KW Homestead

Emma & Jason's pasture raised poultry, homesteading thoughts, and wild adventures.

Why Every Day is Turkey Day!

For most folks, Thanksgiving is a fantastic family holiday, a long relaxing weekend, and the beginning of the holiday shopping season. For us, it’s the grand, climactic finale to a year-long quest to make your Thanksgiving a great one.

We spend the entire year thinking about turkeys. No, really, we do. Our year begins and ends with Thanksgiving, so it’s actually our New Year. Let’s just call it the Turkey New Year, why don’t we?


Happy turkeys!

In the beginning of our Turkey New Year, we spend the first few days celebrating (and eating delicious turkey and duck) and after that we sit down and ask ourselves a few New Year’s resolution questions. Things like:

  • What went well this year with raising our turkeys?
  • What do we wish we had done differently?
  • How many turkeys do we want to raise next year?
  • When do we plan to start incubating and hatching eggs next year?

Once we’ve figured out what we hope for next year, we whip out the calendars and get everything lined up. You’d be surprised at how much scheduling managing a farm requires.

We spend the winter months brainstorming new infrastructure ideas and implementing some of these. Spring always kicks us in the pants and as the poults hatch and arrive we care for them amidst dealing with new chicks, ducklings, and piglets, not to mention caring for the regular crowd of parent turkeys, cows, pigs, layer ducks, and geese that we already have hanging around. Luckily bird babies are always much easier to deal with when they’re little and they eat less (read: cost less $) and spend their time closer to home base (read: safe).


Where are the turkeys? Standing by me, of course!

When the poults leave the brooder the real (and not so cute) work begins… Moving their pasture space, erecting moveable shelters, feeding them and then feeding them some more, keeping our ears open for predators, clipping wings, and on many, many occasions herding around a crowd of escaped turkeys who (if last year is any indication) might just decide to cross the street in a big, slow mass and go visit the neighbors (read: get back here you #%*&$@!!!!).

This is always the time of year, around September and October, when we wonder if they’ll ever be big enough for Thanksgiving since every time we see them they’re jogging about at full speed for no good reason! And yet, they grow and grow, gathering pasture-raised nutrients and healthy greenery along the way.

And then the grand finale comes… The turkey harvest. By this time all of our turkeys have been spoken for and we know what size and how may birds each customer prefers. This one or two day, epic affair is akin to the intense lead up to High Point’s Furniture Market. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of making sure everything is “just right,” and a whole lot of adrenaline carries us through.

Then we finally get to breathe, meet with our customers, wish them a Happy Thanksgiving, and send warm thoughts their way. After each customer has their turkey we can excitedly get on with our own Thanksgiving feast. We make our Thanksgiving (Turkey New Year) feast with wild abandon, cooking entirely too much and making the most decadent and creative dishes imaginable. One year we consumed heritage turkey, duck, a venison roast, and a squirrel pot pie as our main protein dishes, and that doesn’t even include the 15+ other sides we cooked. It’s the ultimate feeling of celebration, relaxation, and starting fresh.


A delicious, roasted turkey!

After the holiday we get emails and pictures from some customers showing us their turkey, or testimonials about how yummy it was. This is the greatest feeling! And then we start all over again… Brainstorming and planning for next year. So if you ever wonder why we seem like busy lunatics in October and November, and like calm and relaxed folks in December, now you know. Every day is Turkey Day!


A First & Future Generation Farm (2FGF): Happy 2nd Anniversary

With our 2 year wedding anniversary coming up tomorrow, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a homesteader, to raise a family, and to believe that our land carries spiritual and cross-generational significance.

fall homestead wedding

Our wedding day, on our land. Photo by Jenny Tenney Photography.

Plenty of young farmers our age (30 & 26… Oh yeah, I married a young one!) inherited their land from their parents or even grandparents, on down the line. We did not. We both grew up in cities, with varied experiences of what land, nature, and farming meant. My parents raised chickens and the best veggies you could ever hope to find, as we went hunting, swimming, and camping on land we owned beginning when I was 12 or so. My father grew up a country boy and taught us how to kill and gut our first chicken (how long ago that seems now). Jason’s family has two folds: a maternal side that hails from the tropical beauty and abundance of Puerto Rico, where fruits and other crops grow in backyards and chicken go wherever they please, and a paternal grandfather who always hoped to be a farmer but whose allergies assaulted him every time he tromped through the bushes.

