It’s the middle of winter here, and even though it’s not very cold right now, we’re still dreaming of spring!
This video is a brief look at the enthusiasm our free range & pasture raised ducks show when they think it’s dinner time. When Jason says “duck, duck, duck,” they know good things are coming their way!
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!).
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!
Now that you’ve purchased your free range, non-GMO Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey, you’re probably wondering how to cook it! You may have noticed that your heritage bird looks very different than the average grocery store turkey. You are right to think that there is a different technique needed in cooking your heritage bird, but never fear! We have some recipe resources for you and your family to try this holiday season.
Heritage birds are smaller than an average grocery store turkey and they tend to cook more quickly. They have more dark meat, which is great for roasting the whole bird because it is less likely to dry out.
Heritage turkeys also taste different than your average Butterball turkey. They aren’t bland and actually taste like turkey. That’s because, well, they are turkeys. Heritage birds are closer to their wild ancestors and spend their free ranging days running around the land, building muscle for your Thanksgiving enjoyment. The flavor of the meat tends to pair well with earthy, aromatic spices like sage, rosemary, and thyme. This means you can get creative with recipes this holiday season!
A delicious, roasted turkey!
Here are a few recipes that your family might enjoy this Thanksgiving:
This recipe calls for roasting the bird at 425 degrees for 30 minutes then reducing the temperature to 325 degrees until the bird is done. Butter is rubbed under the skin of the breast and the bird is cooked in giblet broth.
Here are a few of our tips for cooking your Heritage Turkey:
Make sure your bird is fully thawed before you cook it.
Take it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before you begin cooking it.
Don’t overcook your bird!
These birds have not been injected with whatever gross flavor concoction the conventional grocery store birds have been, so be sure to season appropriately (salt, pepper, garlic, whatever floats your gravy boat).
The USDA recommends cooking your bird until the internal temperature (the meat in the inner thigh) reaches 165 degrees. However, many chefs recommend cooking your Heritage Turkey until it reaches 140-150 degrees.
When you take your bird out of the oven, let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before you carve it. This allows for all of the moisture and juices to seep back into the meat instead of being released as steam.
Don’t cook the stuffing inside the bird. Because heritage birds cook quicker, the stuffing might make the bird cook unevenly. You can still add aromatics like part of an onion, apple, or carrot to the cavity to add moisture and flavor.
If you are cooking it at a higher temperature, you might want to skip basting the bird. This is because constantly opening the oven door lowers the temperature and might make the bird cook unevenly.
Heritage Turkeys do not need to be brined (they have their own delicious flavor). Some chefs say that brining enhances the flavor and others say that it is unnecessary and simply extra work.
Don’t forget to save your bones! Simmer them in a crock pot with water for hours to make a stock or broth. These birds were raised naturally on pasture and their bones, tendons, and joints will make a delicious and nutritious broth!
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, from our Family Homestead to your Family Table! If you are interested in sharing your Heritage Turkey recipes or pictures from this year’s Thanksgiving, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add it to our website!
Also, it’s not too early too early or too late to reserve your free range, non-GMO Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey for Thanksgiving 2016. Check out our Heritage Turkeys page for more information!
Our flock of heritage turkeys are getting bigger everyday and will be nice and plump when Thanksgiving rolls around. They spend their days free ranging and foraging the fields, pastures and woods of our farm, but what do they actually eat?
Free range turkeys enjoying the sun.
First off, we supplement them with the highest quality non-GMO feed available. They get a small amount in the morning, and a bigger ration when the sun starts to set to entice them back to the safety of their coop. Because we raise the slower growing, heritage Bourbon Reds, they aren’t as interested in the feed as a modern factory raised bird. They seem to prefer to forage for their food.
Our turkeys graze on green grass, clover, and other broad leaved plants. I have seen them devour a thick stand of pasture, and jump up to grab a midair bite out of 6 foot tall amaranth plants. They eat anything green, from chicory to plantain, and this helps to produce that wonderful rich flavor and the amazing health benefits of pastured poultry.
Because our heritage turkeys are out on pasture for their entire life, they develop flavor that can’t be found in a supermarket.
In addition to the green portions of plants, they also eat a fair amount of seeds. Some they pick off the ground, and others the harvest directly from the plant. We have stands of lambsquarter, grain amaranth, sorghum, and chia, and I have seen the turkeys eat them all.
One thing they love are surplus vegetables from our organic garden. They seem to favor heirloom tomatoes above all else.
Searching for seeds and bugs.
But they don’t eat just plants while out on pasture. They also hunt and chase all sorts of insects and bugs. Grasshoppers are a rare sight on our farm now that the turkeys roam the fields.
And boy do they roam. While they spend a lot of time in the open pastures, they also range the wooded acreage too. Mature oak and hickory trees provide a hearty mast crop of acorns and nuts that the turkeys strong beaks and gizzards make short work of. This is another important aspect of their flavor development, and contributes to the terroir of all the animals raised on our property.
Reserve your free range bird today!
As you can see, your heritage thanksgiving turkey has been busy free ranging for both its food and it’s flavor. There’s still time to reserve your bird this year and lock in the special $7/lb. price. Please check out our heritage turkey page for more information on how to order.
A few months ago we set them up in an old tobacco field on our land, that has been growing intense, thick pine trees and blackberry bushes for the better part of a decade. They have slowly moved through that field in electric fence paddocks, clearing and eating bushes and trees and opening up the earth for grass and other pasture loving plants to grow. They have successfully cleared a large enough area for us to have a new garden space next year. Exciting!