Yes, I know it's a little early for most people to be thinking about Thanksgiving, but I am. The reason I'm thinking two whole seasons ahead comes down to this: The Turkey. The whole centerpiece of the Thanksgiving tradition, right? And I'm thinking that I'd like to raise a small flock of really special turkeys for the holiday this year.
Methods: These turkeys will be large white turkeys, raised on pasture with methods similar to those used for our pastured broilers. They will have access to plenty of pasture and the associated treats (bugs, etc), and will be supplemented with whole grains and roasted oilseeds.
Harvesting: I am thinking that I want to butcher these turkeys right here on the farm. And I really like the idea of having some of you experience that with me.
(First, some background: I grew up in the midst of an Amish community, and one Amish farm was literally my second home. I have a whole childhood of memories with those folks, but one that stands out is Butchering Day. This was the day that the whole Amish community (and us) came together to do the butchering before winter set in. This was usually beef and pigs, but I'd like to recreate those days with turkeys.)
So, towards that end, I propose we have a Turkey Butch'rin Day. It will only be open to those who are buying turkeys. I'd like Butch'rin Day to serve first and foremost as an educational opportunity for you, and your children if you have them and you think they would appreciate it. (I'm not out to cause nightmares or lifelong vegetarianism, though!) The primary focus that day will be the task of turning live turkeys into food, but I can think of a whole bunch of other "perks" that you, as a participant in Butch'rin Day, will enjoy, like those Amish neighbors did all those years ago--Food, Family, and Fellowship. All that in one afternoon--does that interest you?
Other Perks?: I'm thinking about a how-to class on turkey cookery, including what the heck to do with all those leftovers, to be done in early November or so. I'll work on fleshing that out. I've also been given some really great ideas by a loyal customer about some other perks, that will make for a great experience all around.
I'm also planning on raising a few extra turkeys, and donating them to local food banks for Thanksgiving. I feel very strongly that access to good food shouldn't limited by income level, and this will be one small way of helping with that problem. All of the turkeys will be donated in the names of Rettland Farm, plus the names of all of the members of the "Turkey Club".
Cost: I would estimate the cost of the dressed turkey at this point to be in the $70 range, give or take. The amount will vary depending on the number of turkeys I produce, the breed of turkeys, their final weights, etc. This is only a guess! Please understand that I'm new to the turkey game, so I need to research some of the costs associated with raising them.
In summary: So what does that $70 buy you? Lets review. It buys you a delicious, pastured, antibiotic free turkey that will be butchered absolutely stress free on the farm on which it was raised. It buys you members only access to an educational experience with friends and family on Butch'rin Day. It buys you some tips on how to cook your bird, and serve it to your family on Thanksgiving, and the days thereafter. And it buys you the satisfaction of sharing with others less fortunate, on a day when we realize how fortunate we all are.
So what do you think? Are you interested in being a member of the "Rettland Farm Turkey Club"? If so, shoot me a quick email (firstname.lastname@example.org) BY JULY 15 to become a part of what is shaping up to be a really cool event.