In a year where we were promised a return to “normal,” Jake and I found ourselves faced with making some difficult decisions. As chronicled in the newsletter and on social media, we had a challenging season in 2020 with our hatchery shipping us extra turkeys earlier in the season instead of fewer birds later in the season.
Though we had both changed the order date and number of birds ordered, the hatchery inevitably shipped our original order. This stretched my organizational capacity to the max as I tried to match these larger birds to the smaller family gatherings of last year. We schedule our turkey processing a year in advance; in fact, on the day we bring our first turkeys to harvest. Because of this, our processor didn’t have enough room in their schedule to harvest the additional turkeys sent to us by hatchery. Instead, in early November we took a bathroom scale to the field and selected those birds we thought would dress in the elusive 13-16 lb weight range. Jake drove these lucky birds to New Hampshire for an early harvest and then drove back the next day to pick them up.
By the time we brought our birds to harvest in November of 2020, I can assure you I had already decided not to raise turkeys! After the order mix-up, having to both harvest and store the turkeys we took to NH and managing changes to turkey size requests – it became clear something had to change. Jake and I agreed we wouldn’t order turkeys this Spring as we didn’t want the same shipping error to occur if we had to cancel our order and by April our decision was affirmed as we’d been advertising for our season farm assistant position since February and still hadn’t been able to make an offer. One of the key reasons we’d made it through the 2020 season with a shred of sanity was for the help of our employee- without another set of hands on the farm we knew we just couldn’t do it all.
While we love raising these birds, we don’t love the stress that comes with it. From brooding the poults to transitioning them to pasture houses, keeping them safe from our resident owls and putting them to bed every night from September through November- it is a commitment. For us, one of our key goals is a life of calm, without stress. This goal has continually been compromised by raising turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Why tell you all this? I feel guilty and like some type of explanation is necessary. I know that the Thanksgiving holiday, as problematic as it is – may be your opportunity to connect with our farm and have a beautiful, local organic turkey as the centerpiece of your gathering. For that reason, mark your calendars for September 1st when our friends at Grace Pond Farm begin taking turkey orders. That’s where we’ll be ordering our bird too!
For those of you hoping to avoid disappointment by ordering a holiday goose, similar story. The remaining regional processor for geese (based in NH) sold his business in January. Our friends at Black Earth Forest Farm are now taking reservations for holiday geese.
For now, we’re looking forward to a quiet(er) Fall to finish some projects, spread more manure on the fields and to end the year with more time for rest. We appreciate your support and will let you know if we figure out a way to balance our goals with raising these delightful birds we love!