Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking back and moving forward.......

{ My new Sheep Christmas stocking - hubby found it at Tractor supply...I love that store}
As the Christmas holiday winds down, I am always happy for a few "slow" days to relax a little, knit a little by the fire (finishing gifts that didn't get done on time ) and spend some time reflecting on the year that we are about to bring to a close and the new year ahead. It's hard to believe 2009 is almost over. Where did a year go?!

2009 brought about several changes for us on the farm. Our blessings have been many and I never take that for granted. The opening of our farm shop has been a terrific outlet for our farm goods and also for meeting many of our neighbors and making new friends. A big "Thank you" to everyone who shops with us. Your support is so appreciated. Because the shop isn't heated this winter, I am going to create a page for the shop and link to it from the blog. I hope to have that done in the next week or so. I have several new items along with our normally stocked goods. We are happy to ship anything mail order other than eggs and milk. Delivery arrangements are also available.

Another beef recall by National Steak and Poultry has solidified our decision to try our hand raising Heritage breed turkeys this coming year. We will start small with just a dozen and go from there. We have yet to decide which particular breed or breeds we will introduce to the farm. Hubby is leaning toward the Bourbon Reds. We saw these big birds up close and personal at a friends farm a few years back. The Tom was impressive and friendly! Visit Robin's blog for great info on raising these birds.

I love the look of the Narragansett. There are several more Heritage breeds and the American Livestock Breed Conservancy ( is a great website full of information on these turkeys.

I have read that the heritage breeds need a longer life span to achieve the same weight gain as the big white turkeys that commercial breeders raise but the final product is 100% better and well worth the wait. Our turkeys will be able to free range on the farm daily and have a varied natural diet as well as free choice supplements. Hopefully we will have varied weights that will be processed in November to suit our all our customers. We are anxious to get started once we iron out all the final details :)

I hope you are all having the chance to relax a bit with your loved ones and continue to enjoy the time of year :)


Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

I love your stocking. We have too many horses in MD so our TSC carries mostly horse stuff! I have found some great cow plagues though.

I didn't hear about the recall AGAIN. We too are going to try our hand at some heritage birds this year. Since I visit your blog often, I'll be sure to follow your adventure and hopefully learn a few things!!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

We are partial to the Bourbon Red's and have a quad. In our limited experience, it seems difficult to get poults to maturity, I'll go to that blog. One day the poult will seem healthy and the next day you find it dead.

Love the stocking.

Nancy K. said...

Your Christmas stocking is PERFECT!

I wonder if I could actually make any income raising meat birds on my small place?

I've got to figure out a way to make some money to help me keep it!

Shula said...

I love the sheep stocking, that's super cute. Good luck with your turkeys next year.

kristi said...

Your blog is always an inspiration! I am going to try raising chickens for meat this year. I don't eat enough red meat but I love chicken. The heritage turkeys sound like a great addition to your farm including the farm store. And of course that stocking is way too cute:)

threecollie said...

Sounds like a great enterprise. Matt and Lisa served a huge turkey their friends raised at their Christmas family gathering and it was incredibly good!

Claire said...

That stocking is the cutest thing! Love it! The turkeys are beautiful. Last year, we bought a local free range turkey for Thanksgiving. She sat on my lap for the 10 minute drive home in the truck. As a result, I was completely unable to eat her. I think if I had turkeys on my farm, I would not be able to eat them. I'm such a softie. Sigh. And yet, I can eat grocery store turkey, which I know didn't have a good life. Makes no sense. I need to change.

lisa said...

We love raising our own turkeys and we will hopefully get to this coming year. We had to for go one year. Hope you had a good Christmas!

DayPhoto said...

What a neat idea! And good luck to you! I love your stocking!


Kara said...

Hi Deb,

This year I raised all three: the Bourbon Reds, the Narragansett, and BB whites...5 of each. Three B.R.'s died within a few days and I didn't know to contact the hatchery right away for credit. So I was left with 7 heritage and 5 BB Whites. I loved my white Tom, he would strut when I asked where my pretty turkey was. The Reds were more pecky. The Narragansett hens loved me, one would perch on my shoulder as a young hen. All were tasty but the heritage birds were outstanding. At 17 weeks 3 days (the Amish around here say that is "the" date) the BBW were 16 to 23 pounds. The heritage were 6 to 14 pounds packaged weight. Not sure I will do it again next year...maybe only a few it I can find someone to go in on an order with me locally. Twelve was too many for me. The meat chickens were faster and easier. I will do them again next year for sure.

Deb said...

Thanks :) Our TSC is very new and they are always adding new products. I do not get there often but can spend hours browsing when I do!

I love looking at your BB reds on your blog. I've read that about poults = I've been reading alot about raising these birds the last few days. So much information available out there. It will be interesting.

Nancy K,
Isn't it? :)
I personally don't think I'm going to make money raising Heritage birds. I think perhaps you could raising the commercial white broad breasted birds but I won't know until after our first year. Definately going to be a learning curve :)

I just had to share that cute little stocking...quite the find on hubby's part :)

Good luck with your meat birds. I can't find a shop to butcher chicken but they will do turkeys. I hate plucking birds!

The results will be interesting after the first season. Nothing like a fresh turkey for thanksgiving!

It's hard not to be soft when you are an animal lover! I get attached but know I can't keep everything here - just can't afford the feed and I know things here have to give something in return for the love and good care they get. Seems to help me a little :)

This will be a first for us. I'm hoping it will be successful.
Hope your christmas was great!

Thanks :)

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's very helpful. I've been reading so much the last few days of other's experience. We are thinking to raise just a few of the heritage breed and a few of the commercial broad breasted whites to start with as this is our first time with turkeys. We have good luck with chicks and keets and are hoping we do well with the poults. I'm really looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Milley! I still like the Bourbon Reds.
Love ya...Horace

Deb said...

Hi Horace,
Ok - we'll compromise - 1 B Red for you, two Narragansetts for me, etc. :)


Joanne said...

We have bought heritage breed turkeys for Thanksgiving in the past. They are so much better than regular white turkey! (in our opinion) I am not a huge fan of turkey, but we agreed that the extra expense was worth it.

I do think these turkeys could be money earners if you get hooked up with a mail order or high end heritage turkey outlet. My husband, aka the biology professor, saw that the high end gourmet shops all sold heritage breeds for 2-3 times as much as regular. If you could sell them directly to your customers at a much higher price, it might be worth it!

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