AgriCulture: The Elusive Moses Margulies Found; Flock Genealogy

The Elusive Moses Margulies Found; Flock Genealogy; Hey All, Troy here.
With another pair of twins joining us this morning, our count has come to twenty four new lambs in 2019 (so far). The growing lamb gang is starting to fill up the limited space we have in our shelters. Able to squeeze into any nook, they go pretty much wherever they like, and there’s nothing the moms or I can do about it. I often see the lambs climb and stand upon older ewes, showing off their spritely youth; meanwhile, the ewes take it stoically, quietly cursing the lambs for stealing their energy in the form of milk. Or so I imagine.As keepers of a heritage breed, we need to pay attention to these newcomers as they start to distinguish themselves from the group. Which ones will make the cut for our next generation of breeding stock, and which ones will be, unfortunately, voted off the island? For ramlings, we have to decide very quickly, because it is not recommended to castrate them after their first week. If we want to keep a ram around to continue our line or to sell as a stud, we have to make the decision before getting much information about his general fitness. We must look to the parents for traits we like that hopefully get passed on to their offspring. We should also know the grandparents, so that we can optimize the flock’s genetic diversity. This is one reason why I highly value archives. It is also why I was excited to comb through all of the old Turkana Farms birth records and add them to our work-in-progress “Spreadsheep.”Mark was happy to support my mission, but not without a bit of warning and apology for the state of their records. He handed over a large binder and several folders brimming with documents and pictures. I gladly accepted them, feeling like I hit a data motherlode. However, I soon learned this was not a simple, copy-paste task, but rather a complex logic puzzle. The data I was eager to uncover was not as clean and clear-cut as I expected: many records were missing, some contradicted each other, and others were simply illegible. This was not a goldmine; it was an archaeological dig. I was excavating the family tree of our flock.My own family as a whole is quite fascinated with genealogy, although my sister, Beth, does most of the digging for us. A natural archivist, she loves to hunt down marriage certificates, census records, visa affidavits, or at the very least, any evidence that two people were in the same village at the same time. However, these prey can be quite wily and elusive at times. In one seemingly straightforward case, Beth tried to find the link between our great grandmother, Eva Margulies, and her supposed cousin Sidney Margulies. The relationship is significant, because Sidney sponsored Eva’s family (which included our grandfather) to immigrate to the U.S. during WWII. It all seems to make sense: they have the same last name, and they claimed to be “cousins.” Well, it turns out actually proving this to be true is rather fraught with dead-ends and misdirections.Trying to find out who Sidney’s parents were, Beth discovered that Sidney actually went by “Osias” before he immigrated to the U.S. in 1920. This Anglicization was a common occurrence for immigrants coming to America as a part of the assimilation process. As it turns out, this was also common for the sheep coming to Turkana Farms as well! In a twist on Anglicization, Mark and Peter would Turkicize the names of rams coming in from other farms. I was thrown when some ewes were registered as being sired by “King” while the birth records showed the same ewes being born to “Kraal.” Apparently, they were the same ram before and after assimilation into Turkana society. At least I can ask Mark when I run into discrepancies like this. Beth instead needs to wade deeper into the document swamp.Beth traced Sidney’s family to the small town of Podkamien in present-day Ukraine, a region then known as Galicia. My sister laments that Galician birth records are notoriously spotty, because so many were lost or destroyed in both World Wars. I, on the other hand, am wondering which conflict rid us of the records of any sheep born in 2013 along with several missing from 2014, 2016, and 2018 (was it perhaps the campaign against encroaching groundhogs? Or maybe the never-ending war on weeds?). In spite of the marauding armies, my