For us on the farm, Thanksgiving is a full body experience involving the heart, the hands, and, of course, taste buds. We start the week of Thanksgiving on what is a high note, although a difficult one. First thing Monday morning, we herd all the turkeys across the farm. They go on the longest, biggest exploration of the property to date before we carefully, conscientiously, and with incredible gratitude process them.
Our relationship with our turkeys bookends our growing season. It begins in mid-March and through successions of kale, chickens, broccoli, and a complete summer intern season and an entire summer farming season we feed, watch, and talk to our turkeys. Then, at the end of November, we say goodbye and enjoy their great gift to us–their life. With that, our farmers take a big sigh of relief to finish the last big harvest of the season. We are able to take a rest before we begin the planning for next season in all of its layers.
Thinking about being a turkey brings me great joy. When I walk to the mailbox now and the turkey pasture is silent I remember it filled with the chatter and waves of sound coming as our turkey flock gobbled at a truck that was passing by, or carried on a conversation with the car alarm going off in the parking lot, or said ‘hey!’ to a raven circling overhead.
As I spread butter (from our milk cows) on my biscuits (made with lard from our hogs and flour from our wheat) and eat turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes all made with farm ingredients while sharing stories with the Farm-ily, I personally will be overflowing with gratitude for my Thanksgiving meal as I get to share in these connections between human and animal that reflect our deep tie to place on Thursday evening.
We are what we eat. How wonderful that there is a holiday for us to celebrate the never ending connection of human, food, and land.