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.
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.
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.
Fairly 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