AgriCulture: Turkey Poultential

WHAT’S NEW THIS WEEK: Nothing newly ready to sell, but lots of seedlings out there. The fava beans (the plants anyway) are growing nicely. It will be another month before they flower and produce beans. Spinach will come quicker.
Scheming and plotting from the start Photo by Victoria Cox
Turkey PoultentialHey all, Troy here.This past weekend was quite eventful for the Turkana crowd. Victoria flew back to North Carolina to celebrate our friend’s “single funeral” (aka bachelorette party). I drove to Maryland for the annual Sheep and Wool festival. Meanwhile, Mark stayed behind at the farm, where he discovered a new, unexpected lamb friend Saturday morning.Even while we were off on our Southern vacations, a tinge of jealousy crept in as Mark sent us pictures of the little one. She is undeniably cute, albeit a little goofy looking. She has a long, brown, puppy-like face with ears that pop out before flopping down. The rest of her is a silver grey with brown spots here and there. Now that I’ve met her, I can see she is quite vigorous – she is hard to approach because she is so good at keeping up with mom. I have a feeling she will be quite low maintenance.Save for any more surprises, I think we’ll have two or three more lambs joining us this spring. Compared to their older brothers and sisters, these late comers won’t be as threatened by hypothermia or malnourishment. However, they’ll be a lot smaller at the time they start feeding on grass. Thus, they’ll be much more susceptible to intestinal parasites, and less able to deal with the summer heat. There’s always a tradeoff.The challenges will be different, but I feel a lot more prepared now than I did when we started lambing the second week after I got here. In fact, upon returning from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I felt ready to intensify my flock management efforts. At the festival, I attended seminars and lectures with sheep and wool experts. I learned which of my unrelenting sheep-related anxieties are valid, and which ones are actually non-issues. I got tips from other Karakul breeders on how they keep this desert breed happy and healthy in wet climates such as ours. As for the wool, I got incredible insight into what sets Karakul fiber apart from all others. I learned all about the thermodynamics and biochemistry of wool – why it feels warm and dry in wet environments, and then cools down in warmer, drier weather (don’t worry, there will be a whole bulletin about all this later). I was eager to get home and wipe off the dust that’s already started to accumulate on my brand new spinning wheel. That is, until yesterday, when 120 new mouths to feed arrived in the mail — the turkeys are here.Right when I thought I was hitting my stride in animal husbandry, two boxes of hungry, cheeping turkey poults fell into my lap. As I’m quickly learning, baby turkeys are very different from lambs and have very different needs. First of all, turkeys don’t nurse! There’s not a mom in sight to feed them milk. Rather, they require I go out and buy them specialized feed (no less than 27% protein), and then bring them the food myself. I even had to show them how to eat and drink by dipping their tiny beaks in the food and water. Also, their hutch needs to be at a constant 95-100ºF. If the heat lamp is too hot or too close, they start to fall asleep (possibly forever). If the heat lamp is hung too high up, they start running around in a panic. I find it hard to believe these are indeed warm-blooded creatures as they say. Lambs do a fine job of regulating their own body temperature, as long as they are dry and have milk. Turkeys, on the other hand, are a bunch of needy divas who love to nap and cheep at me until I give them everything they want.Despite all of this, I’m hopeful for this young brood. It’s still early in their lives, and maybe as I learn everything about proper turkey care, I will also learn to love what’s unique about them at the same time. Everything on this farm has a purpose, a role to play. The hens give us delicious eggs; the lambs mow down the grass and feed our vegetables with compost; the pigs are great landscapers and make for excellent waste-disposal. I wonder what great skill or resource our turkeys will provide. Do they eat insect pests? Are they musically inclined? For now, it’s unclear to me. I hope I figure it out sometime before they’re gone.
Scheming and plotting from the start Photo by Victoria Cox
THIS WEEK’S OFFERINGSHORSERADISH ROOT: $5/LBRHUBARB, $5/LBSORREL, LIMITED QUANTITIES, $2/BAGMINT: $.75 a bunchFROM LAST FALL’S GARDEN HARVEST:FROZEN SQUASH (SHREDDED, TROMBONCINO), GREAT FOR FRITTERS, $2/LB.EGGS: Production is now in overdrive. 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, We are sold out!ROASTING CHICKENS – Freedom Rangers, $6/lb, range of sizes, mostly in the 4 to 5 lb. rangeLAMB: Ground lamb $7/lb, shoulder roasts at $10/lb, riblets $8/lb, small and larger leg roasts $14/lb, lamb stew $7/lbPORK: 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 
Kielbasa $8/lbDUCKS: Two years ago 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.COMPOST, $6/Bag, approx. 40 lbs.

Aforementioned precious lamb, photo by Troy Spindler
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.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: