Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prowess for the Thanksgiving Princess

Okay ladies! One week is all we have until the big dance. You know what I'm talking about. All the moms, grannies, aunts, and the occasional occupational male chef put on a show of creativity, baked goods, harvest wares, and 12-piece place settings amidst all the important people in their life on the Annual Day of Thanks. Now if you want to actually have time to take a shower and smell nice, then you'll want to follow The Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule that begins on Monday.

Yep. You heard me. Monday. And to add to this schedule, Mrs. Olsen has some special preparations that will help your Thanksgiving Feast be over the top! The perfect place settings that use mini-pumpkins, candy corn, and popcorn...the best silverware polish you can make from scratch!....and adorable crafts that will force your rugrats to stop and think about all the dang things you do for them all the time and that they should be grateful for...I've got it all here!

Let's start here shall we?

Wait, what is that? Let's get a better look shall we?

*cough* Where in the good heck are my candy corns? That axe is totally rusty! I have a feeling there's no such thing as a home remedy for rusting axes...uh, I mean silverware. Uh, I mean...where am I?

Okay, the gigs up people. I killed 2 turkeys yesterday and it wasn't funny at all. See now, when we moved to a little more country last year we wanted to be more self-sufficient. We wanted that connection to food that has been culturally lost, but is probably still pretty important, and very likely even vital to our existence. So I asked for it, but I swear I didn't sign up for this.

Keep reading if you dare, but consider yourself warned.

First of all, I thought it would be no big deal cause I've been dealing with a kid that freaks out whenever she has to go collect eggs. Mr. Tom can't let Miss Hen turn her head without saying Excuse me? Look at me! My feathers are ruffled up for you baby. I love you! Wanna come stay with me at Bok Bok Cottage over the weekend? So Miss Turkey Hen literally runs for her life whenever my kid shows up. She's runs at them, jumps up on them, and totally freaks them out. Hence, the big stick carried by Rainbow Girl (and tears).

When he gets all hot and bothered wantin' some feather love, he puffs up and his face turns blue. Isn't he pretty?

Oh how I desperately wanted to film The Mister of the House trying to catch this big guy, but I was disappointed when he brought out a long metal hook, caught his foot, and pulled him right into his fateful arms.

So here's this picture again. See those 2 little nails that the axe is resting in? That is where you catch the head, then pull the neck and head down over the sawhorse. Usually The Mister has some boy helpers, but he exhausted their services this spring, and so it was just me and him. I was really really nervous.

I had to hold the feet of the turkey while The Mister took the axe. I'm a tough girl okay? I'm on the lazy side but I love nature, want to live simply, and outweigh most Mormon mommies on my block. I had no notions of my toughness, or expectations of how I should act when the axe came down.


Half of the neck is open, and I'm holding onto a body that is flapping and flailing. I scream like I'm trying out for Return of the Rapist Swamp Thing. I screamed, inhaled, screamed, The Mister is yelling 'Let go of the feet! Let it go!' and I am frozen, holding the flailing body, and screaming and screaming. And even as I write this, I have to admit that I was truly truly traumatized, because when I finally did let go and shuffled backwards away from the scene of the crime, I started sobbing my guts out.

What the hell?

For real.

When I finally mentally checked myself Uh, Mrs. Olsen you are freaking out. You are being a dumb girl. Please stop crying. Please stop. So I stopped and looked over across the yard. All my laying hens, who had been pecking in the garden and flowerbeds just moments before, were frozen in there tracks. I then watched all of them hightail it into the safety of Bok Bok Cottage.

And guess what? I had to do it again, was still in shock, and shocked at how freaked out I was, but then got to hold the ladies feet while the axe came down. No screaming that time, but I winced and sobbed some more.

Anybody that doesn't appreciate their turkey dinner is getting it shoved down their face by yours truly.

But wait, there's more! Here's a drill bit that has rubber stoppers to help pluck the feathers. We actually didn't use it, cause our learning curve taught us that you drop the birds in hot hot water and the feathers will then pull out nice and easy.

I post these photos with an outpouring of love and respect for the life of these birds. After plucking the feathers, you lightly torch them to get the remaining hairs burned off.

Did you know you had to do that?


Started my cycle today but don't think that
had anything to do with it

p.s. my turkeys had a good life and for that I am grateful.

Post-Edit: I'm not sure I can fully describe the emotional wave that overthrew me with the post-screaming sobbing. Racked. Tears. Wrenched face. Curious husband. Mascara down past my cheekbones sobbing. I mean, my shoulders were shaking with each cry. Did anyone see/love the movie Raising Arizona? Holly Hunter is in the car after they stole their baby and she starts crying: I just love him so much (and her shoulders move up and down about 5 times in that sentence). Anyway, high school break-ups were never as emotionally draining as watching the violent release of the life of our turkeys. How do hunters do it?


