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We are hosting Thanksgiving this year.  I/we have never hosted Thanksgiving before.  After the initial freak-out of “omfgwearehostingThanksgiving” I reminded myself that it will be fine, we had after all, hosted a homemade pizza party for 30 people last fall.  Because of this, my fear lied in the fact that it is Thanksgiving, a holiday rich in tradition, but not the company nor number of guests.  Eight people, the number we are hosting, is nothing to be concerned about since as usual, I will prepare too much food.  However, I WAS concerned about the turkey.  I called the Birchwood Cafe to see if I could still order a bird from Wild Acres and they put me on a wait list.  But what was I supposed to do until I find out if I get one or not!?  I took to the Minnesota Grown website, hosted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, typed in my area code and the product I was interested in (poultry, natch).  I was lucky enough to stumble upon the family owned and run farm of HighView Pastures and with a $10 deposit I was able to secure a locally raised, free-range turkey.

I made that call last Monday and got to pick up our bird today in Farmington.  It is rare when I leave the 554XX or even 551XX zip codes, so to make the drive to the country is a bit of a haul for me.  But I was excited! – In the country, by myself, blaring lady GaGa, and despite driving behind really slow UPS trucks, I knew that this turkey farm was going to be fabu – and it was.

This isn’t the mailbox to the farm.  This is a mailbox a few farms away.  I missed it and had to turn around.

However, THIS is the front-yard of the farm and those oblong white guys…err ladies are TURKEYS.  There were turkey hens running around as well as a few Tom Turkeys.

Roaming all around were not just turkey hens and Tom Turkeys, but chickens and geese as well!  They didn’t care that I, a human, at three times their height, was roaming around their territory.  Nor did they seem to care that I drove a large car called a Corolla that could easily squish them.  They just wandered about “cluck, cluck, clucking” away and “gob, gob gobbling” as they walked.  They seemed so at peace.  I wonder if they were curious as to where half of their friends went?  Their other turkey friends who just disappeared yesterday and never came back?  Do birds have the mental capacity to think such thoughts?

Here is one of their brothers…or sisters.  Plucked, decapitated, and vacuum sealed.  The she-farmer thankfully gave me a bag to carry Turkey in.  I would have felt like an inconsiderate slob waltzing amongst the poultry outside, displaying their dead friend like some sick freak.

On the bright side of eating meat – this is where it’s at.  The bird was raised on a lovely farm, able to walk around freely, and had food made available to it as they wished.  Lastly the farmers, unlike Evil Poultry Corporation, did not inject their turkeys with saline thus making them appear and feel more plump and ultimately deceiving the customer.  Better yet, our turkey was ALIVE until just yesterday.  Up until yesterday, I’m sure it lived a happy life, or as happy a life turkeys expect to live.

In following the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for an old-fashioned stuffed turkey (apologies if you can’t view it as you may need to login), I separated the skin from the meat on the breasts, legs, and back with my gloved hand, though I did not remove the skin.  After separating it, I rubbed the meat with Kosher salt and wrapped the bird back up in plastic wrap since it should be salted and wrapped tightly for 24-48 hours.  In essence, I violated the bird, with salt, then mummified it and finished the job by putting it back in the cold, dark refrigerator.

There s/he is!  Alive yesterday.  Dead today.  In my refrigerator until Thursday.

The farm trip was delightful for a variety of reasons and I’m so glad that we were able to get such a happy turkey for Thanksgiving – something to be truly thankful for.

______

HighView Pasture sells s many other products such as eggs, pork, and beef.  Seriously, check them out!

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