'Dirty Jobs' talks turkey in Alexandria
Alexandria (Minn.) Echo Press When Paul Nelson sat down to watch one of his favorite TV shows, "Dirty Jobs," he could relate to the program featuring disgusting vocations. "I guess I have a dirty job," he says of his work at his family's Oakdale ...
Alexandria (Minn.) Echo Press
When Paul Nelson sat down to watch one of his favorite TV shows, "Dirty Jobs," he could relate to the program featuring disgusting vocations.
"I guess I have a dirty job," he says of his work at his family's Oakdale turkey farm near Kensington, Minn. "I know I smell when I come home, so I guess it's a dirty job."
And though Paul and brother Dana joked about it, they never thought host Mike Rowe and the "Dirty Jobs" crew would show up on the farm near Alexandria, Minn., to feature their grimy profession.
Yet, the Nelsons were recently featured on the Discovery Channel in an episode of "Dirty Jobs." Repeats of the episode will air this weekend and Monday.
So which aspect of the turkey farm has been deemed "dirty?"
It's Paul's duty of "milking" semen from the turkey toms, which is then artificially inseminated into the hens. This is done once a week, however, it takes three days to inseminate every hen.
And while that might seem like a job most people would love to watch on TV but hate to participate in, the "Dirty Jobs" crew didn't jump at the chance to film the Nelsons and their turkeys.
Actually, it took two years for the two sides to meet.
Paul's wife, Jessica, first alerted the "Dirty Jobs" people about her husband's vocation in January 2006 after submitting info and a video through the TV show's Web site.
Within a month, the Nelsons received a call from a "Dirty Jobs" representative.
"He said they were interested and definitely wanted to come out and do the show," Jessica says. "We were so excited!"
But the excitement slowly faded as time passed and dates were continuously set, cancelled and reset. For two years show representatives were in touch with the Nelsons, but nothing came to fruition. They began to think the show's producers had given up on the turkey farm.
"They wanted to wait until they had other tapings to do in Minnesota, so they could do them all in one trip," Paul explains. "Dirty Jobs" is based in California.
Finally, the call came that they were waiting for, and a date was set for the taping earlier this spring, March 21.
The "Dirty Jobs" crew also made a stop in Detroit Lakes to tape workers removing a car that had fallen through the ice. That sequence will be shown at 8 p.m. Monday night.
Rowe and a crew of six men arrived at the Nelson farm at 9 a.m. to begin taping.
After explaining the process to those involved, the crew donned boots and coveralls and followed Paul into the "tom barn" to begin "milking the toms" to collect the semen. This process took nearly four hours.
Paul said Rowe, who attempts to perform every "dirty" job, did try milking the toms, but Rowe didn't have a lot of luck.
"He tried," Paul says with a laugh. "He didn't do very well. At one point he said, 'What the heck am I doing?' "
After finishing the job, packing up their equipment and spending time visiting with family members and signing autographs, the crew left at 7 p.m. - 10 hours after arriving.
"We couldn't believe how much time it takes," Dana says. "Guys were running back and forth getting batteries and film."
"Lighting is a huge thing," Paul says. "The light had to be perfect. They were working with all this different equipment and light filters. That took a lot of time."
But it wasn't all work. The "Dirty Jobs" crew did take time for a little fun. The producer donned the Nelsons' turkey costume and ran through the barn with it on.
- What: An episode of "Dirty Jobs," featuring an Alexandria turkey farm, airing at 7 tonight, midnight Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday.
Another episode of "Dirty Jobs" will feature the crew retrieving a car from a frozen lake near Detroit Lakes. It airs at 8 p.m. Monday.
- What: Where: Discovery Channel, Ch. 31 in F-M.
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