Blood and Guts

An urban farmer talks about butchering the turkey she raised

| November-December 2008

  • Turkey Farmer

    Image by Julio Duffoo

  • Turkey Farmer

It’s one thing  to rhapsodize about forging a connection to your food at the local farmers market. It’s another thing entirely to harvest that food from a rabbit hutch on the back porch. But while straw piles up in the crooks of the stairway, and sacks of soon-to-be-cured olives hang from the pantry ceiling, the home Novella Carpenter and her partner, Bill, share is far from rural: It’s a one-bedroom apartment in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood of Oakland, California. Counting the back porch, a small yard, and a vacant lot where Novella grows vegetables, it’s a complete, working farm in a very unlikely place.

On the winter solstice Novella slaughtered one of the turkeys she raised and let Meatpaper document the process.


Tell us about this turkey.

I think there were six turkeys who came to us, and he was one of four who survived. They had a nice little flocking relationship. The garden was one of their favorite places to go. They’d march down the sidewalk, and they’d hang out and play in the garden until it was time to go back to their area behind the house. When they were really little, one of the turkeys almost died. I came out one day and found him flattened and freezing. I picked him up and I brought him back to life, so maybe it was this one, I don’t know.


6/1/2009 8:38:17 PM

Sorry, this is pretty silly. Why kill when we don't need to? Clearly we don't need to. *Tradition* is what justifies the domestication and killing of animals, we're told. No thanks, that reasoning has been used to justify the justifiable for pretty much everything. We have hearts and minds and can choose to use them.

Colin Donoghue
6/1/2009 7:31:24 PM

I believe there are some invalid points and information given in this interview. Firstly, just because something is a "tradition" doesn't make it "beautiful". Violence and slavery are antithetical to beauty. Also the idea that the future will be "filled with animals" in people's backyards for slaughter as the needed sustainable option is not concurrent with the facts. The livestock industry is inherently unsustainable, even on a small scale, requiring more land for the production of the animal feed then can be provided on the small local site. And then there is the issue of animal rights which there are no quality arguments against, usually reverting back to the "tradition" argument, or some idea of speciesism that supposedly justifies the cruelty. Veganic agriculture holds the most promise for sustainable local food production, more info on that can be found here: & more generally on veganism here: Peace CD

10/29/2008 10:45:24 AM

This article is alarmingly self-contradictory and disappointing. The woman interviewed admits that killing animals -- arbitrarily taking life for a selfish, unnecessary pleasure -- is wrong, but essentially says that if she's sorry about it, it is ok to do so. Furthermore, using the justification that domesticated animals have helped us survive and that they need us to subjugate them to further their existence is the same argument that was and is used to keep slaves and women in subjugation to man. She knows it's wrong, but wants to do it anyway. It's selfishness, at the expense of other living, breathing, sentient creatures. I would hope that Utne readers wouldn't be fooled by this empty, selfish rhetoric and would explore veganism -- the abstinence from consumption of ALL animal products, and the opposition to oppression in ALL forms -- as the only way to truly avoid causing unnecessary harm to other beings.

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