I spent last Sunday at the Good Shepard Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas performing my 3rd annual fall heritage turkey harvest. People are used to buying turkey any time of year, but heritage turkeys mate naturally and are consequently restricted to doing so only during their late winter breeding season. After hatching in the spring, the birds grow for eight months and are ready for slaughter just in time for, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. I also spent the day processing several heritage chickens, including some older breeder hens, which gave a lot of rich, yellow chicken fat that I rendered into shmaltz. I even saved the feet and made 12 quarts of delicious poultry stock. To celebrate the harvest, I invited a few friends over for an “organ party,” where we grilled up some hearts and livers from the slaughter, yum! Just two weeks ago, my 10cf freezer was almost empty, but now it is just about two thirds full. Being able to do this all myself is very rewarding, but I also can’t begin to describe how much work it takes and how truly mentally and physically exhausting it all is. When I started doing shechita I wanted to be connected to my meat no matter what the hassle, but after almost three years, I admit, I would love sometimes to go the store and buy some meat like everybody else.
About six months ago, I decided to order some pastured hybrid chickens from Grow and Behold in order to taste test their product. G&B’s chickens and turkeys are kosher and pasture raised, but they are also hybridized and I only eat heritage poultry, so I usually forgo the poultry and stick with the beef when ordering from G&B. But I wanted to try their product for professional reasons and decided to go ahead. This was the first time I’d bought prepared meat in over seven years, and I must admit that it was an incredible experience - not for the flavor, which while decent was still inferior when compared to heritage poultry - rather, the thing I’d found so absolutely electrifying was the convenience. Having gone through the hours of grueling labor it takes to arrange a processing day, set up my equipment, perform the slaughter, and then to process, kasher, and package the birds, I was ecstatic at the ease of buying prepared meat. I could be heard raving about it to friends over the phone for days. “Rachel, you will not believe this! Not only was my bird plucked and eviscerated, they even cut it up for me!!!”
This level of convenience used to be commonplace in my life, but after years of processing my own meat it has become a true treat. Being connected to the animals I’m eating is wonderful, but that need isn’t so great for me anymore. I’m ready to know where my meat comes from, but not actually have to do it myself every time. Now that the taste test is over, I’m back to processing my own poultry once again, but I hope that, sometime in the near future, others and I will be able to buy kosher heritage poultry so we can all taste that sweet joy of ethical convenience in our lives.
About the blog:
Welcome to The Kosher Omnivore's Quest! My old blog on kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. For new content check out my new website, The Kosher Cut™. There you'll find: blog posts about shechita and related topics, educational slaughter presentations, kosher slaughter training, and a selection of high quality professional kosher slaughter equipment.