’s rather letting yourself off the hook, don’t you think? They’re not corn. I don’t need you to call it “murdering”, or even “killing”, which is what it is, but can we agree on “processing”?)

So, I was on board. Getting it past the girls has proven to be much, much more difficult. I broached the subject while we were snuggling in bed Sunday morning, and it went a little something like this:

Me: So…Daddy and I have been thinking we might get some turkeys this spring.
Girls: <<Excited intake of breath>>
Me: BUT…we would be raising them for meat, not for eggs or as pets.
Girls: NO.
Me: Well, these are birds that are bred to be eaten, and we could have our own turkey for Thanksgiving.
Girls: NO.
Me: And we could give away some to families that couldn’t afford a turkey.
Girls: NO.
Me: What if we got a bunch that all looked the same and we didn’t give them names?
Girls: NO.
Me: You know, every piece of meat you eat comes from an animal, and, this way, we would know that they’d had lovely, happy lives instead of being raised in cages never seeing the sun or feeling the grass.
Girls: NO.
Me: Well, okay then.

And, there we are. Or, so I thought. The Man says he’s going to talk to them…

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3 thoughts on “To the death.

    • I just can’t see how the girls’ minds can be changed, and I’m disinclined to force them through this. The younger one, in particular, is just so sensitive. We’ll see…

  1. Turkeys are very personable. I would find it hard to not get attached. The toms follow you around and strut for you.

    Saying that, I would raise them for meat. They do make good eggs too though. I would not process them myself. I couldn’t do it.

    When I start breeding my barred rocks, I most likely will get my extra roosters processed. The girls will be safe. Roosters can be really mean.. That makes me feel a little better about raising them for meat.

    Congrats for being vegetarian for so long! I have a lot of friends that are, and some that are vegan. It’s very empowering. I tried it for a couple of months, but something went off in my nutrient balance and I became very sick. I eat meat, but not like most of the western world. Maybe once or twice a week at most. I do not want to be one of those people that eat 250 pounds of meat a year (can you imagine?)

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