OC Metro Farm Countdown to Thanksgiving, Part II

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Urban farming
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If you grow and raise most of your own Thanksgiving dinner, you have to start the preparation process earlier….  the squash has to be cooked and pureed.  The sweet potatoes have to be boiled before you can make the bread.  You have to make the cheese, the tomato sauce for the lasagna…. and you have to go catch the turkey.

We do not have space to raise a turkey on our small lot, but Amy’s Farm in Ontario, California, does.  They raise heritage breed turkeys, feed them organic feed from Modesto Milling (and various other FOODs turkeys like), raise them in open pens where they can act like turkeys, and then, let you come pick out your turkey.  Then, they walk you through butchering your own Thanksgiving main course.  The entire enterprise was our fellow urban farming neighbor’s plan, so early on Monday, we dragged ourselves onto the crazy SoCal freeways- the silly season has definitely started on the freeways, oh, the things people do in their cars!- and headed east to Ontario.

Amy’s Farm is surrounded by industrial dairy farms.  It is a rather sad and dramatic contrast.  The cows at these farms are packed together on brown ground and the smell is awful.  The animals at Amy’s Farm, by contrast, are healty looking, have space, and don’t stink.  The folks who showed up to participate in the prepare your own turkey enterpirse on Monday included a real estate agent with clients who wanted farm raised turkeys, a doctor originally from China, a young family who also urban farm and lack space to raise a turkey, a gent who has clearly done this before with his two young boys, and everything else in between. 

While generally calmer than their smaller fowl counterparts, the chicken and the quail, turkeys are far more impressive when they run away from your or fly over your head, gobbling madly.  Ken finally managed to snag one, one hand on the turkey’s neck, and one around the wings, all twisted up in a bad game of Turkey Twister.  The farm folk assisted with the actual killing of the turkey- it is a bit more dramatic than a chicken or quail as the turkey does not immediately expire.  Once beheaded, the turkey went into hot water to loosen feathers and then, into the plucker.  There was still manual plucking to be done.  Removing the innards of a turkey is much easier than removing the innards of a quail-go figure.  Cutting open the turkey, though, was a little tricky and one can see how easy it would be to hit the intestines and then, contaminate the turkey meat.  Hence the heavy flushing with bleach practiced by the poultry suppliers.  There was bleach on hand, just in case, but it was only ever used to clean the tables, as everyone was very careful.

By 11 A, we had a 15 pound turkey, ready for the oven.  We’d met some interesting people and learned a few things.  We packed our turkey in ice and headed back towards the beach.  On those crazy SoCal freeways.  



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