The re-education of the sisters: Holiday special

Over the holidays we had the pleasure of staying with Mary and Anna in Swinford, County Mayo (Ireland) for our second round of “life on the farm” lessons. Our mother accompanied us and jumped on board to push herself beyond urban retirement and learn something new. Given that our mum is booked for knee replacement surgery in the coming weeks she was a trooper and an inspiration! Who says a dog of a certain age can’t learn new tricks! False! and we have photographic evidence to prove it!


Turkeys taking an indoor stroll

Our flight out of Toronto to Dublin missed a massive ice storm by a matter of hours and weather avoidance was the re-occurring theme of our trip.  We were tucked in by the fire in Mary’s living room having a festive cocktail (another re-occurring theme) when we received a number of texts from friends in Toronto worried we were stuck in a travel vortex that only Heathrow can provide. Not the case this time and we were well on our way to another life changing trip. We also missed massive flooding in Galway when we spent the afternoon shopping for amazing hand knit sweaters. A couple of hours after we left the city limits, the area was flooded with sea water while once again we were enjoying a drink by the fire. Luck of the Irish definitely!


The cliffs of Moher

As we were staying on the farm close to the holidays, we were geared up to help “harvest” Christmas dinner.  Knowing that Mary and Anna raise turkeys specifically for this time of year we really wanted to push ourselves to make sure we were up to scratch. Turkeys are surprisingly big when they are upright, never mind that they look like the cross between a lizard and a duvet. They are so much bigger than chickens and I don’t think Steff nor I had ever stood beside one up close. Maybe once on a school trip or when visiting the Royal Winter Fair but nothing in recent memory. They are not pretty but they are very gentle, lovely (and tasty) creatures and before anyone gets upset reading that they were also taking their last walk – they had an awesome, healthy, and well-fed life.

Mum plucking a turkey

Mum plucking a turkey


Steffanie and Anna working hard!


Laura a proud, newly skilled feather plucker !

It was another link completed in our quest. We dealt with the turkeys from start to finish, we dispatched them, plucked them, cleaned them and we cooked one for our festive dinner. The remarkable thing was the taste and quality. There was a layer of natural fat that kept the breast meat succulent beyond anything I had ever eaten before. Mary also showed us an amazing cooking tip and de-boned the legs. By doing this it avoids the dry-as-sawdust breast meat. By removing the legs then roasting the chest and de-boned leg meat in separate pieces, it balances out the cooking time. This way everything stays moist and delicious!  Will definitely do that at home from now on!


Mary’s centre piece of local flowers and holly. Multi-talented lady!


Yum! Great carving job Steff!

Willing to say, it was a challenge to deal with an animal that is at least 14 kilos but Mary and Anna showed us a very quick and effective way to get them table ready. Sparing the gory details, the first one was a big step and we both had a long pause before the deed was done. While I can’t speak for my sister, my thoughts were wanting to make sure it was done properly and how I wanted to make sure that its sacrifice was not wasted.  I have never hunted in my life and until last year the only thing I killed was a house plant or two.  Now I think I have more insight when I hear hunters talking about the relationship and connection that they project when they track their target.

It was another life changing trip filled with new knowledge, confidence gained, reuniting with friends and mentors. Even better our mum was with us every step of the way and as we discovered was a naturally talented plucker of feathers – who knew! Guess those chin hairs were great practice!

tee-hee (going to get a smack for publishing that one!)


Green fields of Ireland


Mum looking more glamorous and out celebrating

Laura Hamilton
Laura Hamilton


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