Turkey Processing

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Turkey Processing
2/5/2014 9:05:52 PM

Last year, towards the holiday season, we had advertised that we would be processing chickens.  Somewhere along the line we met an FFA dad that had some turkeys that would be ready for processing soon.  I was willing to get them done prior to the holidays but they were not quite the right size just yet.  So we agreed that I would process them at a later date and that he would call me when they were ready.  He called!

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By the time this dad had called me I had long since forgotten to think about the turkey processing we had discussed.  As soon as I looked at the history of this conversation I immediately remembered that he had 8 turkeys and would give us half of them for processing all of them.  This sounded like a great deal to me.  When will they be ready?

While it was totally unplanned (some of our normal and new eager helpers were bummed they didn’t get to come help – sorry!) but needed to be done soon we scheduled it for the upcoming weekend.  He dropped the birds off that Friday evening in a goat cage.

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They were pretty birds.  A tad small after the monsters we processed for the holidays (these birds were 20lbs wet at best, the monsters were 55lbs!).  But over all a very healthy bunch.

We got up the next morning and set up a lite kitchen. 

I have to comment here that the kitchen was largely set up by my older son Drake.  He has become a real go getter of a man.  I asked him to get the fire pit set up so that we could get the scalding pot warming up.  He took it upon himself to do that, set up the tables, tubs, hoses, etc.  Love that boy!

We got the knives all sharpened up and put out the cutting boards.

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Then we set up the killing station but removed the road cones as the turkeys wouldn’t fit them.  And spread some shavings to absorb some of the blood (great for composting if anyone wants it!!!).

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No plucker as the plucker motor laughed at me the last time I tossed a wet 60lb bird in it.  Need a turkey plucker.  But we got the rest of the tables and water systems in place.

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Then we caught and hung our first bird.

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“Ugh…what’s going on here?  I don’t understand!?”

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“Oh snap…ok I get it now.  YOU SUCK!”

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One quick and quiet slice.  And then he was sleeping.

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We did this part over and over again.  Two big birds at a time.  We are getting quite efficient at this station.

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Everyone had their job.  And without the plucker in action it was all hands on deck to pluck the birds clean.

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Logan was doing heads and feet this time (and teaching me how).

Eventually a featherless bird made it to my table.

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The cats and dogs enjoy “processing” days.  They get all the scraps that don’t quite make it to the trash cans.

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I love that everyone now knows how to do this type of work.  And while it was chilly – after having done this in 28 degrees – we all know that chilly isn’t worth complaining about as it just isn’t that bad (comparably).

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After a couple of hours we were finally able to bring them in for final QA, weighing in, bagging, and labeling.

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We kept one of the birds alive to finish her out a bit more.  We will likely have this post again in the near future.

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