AgriCulture: November Days 2023

Newbanner 2 596x151  TURKANA FARMS, LLCGreen E-Market Bulletin November 13, 2023Matt with turkey 2Matt begins the turkey sendoff Photo by Mark ScherzerNovember Days 2023Hi All, Mark here.Before dawn this very chilly morning, with just a subtle glow visible on the horizon and a heavy frost lining every blade of grass and branch, Macho Matt and I donned head lamps and trundled up to the barn to catch the turkeys while they were still asleep on their roosts. The idea was to confine them, with the least trauma possible, in the portable pen where they had started their journey here back in May.

We kept them penned there until a trailer arrived a couple of hours later to bring them to the farm near Canajoharie where they will be processed.All went smoothly. They were groggy for the first stage, and, most likely because they were in familiar surroundings for the next couple of hours, they were almost all calm and composed through the second stage. That’s when I got on my knees and crawled into the pen to catch them and hand them out to Matt. He, in turn, took them out two by two and boarded them onto the trailer.Matt came up from the City last night solely to help this morning. He had been here at the start of the season, building the turkeys’ roosts in the new barn and setting up their pen. He had kept close tabs on them through visits, reports and pictures all summer. When I suggested that much as I appreciated the help, it was an awfully long way for an hour or two of loading, he responded “I wanted to close the circle. How better to experience the full cycle than to be part of the departure as well as the arrival?” It is, indeed a cycle of life, in which our livestock store up the energy of the pasture by grazing what is available to them in the summer, and then in turn make that energy available to us, in the form of meat, when harvested.The quiet that overtakes the farm when the gobbling chorus suddenly departs creates a kind of melancholy atmosphere which seems appropriate to the season. It fits with the shorter days, falling leaves, and withering vines in the garden, not to mention the state of war that weighs so heavily on us. The sense of melancholy, for me, is intensified because the turkeys have been a particularly joyous component of the farm family, and their presence had made for a great deal of entertainment.I resumed raising turkeys at the urging of my partner, Eric, to whom I had given a turkey within weeks of meeting him six years ago this month. I was so enamored of him after our first meeting that I wanted to give him a reason to come back around. Since then he had often heard me rhapsodize about the joys of turkey husbandry, hence his encouragement that I get back into the game. Eric took to the birds right away. Each time he arrived at the farm, they were his first visit, where he would delight in ululating a high pitched call to them and eliciting an always excited response, delighting me in return.Steve, upon whom fell the challenge of caring for them and rounding them up when Eric and I decamped the farm, was, at first, considerably less enthused. For months had had told me he found them lacking in a certain intelligence for flying one way over the 8 foot fence and not being able to figure out how to fly back. When the turkeys squabbled with each other, he found them not particularly likable.But this last Friday, when a large contingent decided to visit the house, roosting above the mud room and the chicken coop and exploring the back yard in turkey conversation, he confessed being enchanted by their beauty, their curiosity, and their sound. Yesterday, he texted to suggest we keep some back just to have around. I love being proved right!It is, of course, deeply conflicting to one day be admiring their beauty and laughing at their antics, and the next day to be speculating about whether their weights will match up with our orders. How do we reconcile loving them and eating them?My late partner, Peter, with whom I started the farm and the turkey raising endeavor, felt the best way to deal with the contradiction would be through poetry, not prose. I reprint here, with my slight modifications, his effort:“November Days” by Peter Davies(a dirge plays underneath)From my window I surveyed my farm,
As I quietly scratched my right arm.
The days they grew shorter,
My thoughts turned to…slaughter.The trailer was parked in the yard.
