Me And My Turkeys

I very rarely post pictures of myself here. But today I’m making an exception. This is me and one of my turkeys. I’m the one on the right side of the picture.

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We raised turkeys this year for the first time. I wrote about it Here and Here. I discovered that I can talk to turkeys better than I ever could to my chickens. And they talk back to me. Turkeys have a certain dignity about them that I like. Fact is, I absolutely love turkeys.

But yesterday, I had to say good bye to my feathered friends. It was time to harvest the flock. The turkeys were not pets. Their purpose was to be food for my family. Yesterday we processed the birds.

It was a cool, overcast day with intermittent rain. I dressed warm with a turtle neck and my son James (my able and willing helper) said we needed to break out the Stormy Kromer hats we bought a few years ago on our trip to Maine. When the Stormy Kromers come out around here, you know it’s getting cold.

The ten turkeys we raised were 17 weeks old. The freezer weights ranged from 17 to 24 pounds. We freezed a few whole birds but cut most of them in half.

I'll spare you the gory details of the processing experience. Suffice it to say that turkeys are butchered pretty much like a chicken, and I have recently created a whole new tutorial blog telling how to butcher a chicken. I will, however, share with you one more picture. This is me holding an 18-pounder. He is coming in for a landing on the kitchen table

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Kristianna said...

Great photos, Herrick! Thank you for posting them.

Yesterday I read your New Blog about chicken processing. Your photos, descriptions, and instructions are very informative. Thank you very much for taking the time to do that. I need to process a few chickens this week, so it will be helpful.

I hope your knee is feeling better.


Marci said...

I love the pictures and I love your hat!!! Also, thanks for clarifying who was who in that first picture. Are those turkeys all for you? We keep 4 every year. I like the idea of cutting them in half.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Kristianna,
I'm glad you liked the butchering blog, and that you are going to put the info to good use. My knee is still sensitive but much, much better, thank you.

One turkey is for our neighboor who let us pasture the birds on his land. The other nine are ours and, yes, you are right--it is a LOT of turkey (we also have 62 chickens in the freezer). I think we will raise less next time. Perhaps we will barter with them. Cutting a turkey in half makes the big bird more manageable for Marlene to cook but it is a big job to cut a turkey in half. A heavy meat cleaver would have helped. I'll have one next time.

Jenn said...


I've been reading your blog for several months. I just wanted to tell you what a delight all of your stories are and how much I appreciate you sharing your advice and knowledge.

Keep it up!!

Jenn in VA

prairiecowboy said...

Regarding butchering chickens, have you ever tried skinning them? We fell in love with that approach. I'm new to blogspot, someone sent me a link to you and I like what I've seen so far.

Anonymous said...

Skin them? And lose all the good quality fats for your heart and brain health and development? And much of the flavor? No thanks for us.

Anonymous said...

have you thought of photographing a duck processing? i do not like chicken or turkey

Bobby and Jennifer said...

I just read this blog. Love it. Our family raised our first Thanksgiving turkey in 2007, also.
It was a wonderful experience, and our bird was 30lbs. This year we raised two, one for us and one for a friend. I tried to start later so the birds would not be so large, but we still ended up with 30lb birds. Its not easy to cook one that large (we ended up cutting it in half)Visit my farm blog for a few pictures of that.