This is our lineage.

I used to feel a bit sad when I read about other farms being Fifth Generation, or any other awesome, unbroken number of generations. I would think about the legacy that, despite the reality of precarious land inheritance, these families continue and carry with them everyday. Both the maternal and paternal sides of my family have memory of family land that for some sad reason or another was lost to the family history, either through development, the Depression, or family disputes. I wager that you have a similar history in the living memory of your family. Just ask your oldest uncle and see.

But although this family land was loved and lost and is now just a memory, it doesn’t detract any value from the land we love and live on now. Jason and I are building a legacy, however long or short-lived it may be, one that we hope our children will love as much as we do. We believe that this legacy will stand the test of time because we are tied to the land, but more importantly, because of what the land means to us.

Our land means life. It means meat and vegetables raised in the healthiest possible way. It means medicine. It means joy watching the leaves change and the pigs farrow and the cows calve. It means memory. Yes, already there is memory here. The trees speak of it and earth remembers. The patch of ground where we said our vows and committed our lives to each other remembers and reminds us. Sacred ground where animals have bled, we have also bled. We use the earth but it also uses us. It takes over our old things, and conquers even the toughest changes we make. And we speak back to it, and ask to use this space for a while, to carve out a place for our children, and our children’s children, and beyond. This land will always be here, until the end of the earth. It will change and morph and gather new history once we are gone, but it will still remember.

Our land is our life. We work on it, live on it, love on it, and one day we plan to die on it. It is the full circle that after two years we have already come to see as what unifies us in all things.

And so even though we start fresh in this land, as First Generation farmers, we are also so much more. We are Future Generation Farmers. We create now what we hope will support and care for our grandchildren, and theirs.  We give as much life as we can in all that we do. It’s a fair trade, because we certainly take as well.

It our most sincere hope that this land will hold a place in the genetic memory of our babies. Science recognizes that the unique microbes existing in certain locations colonize and proliferate inside the bodies and digestive tracts of animals living there (contributing to immunity). So our children (and ourselves) will have a very real biological connection to this place, to these humble and bountiful 16 acres. To me this is epic. An epic connection to an epic place, called home.

Two years ago when I said my vows to Jason, I promised many things. He spoke to me of the memories we’ve already made on this land, and what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained. I said these words then, and I will say them again and forever mean them:

“I will always love you. Until I do not live. Until our children are all that is left of us, I will love you.”

And when the time comes that our children are all that is left of us, this land will live on, through them. This land, and the two farmers who lived their lives on it, will carry on.


What Do Chicks Need to Thrive?

For those of you raising chickens for the first time, or just for those of you who are interested in the way we do things around here, this video gives you a brief summary of what supplies you need to make sure that your little ones make it through the first days.

We just received our 204 Red Rangers in the mail (we ordered 200 but they often send extra), and they are all set up and safe in their brooder space. They have lights for warmth, food, water, and space to explore and interact with each other. They also have guard geese living outside their brooder, which is an old, truck camper shell with hardware cloth added. Check out the video below!


Pekin Ducks: Pasture Raised and Having Fun!

We started raising animals for our family, and have since expanded to be able to offer meats to your family, too! But you can be confident that we still raise our animals the same way we did in the beginning; with our family and the highest health and nutrition standards in mind. When you eat one of our Pekin ducks, you should know that your product is the best of each batch! We eat our duck, chicken, turkey, and eggs right along side you, and we keep the funny looking (pin feathers or a funny packaging job) for ourselves. We feed ourselves and our most beloved family the meat we raise, and name you part of our farm family! Thanks for supporting our poultry-raising endeavors… We’ll be proud to offer you meat for many years to come!

This video shows you how we raise our Pekin ducks. Raised the right way, on pasture and in the free air (with a couple guard geese as allies!).


Heifer vs. Cow: What’s the Difference?

