I wrote about our cidermaking over the weekend, but there was another item on the to-do list that also got crossed off: dressing out the turkeys.
Boy, did they grow! When we raised turkeys in the past we bought the poults in June, dressing them out just before Thanksgiving to be delivered fresh to our customers. But this year we bought our babies early, and by mid-August their weights ranged from 15 to 25 pounds. Time for the freezer.
It's been years since we raised turkeys, so remembering how to dress them out was not easy. But as we prepared, bits and pieces came back to me. It's not a pretty business, certainly. And the smell of wet feathers is my least favorite smell in the whole world. However, the job had to be done.
I'd hoped to be finished before our company for the day arrived, but that was not to be. Jaime and four grandkids showed up when we were plucking the third bird. Their faces were a study in disgust. EEEEEWWWW! was basically what every one of them said. They drew close in terrible fascination, like moths to a flame.
Larry's twin sister and her husband arrived soon after. At that point I went inside with the three plucked birds to begin the rest of the process--cleaning out the innards, plucking out any remaining pinfeathers, scrubbing and packaging the birds. It's no easy work with such big turkeys!
Jaime overcame her initial reaction (heck, she's a vet science grad!) and helped me by plucking the pinfeathers and burning off any remaining hairs on the birds (yes, they often have a few fine hairs on them). This photo looks odd and I have no idea who took it, but it certainly shows the amount of work going on in my kitchen.
James was fascinated by the "guts": the heart, liver and other organs that came out of the birds as we cleaned them. He stuck around for the wrapping session too.
The final product. Lovely, isn't it? As Michaela told a little friend who arrived later: "first we pulled off their feathers, and it was disgusting. Then we pulled out the guts and it was gross. Then we wrapped 'em up. And at Thanksgiving we're going to eat them and they'll be delicious!"
It's not for the faint of heart. But it's real, and if we eat meat we have to deal with this part of it. And as Michaela says, the turkeys will be delicious!
And at day's end, there's always the firepit and a glass of wine to celebrate the day's work, relax and remember.