excerpt CHAPTER 18 – THE FARM

…We parents learned as much as our children about stubborn ram sheep that butt you if you turn your back on them, stupid turkeys that drown in the rain, neutered male goats that look like females, and chickens that peck each other to death. Each new day brought new experiences, some good, some not so good. We were learning together, and enjoyed our new life and home more and more every day. We weaned ourselves from driving to town every day, relishing the days when we didn’t have to go anywhere, but could instead work, relax, and play in the middle of nowhere, or, as one friend termed the drive to our remote piece of paradise, “turn left, past the weeds.”
Our first butchering experience happened quite by accident. Of course, it happened on a Thursday when Cary was teaching in Denver. Most of our great new experiences, aka tragedies, seemed to happen when my husband was in the city! My second-born son, who was the oldest of our children on the farm, came running to the house, yelling that our big tom turkey had just died! I ran down to the poultry barn with him, and sure enough, he was right: that tom was deader than a door nail. I asked him to describe what had happened. He explained that he was feeding the poultry when the tom got agitated, squawked, rose up, then crumpled to the ground. Assuming the bird had a heart attack, which turkeys can have, we decided not to waste the meat. We began to think what to do to butcher it.
I called my friend – the farmer’s wife in Bennett – and asked her about butchering a turkey. She told me that it should be just like processing a very big chicken, but she had never done one. She told me all the steps for chicken butchering, and I thought it sounded like the perfect homeschool biology assignment for the day!
We got all set up in the kitchen with a huge pot of boiling water to dip the big bird in for feather plucking, sharpened the Chinese cleaver knife, and set to it. Well, suffice it to say that we don’t ever pluck birds in the kitchen anymore! Outside is the only place for it. We also make sure we have a gut bucket close-by, and we let the blood drain out for a longer period of time after decapitation. Essentially though, my son and I did a fairly decent job for complete farm novices. Cary enjoyed roast turkey for dinner, and it wasn’t even November! I called my folks afterward and let them know I had used my interior design degree again that day: I analyzed the problem, set my goals, made a plan, and achieved success! Only this time my degree was used on a fancy feathered turkey, not a fancy fine hotel….