Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time to Talk Turkey

It is that time of year again!  Our flock of turkeys are getting excited about the prospect of being the guest of honor at Thanksgiving dinners in our area.  Tammy can call out "Thaaaaanksgiving Dinnnerrrrrrrrrr!" and they will respond with a "crowd gobble."  Thus far, we have just over 20 reservations and can take another 20 for these wonderful treats.  The trip to the park will occur on the 22nd/23rd of this month.  Contact us if you are interested.

As a warm up to this post, we'd like to point you to some of our previous turkey related posts:
And now...
Stages of Turkeyness!

Turklets (also known as BEEPS)
We do not hatch turkeys at our farm.  We have enough going on without having to maintain a year-round flock.  So, it is a big event when we pick up the little birds.  Of course, people should remember that when you deal with us on our farm, we do not necessarily bow to convention when it comes to names.

We initially called the baby turkeys "Beeps" in reference to the call they make when they are chicks.  Baby chickens "peep", baby ducks "queep" and baby turkeys "beep."  That's all there is to it.

Three Beeps in the hand is worth... three beeps in the hand.
On the other hand, we recognize that "Beep" sounds terribly unprofessional.  Since we want you all to think highly of us and we want to perpetuate the feeling that we might actually know what we are doing, we revised our reference to baby turkeys to "Turklet."  Yep, that sounds more professional!

Turklets do NOT drink coffee.
Of course, other people might refer to baby turkeys as "chicks" or "poults" or

Now wait for it.... this one REALLY sounds professional.

turkeylings

Well, most people who take turkeys seriously will stick with "poults."  We like "turklet" and we're sticking to it!  Hey, the Urban Dictionary lets us get away with it?  Why not?  And no, we didn't look it up before we started using it.  That's just how we do things at the Genuine Faux Farm.

Turkle (We're still just kids!  Really!)

As the birds grow up, they exhibit a good deal of curiosity.  They can be like a younger child that keeps asking "What's that?"  "What's that?"  The biggest difference is that their retention is MUCH shorter than most human children.

But, it is clear that these are no longer babies, so the designation as a "Turklet" no longer applies.  At our farm, they graduate to being 'turkles.'

You may ask us why and we'll make something up.  But, the most obvious reason is that by the time they get to this size, we are getting busier on the farm.  Tired farmers save their breath by removing the second "t."   That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

What are you doing?  What's that?  Why?
It is about this time that we try to get the birds outside.  They have decent feather coverage and can moderate their body temperature reasonably well.  The biggest issue is keeping them dry.  A wet cold turke often becomes a wet, cold and dead turkle.
Turkles learn to respect electric fences - usually without touching them!
Turkles see their diet gain much more variety as we let them forage and we start sending produce we won't be selling or eating their way.  Favorites are typically cucumbers, melons and tomatoes.  But, we can send a good number of things their way and they'll get to it eventually.

Turkles know they should eat their greens!
Turk (That's a good sized bird.)

Once our birds get close to full size, they graduate to "turk" status.  Yes, the farmers are tired enough that they can't include the "le" any more. 

We're thinking about fanning - but maybe not at this moment.
Male turkeys are generically called "jakes" and the dominant male is called a "tom."  Some people might call the males "gobblers."  The females are called "jennies," but less creative people might call them "hens."


You might be able to see it in the picture above, but it may not be clear enough.  The females usually have much shorter legs than the males and typically are smaller, with a rounder body, slightly shorter neck and/or less 'shoulder.'  Once you've been around them, you can easily see the difference.  It's just less easy to put it into words sometimes.

This IS my good side.
The red flap of skin under the chin is called a "wattle" and the flap that is on the forehead is called a "snood."  No, we are not making this up.  Honest.  Look it up.

Knucklehead

At some point after the birds approach adult size, they change from "Turks" to "Knuckleheads."  In this case, the farmers find new energy for extra syllables because the birds sometimes find ways to elicit extra energy from the farmers. 
Muck and Myra were very good at getting the farmer's attention.
 Usually, the turks are pretty good about going back to their room on their own once it gets dark.  But, they have an annoying habit of deciding, every so often, that the farmers need to remind them to go in.  This usually happens on days when the farmers are stressed out.  The temptation to use words other than "knucklehead" increases at those times.


Jake is not entirely serious about fanning in this picture.
When male turkeys fan their feathers, they also drop their wings to the side, fanning those feathers out as well.  And, if you look closer, the feathers on the birds back also stand up.  The wattle and the snood expand and get redder and the color in their faces gets brighter.  The whole purpose is to try to look as big and impressive as they possibly can.

The funny thing about fanning is that we see three week old turklets trying to fan.  We try not to wound their pride by laughing too much.

We have noticed that the males will fan and gobble more when there are visitors on the farm.  Essentially, you have been identified as a rival flock.  So, they're trying to impress you (and show you who is boss).

Tuurrrkeeeeeeeeey Dinnnnnnerrrrrrrrrrrr!
The Final Stage - YUMMY!
Ok, ok.  I realize some of you don't like seeing the birds go from cute to impressive and then have us talk about eating them.  But, that is the reality of it.  We do enjoy raising these birds (most of the time) which is why we keep coming back to it every season.  We are also glad we can give them a decent place to live and be turkeys.

