Making the cut

And the turkeys that don't

Meet Miss Turkey.

She's a bronze turkey and a resident of the 1,000-acre Hume farm on U.S. Highway 40, a few miles east of town. She weighs about 10 pounds and is 6 months old.

She's alive today, which, considering that millions like her aren't, makes her an especially lucky turkey. There's a simple reason why she made the cut, escaped the chopping block, so to speak, won the turkey lottery, if you will.

She's nice.

"She's the family pet, so she can't get butchered," owner Roberta Hume said. "She's nice so she gets the pardon."

Roberta and Jim Humes, who have been married for 35 years and have lived in Craig most of their lives, have butchered turkeys on previous Thanksgivings. It falls in line with the couple's emphasis of growing what food they can, and besides, "That's what you get (turkeys) for."

According to the National Turkey Federation, about 95 percent of U.S. residents report eating turkey on Thanks--giving.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, about 70 million turkeys will be butchered, cooked and stuffed into the stomachs of hungry families.

The turkey carnage isn't confined to the U.S. According to the British Turkey Information Service (yes, it really exists), the Redcoats are also down with turkey.

The good people at turkey information found that 87 percent of Brits agree with the statement, "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a traditional turkey roast."

More bad news for the birds, but not as bad as what follows.

The process of butchering varies, but it generally goes something like this:

Said bird is picked out and relieved of its head. Another method is slitting the throat.

The Humes said it's best to use a "tom," or a male turkey. They can be surly old codgers, and aren't above actions like one former "tom" at the Hume family farm -- chasing people down like some mad lunatic with the intent of pecking them.

In other words, "tom" turkeys got it coming.

"They get mean, so it's OK to butcher them," Roberta said. "Only the tom turkeys. This one (Miss Turkey) is too nice."

With the condemned bird primed for the pot, it is then tossed into a tub of water and its feathers are plucked.

What follows is a removal of legs, gizzard and other housekeeping steps to prepare the turkey for cooking.

Miss Turkey is one of the numerous animals roaming around the Hume farm. With a hodgepodge of animals that would make Old McDonald envious, the family isn't sure exactly how many animals they have.

There are cattle, sheep, turkeys, chickens, pigs, dogs, a cat, ducks and a peacock. Maybe more.

"Every time I'd start adding it up," Roberta said, "I'd think of something else."

"All of the animals have their own little personalities," Jim said. "You know the ones you like and the ones you don't."

They also raise wheat and, in their spare time, grandkids, who enjoy visiting the farm. Brayden, 6, and Bryce, 8, were visiting Wednesday.

Bryce and Roberta talked about the fate of Miss Turkey a day before.

"We talked about it last night, and said this one is the lucky one," Roberta said, nodding to an unknowing Miss Turkey a few feet away.

The fate of Miss Turkey is sealed.

Roberta said she'll most likely be sent to a nearby petting zoo in coming months, her pardon an indefinite reprieve.

"It's all in the personality, I guess," she said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com

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