Tag Archives: turkeys

Turkey Eggs Are Available Now!

It took our ladies a while to get going this year, but we’ve finally got two dozen in the incubator and are ready to start collecting the daily eggs for eating, which means, we’ve got turkey eggs for sale!

Turkey eggs to eat!? Yes! Turkey eggs are typically about 50% larger than chicken eggs, and contain twice as many calories and grams of fat, and four times the cholesterol. They are said to be better for baked goods (adjust for size in recipies, though!). We find turkey eggs to be the best for hard-boiled recipies – the yolks are much larger and creamier than chicken eggs, and they make AMAZING deviled eggs.

We will add a turkey egg to a dozen chicken eggs (so, 11 chicken eggs and one turkey egg) for free at your request, so you can try them out. For $4 we will bring you a half-dozen turkey eggs, and for $8 we’ll bring you a full dozen: bring deviled turkey eggs to a potluck this summer!

Poultry Feed Comparison

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We try hard to make sure that the animals who share the farm with us are fed well and treated well. Our chickens and turkeys are always provided with access to pasture as soon as they are old enough to be safe, but, we do also supplement them with feed to make sure that they are getting all the nutrients they need.

In our area there are three 16% Protein Organic or Non-GMO options available to us via retail: Buxton Feed, Scratch and Peck Feed, and Rogue Poultry Feed. All are available in 40lb bags, which is what I compare in the chart below:

Brand Feed Source Feed Type Retail Price
Buxton Feed Non-GMO, Soy and Corn Free Layer Pellet $21
Scratch and Peck Certified Organic, Soy and Corn Free Layer Mash $27
Rogue (Grange Co-op) Certified Organic Layer Crumble $22

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Rogue’s organic feed is a crumble. Rogue’s feed ingredients are significantly different, and to be honest, not something we prefer to feed our animals because of the dependency on Corn and Soy (even organic, there are other reasons to avoid these). Rogue is the organic feed available for retail nearest us, though, so we wanted to give it a try! First 8 ingredients:
Ingredients
Organic Grains, Organic Corn, Organic Barley, Organic Soybean Meal, Monocalcium Phosphase, Vitamin Premix

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Buxton Feed prodices their feed as a pellet. They used to mill feed for Scratch and Peck, so they are intimately familiar with the ingredients used, and the two feeds are virtually identical ingredient lists.  We find that the pellet format results in a significant amount of feed dust in the bag, which our hens tend to leave behind in their feeders. First 8 ingredients:
Ingredients
Peas, wheat, barley, camelina meal, common vetch, cane molasses, Limestone, oyster shell

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Scratch and Peck produces their feed as a “mash”, in which basically the same ingredients that go into Buxton’s pellets are offered in their original form (the peas are cracked, as they’d be too big otherwise).  First 8 ingredients:
Ingredients
Organic Wheat, Organic Peas, Organic Barley, Organic Linseed Meal, Organic Camelina Meal, Limestone, Oyster Shell, Fish Meal

What they eat goes into the eggs that we eat!  Given the three choices above, which one would you rather eat?  On the farm, our choice is Scratch and Peck – if we picked out the limestone and oyster shell, it looks good enough to boil up for dinner.  You can see from the chart above that that choice comes with an increased price… we think it’s worth it.  We hope you agree!

Thanksgiving 2013

Last Thanksgiving, our first on the farm, we were thrilled to have so many things we’d raised or grown included as part of our meal. This year, though, we blew that humble beginning out of the water.

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This year we had so many local things, I came up with a shape coded indicator for our menu board.  The stars mean the primary ingredients came from the farm. That’s a lot of stars!

  • Pickles!
  • Turkey
  • Chard
  • Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Shallots
  • Cauliflower
  • Scarlet Runner Beans
  • Garlic
  • Herbs
  • Pumpkin Pie

…technically we could have added carrots and onions to that list, but our stores were so low that I opted to save what we had for our own use this winter. Note to self: plant more carrots and onions next year.

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Actually, neither of these handsome gentlemen in the foreground made it on anyone’s plate this year, as they’re both destined for breeding, not eating. Lucky!  That black guy in the back right, fed our lovely neighbors down the road, as thanks for the emergency donation of some of their extra goat milk when we needed it this spring before our does started producing.

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The finished product: an amazing, hyperlocal meal!

Farm Born

It’s spring officially now, and everything is giving birth all at once, in a mad, crazy onslaught of flowers and labor and tiny living things.

