Sunday, December 26, 2010

Homestead Butchering

Should have posted this one earlier. Several months ago our 'main' tom turkey Albuquerque got tangled up in the electronet fencing during a duel with one of his sons. Actually both turkeys got tangled but we were able to free the younger bird in time. Albuquerque, sadly, didn't survive. We don't regard our turkeys as pets; rather we see them as breeding livestock. When we lost the tom I immediately dropped what I was doing to dress him out for the freezer. We got some nice turkey breasts, legs, and quite a lot of turkey stock. I learned how to butcher my own poultry from my good friend Harvey Ussery in Hume. You can check out Harvey's site at

The first photo shows the turkey mostly plucked of feathers. This was all done by hand as my homemade chicken plucker won't handle a bird as large as this. The larger (primary) wing feathers were plucked first and set aside to be made into quill pens. Seriously, I've wanted to try this for a long time and found that it's not difficult at all to do.

The second photo shows the plucked bird in my processing sink about to be eviscerated. The evisceration or 'gutting' process is actually pretty straightforward. You are removing the entrails and separating them into the edibles (liver, heart, etc) and inedibles (intestines, lungs, etc). My youngest boy Jake watched with great interest and was especially interested in what the heart and lungs looked like. It may sound gruesome at first but it's actually quite interesting. We, as carnivores, are too far removed from how our
food is produced.

The next photo shows what young, healthy turkey livers look like. Chicken livers, though smaller are the same, rich, dark color. The light, anemic-looking livers you find at the store tell a story about the lives those birds lived.

It isn't my intention to gross anyone out with these photos. The photos on Harvey's website are much more detailed, in fact one could learn how to butcher their own poultry just from studying the photos on his site. One phrase from his site sticks with me. It's a rhetorical questions he asks playing the part of the shocked observer seeing a chicken butchered for the first time. "How can you kill and eat a bird that you've known since it was first hatched?" Harvey's response is, to paraphrase, 'How can you eat a bird that's unknown to you?' Literally Food for Thought.


No comments: