Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turkeys - Selling

Back again to the turkey farm, and today is collection day for the public.
I was with Carlotte and Polly (Louises daughter) and Polly's cousin.

We had a little gazebo and a table with a stuffed turkey on and a few leaflets by the containers, the public then had to come along with their reciept, give us their name, and then we go and collect their turkey from the containers. We'd but some rosemary and a leaflet with info about the turkey and how to cook it, in the box and then they'd go home. We were also selling lamb and goose.
It was freezing cold, and we sat in one of the containers watching the TV waiting for more customers but a had a turkey hat on to keep me warm ;)

There were quite a few people who just turned up without ordering, and some people come to buy lamb, or to order turkey/lamb for early next year. One of the geography teachers from school turned up to buy a turkey aswell :D

There was a Charrolais lamb born today! It seemed a bit strange to see a lamb in December, but it's all to do with the Charrolais having a different start of the year, and the lambs are born early if they are going to be shown so that they are a little bit bigger.
There were also 2 calves born this week - John bought 3 Angus cows to be eaten, he knew one was in calf, and another possible. One was sent to the abattoir, and the other 2 have calfed.

Because of being away, today is the first day where it really reels like Christmas - I think it could be to do with seeing 600 turkeys and having customers wishing you Merry Christmas all day, or it could be the hats we were wearing :P

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Turkeys - Dressing

I've been back at the turkey farm today, and they've been dressing the turkeys for a few days, but there's still quite a few more birds to do.
To start off with I helped to organise the turkeys in the fridges ready for the public.
After they are dressed, the turkeys are put into cardboard boxes, weighed and a weight written on the box, and then put into another refrigerated container.
We got the orders and found a turkey for each order, and arranged them alphabetically to make it easier to find when the public come and collect them in a few days time.
That took quite a while to do, and then I went and dressed some of the birds.
The head is cut off, and the neck drawn out, the oesophagus is kept for the giblets. You then have to make a cut by the vent of the bird, cut up a bit, and around the vent to be able to get in. You work around the cut, under the skin, separating the fat from the skin, all the way around. Then you grab the piece, and pull it out the hole.
The intestines and everything are all still attached. You place them next to the bird, and cut off the bits you need - the liver (but make sure not to cut the sack of bile) and the gizzard, the rest, you just pull and it comes away. You then feel inside and pull away the heart which is also kept.
Then you have to scape away the lungs from the inside. The rest is then thrown into a bag, which is sent off for incineration.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vet-Medlink 2008

I've been to Nottingham this week at the Vet-Medlink Conference.
I went up on the train with a few of my friends and it was a really good few days.
There were 3 of us doing the Vet-Medlink course - Me, Chris and Jen and a few more people from school were doing Medlink.

The three of us were in rooms next to each other in Newark Halls at Nottingham University and we were also put in the same lecture groups.
The rooms were alright - it had an ensuite in a cupboard in the corner, but I can't really imagine living in there for a year or two. 
I'd have to have it full of my own things and pictures all over the walls to make it feel like my own.
The campus itself was really nice, even though it's not where the Vet students are based.

It was all lecture based, covering all things vetty; from hamsters in a small animal vet, all the way up to elephants in zoos.
All of our lectures were held in the same lecture theatre and most lecturers used powerpoint presentations as well as showing us case studies and other pictures.

Lots of things were covered, from getting into Uni (in the UK or abroad), life as a vet student and what to expect working as a vet, then other things like behaviour, The Horse Whisperer and running a Holistic practice.
I thought that some of the lectures were just there to be sales pitches -particularly RSPCA and St. Georges University in Grenada obviously trying to convince us to spend money and study in the Carribean, but they were still interesting to hear what people think.

We had "The Edge" session, which went on until the early hours of the morning and was really interesting. The lecturer was really enthusiastic and inspirational, he told us about interviews, personal statements, work experience and how to stand out from the crowd. One example he used was for girls to wear something that stands out like one girl wore a red beret to her interview!

