Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Aftermath

So we did it. We process over 40 turkeys. Sold all but the very biggest ones - we ate half a 32 pounder for Thanksgiving, the other half will come out at Christmas. We have 2 more 32 pounders in the freezer and a whopping 35 pounder - I sense a spring barbeque...

Anyhow. We did it. We sold most of the turkeys we processed, and for the first time, we didn't have to turn away any customers. Everyone got a bird (or two). We even have about 18 turkeys left - a few toms and a bunch of hens, so I can breed my own heritage turkeys this year.

As usual, we figure out ways to make adjustments for next year. We may convert part of our shed into a brooder for the turkeys. We plan on raising more, so we can process more. We plan on ordering a similar mix of birds - some heritage, some double breasted. BUT we will NOT order any double breasted toms! No one wants those birds that are 30 pounds and larger! So we will try our luck with more heritage breeds for the smaller sizes, and double breasted hens for the larger bird, but none of those gigantic birds!

We had our Thanksgiving with our family. We've heard some very pleasant compliments by those that ate our birds with their families. Believe me, I appreciate the feedback! There are good and bad moments to farming. Selling turkeys is one of those good experiences. It's a long weekend for us (and for our volunteers) but the fruits of our labor is worth it. I am honored that I can help make other peoples' holidays a little more special.

Now is generally the time of year we finish up winterizing the farm. We put away hoses, we clean up the pasture, we get heated waterers out for the animals, and we think of taking a short rest before it's time to start ordering seeds and getting the greenhouse ready.

But this year, we have a few more tasks to finish. On December 9, we say goodbye to our beloved Marlow. Larry had expressed an interest in keeping him longer, until next spring or fall, to see how big he may get. But I won't last much longer. Marlow has it out for me, and charges me at any chance he gets. He had me pinned to the tailgate of a truck for a while, until something caught his attention, and I could grab a nearby stick to fend him off. He goes after the dogs, our child and me, I presume sometimes Larry. It's not safe. And with baby lambs on the way, we can't have a wayward steer who may stomp on them, or butt them in a fit. He could hurt them badly. So on December 9 he goes away.

A week after that, our next batch of 5 lambs also goes away. They are way past their due, being about 7 months old, and there is no sense in feeding them all winter. We know the ram lambs did their job - as most of our ewes are expecting - some seem very ready and may drop any day.

So that's our third winter item to contend with - poorly timed lambing. I didn't really want lambs in December - but it's not awful. With a barn, some heat lamps and a heat pad, our lambs will do just fine in the cold. We can quarantine the new moms and the lambs into a barn stall of their own, and lock them in for a few days to keep them all warm. We've had winter lambs before, so I am not concerned. It's just more fun in the spring, to sit out in the corral and watch the lambies gambol around. When it's cold, I don't spend as much time hanging out with them!

So one big Marlow is leaving us, 5 little lambies (Archie, Tigger, Eeyore, Red and Sally) but possibly all 15 ewes are pregnant, and in the next month or so, we may have 20 or so new lambs running around. Happy Holidays, indeed!