One spring when our mom bought baby chicks at the feed store my brother got some baby turkeys. He was about 10 years old, and this was his first money-making project.
He fixed a little pen, put plenty of feed and water in it for them and thought he was in business.
It turns out young turkeys and baby lambs have something unfortunate in common – a tendency toward dying for no good reason.
My brother buried dead turkeys and babied still-alive ones for about two months until the few survivors got the hang of staying alive. Then they began growing and didn’t stop. His turkey crop ended up being seven very large turkeys. He sold six of them, and we butchered the last one for Thanksgiving dinner. It was so big – 25 pounds dressed -- it barely fit in the oven.
Even though my brother’s turkey-raising business ended up okay, he announced that he was finished with it, and he never tried it again.
I remember all the talk about that huge bird’s wonderful flavor, but it pretty much tasted like turkey to me. It wasn’t until later in my life I thought maybe I should have paid more attention to just how turkey and all that stuff got prepared for Thanksgiving dinner.
One Thanksgiving I found myself not at my mom’s house. By then I was married. My husband and I and another couple decided we could do this Thanksgiving thing. Actually, we had no choice since we were college students and couldn’t afford to make the trip to anybody’s parents’ house anyway.
So we bought a turkey and all that stuff. My friend Judy’s “Suzy Homemaker” skills were about the same as mine – abysmal -- but we were optimistic. How difficult could it be to put a bird in the oven and mix up that other stuff while it became a good-smelling golden brown?
The big day came. We got out our food, along with a tentative menu, and reconnoitered. Both our families were southern cornbread dressing/stuffing eaters so we had that covered. However, we soon realized we’d forgotten a bunch of little things like olives, celery, onions and cranberries, so our husbands had to go to the local 7-11 store several times. In those days 7-11 stores didn’t have much stuff so we ended up doing without olives and cranberries.
Judy said her mother always put stuffing in the turkey. Mine always made dressing in a separate dish, so we compromised and did some of each. As we were preparing the turkey for the oven I wondered why the butcher didn’t save its liver, gizzard, neck and all that, but I really didn’t like them anyway, so I didn’t worry about it.
After Mr. Turkey was safely in the oven, Judy remembered her mother always sipped wine while she made Thanksgiving dinner so we tried a little. It just made us hungry.
During the carving, we found the lost innards – hidden inside the bird, very burnt.
Luckily, our husbands were good sports – a great reason to give thanks.
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.