Entries in Heritage Turkey (20)

Friday
Nov072014

Visit your Farmer - More of a DEMAND than a REQUEST

When we first started our journey towards healthy food nearly a decade ago, we never thought about a farmer being the key to our food. We simply knew which store it came from. Then we decided that buying straight from the farm would be better. We did this. However, we were still naive and didn't ask many questions. For instance, we bought our beef in bulk for several years from a farmer we believed sold grass-fed beef. It wasn't until after visiting the farm after a few years of purchasing bulk beef that we found he does feed "just a little grain at the end." We were very surprised, for years the meat we thought we had been getting was not completely as advertised.

Fast forward 10 or so years and we feel we are much more sophisticated in seeing food choices. This afterall - is our life. This is why we were VERY DISAPPOINTED recently when we visited another local farm. We had heard they were having a family field day and we had followed this farm online and several of our customers have bought from them since they are very convenient and sell at a large local market.  We were SUPER EXCITED to meet fellow like-minded farmers.

We spent a very busy Saturday busting out an entire weekends worth of chores so we could spend the Sunday traveling and visiting the farm. The farm was over 2 hours away, but, as I said, we were excited to go.

Once we got there we were surprised at what we saw. This farm says it raises pastured pork, chicken and beef. However, what we saw was very different. Instead of pigs being raised on pasture, we saw dozens and dozens of pigs being raised in small mud lots with no pasture access. The only thing pastured about these pigs is that the pens they were housed in were close enough to see the pasture. These pigs have NEVER been on pasture. They lived in small dirt pens and were fed a diet solely of corn. Now, I am not making a judgement based on how the pigs are raised. The pigs didn't seem particularly unhappy, unhealthy or mistreated. However, they were not on pasture as advertised on their website, emails and in person. In fact, their website was particularly misleading since it included many photos that were not taken on their farm at all. A quick Google image search showed several of the pictures on their farm website were actually taken from other farms' websites.

Additionally, many of the items they sell at the market were not even raised by them. They sell "pasture raised" chickens and turkeys -- however, our visit showed no signs of those animals on the farm at all. They had a few egg laying chickens running around their farm that were in full molt -- nowhere near enough to sell the hundreds of eggs they sell each week at the market. Obviously, much of the food being sold under their farms name are being raised by other farmers.

It is not my intention in this post to disparage another farmer and I have intentionally been vague enough to not incriminate any particular farmer. There is not anything inherently wrong with the way these animals were being raised. However, customers are likely not buying what they think they are buying. In fact, I KNOW, several of our customers often buy from this other farm because their prices are a little cheaper, they are a little more convenient and they have more consistent inventory. However, these customers have VISITED OUR FARM -- seen how WE raise our pigs on pasture, in constantly rotated paddocks, seen our chickens who are moved to fresh grass 2x a day, seen our hens that lay our eggs -- AND THEN GO BUY FROM THIS OTHER FARM THINKING ITS THE SAME THING -- IT'S NOT!

It is IMPERATIVE that you insist on visiting any farm with whom you are establishing a connection. DO NOT rely solely on their website, their Facebook page or their slick talk. The only way to know for sure what you are buying is what you want to buy is to visit them. If they give any excuses as to why you cannot visit their farm, be immediately wary. Far too many farms hide behind claims of biosecurity, or liability insurance, or hectic schedules. However, visiting and seeing up close and personal your food being raised is one of the primary tenets that separates slow food from industrial agriculture.

We make a systematic point on our farm to ask every customer to come visit the farm. We have an open-door policy that encourages customers to come see our animals and our farming practices. When they visit, we are glad to show them exactly what we feed our animals, the areas they are raised in and the care that they are given. Our customers support the farm generously and giving them open and free access is part of what they purchase when they support our farm.  We give DOZENS of farm tours to HUNDREDS of customers every year.

In addition, we bring people to our farm virtually nearly everyday with real life photos. Every photo we share is of OUR farm. When you are looking at the pictures of farms, look to see if they are showing you wide views or only very close cropped pictures that are likely giving you a deceiving overall view. Video can also give you a more realistic view of what their farm is like. Ask questions about what you see. If you see a farmer is offering a product that you never see pictures of -- ask them about it. If you see the pictures don't show examples throughout their lifespan, ask them about them. It might be they are not on the farm their entire lives.

Ultimately, information is power. We have been trained to believe that farmers are trustworthy. However, I unfortunately know of MANY examples where farmers misrepresent the food they are selling. There are MANY great farmers out there as well. However, I can't encourage people enough to make the investment in time and energy to go and visit their Farmer. We are talking about one of the most important things in your life -- your food!

Know your farmer, know your food.

On a related note -- We will be having two tours coming up on our Farm in conjunction with people picking up their Thanksgiving Turkey.  (did you know we had made a few more turkeys available if you haven't preordered yet -- it's not too late!)    The tours will be on Sunday, November 16th, and Sunday, November 23rd at 3:00pm,  The tours will include a narrated hayride tour where you will get to see exactly how every animal on our farm is raised. Drop us a line and let us know if you are coming, so we can make sure we have enough haybales set out on the wagons.  We'd love to have you!