Cami said...

Wow. I have no words. I am seriously impressed and uncharacteristically without words.

Wendy said...

Uhhh, what do I say? You are B-R-A-V-E and I love you.

Kelly Bryson said...

Wowie. This totally reminds me of when we lived in PA and had some mice in the basement. We started with catch and release traps, but they got wise to those, the snap traps- only caught one that way. I'm pretty sure they had a meeting, and that mouse drew the short straw and they all watched him die, because noone else fell for that. We caught one in tip trap in a bucket of water. Then we tried a glue trap. Oh my goodness. This poor mouse, his face stuck to the paper, completely immobile. It was awful. We had to drown him. I cried like a girl who'd just cut off her turkey's head. Say a prayer of thanks for the turkeys' sacrifice and dig in. Otherwise it was all in vain:)

Danielle said...

what the adventure! I long for country life, but hadn't quite put that scene in my picture. way to go girly!hey i need your address. . .send me an email will ya?

Jake said...

I'm impressed! Pioneer Woman aint got nothin' on Mrs. Olsen.

Monica said...

I'm traumatized just by reading about your turkey experience. I'm sure everyone at Thanksgiving dinner will appreciate all that you went through. And, yes, you are still dang tough! (you just have a tender heart!) Love ya!

Rands Family said...

Wow that is crazy that you did that. You are a brave person. I do not think that I could have done it. Hope you have a happy trukey day.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I thought that picture of Rainbow girl was her crying because she missed her turkey. Reading on, though, makes me think she won't miss it much.

Second, good for you and your mister. I dream about having a big garden, but that's about as far as my self-sufficiency goes. Be sure and post about how wonderful it tastes. Inquiring readers want to know if there's a taste difference between truly fresh poultry and a Butterball.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lee Family said...

Dude. Let's all take a stand against doing crap like that. Let's take a little Grandma-Cooper-not-letting-her-daughters-milk-the-cows-so-they-wouldn't-smell attitude and just say no. I will no longer pluck hair from an Elk's hindquarters. I am just going to say no.

Why don't we follow in our mother's ways and NOT plunge toilets and NOT pump our own gas. I'm just going to say NO. No more elk urine for me. No more carrying in roadkill to the bear bait. No more sleeping at the bear bait waiting for the bear as possibly its next lunch. if you say YES, then GUESS what, all the exhausting work you mentioned in the beginning of the post for all of the women to make Thanksgiving a smashing success can be shared equally with the men. look at me go on and on.

JUST say NOpe to Dope . . . and to slaying live turkeys.

LGH said...

Amber, I LOVE your blog. This experience was hard/fun to read. I love your honesty, your kinship to the earth and animals, and most of all, I just love that you are such a GUTSY woman. What memories your kids will have. And, thanks for the tip about starting om Monday.

Anonymous said...

uh...uh...I am emailing you a poem I wrote when I was nine that won me a big blue ribbon. May it settle deep into your heart.

it's called Tom Turkey.

jennaloha said...

Blake had to bag and tag 4 gophers on separate occasions that were eating our bushes and destroying our lawn. I couldn't even watch. Kudos, my friend.

And raising Arizona? The love of my life. I love it soooo mu-u-uch!

I know you do, honey.

I know you do.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Cami, to leave a sharp-witted businesswoman without words brings me great pleasure. Come help me shovel poop out of my coop and I'll try to do it again...

Kelly, you are more tenderhearted than me. I'm sure I could decapitate, skin, and boil a mouse and have no problems. Mice spread diseases, leave a urine trail, and can squeeze through a hold the size of a dime. Flush them with glee.

earwax Wendy, we actually already cooked one up, which helped in my mourning process ;) I'll keep you posted about it.

Lee Family, thank you for your impassioned plea to say Nope to Dope. You are right...after that crap I'm still in the female army putting on the Thanksgiving show. What's up with that?

Napes, the Tom Turkey poem was A-DORABLE and sad. Thank you for your poem prowess.

Jenna, glad we could share the love. Nicolas Cage is a hit or miss on screen, but he definitely scored with that flick huh?

Lastly, if anyone is reading this comment, I have to add that I have watched from the sidelines our chickens get the axe earlier this spring. I just don't think I can be touching the body of any living thing that is so violently rendered upon. Rendered upon was a weird word choice no?

Jenny said...

Watching the poor turkey being killed at pioneer trek (unsuccessfully on the first multiple tries) seriously led heavily to my becoming a vegetarian! I was crying too!

Still, I am proud of you and your antibiotic free meat :)