Ruby is a cow, Dani is a heifer, and Johnny is a bull calf!
So, what’s the difference?

What’s Up at KW Homestead? Animal Picture Edition

We are running full steam here at the homestead this Spring season! Between selling our free range Pekin duck and duck eggs at the Corner Farmer’s Market, kickstarting and expanding our garden, and getting ready to offer the most nutritious, delicious, truly free range chicken in Greensboro, time is flying by!

But so much is happening here, that we wanted to share some of it. This brief post will focus on the animals here at the homestead, a quick check-in with some of the stars of the show.

pot belly pigs on pasture

Our young weaner pigs getting moved to fresh pasture.

dexter cattle pasture

Ruby, our new Dexter momma checking things out.

dexter calf

Little Johnny is doing great! He loves running around and exploring.

freedom rangers on pasture

The Red Rangers are out of the brooder and out on pasture!

pasturd poultry greensboro

Our 2 African geese stand guard inside the electric fence and sound the alarm if anything goes awry. Or if they get bored.

Stay tuned for a plant update, and more details in the future!
And don’t forget to reserve your Free Range Chicken or Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey today!

Holy Cow: A Calf is Born!

Last Friday, something amazing happened here at the homestead! Something we were anxiously waiting for… The birth of a calf!

Our calf was born early in the morning, around 5am. Jason and I were sleeping, and in the predawn we heard one loud, long moo. Jason got out of bed to look at the cows, and saw something laying in the grass next to Ruby. Luckily, we had just moved Ruby and Dani to a small area in our side yard, right by the house and within the light of the street lamp. This means we were able to watch the story unfold from our kitchen window without bothering the new family.


Jason came to tell me that the calf was born, and together we watched as Ruby licked her baby to dry it off. After a few minutes, the baby started to wiggle, and we could tell that it was preparing to stand.

It is common for calves to stand in the first hour or so after birth, and considering their evolution as prey animals it makes great sense… Babies have to be up on their feet and ready to move from place to place in case a predator attacks the herd.


In the early morning light it was difficult for us to see the baby very well, so after a little while we ventured outside to check on the calf and see how Ruby was doing. Dexter cattle are well known for their uncomplicated births, unlike most dairy and meat cows. These larger breeds need a great deal of assistance to birth without injury. This just goes to show you what overbreeding can do to such a normal process!

About an hour after the birth the calf arose on wobbly legs. It stood for a short moment and then tumble-walked downhill towards the edge of the fence. We were worried that it would roll out of the bottom of the high electric fence, so we added a few cattle panels to keep the baby inside the area that Ruby was confined to. By the time we were done with this task, about an hour later, the baby was walking well and had even started to get interested in nursing. What exciting news!

Over the course of the next few hours, the baby dried off (with the help of Ruby’s tongue) and we could see the color of its coat… It is red like Ruby’s! And then, we could finally see the sex of the baby…

A baby bull! And then the name brainstorming began!


I originally wanted to call him Prince (in honor of well, you know, Prince), but it just didn’t quite fit. So now he has the nickname of The Ungulate Formerly Known As Prince.

And then yesterday when we were watching him clumsily frolic around the yard, I yelled “run, Johnny, run!” And that was it. Perfect name for a perfect little baby.

So our lovely, little, healthy bull calf is Johnny. And that Johnny sure can run!

Of course there will be many more pictures and videos forthcoming…



Video Tour: Checking In On the Chicks, Turkeys, Ducks, and Piglets!

We have a lot of exciting things happening here at the homestead, with babies being born and gardens growing!

Check out this brief video tour to see what’s happening:


Meet Ruby and Dani: Dexter Cows

After having our cows for a little while, we’ve finally become used to them and we thought that it was time to share a video with you so that you could meet them too!

Ruby and Dani (formerly known as Dutchess) have been in our lives for about a month. I was amazed at how large they are (even though they are a smaller breed of cattle than the average US varieties), and it took me weeks to feel comfortable near them.

Being used to pigs, it was a shock to learn how laid back they truly are. Pigs are naturally skittish and jumpy but cows are more relaxed and trusting of your intentions. They don’t always love what you’re doing, but they don’t squeal and run away if you make a sudden movement like a pig would.