 

 

Friday
Oct102014

4 questions to ask about your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is near and stores and farms are starting to strut their stuff.  There are many, many options for your Thanksgiving Turkey and it can get a little confusing as to what is really available and what’s the difference in all those labels anyway.

Consider these simple questions to help you decide which Turkey is right for you

Heritage Turkeys at Synergistic Acres are raised on fresh pastures1.  How is the turkey raised?  Possible answers are inside a commercial poultry house, in an open-air building, outside on dirt, confined to a small outdoor area (often dirt from overuse and often called "free-range"), in a pasture and truly free-range.  

Don't assume that the breed of turkey is indicative of how it is raised either.   Not all Heritage Turkeys are raised outdoors and certainly not all Heritage birds get to roam lush fields.  A Heritage bird raised on pasture is a wonderful pairing that ensures the turkey lived a life appropriate for a turkey.

2.  What does the turkey eat?  Don’t get tricked by hearing what they don’t eat - find out what they DO eat.  Soy-free or gluten-free or vegetarian fed might mean all the turkey ever ate was corn.  Is that what you want your meat to be made from?  The meat that you will be consuming was created from the nutrients and minerals that went into the turkey’s mouth.  Is the feed organic or non-GMO or conventional?  An organic turkey might sound great, but that often means it was simply raised in confinement but fed organic feed.  If the turkey was raised outside, did it have consistent access to grass and forages?  Are the pastures sprayed with anything? 

3.  Who raises the turkey and where?  Do you want a local farm?  A family farm?  A large scale farm?  An industry raised bird?  Store-bought turkeys will be labeled as to their origination, but you’ll need to ask farms directly if they raise their turkeys or buy them from another producer.  Turkeys take a long time to grow and not every farm can devote the time or resources to raising them.  It is always best to go visit the farm.  However, if you can't visit, look for pictures from throughout the growing season to ensure your Turkey is raised how you desire.  Turkeys are more than a majestic meal, they are live animals that deserve a respectful life.

4.  What kind of turkey is it?   An industrial bird will have different characteristics than a Heritage bird.  Heritage birds are generally smaller in frame and have a higher percentage of dark meat than industrial birds.  Industrial birds take longer to cook and will usually have a different texture of meat.  The type of Turkey you get will influence which recipe you use to prepare it. 

Here at Synergistic Acres, we answer all these questions and more and always invite people out to the farm to see the animals up close and personal.  You can also read many blog posts about how we raise our turkeys or watch a short video to see how farmers entertain themselves while raising turkeys.  We’d love to hear what additional questions you have.  

There are as many ways to raise a turkey as there are feathers on one.  No one way is perfect, you have to decide what is important to you.  Ask questions! 
Know your farmer, know your food.

Tuesday
May132014

on the farm ~ quick spring update

 

Spring is a time of renewal and busy-ness in life, especially on the farm.  New chores and jobs seem to grow as fast as the green grass.  Here's a quick look at what's going on at Synergistic Acres...

Our Galloway CATTLE are ravenous for fresh, spring grass and we are building their daily pasture more than twice as large as normal.  Our small group of spring calving is complete and we have lots of nourishing grass for the whole herd.

The PUPPIES continue to be roly-poly bundles of energy.  They certainly have their own personalities and we are excited to meet the new owners so we can best match needs to pups.  Mara Mama is weaning the pups naturally and gradually.  Both Charlie and Mara are giving lessons on respecting elders while they eat.

Our Large Black PIGS can barely be seen in their lush pastures.  We have a group that we will take for processing soon and several litters of varying ages foraging and growing that will allow us to offer pork more frequently throughout the year.

We have a set of very sprcial Heritage Barred Rock CHICKENS, that have been bred specifically for their old-world meat characteristics for over six decades. These will soon be ready for processing.  The hens of the group have just started laying EGGS which is a nice balance to some of our current layer flock that has begun their annual molt during which they don't lay as much.  

One broody HEN that adopted an area by our barn has been sitting on eggs.  She has just a few days left and we are so hopeful that she will be successful in her hatch.  We'd be delighted to see little chicks tottering along after their mama in the yard.

The Heritage breed TURKEY poults are in the brooder, just starting to get some feathers.  They will soon graduate to the pasture pens and follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of turkeys that have enjoyed the pasture based methods we use at Synergistic Acres.

FARMER Jeff has just three weeks left of his 'day job' and then he'll get to be on summer break.  The whole FARM Family is looking forward to that!

 

What's keeping you busy?

