Friday, November 27, 2020

My Turkey Story

The DrsC cooked a turkey yesterday, more specifically the other DrC cooked it and I carved it. Carving a turkey always reminds me of living next to a turkey farm for three years while growing up. 

My uncle had Lake's Turkey Farm at the corner of CA 33 and Tico Rd. in an Ojai Valley neighborhood called Mira Monte. He raised hundreds of turkeys each year for sale.  We lived around the corner with maybe 150 yards of orange orchard between us and often ate turkey.

Raising turkeys was a business he got into during WW II when beef and pork were rationed. Turkey was not rationed and meat-hungry people consequently ate a lot of it.

By the time I have a vivid memory, as the war ended and through the rest of the 1940s, it was a moderately large operation. During the fall and early winter, wearing a long rubber apron, uncle killed the birds and removed their feathers. By days end he was splattered head to toe in blood and feathers.

He employed several neighbor ladies to prep the birds for sale. This involved gutting, pulling the pin feathers, and getting the organ meat and neck ready to accompany the bird. One rainy Christmas season my mother helped out, taking phone orders for pickup.

The end of rationing was like losing a subsidy, turkeys became less profitable to raise as demand dropped. Peacetime Americans eat beef every week and turkey perhaps twice a year. 

Uncle continued for five years and then decided he'd do better ranching beef cattle in northwestern Colorado where his wife's family farmed. He stopped raising turkeys in CA, bought acreage in CO with a log home and moved away.