Sardis secondary’s agriculture classes aren’t just learning about agriculture, they’re giving back to the community – farmer style.
The organic turkeys, which were among 10 donated by Sleepy Mountain Farms in Yarrow, were raised by the Sardis agriculture classes.
“These turkeys were given to us so that we could enrich the lives of our students with experiences in the classroom, and because of that, we wanted to give back to the community,” said agriculture teacher Tania Toth.
Agriculture is not your typical science course. While they still have to read from textbooks, and listen to teacher lectures, the difference between this course, and most other science courses, is that it’s all about agriculture, and the thing with agriculture, it’s mostly hands-on.
The class has raised laying chickens, broiler chickens, ducks, and now turkeys.
“We’re trying to give our students as much of a diverse experience as possible,” said fellow agriculture teacher Joe Massie.
The day before turkey slaughter day, a group of Grade 11 agriculture students toured guests of the school around the turkey barn, which was modified with halogen lamps and a high fence to accommodate the turkey’s needs. Without a teacher in sight, the students gave the guests an education in all things turkey.
They pointed to the dangling, red skin below the turkey’s chin and defined it as a wattle, which is used as a cooling device when turkeys get too hot. They informed that toms – male turkeys – also have snoods, which are red flaps of skin over the nose that turn bright red during courtship or in times of distress.
And they explained that their turkeys didn’t actually gobble, but more “chirped like girls,” because they were in fact female turkeys.
Grade 11 student Graeme Potts, whose dad owns Sleepy Mountain Farms, was sure to add that turkeys are also the “dumbest” farm animals.
“They don’t know how to eat or drink when they’re babies, they drown in rain, and a lot of them suffocate when trying to keep warm,” said Potts.
When the education veered to the reason why the turkeys hadn’t been fed that day, you could almost see the students salivating.
“You don’t want any food in their system when their slaughtered,” because you don’t want the meat mixed with half digested food, explained Grade 11 student Brett Kupp, adding that they too would be enjoying a good turkey feast.
The six remaining turkeys that aren’t being donated, are being cooked up for a pre-Christmas turkey feast for the agriculture students.
In addition to traditional turkeys, there’s going to be deep fried turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, veggies – all the fixings.
When asked if they were sad to send the turkeys off to the big farm in the sky, not one of them hesitated in their response.
“That’s the way life goes,” said Grade 11 student Ty Kirk, a hungry twinkle in his eyes.