Have you ever seen a turkey this big?

He’s handsome.  Hard to tell exactly how much he weighs under all those feathers, right?  Especially when he puffs up like toms always do.  There’s a good reason why we didn’t butcher earlier.  I didn’t have freezer space.  The irony of it is the longer I waited, the more freezer space I needed.  Anyway, I got another freezer, shifted things around and went to work butchering.  About 4 weeks beyond what’s recommended.

We used an metal garbage can for blanching.  No pot big enough around here!

Everyone helped with the work.  It looks big but at this point we haven’t weighed it yet.  And there’s nothing to gauge the size by.  Let me see if it fits in the roaster…

Nope!! It weighed 38 lbs.!  I had to use the bathroom scale.

The females weren’t as big, ranging from 21 to 27 lbs.  Still big!  Note to self: butcher early! 😀

I cut it up and froze it separately.  A challenge in itself, as you can imagine, but there was no way it would fit in my oven whole. That’s pretty obvious in the picture, huh?  One boneless breast weighed 7 lbs. 😯

So, tell me, have you ever seen a turkey this big?

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The birds came!

I’ve got 50 chicks and 10 turkey poults, both mixed. I like to sit and watch them (notice the camp stool?) It’s like watching fire – mesmerizing. I could waste a lot of time just sitting here.

I put the turkey poults in their new home, they were running around happy and curious when suddenly one decided it could fit through the wire gate! EEKS! I jumped up and ran around trying to decide how I could block the holes. Before I could get back, two more discovered the same thing! I stapled on a paper feed bag. I raised turkeys before but I don’t remember them fitting through there! 😆

Processing our homegrown turkeys

This weekend we processed the rest of our turkeys. We had some wonderful friends offer to come help! I’m so grateful! With 6 of us working, the job was done in no time.

We used a galvanized garbage can as the dunk tank. I heated several large pots of water on top of my stove and when they were just about boiling and we were ready to start, we brought them out and dumped the water in the garbage can. I tied a candy thermometer to a string and tied the string to the handle of the garbage can so I could check the temperature of the water. This worked very well for us. We had to add a couple more pots of boiling water near the end but otherwise it seemed to stay hot enough.

We didn’t use the plucker for the turkeys like we did for the chickens because they were too big. When we put the turkey on the plucker, which took 2 people to do anyway, it would stop turning because it was too heavy! We found them just as easy to pluck by hand, much easier than chickens. Once we were done plucking and eviscerating (I’d like to report that I have learned to clean a gizzard!), we put the turkeys in large plastic garbage cans filled with cold water. I left them there for several hours to make sure they were chilled to the core. Then we bagged the giblets and put them inside the turkeys and bagged the turkeys. We left them inside the garage for the night to chill. The temperature was just above freezing so it was as cold as a refrigerator.

Today I shuffled things around in my deep freezer and was able to fit 5 of them in. One, I decided to keep in the fridge and cook this week. How often do we get fresh turkey? We aren’t sick of turkey from Thanksgiving yet. I have so much planned for this one bird, it will feed us for several meals. They all dressed out around 24 lbs!

If you’ve been keeping track, you will know that I started with 10 turkey poults in the spring.  I lost one early on.  We had one for Thanksgiving, one I sold to my neighbour and one we gave to the friends that helped us butcher.  Our friends didn’t want to accept but hubby and I were so grateful, we could not take ‘no’ for an answer. 😉

I really enjoyed raising the turkeys, they are interesting birds. I don’t think we’ll have a problem eating this much meat, though I think I’ll butcher a little sooner next time so they aren’t all quite so big!  I’d like to do it again next year.

Turkey freedom!

turkeys_out

Well, not complete freedom, but they now have access to the great outdoors.  We moved them from the turkey tractor to the coop before we left on vacation.  Now that we are back, we secured the pen around the coop so they can’t fly out. Since I haven’t raised turkeys before, I don’t know that they will fly out but have read they will.  How high can they jump/fly? Well, we put a net over anyway. They were so happy to stretch their (huge) wings, I didn’t want to find out the hard way!  You can just picture us trying to catch them.   Anyway, they are very happy turkeys, making happy turkey sounds.  I hope they are smart enough to go back inside when the sun goes down. I wouldn’t want them outside after dark with predators around.

Checking out the new neighbours

Checking out the new neighbours

The goats have never seen turkeys before. I wonder what they were thinking?

Turkeys moved again.

turkeys

Since the chickens are done, the coop was empty so we cleaned it out and moved the turkeys in.  They are back to the building they started in.  The tractor was working really well but they were starting to outgrow it.  Besides that, we’re going on vacation for a few days and I want them closed in where they’ll be safe from coyotes.  It will also make chores easier for my son while we’re gone.  They will have access to the outdoors once we cover the yard so they can’t fly out. You can see they’re getting pretty big.  When we were carrying them to the coop, hubby guessed they are about 15 lbs now.  That’s a lot of muscle when you’re fighting a flapping, kicking turkey that doesn’t want to be picked up!  I have the scratches to prove it.  But they’re all moved in and settling down.

Critters

Never a dull moment when you have animals. 😉

turkeysLast week we had coyotes trying to get at my turkeys!  We woke up at 3 am to the sound of their ‘yipping’ just outside our bedroom window.  Luckily hubby chased them off and they haven’t been back since.

We have a mouse (or two) in the house!  They have been difficult to catch, despite our best efforts.  Finally caught one in a trap this morning!  I’m hoping Pixie learns to be a good mouser.

LucyandPixiePixie is very rambunctious!  She goes from one trouble to the next.  Climbing inside the dishwasher, hanging on the window screen, eating the dog food, chewing on cables… it’s like having a toddler in the house again!  I’m thankful when she finally falls asleep.

 

 

BuddyThe dogs have been leaving the property.  Lucy took off the other evening and was gone for a few hours.  I know if she is in ear-shot, she comes and she won’t ‘run away’ but still not acceptable.  Before a thunderstorm, Buddy took off.  He’s afraid of thunder. He was found a mile and a half away! Hence the leash.  Too nice outside for them to be in but I don’t need them wandering off again.

 

nestMy layers have access to a chicken yard.  It is full of thistle and other tall growth.  They’ve taken to laying their eggs in the tall grass.  I didn’t find where they were laying until there was a clutch of about 6 or 8 eggs.  Those ones got thrown out.  It’s interesting trying to find that spot every morning.

 

 

chickensThe meat birds are ravenous every feeding.  I guess that is the nature of the breed.  But it makes it hard to fill the troughs when they are all diving in at once.  We’re going through a lot of feed. They are just about ready to butcher.  The black ones are layers. I’ll mix them with the others when they get a little bigger.

 

 

The goats have been doing fine.  I put up a temporary fence so they have access to graze.  They don’t wander far from their pen, but the fence keeps them from things they shouldn’t get into. 😉

Turkeys and chickens

 

My chicks and turkey poults came today!  I ordered them through my local feed store.  25 black sexlink (layers), 50 cornish giant (meat) and 10 turkeys.  This is my first time raising turkeys so it should be interesting. 🙂  The first thing I notice is how quiet they are compared to the chicks!  If you have any tips for raising turkeys, I’d love to hear them!