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Tuesday, 26th of May 2020


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The Hunting of the Turkey

A Flash from the past:

On the last day of October the ghosts and goblins came out for All Hallows Eve, the one night they are allowed to roam the streets and negotiate with homeowners for sweets and treats. They have now returned to their darkened lairs where they will spend the next twelve months, gorging on their blackmailed loot and sharing a 'sugar-high' with their parents.

Although we honour and respect the service of our veterans throughout the year, the day named to pay tribute, Armistice Day and in the US, Veteran's Day came on November 11th . We paused to remember the sacrifices the veterans and their families suffered and especially those heroes that paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Now our thoughts turn to my personal favourite holiday, Thanksgiving. Mrs Wilderness has never missed preparing a beautiful bird for us since we arrived in New Zealand so many years ago. As many of you know, and have experienced personally, it has never been easy or inexpensive.

When we first arrived, the supermarkets and local butchers would stock turkeys for Christmas and those would arrive from 'somewhere' in December. Much of the time they were hidden in the back freezer from those that hunted diligently for the elusive bird. To the lucky few who could afford one and who had remembered to put their names down some weeks in advance, they were 'doled' out. When we dared to ask if one could be obtained sooner you would have thought we had asked for their first born or, had been caught passing gas during Sunday Mass.

We soon learned we had to make 'special arrangements' to get a turkey in time to enjoy at Thanksgiving. Even then, the size of the bird would be a second issue. The general consensus was, 'nobody would want a large bird, New Zealand ovens wouldn't hold them.' We argued we would find a way to persevere but the largest bird we could order ended up looking like a slightly overweight 'adult' chicken.

I remember the year we asked the guy behind the counter at a butchery in Silverdale if he could order us a turkey for Thanksgiving. After explaining what Thanksgiving was, he walked to the back to check with the owner. We could see through the glass partition that the employee and the owner were not agreeing on much of anything. Sure enough, the poor guy came out and told us the owner wasn't going to order any turkey before December 1st!

Pushing the issue I asked if he told him we had just talked to the supplier in Christchurch and they assured me he could order right away. The guy tried again but the owner told him in no uncertain terms that he was not ordering a turkey for anyone until December. I actually felt sorry for the employee because he was obviously embarrassed by the owner's intransigence or rather, stupidity. Needless to say, we have never gone back to that business. We have had other people affirm for us that the guy is, indeed, a real jerk.

There was nothing to do but call back to the supplier, tell them what had happened and ask if there was another way we could get an oversized turkey before Thanksgiving. We were told they would ship out a turkey to us right away but we had to go to the airport to pick it up. You see, the turkey was frozen and they couldn't get a courier with a refrigerated truck to deliver our bird to us without breaking the bank or getting a mortgage.

We were desperate and I agreed without hesitation to make the trip to Auckland International to pickup our Thanksgiving turkey that was scheduled to fly in, probably business class, from Christchurch!

So that is how we managed to get our Thanksgiving turkey in 2007. Was it worth the effort? You bet, it was one of the tastiest we have had. Did if fit in the oven? You bet, not in a pan though! It only fit when we put it on a flat tray, arranged it diagonally in the oven and 'pushed' the door shut!

From our log: Pick up 'just landed' free-range turkey on 21st at Berber Logistics, Manu Tapu Dr. and Percival Gull place at the Auckland airport. Mail cheque for $110 to Crozier at Crozier Turkey Ltd., #2 Road, Ashburton, 7772.

So anyone who reads this from the US can now see that Thanksgiving turkey in New Zealand is not easy and definitely not cheap but somehow, we manage to celebrate the day in traditional fashion and truly give thanks.

Note from 2009 - we ordered our bird from New World in Albany. They had one flown up for us in a special order. It was free range and pretty large by New Zealand standards ... 18.5 pounds ... and only $120! Ya gotta love it!

Updated!2010 - Welcome to our world!
The Wilderness household 'invested' in Thanksgiving. Yes, we drove back to the grocery store where we had ordered our Thanksgiving turkey two weeks ago and picked up our precious cargo. 7.5 kilograms or 16.5 pounds of turkey for the princely sum of NZ$123.00! At the present exchange rate that's about US$96. I'm not kidding! We're considering asking the EU for bailout assistance.
And then there is this Other world!
According to Brent Lawrence of the National Wild Turkey Federation, many Americans hunt their own wild turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Lawrence said that in 2008 there were 649,507 fall turkey hunters in the U.S., and close to 3 million in the spring. He said the current wild turkey population is at a high of 7 million, so people can hunt without worry because each state manages its own turkey population.

Additionally, hunting your own turkey will help your wallet, since turkey prices are at a record high. Bloomberg reports that the cost of turkey this year is at $1.09 per pound,(good grief) the highest price ever, because store-bought turkey production is down.

On top of that, the American Farm Bureau Federation reports that the average cost of a full Thanksgiving dinner this year is $43.47 -- up 1.3 percent from last year. If you're not buying a bird, you can save around $18. (No comment.)

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