KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Tag: turkeys (page 1 of 3)

Tom Turkeys in the Winter Woods

Sometimes we forget to videotape our breeding flock of turkeys during their “carefree” season: winter. As usual, the males spent most of the day showing off for each other, while the females were off in search of snacks. You can hear Emma gobbling on this video to motivate the toms to respond. They sure are some fun, noisy critters.

Herding Turkeys with a Baby

Our 2-month-old son, Uhtred, loves being outside! He’s met all of the animals, and the turkeys are his stand-out favorites. He loves the noise! Check out this video of our pasture-raised. free-range, non-GMO heritage turkeys being herded around the yard by Uhtred!

Free Range Tom Turkey Fight

Now that the turkeys are reaching maturity, the toms are getting frisky and excited to battle each other for hen affection. Even though the hens ignore the boys, the toms sure do have fun messing with each other!

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!


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:


A Turkey Nest for Every Turkey Butt…

Our first broody turkey is still sitting on her eggs, and while we wait to see if any of her eggs hatch, we’ve given two more hens their own nests. These hens were likely the ones who wanted to share Mama Hen’s nest because they are so committed to sitting on their own nests!

We decided to turn a small, gated area inside of the turkey house into a brooding area. Originally we built this area to use as the access point to utilizing the upstairs and for storage of grains and food. Up until the other day, we hadn’t actually ever used the little area for anything, so it sat empty and sad.

Until now! The space is small and cozy but still has enough room for 5 turkey nest boxes, their own food and water, and a little foot path.
The two hens that we’ve put in there were picked based on the same requirements that I mentioned in my last post about our broody hen. In each of the 5 nests we put some decoy eggs and marked them so we would know they weren’t freshly laid. Then we caught the hens and put them inside the space, letting them choose which nest they liked best. The first hen to pick chose very quickly, and within minutes settled down on a nest in a corner made even cozier with cardboard walls. The other hen took longer to settle down. At first she seemed concerned to be away from the rest of the flock, but once we left she chose a nest in the middle of a few others nest options. She stole all the other eggs that were not under the other hen, and gathered them together in her spot.

When we returned and saw her devotion/thievery, we traded all of the decoy eggs under each hen for fresher, probably-fertile eggs. Now they each sit on 15 eggs. The eggs in each nest are marked differently so we will know if one hen tries to steal from another.


Can you see the hens? One sits so low to the ground that she is hard to see, and the other is only visible because her tail is sticking out from behind the cardboard corner. Go mamas, go!

And… Now we wait. We check on them everyday, making sure that they have enough food and water and that they continue to be committed to the cause. Sometimes when we look in their space, the hens are so low to the ground that you can’t even see them. They huddle over their future babies, already feeling protective!
It’s going to be an exciting year for baby turkeys!


Our First Turkey Nest!

We started this winter off with 15 turkeys as our breeding stock, all Bourbon Reds. They are nicely set up in their large and spacious converted shed and they have nice-sized fence that opens up into the greater woods beyond, for free ranging.

We only have 13 turkeys now–two we lost during early winter to predators in the night. The turkeys who return to their house at night are super safe (almost as safe as if they came inside to sleep with us) but two hens decided to hide and sleep deep out in the woods. Those two hens were eaten by raccoons (we think). We found them the next morning by following the feather trail. Not a pretty picture.

We are left with 3 toms and 10 hens. And we are expecting babies any day now!

They started laying eggs a few months ago, and we get about 7 eggs a day. We’ve been collecting some and saving them for incubating, which we should begin in a few days. But… For the past few weeks, one of the committed hens has been incubating some herself! She is our broody star!


Over a month ago, we noticed that she wouldn’t leave the house and she was moving around and sitting on any laid eggs she could find. After finally settling down to one corner–only leaving each day to eat and drinks–we decided to test her resolve. We went over to her and collected her eggs and she didn’t run away. We reached under her to grab the eggs and she didn’t budge. We had to pick her up and scoot her over to get the eggs!

This meant she was ready to sit on her own clutch of eggs. It seems that turkeys don’t fight you over eggs like broody chickens do, but they display the other symptoms of broodiness:

  • Commitment to one location
  • Commitment to one group of eggs
  • Turning the eggs periodically
  • Protection of eggs
    • It didn’t seem to be in her nature to worry about us, but another hen literally rolled some of her eggs to another nest, trying to steal them, and she went over and stole them back!


Currently she is sitting on 16 eggs. There were two more but they busted over the course of incubation–this is not abnormal. There are a lot of variables at play that must be in alignment in order for the eggs to hatch:

  • They have to be fertilized (let’s hope the toms are doing their job).
  • They have to have been turned properly.
  • They must have stayed warm enough.
    • While their mom’s body heat is usually enough, we have had some pretty cold nights!
  • They have to be viable.
    • Sometimes eggs won’t hatch or poults won’t live even though the other variables are in alignment. You never really know. Life is tricky!

If all goes well, a few other hens will soon prove to be broody enough to start sitting on eggs! Some of the other hens are preparing–often when we look in the house there are 3 other hens piled in next to Mama Hen, trying to help!

With luck, all of the Free-Range, Heritage Turkeys we offer this year will be born and raised of our breeding stock!


Happy Turkey Day to All!

What a year it has been! It seems like just the other day that we sat around the kitchen table during a snow day and decided to raise a batch of heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving.

It’s hard to believe that the free range turkeys that we raised on our small farmstead are going to be at the centerpiece of so many family gatherings this Thanksgiving. It is a huge honor to be a part of so many Thanksgiving meals, and to know that our free range turkeys went to families that care about their food, how it’s raised, and where it comes from.

So, we decided to shoot a quick video thank you for all of our customers this year.

We hope that you have a great Thanksgiving, and that you share some of our turkey posts and videos with your guests this holiday to show them exactly where your turkey came from.

A few interesting ones are:

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks again! And don’t forget to save those bones and make soup!

~Emma and Jason

*Don’t forget, you can reserve your turkey for Thanksgiving/Christmas 2016 right now! So even if you missed out this year, you can guarantee that next year you will sit down to a delicious, non-GMO heritage turkey. Just email us at



How to Cook Your Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey

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:

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!

For more information and tips about cooking your Heritage Turkey, check out these articles from Rodale’s Organic Life about How to Cook the Tastiest Bird Ever This Thanksgiving and The Magic of Fire: Traditional Foodways by William Rubel.

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 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!


Happy turkeys!

3 Weeks Till Thanksgiving: Why Do Turkeys Make That Sneezing Sound?

It’s almost Thanksgiving!!!

Perhaps you are wondering more about tom turkeys and how exactly they show off for the ladies… This video explains it!

Also, don’t forget to order your heritage Thanksgiving bird today!


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