October 2012 turkeys and reminiscing

onward and upward!

I recently did a strange thing, one I’ve thought of doing for a long while. I drove past my old place….the birthplace of LTD Farm.

The bridge that I usually take back home from City deliveries is closed for a couple months, so I took my old commuting drive up through Osceola. While living there for 7 years, I worked day jobs, and I drove quite a way to go to them. How badly I wanted to farm fulltime, for real, back then. I spent those hours in the car conspiring, planning and dreaming. And longing for my own “real” farm one day, but it wasn’t quite time, not yet.

As I drove up 95 on the way to Osceola, I passed places I’d admired for years, and noted how they’d changed. I saw familiar, comforting things like the buckskin colt who is now a big boy. He was in that pasture 6 years ago as a newborn with his momma. Those were the days I still foolishly lusted after a horse of my own. Trees had grown, fences had gone up or come down. The place that had a magnificent herd of monstrous white cattle and a herd of rowdy young sons jumping 4 wheelers in the front field, seemed to be abandoned, not a trace of the beautiful bovines I used to look forward to seeing grazing on the hilly pasture. McMansion homes that were newly built way back then, now sit foreclosed or abandoned.

My old place was a tiny 1860’s home on 1.8 acres surrounded by encroaching suburban houses. Moving from an apartment in Minneapolis, it was heaven. Pure heaven. So much space beyond the average city lot, and it was mine, all mine.

It’s so weird to drive past your old neighborhood…an eery feeling of curiosity and jealousy. This place was where I set myself in motion, realized my weaknesses, and built up my momentum. This was my home when my mom passed away, a comforting place where I worked through the grief of losing my best friend. When I first moved there, she was there helping me wash the windows and get settled in, and then we talked on the phone every Saturday to discuss how my first homeowning experience was going. How I miss her. As I drove down my old road towards my old place, all these things flooded my vision and filled my quickly beating heart.

That little home and little chunk of land instilled my confidence in beginning as a farmer, but it was not enough space to make a living. I am so blessed to be with my husband on OUR farm now, with plenty of room to grow as we see fit. We’re still in the learning curve together of this particular land, dealing with the challenges of a tight budget, but enjoying the fruits of our labor in that we’re making it so far. I only dreamed of this day, and here we are. Don’t dwell in the past, but acknowledge it and appreciate where you come from. Seeing my old place wasn’t sad, it was more like viewing a memorial or something. 2 years ago, Andrew and I made a leap of faith in each other and our plans. Onward and Upward!

fighting toms

A couple weeks ago, I saw some of our young tom turkeys fighting. Since we get straight-run poults, usually half of them will be males. That’s just fine- they grow larger and create an impressive holiday dinner for our customers, but once these guys hit puberty at 4 months, they start showing off and competing. They strut, puff up, make adorable coooo-coooo threats back and forth, and then jump in the air at each other, legs out and wings flapping.

Normally this hasn’t been a problem- plenty of space to keep the air clear of fighting. The first victim of one of these usually harmless episodes was obvious to us last week, as i wrote about in a previous blog. Sadly, the second tom turkey was about to succumb to fighting injuries yesterday. We didn’t know what was up with him, was it fighting or another problem? The second you search “turkey diseases” on the internet, all freak-hell breaks loose in your mind. We are doing everything right, but what if it was a disease? The evidence towards that is mute- the rest of our flock is beautiful, happy, active and vivaciously the friendly, healthy turkeys that we know and love. But this guy goes down, after the other suddenly went downhill last week ….(who we harvested and are still eating delicious turkey sandwiches from) eeeek.

I actually said to Andrew maybe we shouldn’t raise turkeys next year. But I LOVE turkeys. I adore them! Tonight when I went to check on them in their new grassy area, they came A-RUNNING from the deep brush to see me, walk with me around and do their majorly chatty sing-song calls, as I tried to sing along. See, we are their family, they know us from when they were babies, and they are so curious and interactive as domestic birds. I really do love raising turkeys, it’s just these hard cases where I question our abilities and expertise.

This guy was not gong to improve, so we harvested him before he died a slow, painful death from whatever it was that ailed him. Of course if his internal organs showed illness, parasite infestation, etc, we would not eat him. I had my eyes on pressure canned turkey meat as my next project. Everything checked out as I butchered him today…no worms or unhealthy-looking organs. He had a broken femur from fighting, which was sad to see, but it was easy to cut that section out. At least he didn’t suffer, in past days we might have waited to see if he got better.

Andrew did the CSA and egg deliveries today, which left me with a whole entire uncluttered day to get stuff done. It’s cold out, and how wonderful to use the heat of canning and brewing to warm up the house? As I prepped the turkey meat, a pot of wort boiled on the stove, I babysat it as the various hops were added at different times as per the recipe with my kit. Then the brew came off the biggest burner and the pressure-canner took it’s spot. I loaded my precious glass jars full of turkey meat from this fighting tom and hoped for no major canning disasters today. Then it was watching pressure rising on the canner, while sanitizing the round of bottles for bottling the carboy that’s been sitting full of fermented beer for a while now, and getting ready to go on another brew kit that’s burning a hole in my pocket.

All my jars of canned turkey turned out sealed. I was so nervous! They look like an other-wordly sea creature aquariums, but, you know….

hill of beans

“Aww, that ain’t wortha hill a beans”- I’ve been contemplating this today, as I did pick a hill’s worth of dry bean pods. I went out at 10am and returned from the field at past 1 in the afternoon. What in the HILL! My beans are worth SO much to me. Not only cuz we grew them here, and they are very fresh, but all that time spent harvesting them! Wow. A hill of beans at the store will set you back a few bucks. Why am I spending all this time picking dried beans!? Well, it’ll be one less thing we have to buy, and that’s what it might take to help us make it. One little thing that could contribute to our bottom line. To be realistic, I know that if we buy beans at the store, it wouldn’t make or break us…but it’s the thought that counts. I grew ‘em, I’m gonna pick em!

Just zoning out in the field garden on the pintos…and something really weird that happened yesterday. I’m still digesting that and will report later.

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