Last week we did the thing I’ve been dreading- we harvested our turkeys.
In April we bought five heritage breed turkeys from the local feed store. Two of them died young from unknown reasons, but the other three grew up healthy and happy in a pen that bordered the chicken run.
We knew that it was probably butchering time a few weeks ago, but we were a little hesitant to get started. We’d never done this before and we weren’t sure what we were in for. We waited a little too long and our male turkey got so heavy that his legs wouldn’t hold him up (we think that’s what happened) and he sat down and refused to get up again. He was the first to go.
My husband and I have a deal; he will kill the critter and I will dress it (pluck it and rip it’s guts out). My husband hung the turkey upside down and slit it’s throat. It didn’t appear to be too traumatic for the bird, so that’s good I guess. Then we dunked the bird (after it had died) in scalding hot water so that it’s feathers would come off easily.
I ended up tying the bird to a ladder in the garage with a bucket underneath, so I could pluck it and take it’s innards out without the yellow jackets swarming. My hands shook the entire time I was working.
I don’t think you can get any closer to your food chain than when you have your hand up inside a warm carcass as you rip it’s heart out. Life suddenly felt so….real. Really intense.
I don’t know if we fully appreciate the disconnect our dollars buy us in this world. For thirty dollars I can buy a turkey from the store that is neatly packaged without feathers or lungs that need removing. For thirty dollars I don’t need to look into the face of the deceased bird that just gave it’s life so that my family can eat a few dinners.
By the time I put the giant turkey carcass into my refrigerator, my brain was spinning and I was all philosophical about life.
We all have dollars taken out of our checks and given to the IRS every pay period. It’s a number on the paystub that shows what we could have brought home if the IRS didn’t take it all. Sometimes it feels like too much. Sometimes we complain.
We complain because there is a disconnect. We can only see the dollars leaving, not where they go.
What we don’t see are the faces of these families that use the various programs that those taxes pay for. We don’t see the people in the line at the foodbank or the families that can’t pay for a visit to the primary care doctor, waiting seven hours in the ER waiting room.
As I ripped out the heart and testicles of that first turkey, I thought about all the people I know. The Trump supporters, the Trump opposers. Everyone. I know that we all care. We do – gofundme’s are everywhere.
If we knew that our friends or neighbors were hungry or sick, we would help them. If we knew that there was a family in our community that we’ve never even met was suffering, we would find ways to help.
Let’s all stop and look around and see what we can do to help each other. Let’s get more involved in our food chain. Let’s stop letting our dollars get in the way of being human any more than they already have.