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turkeys not just for Christmas

I have a friend who is suspicious of free-range poultry on the grounds that: "You never know where they've been." She is happier with the thought of the cosy, if crowded, shed the poultry used to live in and the freezer where they were laid to rest.

My friend can tuck in with more confidence after the news that free-range turkeys may not be all that free and the range not very large. To qualify for basic free-range status the farmer has to allow merely the opportunity for the turkey to access the outdoors. Those outdoors may even be a concrete-covered yard.

Many birds just stay indoors luxuriating in a minimum space which is about the size of a Herald double-page spread. (Non-free-range turkeys only get a Daily Record.) But many birds are too afraid of bullying alpha male turkeys who guard the open doors. They stay inside because they are chicken.

It is no joke if you are an indoor turkey. Breasts the size of Dolly Parton and a fractured femur because the legs can't support the weight. Heart trouble brought on by fast-rearing genetic engineering.

Most decent folk will want to follow best practice in their turkey's journey from egg to oven. A proper organic farm with unfettered access to verdant fields and woodland is the preferred option. You may wish to adopt the young turkey early and forge a meaningful relationship.

Walks in the countryside will help the family bond with the future Christmas dinner.

Take along some turkey treats. Acorns, berries, fruits and some insects. They love the protein in grasshoppers, dragonflies, snails, beetles, or salamanders. But not too many salamanders with the price they are.

There should be a home visit to familiarise the turkey with the location of the Christmas offering. When the day of ultimate sacrifice comes it is only right that the family gather round as the bird is humanely despatched.

There is a fair chance the family will have second thoughts and just open a tin of corned beef for Christmas dinner. The turkey will be out in the garden and the children have promised to feed and care for their new pet, honest.

Meanwhile, anybody interested in a recipe for a veggie Christmas dish of spicy Brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli?

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Families

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