Harvesting Turkeys in Marysville

For several months now we’ve belonged to the Godfrey Family Farm CSA*. Once a month we meet in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Emeryville on a Saturday at 9:00 am. Brian &/or Rose are there with one or more of their children to hand out shares of meat & eggs grown on their farm in Marysville, CA. We have been very satisfied with the quality of everything we get. The Godfrey’s started their CSA just about a year ago and many of the members were anxious to see the farm. So, we were invited to go up to Marysville for a farm tour, pick out our turkey and help, as much or as little as we wanted, get it ready to take home.

Last Saturday the farm’s second tour day started for us a little after 9:00 when we arrived and were greeted with hot cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. They very much reminded me of my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls she’d make on bread baking days. Oh so good. It was a rainy day, but early on it was just a light rain as one of the kids took us around the farm. I think it was Sofia that lead the tour. It was great to see all the animals around in their different fenced off areas of the farm. The pigs were named Bacon, Ham, Pork Chop, etc. There’s definitely a sense of humor around this farm.Brian teaches

After our tour Brian started to teach the process that we’d use on the turkeys with some old hens. They would become our take home bonus to be used for stock or as Rose suggested, chicken and dumplings. He sharpened his knives and put three hens into the inverted killing cones. He showed how to place the knife so that one doesn’t cut into the feathers which can make for a messy kill. A bucket below collected the draining blood. The hens were next dipped in 140°F soapy water for about 30 seconds to loosen the feathers. Their next stop was the homemade plucking machine, which does a pretty good job.

Practice on stewing hens Practice on stewing hens (1)

Back on the tables they had set up under tents Brian & Rose showed how to loosen the bird’s crop and talked about the importance of not having it burst open. There’s usually grass in it and that’s hard to pick out of the body. Next they showed how to make an incision that the rear end and reach in to carefully pull out the innards. The instruction was to feel for the heart, put it between two fingers and pull gently. This pulls the crop through the next into the cavity. A final cut to the back end and basically you’re done.

P1050266Fairly soon we were off to pick out our turkeys. In reality I just said we’d take a smaller one and Brian caught one for us and two others for other CSA members. They went into the larger killing cones and were dispatched quickly by Brian and other braver CSA members. We just watched.

Within a few minutes it was our turn to dunk and pluck. Rose handled the dunking as I wasn’t quite ready to get messy. After the 30 second dunk and swirl I pulled out the tail feathers which don’t come out in the plucker very well and we cut off the feet, which also clog up the plucker.



The bird whirled around as water was sprayed from a hose. It didn’t take long at all until the bird was pretty clean. We plucked the remaining little feathers in a few minutes and Rose set about cleaning it. I watched the technique several times and finally later in the day cut into a turkey, loosened it’s crop and opened up the cavity. I reached in and found the heart and started gently pulling. I got out some of the innards, but I couldn’t get the crop to come through. Not wanting to ruin someone else’s turkey I asked for help. Rose finished up pulling the crop through and cutting off the guts. She then cut open the gizzard and showed us the rocks and half ground up/digested food. Really interesting. I didn’t get a picture of that. When all done the birds went into a coolers filled with ice water.


The Godfreys fed us a nice hearty lunch. The day kind of slipped away and suddenly it was after 2:00pm when we started to pack up for the trip home. We weighed our turkey in the house and it was just under 9 pounds. Rose filled out our monthly CSA share with bacon, pork chops and a dozen of their excellent eggs.

They day was terrific even though it was cold and rainy. The whole family was warm and welcoming and happy to show off what they do for us. The process was way less gross and traumatic than I expected. I can see how you could get used to it and have it be no big deal. I’m glad to know that most of the meat we eat comes from a place where the animals are cared for well all the way up to that “One bad day” as Brian likes to quip. Thank you Brian, Rose and family!

*Community Supported Agriculture

Frugal Hash

Most likely it’s a combination of growing up in the mid-west and having parents that lived through the Great Depression that has made me frugal. Food waste* is so appalling to me. So, don’t live with me if you don’t like the occasional leftover. With me home Howard’s lucky, as I eat up leftovers for lunch frequently. I usually enjoy them too.

Friday I had roasted some sliced sweet potatoes that were spiced with Old Bay. They were really good, and that particular tuber was super sweet. So my mind had been working on the problem of what to do with the leftover slices. Somehow hash bubbled up to the top. Thinking about what I had in the freezer, I remembered I had some kalua pork from Lilian’s first birthday and bell peppers are always in there.

I diced up the sweet potatoes and peppers, and threw in a big handful the theP1050191 kalua pork. I got out the Joy of Cooking to figure out how it all gets bound together. It says to just mash it down in the pan with some sauteed onions. So, that’s exactly what I did. I cooked it all on one side as the recipe noted and then served poached backyard eggs on top. It was good, but could have used a little something to counter balance all P1050193the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. All in all a pretty good improvisation and I got rid of some leftovers.

*According the the LA Times, 40% of America’s food production is wasted. The article is very interesting: Save the planet by not wasting food.

Seafood Stew

When the weather is cool I love a good bowl of warmth. I’ve tried several kinds of seafood stew, but this one has to be one of the easiest and frugal. It starts out as a squid stew and you can eat it as it is or use it as a base to add more seafood to at the end. Today rather than simmer for two hours I put it into the pressure cooker and cooked it on high pressure for 15 minutes. The long simmer or pressure cooking makes the calamari very tender, the wine makes them crimson colored too. Using the calamari also gives this a more robust seafood/fish flavor. If you like a more gentle flavor try, my Quick Cioppino for Two.

The recipe says it serves four, but you can easily extend it with more wine, seafood stock or clam juice, another can or so of tomatoes and end up with enough for 8. Add some other fish and it will easily feed more.

I separated enough for our dinner, adding some shrimp and cod. Then I simmered for just a few minutes garnishing with parsley. I’ll pressure can the rest tomorrow. Then I can have a really quick meal on the table!