Turkeys on the Table

| 11/15/2016 1:37:00 PM

Tags: Thanksgiving, holidays, turkeys, raising livestock, poultry, poultry processing, Laura Berlage, Wisconsin,


80 turkeys this year. They all made their appearance in June. Two rounds of turkey hatches emerged in our walk-out basement from the incubator, starting as carefully selected speckly eggs hurried into the house beneath my jacket to keep them from being chilled. Then an additional 50 white “peepers” came in the mail, needing warmth and their beaks dipped.

Then they grew into lanky teenage-hood, always getting into trouble, escaping, hanging out on top of the coop roof or randomly roaming the lawn after flying over the fence.  But this last week was the last week for the turkeys (other than the breeding stock we’ll overwinter for next year’s hatch).

Thanksgiving is approaching, but before the tables can be set, there’s another phase in the turkey experience that is required — butchering. After an exhausting day of processing the last 30 birds, this poem came to me as I sat on the floor in front of the wood stove, trying to drive away the chill.

The Day that Turkeys Died

The day that turkeys died,
It was the last
We all wanted it to be the last
Day for butchering.
Since mid-July every Monday
Or sometimes Tuesdays
And even one Saturday
We were butchering,
Churning our way through 400 meat chickens
Old roosters
The lame duck
And then turkeys.
Sometimes five of us
Sometimes only three of us
Often times only three of us
Working the stations with tired,
Bruised hands.

Turkeys are hard
They beat with wings so strong
Legs so long sporting talons
They know how to put up a good fight
Know better than to want to be caught
Like the unsuspecting meat chicken
Blobby, white basket balls
Of juicy breast meat
Topped by tiny, curious heads.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!