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Posts Tagged ‘heritage turkeys’

What a tasty supper. We had a roast turkey and bbq beef stew.  Sounds autumnal, I know, but it’s one of the advantages of growing your own food and having a freezer (or 3).

Last November we took Chuck, the bull to the processor.  Being a miniature cow, he was only 300 lbs hanging weight. That’s still a lot of food for two people.  We gave a bunch away and still have several roasts, plenty of burger and some steaks left. Oh, we also have the tongue, liver and shanks.  I suspect I’ll be eating the liver alone.  In my opinion, grass fed, pastured beef is best cooked low and slow.  Grilling is ok, but crock pots, braising pans and smokers are best.  Tonight it was slow cooked in the crock pot and doused in bbq sauce. Simple, yet outstanding.

About the same time we had Chuck butchered,  we processed our turkeys.  Several customers cancelled orders on us a the last minute so we had an abundance. No problem, that’s what freezers are for.  On a whim, B thawed one and roasted it so we could have sandwiches over the weekend.  I’ve been standing over the poor bird off and on all evening picking at her (it was a hen).  Its a real treat to have something as awesome as a roast turkey on a week night in July that’s usually reserved for Holidays and special occasions.  Again, it’s one of the pleasures of raising food.

If you could raise your own food, what would be your favorite thing to grow?  Or, if you do farm and/or garden, what are some of your personal favorite treats that are made possible by canning, drying or freezing?  I’d love to hear your story.

 

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Periodically, we have to take inventory of what we have and where we want the farm to go.  This always results in some difficult decisions, because the heart and the head are not always aligned.

We have come to the conclusion, that we are primarily a meat goat and dairy goat farm, with pigs and pork as our secondary livestock and product.

We will continue to raise chickens for eggs, but as mentioned in an earlier post, we are out of the broiler business.  It is not profitable and not sustainable.  We’ll still do a few turkeys every year.

Beef is a difficult one.  We will stick with our two Dexter cows to provide us some meat and some cows milk for cheese.  Our mixed breed heifer will be processed this fall and our bull calf will be processed next year.  We don’t have enough quality pasture to raise large feeder steers for either ourselves or customers.

So, having thought this through, and sitting in my chair praying for wisdom, we are going to make some outstanding animals available for sale.

1.  Our two beautiful Belgian Draft Mules, Laverne and Shirley.  These girls are awesome, but just too much animal for our little place.  They need to go to someone who can work them in harness or ride them.  They are green broke and will need an experienced hand to get them back in practice, but they love attention, stand well for the farrier and load easily. They must go together as they have never been separated.  We paid a handsome price for them, but would let them go for $2,5oo total.  That’s a steal.

2. We are getting out of rabbits.  We have two breeding pair of registered American Chinchilla bunnies.  These are heritage rabbits, barely a year old.  They are worth a great deal and will produce outstanding offspring.  We’ll part with them for $100 a pair.  Again, I know we can get more, but we want to move them.

3. We have some super Nigerian Dwarf Goats we need to sell to make room for bigger goats.  We have some babies, some older girls and even some does in milk.  The milk is awesome, BTW.  We have a couple males as well, one of which has horns, but is positively gorgeous.  If you’re just getting into goats, or have a small place, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the perfect breed. Prices vary according to age, gender and blood line.

4. We have a one year old pair of Black Spanish turkeys.  These two birds are delightful.  They hatched 14 live poults this spring.  They are good parents and pretty well mannered.  Our place is too near busy roads, though, and they are good fliers, so they need a home somewhere more remote.  They have always been free range.  Call me crazy, but I’ll let them go as a pair for $60 and we get more than that for a Thanksgiving bird.

5.  We have a yearling female Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig.  She is a fantastic mother and had no trouble birthing.  Patty probably weighs a little over 100 lbs. She’s a little bit wild, but if you can catch her, you can have her for $50.

We have three or 4 two year old Buff Orpington hens that can go for $15 each.  They will lay for another year or would make great stewing hens now.  If they don’t sell, we’ll put them in the crock pot ourselves.

I think that’s it.  Our miniature donkeys are not for sale at any price, so no need to ask.  They are expecting a foal again this winter, but we will be keeping it to train in harness.

An opportunity like this will probably never happen again from our farm.  These are quality animals at crazy bargain prices.  Our sacrifice is your gain.  Let us know if you’re interested or pass the word along to someone you know who might be.

 

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Sometimes, raising animals naturally is hard, really hard. This is one of those times.

A couple weeks ago, our Black Spanish turkey hen hatched out a dozen or fourteen beautiful little big eyed poults.  We have marveled at how she has taken to mothering and how Thomas, the dad, has so easily adapted to his role as guardian of the flock.

Our little turkey family have roamed over the farm, foraging through the pastures as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ teach their little ones the ways of the world.

All that came to a sudden end yesterday in the torrential rains that found their way to North Georgia.

Turkeys are not the brightest of animals.  They are easily confused and can become distraught very quickly.  For reasons I will never know, our new mother led her babies into, rather than away from danger.  It did not end well.

Last night during chores, B noticed both adult turkeys eating with the chickens.  That was the first bad sign.  Once my chores were done, I went looking for the birds.  I soon spotted Thomas and his Mrs. wandering frantically, searching for their brood.

I found them. All dead; drowned in a puddle not 8 feet from shelter.  My heart sank.  It was quite emotional picking up all those little carcasses and disposing of them.  Sure, we’ve had birds die before, but this one seemed so senseless.  Frankly, we could have avoided it by intervening and taking the babies away as soon as they were born and putting them in a brooder box like the baby chicks we buy from the hatchery. But we wanted to raise them naturally.  Unfortunately, nature can be harsh.

Life goes on.  We have baby goats everywhere, along with four young pigs who are growing wilder as they grow larger.  The little porkers scamper about the field, enjoying every minute of life.  They have no fear of the rain or the floods. On the contrary, the water provides them an opportunity to do more damage, by softening up the ground and making rooting not only easier, but more inviting.

We have a donkey foal and a calf in the oven, due later in the year. Last fall’s batch of hens is starting to lay.  Life is good. Life is also fragile. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

 

 

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We’ve been afraid to free range our Black Spanish Turkeys.  Remember, our farm is surrounded by a neighborhood full of people, cars, dogs and cats.  Black Spanish Turkeys can fly.  This is not a great recipe.

Last week when the predator got into the tractor we were devastated.  A dozen beautiful half grown turkeys slaughtered and abandoned.  It was awful.

We moved the turkey tractor into a field with cows and the predation stopped.  The demolition, however, had only begun.  Over a three day period, one bull, two heifers and three sheep totally decimated the turkey tractor in their efforts to get at the turkey feed.

Yesterday morning, before Church, B and I went out to do chores.  I was watering the livestock and feeding the rabbits while Brittan milked.  During my rounds I went to check on the turkeys and discovered the tractor in tatters.  Every joint was broken as was the top door.  One of the sheep apparently jumped up onto and into the turkey tractor.  It looked like one of those boxes of parts that says “some assembly required”.

The turkeys were happily grazing through the tall grass and weeds.

We decided to pen them in with poultry netting and electrify it, but decided the grass was too tall and would short out the netting.  It also crossed our minds that more of the turkeys may have survived the predator if they’d been free to try and escape and fly up into a tree or onto a wood pile.

So…. we’re trying our an experimental turkey free range method.  It was and accident and may result in the disappearance of our birds, or it may be as successful as our chicken free ranging.  We’ll know in a couple days.  Stay tuned.

 

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