Slaughtering turkeys, it turns out, can make you feel like a bit of a psychopath. That’s because to do it well requires that the animal cooperate. So here I am, humming a reassuring ditty, cradling a shivering 35-pound feathered dinosaur like a baby. Walking past the plucking machine, I shield his eyes with my free hand. Then I roll the bird upside down and lower him head-first into a steel cone strapped to a pine tree.
I coax his head through the opening at the bottom and tell him to relax his neck. After a moment, he does. Then I open my knife and slash his throat. A fan of hot blood sprays up both my arms to the elbow as he kicks and thrashes against the cone. It pours out of him, bright red and bubbly, gurgles into a puddle at the base of the tree as I drop the knife and take hold of his scaly, shit-stained legs, saying aloud, “it’s okay. It’s okay, buddy. Let go. It’s okay.”