At first, when they would come close to me (especially Ruby) I imagined that they were getting prepared to bowl me over and trample me to death (that is how ridiculous I am). In actuality, they were simply hoping I was bringing them food (how non-threatening!). I’ve worked around horses before and I know that you have to show them your confidence despite how much larger they are than you. I soon realized that this was necessary in dealing with Ruby and Dani, as well. When Ruby bumps me in hopes that she’ll knock her treat out of my hand, I bump her back and firmly tell her no. She’s starting to get the picture.

After working around them for weeks, scooping poop (which is perhaps one of my favorite homestead chores, no joke!), forking them hay, walking them into new pasture space, I’ve come to love them already. And another aspect of the cow world that I’ve come to love is their smell. Now they smell like home. Perhaps our future farm kids will feel the same?

We chose the Dexter breed for various reasons. They are a Scottish highland breed, and are thus well adapted to terrain that is similar to ours, here in Stokes County, NC. As I already mentioned, they are a smaller breed and therefore require less feed to grow into healthy adults. They are also very thrifty, and are good at foraging for food like the leaves of bushes and brambles as well as grasses.

Most cattle raised today in the US are much larger, but they also are bred for a sole purpose, either being a breed used for milk production or a breed used for meat production. The Dexter cow is great for both, making them a perfect breed of cattle for a small homestead looking for access to meat and milk without the hassle of complicated breeding practices.

We’re already in love with our cows, and we can’t wait to meet the next addition to the cow clan–Ruby’s baby. We’ll keep you posted about this development, as often as we can.

Check out the video below for a chance to meet Ruby and Dani!


How To: Rendering Your Own Duck Fat

First of all, let me start by saying that cooking with duck fat is about the best choice you can make for your health and your taste buds. Duck fat is versatile and flavorful, it stores for long periods of time in your fridge, and a super long time in your freezer! Fantastically, it can be reused over and over (unlike butter or olive oil) and it has a high smoke point. What’s not to love?!

Duck fat has a rich, creaminess to it that rivals pork fat in “yum factor” and lends a subtle umami to any dish!

We recently rendered our own duck fat from our very own pasture-raised, non-GMO Pekin ducks. The process is simple (really) and since we also sell our unrendered duck fat, you too can make cooking with duck fat a reality!

All you need for rendering duck fat:

  • large pot
  • a few cups of water
  • long-handled, metal, slotted spoon
  • duck skin/fat pieces
  • time (a few hours)

We began with 6 pounds of leftover, trimmed skin pieces from our butchering/portioning process. We placed all of this in a large pot and added some water (a cup or two) to the pot to ensure that the fat and skin wouldn’t burn. Then we turned the pot on low.


Once you get to this stage, you’re done with the hard part!

All you need to do now is keep an eye on your fat. Over time, you’ll see the fat start to cook out of the skin and the water will begin to evaporate (leaving just the delicious fat).




In the last stage, the skin with shrink and brown up. This is a sign that your fat is almost ready. Be sure to keep an eye on your fat, especially at this stage, since your little skin-bits are closer to burning, as well.


Once your skin bits are fully browned, your fat is ready! Remove your pot from the heat and let it cool for A LONG TIME. Keep in mind that fat is way hotter than water. Even though your fat will never reach its boiling point (this is intentional… Don’t let it smoke or boil!) it is going to be roughly TWICE AS HOT as boiling water. So be very safe when handling.

You can use a long-handled, slotted, metal spoon to scoop out your skin-bits, or cracklings. Let them drain over the pot before moving them to a place to dry and cool. Congratulations! As a by product of rendering your fat, you’ve creating the most delicious snack known to mankind: duck skin cracklings. Salt and consume with great decadence!


In the meantime, continue to let your pot of fat cool. We let our fat cool off for many hours before pouring it into containers for storage. Always be safe!



6 pounds of skin/fat pieces makes approximately 8 cups of rendered fat. We store ours in a huge container in the fridge and scoop out of it every time we fry eggs, sauté veggies, etc.

And sometimes, when no one else is looking, we sneak a small spoonful of just plain fat. We think of it as “duck fat ice cream.”


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