Turkeys Are Coming

September 17, 2020

Thanksgiving turkeys are on the way, and we are ready to take orders.

Though this picture is from last year, and our current flock is not yet this mature, our turkeys will soon be on pasture and ready to be harvested by late November. Turkey raised on pasture offers a beautiful mineralized flavor, that far surpasses bland industrial fare raised in warehouses. Pastured turkeys have a relentless appetite for clover and quickly strip their lot of its offering, so are moved once a day to fresh grass by Mike. 

Our turkeys will be frozen and available for pick-up the weekend before Thanksgiving, either at the farm on Friday the 20th, the Montgomery market on Saturday the 21st, or the Hyde Park market on Sunday.  This will provide plenty of time for defrosting.

Last year we offered both fresh and frozen turkeys, and the process became more complicated than it was worth. So, we are trying to simplify. A defrosted frozen turkey is just as good as a fresh one, if it is properly packaged and frozen at the outset. Fresh meat is an affectation of the industrial foods system that is nearly impossible for artisanal farms to duplicate. Our birds will be processed and frozen no more than one week before Thanksgiving. We expect them to be around 15 lbs. in size.

This picture of the neighbor's property reflects the beauty of Goldenrod in an undisturbed setting. We don't have scenes like this on our farm, because Goldenrod competes with grass, so we mow it down. But this scene was too striking to pass up. Apparently, Goldenrod can be harvested and processed into a supplement that relieves pain in joints. 

Yesterday we had our first calf. The mother is #1702, who was the second heifer born in 2017. This is her first calf, and sometimes the first round is a little confusing for a cow. Not for her, however, as she is proving to be very maternal. The calf is a male, so his number is s1702. "S" stands for the fact that he will become a steer. We put the mother's number on his eartag, so we can tell at a glance who the dam is, should distinct problems, like behavior, or benefits, like quality of meat, come to our attention. Steers are only with us for three years. Females can go either way, as a source of meat or as a source of calves. If the latter, some are with us for ten years or more.

It is always exciting to witness the first calf land. That means lots more are soon on the way. We have to be vigilant about observing which calf goes with which cow. It is easy to confuse them, as we have occasionally done in the past. It is also an anxious process to witness, for wanting to be sure the calves become attached to their mother within first hours of birth. So, the starting gun has gone off and over the next 45 days we should be landing 50 calves or more. 

The cow lying down in the foreground has footrot, which is not dissipating. So, we reluctantly have to treat her with an antibiotic. But we can't move a whole herd of cows who are about to drop calves across the farm on a hot day and through sorting pens in order to treat just one animal. The solution to this dilemma, which we have employed a few times in the past, is to use an air-powered pistol in the field to propel a flying dart, loaded with antibiotic, into the cow's side.  This is not a fool-proof process, but it is certainly better than nothing. And it is free of stress to the cow and to the herd as a whole. 

We face this problem so rarely that we have to relearn how to load the pistol and execute the shot into the side. One of the challenges is the dart only holds 15 cc's and treatment calls for 45. The cow becomes wise to the dart after the second treatment, and usually manages to make herself a more elusive target by the third attempt. I spent more time administering this treatment than planned, but was glad to have the air pistol on hand with which to do so. Once a cow has been administered antibiotics, she becomes greatly devalued, as we can't incorporate her into our meat program. But her welfare comes before ours.

This goat's cheese and parmesan omelette, accompanied by thick-cut, woodlot, Bershire bacon, made for a delicious meal this week. Ten eggs makes a big enough omelette to fill a platter and create leftovers for the next day. If you would like to try such rewarding fare, eggs can be pre-ordered here.

Turkeys are coming, so place orders for your Thanksgiving table. 

Drausin Wulsin

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Aug 21st, 2020