Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 October 2012 “Turkey Dinner or Best Friend?”

First let me say it felt wonderful to check my blog today (something I have not done for a bit as I said I was rather unplugged for awhile) and see comments. I do miss that and all of you.

A quick response to some questions: I actually still dress vintage inspired most of the time. While working, which is simply slinging coffee at a coffee house, I started wearing skirts but now do wear trousers more. When I am not working I mostly wear dresses and skirts. However, my  return to the “present” has been making me almost hungry to create new vintage inspired ways of dressing. We still do our Sunday outing at our local tea house and I often wear hat and gloves and always dresses of course. I even wear dresses to my art class, though I am thinking of running up a few simple cotton dresses that I won’t mind getting printing ink on. As the class is screen printing I plan on designing and printing some simple cotton fabric to make clothes from. And I have a wallpaper idea I may try this semester and will happily share with all of you.

Now, I am still considering my schedule for writing but I simply felt like writing a little post today so here I am.

alden1 This is Alden my turkey. He is an Heritage breed known as a Holland White. How he came into my life is rather a spur of the moment decision. In this photo you see Alden with his best friend, a Polish hen named Beatrix.

Alden is named after my hubby’s Mayflower descendant, John Alden. I felt a turkey meant for the Thanksgiving table should have a good old-stock Pilgrim name. His little friend, Beatrix, is named after Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Polish hens are actually not from Poland but from the Netherlands.

As some of you know we had our home on sale this year. Because of that I sent my lovely chicken flock to a local educational farm and they now all live happily on many acres on the ocean. When I began waffling about the sale of our house this summer I happened to be at our local grain and feed store. They had just got in a small batch of rare white Holland's. This is an Heritage breed that is on the endangered list. They are a very old breed that started in South America in the 1500’s were brought to Europe by the Spaniards and returned to North America with the colonists. They were prized for their white color for both show (originally brought to ornament lawns as do peacocks) and then for their desirable white flesh as a meat bird.

This breed was crossed with the broad-breasted bronze in the early 1900’s to create the super hybrid white broad breasted used commercially today. The modern hybridized version are such a sad tale, as they grow insanely quick often snapping their own legs due to their weight and are unable to breed naturally and thus are only breed through artificial means. That is the type of turkey one finds in the grocery store. If they are allowed to live they eventually die by being crushed by their own weight.

So, these heritage Holland White’s are quite rare and a local man wanted to start and maintain a flock (as the heritage happily breed amongst themselves and are a very tame bird). You can see in the photo how long and strong Alden’s legs are. His sad modern hybrid relatives ride so low to the ground their legs bend with their own weight. Rather a sad commentary on today’s food and how distanced we are from the humanity and reality of what food what meant to people.

Here are more shots of my handsome lad:alden2alden5


  alden4The darling little chicken looking up at the camera is Heloise. My current chicks/hens are not as friendly as my last batch but this little darling always comes up to me with Alden when I go to their pen in the morning. She is a Favorelle, a breed of chicken that has feathered legs and a big feathery neck piece that rather looks like an Edwardian ladies opera cape of feathers. They also have an extra toe that makes them look rather silly, but adorable none the less.

After deciding to get Alden (I had not chickens at that time having got rid of mine due to the house being for sale) I felt bad his being a small little downy turkey chick. All lone in a big chicken house. So, I bought him Beatrix as a friend. They were close in size as chicks and obviously now are miles apart. But, they have remained friends and Beatrix sleeps not on the roosts with the other hens, but cuddled on the floor of the coop with Alden under a heat lamp I had in their for chicks. They love it so I simply left it for them.

So, now I have 7 hens in total (they won’t begin laying for another month or so) our turkey and a fun little mini flock of miniature show chickens. I will share those with you on another post. My current hens do include two Americaunas for blue eggs and two French Cuckoo Marans for the chocolate brown eggs. I simply have to have a colorful group of eggs. They just look so good in my wire chicken holder in my kitchen. I like my farming to have a little style.

So the long and short of it is, Alden was purchased to be part of my grow at home Thanksgiving. I have a lovely large bucket of potatoes I dug that I planted this summer. Some acorn squash packed in my cellar from my garden. My big fat pumpkin is still happily on the vine at present and will make a wonderful pie and by Brussels sprouts are still fattening on the stalk as we speak. All of these will play a role on this year’s Thanksgiving table, but I fear the only way Alden may appear at the table is in tie and tails as a guest of honor. He has remained so sweet and beautiful I am not sure we can eat him. We shall see come November. I know it is hard to raise and kill your own food, but it has a dignity in it and a pure quality of life that I rather long for. But, we must take baby steps and this first attempt may simply remain to remind us to not ‘name our dinner’ as it were.

aldenheadSo, from Alden and myself, happy dreaming on Thanksgiving treats to come. And as always, Happy Homemaking.

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