Decsplot turkeys 2013

Decsplot Turkeys 2013
This is the fifth year that we have had turkeys here on decsplot and this year I decided to try a couple of whites as well as the bronze. I got 9 bronze and two whites from Kehoe’s poultry farm in New Ross a great place for all poultry. They were happy in their house and run, which is about 30ft square and let grow wild all year, they had plenty of fresh grass and a plentiful supply of bread from work (thanks to all the bakers) and fresh clean water. As usual Jamie got the task of letting them out and locking them up, which he hates! but he then sells one and pockets the money even though myself and his mother probably do more putting in/letting out and he never pays me for the expense of buying,feeding and despatching. Despite a few times when a couple of the Turkeys had a sleep out under the stars (thankfully avoiding becoming dinner for the foxes) and during their teenage stage wanting to stay out all night it was fairly uneventful.
One evening when all the grass was gone and they were happily going through what was left of the spinach or anything else green like a plague of locusts some of them decided to visit the neighbours garden. The neighbours are more than happy to feed them any kitchen scraps and lock them in the odd night and they get two beautiful free range bronze turkeys every year but as you can imagine with all that greenery going in it has to come out again and can be vast in quantity! So when Mrs G spotted the tearaways she set a military operation in progress ‘Operation Retrieve’. A simple enough task you might think (well I would anyway!) to walk slowly and calmly (Jamie!!!) shaking a bucket of pellets and like the Pied Piper they would follow you back to base camp. But the fact that ‘Operation Retrieve’ happened in the middle of some Wii or Xbox game slow/calm was not on the agenda (note to makers of games/apps could you please invent a poultry rounding up app Thanks!) After the first charge and subsequent scatter one of the escapees jumped the fence and ended up in the farmers field which is surrounded by an electric fence! Chivalry being alive and well Jamie sent his little sister, Faye, to capture the runaway while he scattered the rest losing the little bit of patience he had left!  Thankfully Mrs G intervened and after a few ‘calming’ expletives and the threat of decapitation (not for the turkeys!) order was finally restored.
We had one fatality at Halloween for no apparent reason and a worrying few days in case it was a virus but thankfully the remaining 10 survived to oven ready status. Over the next few weeks they happily munched everything green they could find along with kitchen scraps,bread and a few growers pellets for brekkie and got good and fat. A couple hit the scales at 15lbs oven ready. They spent their last few days roosting on the rail around the decking and on the BBQ which was good way of getting them used to the idea of what was to come!
D-day finally arrived and Eugene (who had 12 turkeys of his own and had already been dispatched,plucked,boned and rolled and frozen earlier) brought our soon to be patented MDU (mobile dispatch unit) a very clever,if I do say so myself, use of an old basketball hoop,a metal post,a bucket,some twisted metal,cable ties and spot welding! You screw it to a wooden post and you are ready for dispatching anywhere you like hence ‘mobile’. I always get a strange feeling on dispatch day as nobody likes having to take the life of any animal but somebodies got to do it. Once  it’s done and it goes from being a live creature to meat, which I have been dealing with for over 25 years, it gets easier.  There are a few schools of thought when it comes to which method to use. Some swear by breaking the neck which is no problem in a chicken but as the turkeys’ neck is a lot thicker and to avoid unnecessary suffering I prefer to use a really sharpe knife and remove the head in one stroke. We turn the bird upside down,the wings tuck in and the head comes through the hole and before it can blink it’s all over. Stressing or injuring any animal is not only cruel but means the finished meat can be tough. Once the nerves have stopped causing movement it’s important to pluck while the carcass is still warm. So we have a good system of killing two at a time and plucking them before moving on. Now as we only pluck a few chickens during the year by the time Christmas comes we are fairly rusty, but it’s like falling off a bike, we soon get into a fairly good rhythm and had the 10 done in just over 2 hours. Also 8 of the 10 turned out to be hen turkeys which is an usually high average. We leave them hanging in a cold (thankfully it did get cold as up until the 17th December it had been unseasonably mild) garage overnight and I cleaned, portioned and boned and rolled them the following day. They were then distributed to the neighbours,J’s customer, Mrs G’s sister and anybody who had done me a favour during the year (I think this is the real spirit if community living) and finally one to a friend who has a young family and been out of work for a while and despite doing everything possible has not been able to get a job. Now while this seems on the face of it as a big gesture (and I could easily have sold the spare) I know this guy is a keen hunter and a nice fore quarter of venison never goes a stray!
Preparing and cooking will be the next step………   


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