Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkeys and me go way back. This is my grandfather at his turkey farm in Illinois where my dad grew up. When my parents got married they built a home just a few miles away, so I grew up playing and working on the turkey farm. Each spring, when the 3,000 chicks arrived from the hatchery in Iowa (usually at about 3 a.m.), my cousins and I would all be summoned to the farm to help lift the fuzzy birds out of their boxes, dip their beaks in a water trough and set them loose in the sawdust-covered pen. When they were a few weeks old, we'd reconvene at the farm to do a now obsolete process of "de-beaking," which meant trimming the turkeys' top beak with a tiny red-hot guillotine so they wouldn't peck each other. During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, people drove from all over town and from far-flung locations to get their fresh, home-grown, corn-fed Thanksgiving turkey. My cousins would help the adults at the cash register and answering phones in the "sales room," a renovated garage next to my grandparents' country farm house. The smell of percolated coffee and doughnuts filled the air. My cousin runs the farm now, and even though the birds are raised at his farm, they still sell them at the sales room, just like the old days. Here's an article about the farm in the Pekin Daily Times.

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