Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On Killing Turkeys

Andrea’s Turkeys
Copyright Ken Harris 2008

My wife Joanne’s sister, Andrea, lived on five acres outside of the metropolis of Rough and Ready, California. Andrea and her late husband, Phil Phillips, lived in a fine home with a fine barn and a fine flock of sheep to live in the fine barn. They also had a fine flock of turkeys to live with the fine sheep. But Andrea was never cut out to be a farmer, and she made pets out of her sheep and her turkeys. She fed her sheep by hand, going to the barn and calling, “Here, Sheepie, Sheepie, Sheepie.” And the sheep would dutifully trot up to be fed.

Her turkeys were not quite as tame as her sheep. The turkeys had the run of the place and hitchhiked rides on the backs of the sheep. They rode everywhere, digging their claws into wooly backs until the backs were raw and sore. Phil once expounded the theory that the fact that turkeys hitchhiked on sheep was compelling evidence that turkeys were smarter than sheep. But that’s not saying much. Everyone knows that doorknobs are smarter than sheep.

One Thanksgiving when the turkeys were grown and the sheep’s backs were raw from so much hitchhiking, Audrey decided that the poultry had to go. She offered Joanne and Fritz their choice of fowl. There was a condition. We would have to do the slaughtering and she would not help in any way. In fact, she wouldn’t even be there. She would be indoors, upstairs, meditating and reflecting on the uncertainty of life. After all, these turkeys were her personal friends.

Fritz was butcher-in-charge. He had read a magazine article about killing turkeys. According to this author’s advice, we should hang the turkey upside down by his feet over a bucket. Once the turkey had quieted down in this position, we were to cut the bird’s head off and it would quietly bleed into the bucket.

This didn’t sound quite right, but it sounded better than whacking the bird’s head off and watching its body bounce around the pasture like a big feathered basketball. So, what the heck, said we. Let’s give it a try, said we. And so Joanne, Ruth, Fritz and I stood in a ring around the suspended bird, and Fritz severed its head with a carving knife.

Can you say “pinwheel”?

That’s what the dead bird made of itself and in just a few short seconds we all looked like victims of a chain saw massacre. After that, we slew the other turkeys in a more conventional fashion and watched them bounce around the pasture like big feathered basketballs. Meanwhile we reflected, wondering whether Fritz had skipped a paragraph in that magazine article.


NorCal Cazadora said...

A beautiful, moving tale. What I would've given to be there with a camera!

Ken said...

Glad you liked it. I liked your pig torching with Joel story, too. Very elegant, I thought.