If you want to read about their story first-hand, go to http://backyardfarming.blogspot.com/2012/01/turkey-apocalypse.html and get the whole deal laid out.
Anyway, I left them a comment and I began to consider the issue on a deeper level. This blogster wrote about how the loss of the other turkeys prompted the one remaining lone turkey left alive to look for friendship within the farmers themselves. This attachment made the turkey's sacrifice for the Thanksgiving dinner table even more poignant and it tells of how difficult it can be to raise your own table food.
How do we keep our farm animals from becoming pets?
After I made my comment about the turkey attack, I found myself being grateful for those who are brave enough to raise and process their own food. This is not a task to be taken lightly.
After you have raised an animal for months...fed it, watered it, housed it on your land, provided a healthy environment for it and taken the initiative to be nurturing during its growth, it can be a tough ordeal to have the farm animal go from tenant to table food.
And this is the reason farmers often have a depth about them concerning the cycle of life...they understand seasons, the life and death cycle, they develop a sharp eye for their environment and the animals in it, and the farmer knows of survival hardships as a byproduct of running a farm, not from reality television. I admire the farmer's tenacity.
I believe that text book knowledge is much easier to come by than hands-on knowledge. Therefore, I respect the Pioneers of our past and the Homesteaders of today who are recapturing lost farming techniques that bring self-reliance. I especially appreciate those who are bringing back the small scale farming lessons for the rest of us to absorb on whatever scale we wish to absorb it. From those who walk their land and explore the indigenous plant life to the people raising goats, I am appreciative of their efforts. I'm sure the farmers of yester-year found the hands-on, trial and error learning process of farming to be much more difficult than the written record part of the equation.
Recording all they had learned was probably a cinch compared to everything they'd endured to get to the stage of being able to write about their experiences.
So, most of us are on our own when it comes to learning how to grow our own food or process our farm animals. We might find a book about processing chickens, but unless you have the fortitude and the willingness to dig in and get it done, you will likely continue to only read about it with paralyzed action.
For me, I've been like the rest of society and have been purchasing most of my food from the grocery store, especially our meat. As for tomatoes and many herbs, we've tried growing them ourselves, but presently, our garden is kaput. I currently do not have canning knowledge to extend the life of my garden to my pantry shelves for the off-season, not just yet. That will be another area of change for this 2012 year.
And when the growing season is finished, you can bet that all of us are having fresh garden vegetable withdrawals. I promise you that the grocery store tomato cannot compare to the flavorful taste and intense fragrance of home-grown tomatoes.
The older I get and the wiser I become, hopefully, and the more that I can see that knowing the source of my food, especially my table meat, is something to pursue further. Choosing the anonymous beef or the anonymous chicken in the industrial package or the grab-bag turkey at Thanksgiving is not something that I can do anymore without it being a conscious decision that will bring me a bit of uneasiness.
Putting a face to our table food while they're still out in the pasture won't make it easy to set out a roasted chicken, but it's honest, it's involved, it's pro-active and it's a great opportunity to control more of what we consume.
I don't know how to process my own meat. I've never raised my own livestock nor poultry for my table, but that will be changing. I've got to learn how to do this...I am convicted to learn how to better feed my family with food that is no longer anonymous because of being distantly produced.
|Our chickens during early stages of their growth.|
As I always say, I'm nowhere ready to forgo my chicken and dumplings; there's nothing wrong with being the carnivorous animal that I was meant to be.
I've heard the old saying that a farmer believed each animal on his land should earn its keep. Our ancestors didn't have the advantage of feeding and housing farm animals simply as backyard "entertainment." So far, we've been very fortunate and non-pressured to see our chickens as great stage performers of our backyard; I have enjoyed every moment. For our family, the act of owning chickens has already educated many of the young people in our lives about these awesome creatures. Children absolutely love gathering eggs, and I've witnessed most adults being terrified of chickens while children are drawn to sit among the chickens without being afraid.
And, I cannot imagine waking up and not being able to see Big Mama and Miss Speckles, but I don't want to move to our acreage and keep expecting to raise farm animals without them serving a greater purpose for our family. There has to be some accounting for maintaining acreage.
After we get settled into living on our acreage, my plan for processing our first set of meat-chickens is to sign up a few serious family members and close friends to spend a day on the land conducting the dirty deed together...in an organized, cooperative fashion, we will process a batch of chickens. Each person gets to take home 3-4 farm-raised chickens packaged for the freezer and a life-long remembered Farm Life Lesson. I expect we'll share the horror. Anyone whom I love and adore will be allowed to learn about this farming task with us. So far, I've had several family members and friends ready to join us, even if they are squeamish. The will to learn is high. I'm thrilled.
On that day of cooperative chicken processing, my youngest daughter, Stefie, is guaranteed to be absent from that group. However, she will be happy to continue eating her food from anonymous sources. If she sees a face, it gets a name from her...she's not farmer material...not quite yet. She's got a lot of "country girl" in her that she can't deny...I have pictures...but she's definitely not one to do anything with a farm animal except love it as if it were a dog.
She's young. Heck, it's taken me over 40 years to gather the courage to even consider these topics in straight-forward new manner. The country girl in me is learning how to outlive and outlast the city girl in me. And that's okay. I'm ready.
I'll be living in the country very soon and looking forward to tracing my food from the growth-chart phase to the table with steam rising from it. The entire ordeal is appealing and a challenge I'm ready to tackle. In 2012, I'll most definitely be eating less anonymous food. The prospect is encouraging and this keeps me motivated to keep packing and to keep painting to get this house SOLD!