 

Monday
Aug052013

Heritage Turkeys - Time to Order

The middle of summer in Kansas City may seem like a strange time to think about starting your Thanksgiving dinner.  However, at the farm we had to start planning your Thanksgiving dinner in early March when we began incubating the eggs that would soon hatch into the poults that have now grown into large vibrant Turkeys living out on pasture.  Now, it is time for you to reserve a turkey.  

Thanksgiving is a holiday focused on tradition and sharing good food with your family.  A heritage turkey raised on pasture is the perfect centerpiece for this meal.  It idealizes the simple elegance of the day.  When you are carving your Turkey this year at Thanksgiving, you will be able to tell your whole family the story behind their meal.  You can share how it was raised, describe the pastures it lived its life on and recount some of the stories we have shared about the daily care it was given.

This is very different than if you buy a turkey from the grocery store, but there are other difference as well.  The biggest difference between our Turkey and the Turkey you will buy at the store is that our Turkeys were raised on pasture everyday since they left the brooder as young poults.  This means that the turkey grew up eating grass everyday.  It had a varied diet consisting of various forages found in the pastures and the insects that abounded.  We supplement this natural foraging with 100% local, organic grains.  This ensures that the turkey is eating absolutely the best food. Therefore, it will be in optimal health, giving you a nutritious and flavorful meal to share with your family.  

This type of experience can only be had with a Heritage Turkey.  Our birds are Standard Bronze - the original Thanksgiving Turkey.  It's genetics have stayed mostly unchanged for more than a century when they were bred for flavor and nutrition - not economics and speed.  Because it is a heritage bird, it grows slower and forages better.  This combination means that the turkey lives a longer happier life eating grass and doing things it was naturally designed to do.  This does more than just ensure a happy turkey, it also ensures a healthy turkey. The more grass it eats, the more healthy and flavorful the meat is.

Our customers last year raved about the turkeys they received.  Many of our customers were brand new to buying and preparing a fresh heritage turkey, and everyone loved it.  

Just wanted to thank you, again, for the heritage turkey and for the wonderful Prairie Ranger you provided us this past month! My in-laws from Singapore were absolutely smitten by your heritage turkey and Prairie Ranger (we made two curries and some AMAZING stock with the chicken!). In fact, my mother in law was so in love with the turkey that she froze a half gallon of turkey broth so she could bring it back to Singapore and wouldn't let me share a single slice with the neighbors because she liked it so much! - Leon

Your turkey was the centerpiece of our extended family Thanksgiving dinner, and we all loved it! Thank you also for including the Maple Rosemary butter recipe, which was a delicious and delicate addition to the rich taste. I look forward to becoming a regular customer, and I look forward to visiting the farm as well someday. -Nancy

Thank you for your hard work raising a beautiful turkey. It came out very tasty. The organically raised meat is far superior to commercial raised meat. I think I made believers out of the 12 people that the bird fed. Also thank you for the farm tour. It is great to see the organic food movement making its way to the midwest. -Jon

 

Now is the time to reserve your Thanksgiving Turkey.  We have a very limited supply and expect to sell out rather quickly.   Your turkey will be raised, fed and cared for until shortly before Thanksgiving, when it will be prepared for you right here at the farm.  You may pick up your fresh Turkey the week before Thanksgiving.

A deposit of $25 and the submission of the Order Form available under the 'Natural Pasture Raised Meats,' 'Heritage Turkey' will reserve your Turkey.  Also, please think of at least one other person to tell about the chance to get a wonderful, local, pasture raised, organic Turkey.  By telling a friend, you are ensuring that exceptionally good local food will continue to be raised and available to your family!

 

 

Friday
Dec212012

Snow day on the farm

Thursday was a snow day on the Farm.  Unlike my other profession of teaching -- snow does not equal a day off work.  Instead it means quite a bit of extra work.

Our animals all live outside in natural environments.  We have chosen breeds that are able to thrive in our normal conditions...and actually...I was quite impressed with how well all of the animals were doing when I went out to care for them.

 

The Galloway cattle have a heavy winter coat that protects them from the winters cold.  See the snow on their coats -- that is an indication of how well insulated they are since not enough of their body heat is escaping to melt the snow.   


Our Livestock Guardian Dog Charlie is quite at home in the snow -- although it makes him squint as he is surveying his land!

 

 

The chickens seems to like the snow the least -- I don't think it feels good on their feet.  However, it did not keep them from being outside and foraging for food.

 

The turkeys, who make these giant dinosaur tracks int he snow , were some of the "smartest" animals.  They found the chicken roost to be a nice dry out of the wind spot to spend their afternoon.  

 

Even the pigs and piglets were doing well.  One of our sows had her piglets the day before the snowstorm.  They were all snug in their nests keeping warm thanks to mommy's warm milk.  Only a heritage pig could do this.

 

An upcoming blog post that I am formulating in my mind is about why we think growing these animals outside in natural environemnts, even 20 degree environemts, is more humane than raising them inside climate controlled buildings.  I would love to hear your thoughts and questions on this as I continue to ruminate on this in my mind.   

 

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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