13 Nov 2009 - 5:21 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

My apologies to the turkeys. Yes, I did find you creepy. I did find it difficult, having to show you where to find your food in the morning. Every morning. I did sometimes resent having to herd you back in from the road at least four times a day after I’d hear cars skid on the dirt as they braked trying to miss hitting you. I did struggle to love you as immediately, as unconditionally, as I did Maggie the cow. Or even Prosciutto and Cassoulet the pigs.

I apologise, because in the next life, turkeys, you taste simply delicious. Truly great. Like turkey should taste and never does. This is meat that is moist, flavoursome, tender and naturally sweet. The skin browns up to lacquer like brown-ness, the bones make a great stock. It’s like the flavour of all the turkeys you ever wanted to eat rolled into one. I don’t like commercial turkey meat. But I do love this.

I find killing the birds inordinately bad. I don’t like the chopping of the neck, and hate the plucking and gutting of the birds. I find I have to shower straight afterwards and don’t want to eat the meat for a couple of days, at least. It’s the smell of them, mostly of the feathers, that does it. But if this meat, poultry with real, inherent, complex flavour, is the end result, and the only way I can get it is to rear and kill the birds myself, I’ll do it.

The longer days have meant there are births, not just deaths, on the farm. I found my first Barnevelder egg. Sure, it was tiny, barely bigger than the end joint of my thumb. But what a day it was, so exciting when you’ve raised the birds from fluffy, fragile chicks, to matronly, full grown chooks. I don’t know who is laying. Blossom, perhaps, or is it Beryl? Apparently you can pick the chooks up, look between their legs, and tell. I think I’ll just wait and see how many eggs are laid.  

Within a few days there are more eggs, more than one a day. Again, they’re tiny. Sometimes, the eggs have been coated in too fine a shell, so thin it breaks when the egg is laid. Apparently it can take a while for some birds to hit their stride. I put out a bowl of shell grit; coarse bits of shell that help in their crop (chickens don’t have teeth, they eat small stones that grind grain down in their necks) but more importantly help give the birds calcium. If you’re producing an egg a day, five days a week, you need all the calcium, and other nutrients, that you can get.

I boil my first ever Puggle Farm egg so I can have it at its most pure. I have it with sourdough toast soldiers smothered in homemade butter. The yolk is impossibly orange. Incandescent, almost. The flavour is rich, about three times the flavour of shop bought eggs, even the free range ones I’m used to. It’s taken over half of my first year on the farm, but finally one of the most basic foods, one that is overlooked by even the poshest restaurants in the land, I produce myself. These eggs, from chooks that scratch for grubs and nibble on grass, are the most humble expression of just how good, honest and true farmhouse cooking can be. Nothing bought compares to this. It helps me reconnect with the land, with the ideal of producing everyday food from this plot of dirt. What’s more, it’s bloody delicious.