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Deliciously moist turkey

Deliciously moist turkey

Smallholder Samantha Gray on the first of many gratifying home-grown Christmas dinners
"There was no room for error"

It is always at this time of year that I remember and appreciate our first ever home-grown meat

Keeping chickens, pigs, veg, kids and cottages is a fun and busy way of life… fattening up turkeys for the obligatory festive feast is an experience I will never forget.

In true smallholding style we bought three, eight-week-old Norfolk Black turkeys from a neighbouring farm with a plan to grow them for Christmas. The chickens coped very well alongside their new friends. At eight weeks they were a similar size but by seventeen it became clear that the chickens were somewhat perturbed by the giants that were now dominating their pen.

Not for long…

Alas came the day we had to be smallholders. Watching YouTube videos on the most humane ‘kill’ methods was something of an eye-opener as we prepared ourselves for an enormously large and strong bird.

There was no room for error. It worked, as did the magical appearance of turkey heaven and a heightened appreciation of the food we were going to eat.

It never occurred to me at the time how the children aged 3 and 5 were going to accept this…or not.

As the turkey was hanging ready to be plucked my youngest became totally intrigued, wanting confirmation that this was the same bird that had been alive in the chicken pen. He became interest in plucking and followed it through to the kitchen sink, still wanting confirmation that this was the same turkey. Once gutted, cleaned he was still making sure it was the same bird. Christmas Day arrived the turkey was dressed, cooked and served. Confronted with his plate of food he asked one last time, “Is this the same turkey that was in the chicken pen, the one I saw with all the feathers on”. “Yes” was the reply. He then leaned over his plate, kissed the meat and said “Thank you turkey”, then promptly gobbled it all up. Pardon the pun!

Despite all the effort, it was indeed the most deliciously moist turkey we had ever eaten and the first of many gratifying home-grown Christmas dinners; the perfect taste of smallholding.


Sam Gray is author of Doing It In Wellies; order here. To stay at Middle Farm Cottages visit middlefarmcottages.co.uk


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