Like Clarice in Silence of the Lambs I have my own animal slaughterhouse story. When I was in 4th grade my father and I joined a YMCA group for elementary boys similar to today’s Indian Guides except that the tribes were divided up by school. We had intra-mural sports on Saturday mornings and there was a focus on wilderness, hiking, & father-son relationships. One weekend we took an overnight trip to Joshua Tree, CA, which is straight east of LA at the start of the Mojave Desert. Eleven kids and about five dads ( dads tend to bail out on the full weekend thing, but that’s cool ), spent the night in sleeping bags and pup tents. We learned to camp, build a fire without a match (never worked so a lighter was brought out) and certain survival guides, but mostly is was about having fun in the wide open. On late Saturday afternoon one of the fathers arranged for a tour of a turkey farm that was just 5-miles from town. There were thousands if not tens of thousands of turkeys in rudimentary housing. The stench of turkey and turkey feces just lumed in the warm air…it was a run down turkey farm. This was 1965 and there weren’t the restrictions on domestic food like there is today. We next went into the slaughter house (whatever dad set this up was either sadist or brain dead) where I saw an assembly line of turkeys grabbed up by their feet and hooked upside down to what looked like a gigantic dry cleaning conveyor belt. They were gawking and flapping their wings until they got to the man in the yellow and red rain jacket. He simply took his long knife and sliced the neck of each turkey as it came by making it rain blood each time, and the conveyor belt never stopped. I would say he could kill one turkey every 5-seconds which would be about 720 per hour for eight hours each day. The turkeys then went thru a enclosed fire where there feathers were burnt off and on from there to eventually our tables. The smell of freshly killed and singed turkeys was overwhemingly puignant…bad enough to vomit, but you are warned not to, like that will stop you. Three kids bailed out at the sight of turkeys having their necks sliced, two kids vomited outside the house, and the rest of us were stunned silent…what did we just see? I couldn’t get over that someone had the job of slicing one turkey’s neck after another…it was haunting to me, like a mass murderer or something, but 40-hours a week, every week. That place stunk like death squared. What a crappy place to take a bunch of 9-year olds…how ’bout we stick to hiking and enjoying the smell of unpolluted air.
Did you know that turkeys are one, if not number one, of the dumbest domestic animals on the planet? Turkeys have been known to stare straight up into the sky when it is raining and subsequently drown themselves. They are so domesticated they cannot have sex anymore. Every female turkey is fertilized by humans. They have a zero chance of survival without humans. As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!! – WKRP in Cincinnati, 1978