The frosts got increasingly hard.
I struggled my darndest,
But my thoughts turned to…harvest.The feed got increasingly expensive,
I grew progressively pensive.
Ah, my dear ones, I said
Tis time you were…deadOinked the pigs to the turkeys: “Aprez vous”.
The turkeys replied: “Googlie Goo”!
The cows to the sheep mooed “Farewell”,
The sheep answered back: “GO TO HELL”!The sad realization was mine
That all poultry, pigs, sheep, and kine
Are here not just to… need us
But also to…feed us.And now, dear readers and listeners, it is your turn. The turkeys are here to feed us, and while the pace of orders has quickened dramatically in the last few days we still have birds we’d like to feed you. See the order form below.Turkeys inside 2Turkeys in their hay filled home Photo by Steve GutierrezWHAT’S AVAILABLE THIS WEEKIn the red meat department, frozen lamb:Butterflied legs of lamb $16/lb
Rib or Loin chops (packs of 2) $14/lb
Small racks of lamb $14/lb
Riblets (breast of lamb) $8/lb
Lamb shanks (packs of 2) $12/lbIn the vegetable department:The garden is finished for the season. We can still dig:
Horseradish root: $2/lb.In the yellow and white palette: Eggs: $6/dozenpiano 2 WHAT ELSE IS AVAILABLE THIS WEEK –
AN 1878 SQUARE GRAND PIANO FREEThat’s right folks, I have finally as of July 27 received a Department of Environmental Conservation permit to transfer this antique piano, with its ivory keys. It has a venerable history and I want to find it a good home. You’d just need to come get it. Please email me at or call at 917-544-6464 if you’d like to make it yours.RESERVING YOUR THANKSGIVING TURKEYTURKEY RESERVATION FORM 2023
110 Lasher Ave
Germantown, NY 12526
Please check here if you would like to receive email offerings in season:______________HERITAGE BREED TURKEYS: This year we are raising Holland Whites, Chocolates and Blue Slates, which will range from 7 to 18 lbs. Fed on organic feed, pastured all day once they get big enough to go out, protected on perching bars all night. Slaughtered November 14, briefly frozen, delivered in Lower Manhattan November 20, or at the farm Nov. 20 to 22. . $12 lb plus $5 off premises pick up fee.Number desired: ___________ Approx. weight ________
Pick up place: ___at the farm; ___Lower Manhattan___a point along the Taconic Parkway
Please send a deposit of $40 per bird to hold your reservation to Turkana Farms, 110 Lasher Ave., Germantown, NY, 12526. Make check out to Turkana Farms, LLC.(Yes this luddite farm still uses checks). The balance due will be paid at the time of the pick up.pineappleFARM PICKUPS:Email us your order at, and let us know when you’d like to pick up your order. It will be put out for you on the side screened porch of the farmhouse (110 Lasher Ave., Germantown) in a bag. You can leave cash or a check in the now famous pineapple on the porch table. Because I’m now here full time, we’re abandoning regular pick-up times. Let us know when you want your order any day between 10 and 5, and unless there are unusual circumstances we’ll be able to ready it to your convenience. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or text at 917-544-6464 or email.Robin Hood logoHEAR OUR SHOWIf you’d enjoy hearing these bulletins out loud instead of reading them, we broadcast them on Robin Hood Radio, the nation’s smallest NPR station. You can find it on FM 91.9, AM 1020, WBSL-FM 91.7 “The Voice of Berkshire School” or streaming on the web at, where podcasts of past broadcasts are also available under the title AgriCulture in the “On Demand” section. FM 91.7 “The Voice of Berkshire School”can be heard from just south of Pittsfield to the CT border. You can hear the station on WHDD FM 91.9 from Ashley Falls, MA down through the Cornwalls and in NY from just south of Hillsdale down to Dover Plains. You can hear the station on AM1020 from Stockbridge, MA to Kent and from Poughkeepsie to Pawling to Kent, Goshen, Torrington, Norfolk, and Ashley. Recently added for those in the Route 22 corridor from Ancram down to Pawling is FM frequency 97.5 And of course you can listen in our own neighborhood of Southwestern Columbia and Northwestern Dutchess County, where it is being broadcast from Annandale on Hudson, 88.1 FM.Imby logoFOLLOW USThe bulletins may also now be found in written form on line as well, at the Germantown, NY, portal of


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