In the last 7 days we’ve had baby turkeys arrive, both in our incubator, and courtesy of our Royal Palm turkey hens, who decided to do the communal thing and have ALL been sitting for the last month on a huge batch of 20 or so eggs.

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Healthy chicks get moved to the brooder – the hens picked a terrible place to hatch babies, on the second floor loft of the barn, so they don’t get the option of raising them because we don’t want to find out how they try to get them down from there!

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Goat kids!  We’ve had three does kid so far:  Violet, Lady, and Badger, and have 5 doelings and 2 bucklings now, in addition to the older kids we brought home on Easter.  Two does left to kid, and they are taking their time getting around to it…

Thanksgiving

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For Thanksgiving dinner, we celebrated our year on the farm with many local ingredients:

  • Turkey
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Goat Milk
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Sunchokes
  • Herbs

Goal for next year: Add brussel sprouts, parsnips, and carrots to the list.

Harvest: Turkey

Today was the day we’ve been working towards since I brought our turkeys home at 10 weeks old, on July 4th.  We’ve fed them and cared for them and now, half of them are destined for the holiday oven.20121123-102912.jpg

A last meal, last Saturday.

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We chose four turkeys to butcher, and kept them separately in cages overnight, to keep them from eating before being butchered (easier to clean).  Catching them was easy, we went out at midnight, and picked the sleeping turkeys off their roosts.  Sunday, Glenna came up, and Thaddeus having returned two days prior, we had a butchering party in the shop.

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Thanksgiving morning: our biggest tom was only 9lbs, which is quite small!  Still, all plucked and brined, he was a beautiful looking bird.  You can see the difference between these animals and the Broad Breasted variety that is most often sold commercially.  Ours had much longer and more muscular legs, but a much smaller chest.  Overall, ours is longer and less compact than the commercial turkeys.

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All roasted and ready to eat!  We are grateful to our turkey for his life, and this meal. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pilgrim’s Progress

The turkeys have been with us now for two months: we picked them up on July 4th!  When we first brought them home, they were smaller than the chickens:

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But they’ve sure done some growing in the last 8 weeks!

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We’re down to only 8 turkeys, since we had one for dinner two weeks ago, but the remaining flock is going strong.  It looks like we’ve got 3 toms and 5 hens, which is a pretty good ratio.  I tease the toms every day, and remind them that only the biggest one gets to survive, the rest of them are Thanksgiving Dinner!

 

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They’ve started trying to spend their nights roosting in the barn, which is annoying because we know they aren’t entirely safe there.  But they love it up there, and it is kind of cute to see them all arrayed on various posts and beams in the old stalls.

Since turkey raising seems to be going okay this year, next year the plan is to build them their own coop, and divide the pasture so that the turkeys have their own run available, which will make it easier to feed them separately from the chickens.

Raising turkeys is definitely a different experience than raising chickens.  Where the chickens have individual personalities that were obvious even when they were young chicks, the turkeys are indistinguishable from one another most of the time.  They travel in a flock, always, and seem to make all decisions through a complicated concensus process which ensures that no single bird leads them anywhere, ever.  It can make it tough to herd them:  they just don’t herd like chickens!  But they are mesmerizing to watch wander the pasture in a row, looking just like their dinosaur predecessors.

Turkey Dinner

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We don’t actually eat a lot of meat here on the farm, since Talina is vegetarian, but I managed to put this plate together for myself tonight.  Everything on that plate was grown here on the farm, including the turkey.

On Sunday, after Sunday Brunch, we had our first slaughter on the farm.  One of the turkey hens had somehow wounded herself, and over a few days she went from limping around to just sitting in the pasture sadly meeping, while her fellow turkeys just ignored her.  She wasn’t able to eat or drink, so we knew it was time to let her go.

Since we are feeding the turkeys a diet of Scratch and Peck Turkey Grower with an addition of fish meal, one of our concerns has been that they might be taking on a bit of a fishy flavor.  Having to butcher this turkey early was a good chance to check to find out whether this was actually the case.

I somehow failed to take any photos of the actual butchering process… but allow me to say that if we do this much more often, a feather plucking device would be a reasonable investment.  SO MANY FEATHERS.  And she was obviously much smaller than a traditional turkey would be at slaughter time.  However, when we got her open, it was clear that she was ill beyond just the limp: her liver was green (it should be pink)!

Having just lost Colin a week ago, it is an interesting experience to have a death on the farm that was planned and intentional.  The two, so close together, are a good reminder that life and death are always right there competing with, and benefiting from, each other.