sister managed to confirm that Sidney’s father was Izak Margulies and his mother was Ruchel Laja Grunseid. Now, in order to prove cousinhood between Eva and Sidney, Beth has to show that Izak and Eva’s father, Abraham, have the same parents.Through a combination of census records, more Galician birth records, and a rather fruitless attempt to locate Izak’s headstone, Beth managed to find an Isak, an Abraham and a Moses all born to a Chaim and Blime Margulies. Significantly, Moses’ family was reported to be hosting Sidney and Izak in New York City when they first moved to America, so that all checks out. Looks like we have a match! Unfortunately Izak’s death record has his parents as Simon Margulies and Bessie Sebhen. Adding to the confusion, NYC death records show Moses’ parents as people named Meckel and Alte – no Chaims or Blimes in sight. Beth suspects Simon and Bessie could be Anglicized versions of Chaim and Blime… but who are Meckel and Alte? As Beth puts it “Death records are notoriously tricky sources of parentage, as the information is provided second-hand from the person reporting the death.” So could these records be wrong? When the American Karakul Sheep Registry says Nuket II was born to Kala, but our birth record says her mom was Ayse, who am I to believe? The bureaucrat who signed off on this one of many registration certificates, or the person who likely found the lamb the morning of its birth?Perhaps all of these Isaks, Abrahams and Moseses are just coincidentally near each other at the right times? How many Jewish families from Eastern Europe named their sons Isak, Abraham and Moses and then moved to New York? Genealogical research can put a strain on your wits. Beth says she’s always “hoping for records and then cursing them when [she] finds them!” Maybe we should just believe people when they say they are cousins. Although, if her theories are correct, Beth’s digging will have uncovered several new branches to our family tree. Likewise, now I know many of our sheep are descended from ewes named Panda, Cookie and Sparkler and some from a ram named Ryan.In the end, I think my efforts have yielded a great deal of data. If our ewes still had their identifying eartags, some of it would be useful.
THIS WEEK’S OFFERINGSFROM LAST FALL’S GARDEN HARVEST:FROZEN SQUASH (SHREDDED, TROMBONCINO), GREAT FOR FRITTERS, $2/LB.EGGS: Back in full production. We can handle all your orders. $5/dozMEATS: We keep some on hand, but it helps to order ahead in case we need to retrieve from our stash in the big commercial freezerGEESE: One remaining, about 8.5 lbs. $10/lb.TURKEYS: A few small ones left over and frozen $11/lb .GUINEA FOWL, frozen $7/lb (half the price of the Union Sq. Farmers Market). These are excellent 3 lb. or so birds.ROASTING CHICKENS – Freedom Rangers, $6/lb, range of sizes, mostly in the 4 to 5 lb. rangeLAMB: Loin chops at $14 a pound, riblets $8/lb, rib rack roasts $14/lb, small leg roasts $14/lb, We will soon replenish our lamb supply as it’s time for several to go to market.PORK: Loin pork chops, $12/lb (2 to a pack, btwn 1 and 1.5 lbs), Jowl (roughly 2 to 3 lbs each), $12/lb, 
Spare ribs and country ribs $7/lb 
baby back ribs $8/lb 
fresh ham roasts (2 to 3 lbs), $12/lb 
picnic or Boston butt roasts (roughly 2 lbs) $12/lb 
smoked bacon, $12/lb 
ground pork $7/lb 
Kielbasa $8/lbBEEF 
the last of our diminishing stash 
Sirloin steaks, $14/lb. 
kidney, heart etc. $1/lbDUCKS: Last year we did Pekin ducks. The males are not so different in size from the females, and these are nice meaty birds, most between 5 and 7 lbs. Also $7/lb. We have to retrieve these from the big freezer, so please order a week ahead.
FARM 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. Regular pickup times are Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., other days by arrangement. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call at 518-537-3815 or email.
HEAR 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. And the big news is that you can now get Robin Hood Radio in our own neighborhood of Southwestern Columbia and Northwestern Dutchess County, as it is being broadcast from Annandale on Hudson, 88.1 FM.
FOLLOW USThe bulletins may also now be found in written form on line as well, at the Germantown, NY, portal of us on instagram @turkanafarms or on facebook @TurkanafarmsNY


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