Time's up for turkeys!
FEATHERED FESTIVE FAVOURITES ARE PLUCKED AND READY TO GOBBLE...
"GOBBLE, GOBBLE, gobble," they all declared, as they strutted about outside one last time, clearly oblivious to their impending doom.
About 12 hours after these photos were taken, they were being gently coaxed onto a double-decker trailer for their fateful journey to a poultry processing plant in Monaghan.
Within 20 minutes to half an hour, all 200 of them were killed, plucked, cleaned, bagged and oven-ready. Such is Christmas for turkeys. Since the middle of September, Tomas and Ann O'Donovan have been lovingly caring for these whiter-than-white freerange birds at their home in Ballydrehid, Ballisodare
It's a Department of Agriculture inspected and registered operation that conforms to the highest standards.
Ann, a native of Dublin, explained: "We buy them in at six weeks old.
"At that stage they are from a pound to two-and-a-half pounds in weight."
About 4 am on Wednesday morning last, just before they were taken to the processing plant in Bloomfield, Co. Monaghan, they varied in weight from 14lbs to 22lbs, with one tipping the balance at 30 lbs.
Soon after 8 am, all had been processed and bagged – which costs €7 a bird.
Next day, the O'Donovans returned to collect them.
They are now being sold off to customers at a price of €3 a pound.
They will be bought by people who have placed orders, as well as by those attending the farmers' market at IT Sligo.
There are also customers who return to the O'Donovans year after year, such is their reputation for quality turkeys.
Now, with the birds all gone, the silence in their wake is noticeable.
Speaking to The Sligo Champion the evening before the turkeys were taken away, Ann said: "Tomorrow afternoon, when I come back, from Monaghan, the silence will be deafening."
Tomas added: "I will be lost after the Christmas.
"I will be looking for something to do."