I met loads of new people aswell and also met up with some people I'd spoken to on the related forums before we went.
It was good to talk to people who all had something in common and was the first time I'd been with so many people who all wanted to be vets which gives you something to compare yourself against.
It was quite interesting because there was a huge mix of people, some who had a vets practice in the family and had been working there part time for 10 years, as well as running the farm and riding 6 horses, playing instruments and learning languages; others who had done 1 day in a cattery and then came on this course to see if they could become a vet.
It makes you think about things and some of the stories people come up with, whether they really are super humans or if its all a bit of an act.

The way it was done crammed lots of things into the day so you always had something to do and although we weren't doing anything physical everyone was really tired at night, so you could either eat on campus, or we just ordered pizza between the 3 of us and then went to bed at 11ish because we had to be up at 7am!

Last night there were a lot of people wondering around halls so we got talking to a group of girls from Wiltshire and sat talking to them for a few hours. We had a case histories test today and were given a list of diseases, one of the girls had a few old vet books with her, so we worked out what a few of the cases off the list were ready to be tested tomorrow.

I also bought a newly released book called 'Vet School' while I was there, written by two vet students called Christopher Shivelton Queen and Matthew James Swaffield who were speakers on the course.
We got a change to speak to them after their lecture and they both seemed like really nice people, really helpful answering questions and from the first couple of pages it seems a good read!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Turkeys - Killing and Plucking 2

Back to the turkey farm today.
I had a go at killing a few today and then plucking them.

You have to go into the shed, choose a bird and then carry it into the back of a converted livestock trailor which we used to dispatch all the birds in. The birds head is put into a cone, with its back facing you. It looks like a big upside down traffic cone, but with a wider hole for the neck to come out of, and it is made out of metal, they come in different sizes to cater for the different weights - from 9lbs to 53lbs! The birds head then comes out the bottom.
You hold on to the turkeys neck, and then get the electric stunner. You hold the stunner in your hand, and there are 2 prongs coming of the side, with pads on the end. The pads need to be touching the turkeys head, and then you press the button, which stuns the bird. You count to 15, while still holding the button and holding the pads to the birds head, and you can feel the neck and the head relax. You then take a knife, push it into the neck and cut towards the bone, which hits the artery and then the turkey bleeds into a bucket.
The worst thing for me was going into the shed and choosing who would be killed next. For me it wasn't the fear of actually killing something, it was me thinking that I could do something wrong and harm the turkey. I wastched a few be dispatched, and once I'd done the first one I was ok and knew that it hadn't gone throught too much pain and suffering.

Next the bird is carried into the container, plucked and then hung in the refrigerated containers for two weeks.

I feel better now that I know I'm able to dispatch of an animal and that I can cope with all the emotions and things like that.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Turkeys - Killing and Plucking

I went back to the turkey farm today, and its their 3rd day of killing the turkeys, they have 600 birds, so it takes a while to get them all done. They have been raised from day old chicks and now is the time when they are killed and plucked.
There was about 6 of us all in a container with a rail running along the top, with hook things on. The turkeys legs are put into either side of the hook, and hung up, and then you start to pluck them. The wings should be done first because if the bird starts to go cold they are hard to pull out because the fat that is holding in the feather turns into a solid. You just hold onto the wing and pull the flight feathers up, they are quite hard to pull out, and sometimes you have to use pliers to get them out. Then you start on the back of the wing with the smaller feathers, onto the breast and up to the legs. The feather 'pins' left behind from some feathers need to be pulled out aswell. Once that is done the bird is unhooked and taken to the big fridge containers and hung up on the racks I painted a few weeks ago.

The feathers are just thrown onto the floor of the container, and then bagged up and sent for incineration as they're classed as industrial waste!

The birds are hung there for a few weeks to let the muscles relax, which gives a better flavour and texture to the meat.

I didn't kill and today, but I think I'm going to tomorrow.