Death and life

ladiesI was going to write a nice post about milk bread today, but life intervened with something more dramatic.

Turkeys are not always very nice creatures – or rather males are not nice to each other in the early spring. Last year our two males fought quite badly and we killed and ate the loser. I thought that maybe this year with lots of space, 9 females and the fact that the two males were father and son such serious fighting might have been avoided.

New Kingpin2

I was wrong.  We had a plan to eat the son, but hadn’t got round to it – nature took over.

Yesterday Ataturkeyoglu (a joke that perhaps only I find funny) attacked his dad pretty badly. James found him stomping on him. We separated them.

Turkey in crate

We planned to kill the old tom on Friday when I was home. This morning I took him out of the crate to the Pear Garden. He wasn’t too badly injured, but he was crushed, demoralised. Perhaps splitting the females into two and keeping them as two separate groups would have worked, but we don’t really have the land.

taking the turkey

I decided we needed to kill him this morning. So this was how at 7.30am this morning I found myself killing a turkey.

James put him in the cone – he was too heavy for me to lift that high

turkey in the cone

James stunned him and then I slit his throat.


While he bled out I looked at the blue blue sky and I cried.

Blue sky

I cried because I shouldn’t have let it get to this, I cried because I always find killing animals hard and I cried because although we have chosen to live our life like this, it sometimes seems so overwhelming. The smallholding, the campsite, our jobs are non-stop – it is hard to jump from killing a turkey to planning lectures on Ottoman miniature painting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Heavy turkey

The turkey weighed in at just over 9 kilos once I had plucked and gutted it.

Daisy ate the head (and guts)

Daisy eating turkey headKainaat ate the feet

Kai eating turkey foot

And we will have roast turkey at the weekend.

But what about the life in the title?

Tonight I am heading off to a lambing session run for smallholders by the local vet to help me prepare for lambing in a couple of months – I did say it was non-stop round here didn’t I?

New Kingpin3N.B. He had better be fertile and he had better produce lots of lovely turkey chicks this summer or else we will be having another turkey dinner sooner than we thought.

12 responses to “Death and life

  1. Youre both so good. You know if you have to do it you go out and do it. Nothing suffers you see birth through to death and all is used. I applaud your work and life ethics.

    • Still sort of a vegetarian – we mainly eat vegetarian or vegan meals and I only eat meat when I know who reared it and how it died. So basically I eat meat we raise. Blood gets consumed by the cats and other critters. I have tried catching it for the dogs, but it is too much of a faff. The dogs and us share the blood from the pigs though – yum yum. love to you all xx

  2. Fantastic story. Followed it on instagram too. Very tough decisions you have to make. I guess in a more morbid thought…it makes it so much better that we can eat them 🙂 I want to keep a few chickens come this spring and I am preparing myself for how to view them, just in case… really good write up. Keep em coming!

    • Hi Ike – keeping chickens is great, you will love it. I think you have to be prepared to kill them in case they get poorly – I hate to see animals suffer. This was really hard for us to start with – we are getting a little better at it now. take care.

  3. I’m always late to get your posts but just wanted to say how sad I am about what you and James have had to contend with in the last days. I know you are both strong and will be able to get through this difficult time as you have all the other difficult times. I just want you to know I am concerned and praying things ease up a bit soon so you are able to find it easier to sleep again and so your limbic system can quiet. Take good care of yourself, dear Claire. I send much love.

  4. Hi Chris, I am sure things will improve. It is just sometimes I think we are maybe doing too much, trying to make things happen while working full time and doing other stuff. We will get there in the end. Sending love to you as well. xxx

  5. Pingback: Turkeys: the beginning and end | smallholding dreams·

  6. Pingback: Dogs’ Dinner | smallholding dreams·

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