S & E Livestock began May 2012 when certain members of the Smart and Elder families joined forces to raise a few farm animals. Did it matter that no member of either family had ever been to a farm? Did breaking about 8 health/safety/city regulations deter us? Does it ever? Nah.
Especially not when this guy is around.
Thanks to IFA (International Farmers of America) associate, Rick Elder, my dad ended up with 13 Bronze Breasted Turkeys. Why buy 1-2 turkeys when you can get a 15% discount on the package deal of 13? Exactly. You don't. You buy all 13. This specific breed of turkey is very large. To give you a reference point, hens usually weigh between 25-30 lbs and toms weigh in at about 35-40 lbs. A 40 lb bird strutting around your yard is a scary thought... but what about 13? Ricker ended up with 10 toms and 3 hens.
The Ricker was stoked. The grandkids were too. The dogs could barely contain their excitement.
Cher had different feelings towards homing 13 turkeys for the next 6 months. Can you blame her?
They started out so cute. All thirteen little turkeys roaming the yard, eating out of your hand, and following Ricker everywhere. They loved people.
(P.S. We raise babies too)
They quickly grew and pretty soon we couldn't feed them by hand because they pecked hard! They are powerful birds even at a young age. They almost seemed like little raptors roaming the yard. Blame this on my recent time spent watching Jurassic Park, but I'm sure they are descendants of some angry carnivorous dinosaur. They can be aggressive.
The turkeys cornering Danny and Pearl.
They got big and scary fast.
And then there was little Si Guy, golden hair bouncing as he ran through the giant birds. Imagine a turkey as tall as you are... he's way braver than me.
Look how thick their feet are!
Something I found interesting about these turkeys was their coloring. Did you know that when a turkey is relaxed their heads are a pinkish white with feathers laying flat? When they get excited or nervous their heads turn bright red and blue. When they want to show off they will puff up all of their feathers and strut. It is actually really cool to see. They started strutting around the yard when only a few weeks old! They are actually pretty birds in an extremely ugly sorta way.
Big Daddy wasn't the tallest bird, but he was definitely large and in charge. His head always had the most color too. Did Big Daddy have High Blood Pressure?
Ricker took pride in his turkeys and they liked him too. They followed him all over the yard.
|(Second from the left is Big Daddy.)|
They were hearty birds to say the least. When younger, the dogs would chase them around the yard. Towards the end the turkeys showed no mercy towards Brutus and Kashi, seeking revenge by pecking, corning, chasing, ect. To watch the dogs get chased from one end of the yard to the next was entertaining to say the least.
This is where our story turns sad and gross.
*If you have a weak stomach or a hard time watching Disney's Bambi you may want to tune out here.*
The turkeys had gotten big, plus were eating a $20 bag of food a day! So the Ricker decided it was time. He called his butcher's helper, Antonio (who speaks little English and only has 7 fingers, not sure why this matters) and said he was going to bring them down to be slaughtered. Antonio said the birds had to be already slaughtered, plucked and cleaned before he could bring them to be processed! So Ricker and Danny called every butcher, processing plant, farm, and handyman from Utah to Idaho trying to find ANY person who could kill these turkeys. The only one they found was in Price and you had to have a minimum of 1,500 turkeys! Only 1,487 short.
Missed it by that much S & E Livestock.
Maybe next year.
So Danny and Ricker took it into their own hands. Literally. I will never look at the Apricot Tree the same. Or turkey for that matter.
It was really sad and gross to me. I have a really hard time seeing anything die. This made me want to be a Vegetarian for a while, and then I remembered it was Beef Enchilada Monday at Mi Ranchito. I still haven't eaten turkey though. It has made me appreciate where meat comes from. It sounds naive, but I never think of meat as once being alive. I just think of it as food. If I thought of bacon as a cute little pig every time I ate it, well let's just say I might revisit the whole vegetarian way some time for reals.
The Ricker and Danny Man had their hands full. A little too full so they called in the help of a few family members who may or may not have said the day we got them that they would,
"HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THOSE TURKEYS."
Does this photo even need a caption? Cher's face speaks for itself.
I definitely remember Roman saying he would have nothing to do with the slaughtering of these turkeys. I guess he had his fill when he was 8 years old helping Ricker kill our last set of birds. But being the good son he is, he jumped right in.
Sarah kept saying she was sure she was a sociopath because cleaning the birds actually didn't bother her.
Another photo that needs no caption.
The birds were cleaned and taken down to Ford's Meat Processing in Provo. We dropped off 180 lbs of turkey to be smoked and turned into jerky. The owner wasn't there but we communicated with Antonio as best as possible and he said he would have him call us the next day. Before we left he asked me, "You keel dem?" I said, "Heck no. My husband did." He replied, "You see why we dohn?" Yes Antonio. I definitely see why you, "dohn." Now I see why no one in the states of Utah or Idaho won't. It's disgusting.
Anyways, the next day the owner called my dad and said he had to come pick up all the turkeys we had dropped off the day before! First of all, I was so happy when we dropped them off that I would never have to see/smell them again. Second, they were occupying mine and my parent's entire fridges. So this was a very depressing thought to have them back under my roof. The owner called and said he would be losing way too much money to do that small of an order. The Ricker was distraught as he called around trying to find any other solution. Completely unsuccessful, he called the owner back and I think because my dad has been a loyal customer to Ford's Jerky for 30+ years they were able to work out a deal. It's a miracle everything worked out so well, I don't think Cher could've handled them back in her fridge either.
So that is our story of Ricker's turkeys for now. We should be getting them back in about a week.
Now onto the livestock that lives at my house. Because this story couldn't get anymore ridiculous could it? The aforementioned IFA employee, Rick Elder, decided he wanted to raise a pig. Being the single college student, living in an apartment in Salt Lake City, naturally he would buy a pig to raise, right?
Meet Houdini the Pig.
He is really cute and Brutus loves to wrestle around with him in our yard. There is no way I am eating this little guy. I feed him tomatoes everyday!
But seriously, since when did my daily chores include watering a freaking pig???
Moral of this story? Leave farming up to farmers.