AgriCulture: War and Thanksgiving Peace

Newbanner 2 596x151  TURKANA FARMS, LLCGreen E-Market Bulletin October 29, 2023Turkeys in the fieldTurkeys stroll in a copse of trees Photo by Mark ScherzerWar and Thanksgiving PeaceHi All, Mark here.Ever since 1969, Thanksgiving has meant to me the coziness of home, a celebration of enveloping security. Maybe it represented that to me because Thanksgiving was the first time I returned home after leaving for College. Coming back to a world of parental supervision and support, I always brought with me friends who, because of distance from their homes, needed a surrogate family on that occasion. Our holiday was not highly formal. My mother, an elementary school teacher, offered a sort of “in loco parentis” familiarity I think some of my friends still remember fondly to this day.November weather contributes to the need for a homey, warm event. Thanksgiving is the first major holiday after summer when you really want to sharing a meal indoors.My association of the holiday with a certain cocooning embrace led me recently to confide to an old friend that I could not envision Thanksgiving this year. How could I celebrate it, wracked as I am by feelings of insecurity in war time? I don’t know about you, but my daily anxieties about Ukraine have been magnified a thousand fold by the war in Israel and Gaza.The anxiety erupts frequently. Friday, Eric and I were at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. A packed house, almost all 30 or more years my junior, heard Charlotte Cardin, a young singer/songwriter from Québec. It was a phenomenal show, inducing a sort of ecstatic loss of reserve, with her adoring fans voicing the lyrics in her place during their favorite songs. I too was transported. But then I found myself, observing the swaying crowd, wondering whether the young ravers at Kibbutz Re’im had been similarly transported when Hamas invaded and killed 260 of them? What if we were attacked right then?Back at the farm Saturday, the abnormally warm weather had me working outside. But I questioned my privilege to engage in the most routine activity. How could I be glazing, washing and installing storm windows to make my house air tight when so many Gazans, if they had windows left, live in fear of their homes being collapsed on top of them?Yes, we are thousands of miles away from the trouble. But I fear that divisions over the war could cleave our society as deeply as Vietnam did and that it will lead to the same sort of scapegoating as unfairly happened then. I fear being one of the victims of that scapegoating.When I confided to my friend that Thanksgiving seemed impossible with the hovering worries of war, he laughed. He studies history for his work. “Don’t you know,” he said, “that Thanksgiving was decreed as a holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War?”No, I didn’t know. Our national myth is that Thanksgiving started when the Puritan settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts, shared a feast in 1621 with the Wampanoag who helped sustain them, and the holiday just continued. It’s more complicated than that. Europeans before they settled here often had harvest festival meals. But the first recorded joint harvest meal between Europeans (Francisco Vásquez de Coronado) and Native Americans (the Teya people) was actually in 1541 in Texas. Government decreed thanksgivings occurred sporadically: in 1777 in all 13 original colonies, in 1789 (decreed by George Washington), and in 1815 (decreed by James Madison). Beginning in 1827, abolitionist author Sarah Josepha Hale began campaigning tirelessly for a nationally decreed annual holiday.Her efforts bore fruit only in 1863, after the Union was victorious in the Battle of Gettysburg, where 50,000 lives were lost. President Lincoln then declared the holiday, in these words penned by Secretary of State Seward:I … invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving… And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him[i.e. God] …, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.We should do this year do as Lincoln suggested. Make the holiday an occasion to commit ourselves and our country to do what we can, after the terrible loss of life that will occur in these wars, for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence of the combatants. It is in the spirit of the holiday.And, because this is a farm bulletin, I ask you, in a crass commercial, to consider making Turkana Farms part of your holiday. After a five year hiatus, I once again raised heritage breed turkeys this year. They are slow growing birds, bred for flavor rather than fast growth or enormous breasts. They’ve been lovingly fed on the finest organic grain from Stone House Farm. They’ve spent the summer flying where they will, roaming freely in the pastures. Their darker meat and the fat they develop gives them a far richer flavor than your standard butterball. They make unforgettable centerpieces to your Thanksgiving feast.Raising them has been a joy. Processing them has become a challenge, because two nearby facilities have gone out of the poultry processing business (one of them out of business entirely). The birds will therefore be processed on November 14, and they will spend 5 days in a freezer before distribution, either in New York City on Monday, November 20, or at the farm from Monday to Wednesday. I still have unreserved birds, particularly the delectable small hens (7 to 9 lbs) which are ideal for cozier gatherings that to me best embody the holiday. I invite your reservations. Use the form below.Charlotte Cardin at Irving PlazaSafely devoted fans Photo by Mark ScherzerWHAT’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 greens department:Swiss chard: $3/bagGreen bell peppers: $1 each
Frying peppers: 2 for $1
Jalapeno peppers: 3 for $1
Small hot chili peppers 6 for $1
Horseradish root: $2/lb.
Sorrel: $3/bag
Spearmint and regular mint $.75 a bunchIn 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 ©2023 Turkana Farms, LLC | 110 Lasher Avenue, Germantown, NY 12526


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