Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Dreaded Day

The thick, gray fog matched our heavy hearts as Cadence and I drove the turkeys to the processor at dawn this morning. Hilltop Poultry is at the crest of this long, steep hill. Everybody is very friendly there, but after delivering our turkeys and the last few roosters today, we will be glad to not have to return for almost a year.
The big challenge was figuring out how to transport these big birds (the toms are about 40 pounds.) We ended up lining the walls of our little 4 x 8 trailer with scrap plywood, stretching plastic garden fencing across the top (covered by a tarp held down by bungees) and closing up the back end by screwing on a wood pallet. It was a Beverly-hillbilly-ish construction, but it did the job. Cadence put in some straw bedding and then she and Rog put the turkeys in the trailer last night.

Turkeys are very sweet, gentle, ungainly birds when they are walking around, but when you try to lift them they panic - they are amazingly strong and a whop in the face with a wing is very painful (speaking from experience!) You could easily wind up with a broken nose, but nobody did.

We had to wait a bit before we could unload the turkeys- here they are in the trailer. They were very calm, just wanting their breakfast, I am sure. It is probably not very professional for a farmer, but we cried a bit.

None if us ever expected to grow so fond of the turkeys. They turned out to be such easy-going, trusting creatures. They are very beautiful in a kind of homely way--and awesome when the toms turn all blue in the face and their wattles and snoods flush bright red. They followed us everywhere. They were curious and funny, but much smarter than everyone says, just easily baffled. When we arrived back home the farmyard looked so empty and quiet.

We are now officially done with all our harvesting of animals and garden veggies--other than gathering a few eggs, we won't have to harvest anything else until the sap starts running in the maple trees next spring. Whew! This has been truly the hardest aspect of farming.

8 comments:

Bella said...

I just found your blog via the Rochester Farmers Market site and I must say that I enjoyed your turkey tale. I am now reading past entries. Great site and hope to see you at the market.

Bella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nancybond said...

I would have shed a few tears, too, but such is a farmer's life. Will you keep them all, or sell some?

Susan said...

Six of the nine turkeys are sold, reserved for Thanksgiving dinners next week. (Raising turkeys was Cadence's entrepreneurial endaeavor.) It's nice to know that our beloved turkeys will be the highlight of the feast.

Susan said...

Thanks, Bella! We may participate in a couple of Farmers Market Saturdays before Christmas, but are planning to take most of the winter off. Not sure yet about spring...some exciting ideas in the works!

Barry said...

I really appreciate you sharing these experiences with your readers. I must say I am not certain how I would handle it, especially the turkeys and pigs. You gave all of those creatures a wonderful life. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

katiegirl said...

You all did a wonderful job with those turkeys! I don't blame you for crying, I got sad when I processed my chickens too.

Susan said...

Thanks, all. I AM proud of what we accomplished, especially being novice farmers. I guess it just took consistent work and devotion to our critters, and probably a little beginner's luck didn't hurt.