Now, excuse me, I have to go put the knuckleheads back into their room.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Crop Report - October

Rob spent a few moments to check in on some of the goals for the season.  We also thought this might let others see what we are aiming for and how well we get there.

White Wing onions were a winner this season.
We tend to set two goals for ourselves.   The first is a number we think is reasonable AND should provide us with plenty to meet obligations (CSA, etc) and provide additional sales opportunities.  The second is a goal we think we really have to get in order to just meet obligations.  Additional sales would be minimal in that case.

Green Beans
   goal - 1000 pounds                                                   minimum goal - 750 pounds
   2014: 783.4 pounds                                                  2013:  478.4 pounds
Broccoli
   goal - 600 pounds                                                     minimum goal - 400 pounds
   2014: 545.5 pounds*                                                2013: 517.2 pounds
Cucumber
   goal - 5000 fruit                                                        minimum goal - 3000 fruit
   2014: 2142 fruit                                                        2013: 5884 fruit
Garlic
   goal - 3000 head                                                       minimum goal - 2000 head
   2014: 3153 head                                                       2013: 1959 head
Bell and Sweet Peppers
   goal - 4500 fruit                                                       minimum goal - 3000 fruit
   2014: 4214 fruit                                                       2013: 1552 fruit
Zucchini
   goal - 2000 fruit                                                       minimum goal - 1200 fruit
   2014: 1318 fruit                                                       2013: 1892 fruit
Lettuce
   goal -  750 pounds                                                   minimum goal -  500 pounds 
   2014 -  436.7 pounds*                                             2013: 1034 pounds
Melon
   goal - 500 fruit                                                        min goal - 300 fruit
   2014 - 380 fruit                                                      2013: 153 fruit
Onion
   goal - 2000 bulbs                                                    min goal - 1500 bulbs
   2014 - 1331 bulbs*                                                 2013: 0
Winter Squash
   goal - 1000 fruit                                                     min goal - 500 fruit
   2014 - 13 fruit*                                                      2013: 250 fruit

This is just a sampling of our harvest so far and some of the general goals we set for ourselves for production.  Clearly, some of these will change (*) as we go through the Fall harvest, especially the lettuce and onion numbers.

Not a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, but enough.


The general feeling we get from these numbers is that the majority of our crops are doing "well enough" to meet our obligations to our CSA Farm Share members.  You might notice that most of our current crop numbers are settling around the "minimum goal."  In other words, we're getting just enough, but not enough to do much with additional sales in most cases.  You might also notice that there aren't many complete failures this year.  The exception is the sad demise of nearly all of our winter squash again this season.  The cool weather and planting issues really set the vines back.  Then, a fairly early frost came in and took most of the leaves off of the vines.  Without leaves, the vines aren't getting more energy to develop the remaining fruit.  I expect we'll get something out of them, but it won't be much.

But, what does this mean? 
It continues to confirm that longer season crops continue to be difficult with extreme weather conditions.  On the other hand, multiple succession plantings of shorter season crops (and even some longer season crops) results in enough success to be able to meet obligations.  If the weather does something to take out one succession (like the first succession of cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash), another succession may well hit a 'good' window of opportunity. 
Our Fall radishes are making up for Spring shortfalls.

It also means that our efforts to split some crops up in the rotation is mitigating potential losses if difficult conditions occur.  We realize that eggplant is potentially a divisive vegetable (hate them or love them).  But, we know a number of our CSA members like them.  So, it would be disappointing if they all failed.  So, they were placed in more than one field this year.  The result is a reasonable number of eggplant (800 fruit) to get everyone in the CSA the taste they wanted.

A recently transplanted eggplant (June)
In some cases, the numbers are merely a function of decisions we make on the farm.  For example, it is possible we could have gotten to our goal for green beans this season.  But, the reality is that they started producing on the late side.  There were plenty of beans still to pick at the end of August, but we just couldn't spend the labor on them and keep everything else afloat.  We were comfortable that we had provided a nice amount of green beans for everyone, so we made the choice to prioritize picking them lower in September.  After all, our primary bean picker (Tammy) has other things to do at that time anyway!

All in all, we won't be crowing about record setting production this year, but we won't be doing much crying either.  It has been, and continues to be, a perfectly acceptable year for crop yields.  We'll build on this and aim for an even better year next season!

Friday, October 3, 2014

GF7 Scavenger Hunt Key

We held a scavenger hunt at our GF7 event this year and it kept people busy while the grill was doing its job cooking some things for everyone to eat!

It sounded like most everyone managed to find everything, but in case you weren't sure, we thought we'd put a key out on the blog as well!

Most of the pictures were taken a week or so before the event.  As a result, there were some changes in how things looked. 
Front of Yellow Trailer
Back window of the truck

 For example, the truck window was cleaner than it was in the picture shown above.  But, there was still some road dust on there to make it fairly clear where it was from.
 
Granted, we did keep most of the photos in a fairly close area.  In some cases, we could see more than one thing if you stood in one spot.



Look in the center to see the second item
In fact, when I took the picture below, there wasn't a tear in the plastic. 



Center post in seed starting building.

At least I remembered to prop open the cold frame before everyone arrived.  The wind we had gotten since the picture shut them, so it might have been a good bit more difficult to ID this one.




The one that follows was inside of one of our buildings and was pretty easy to find - even if the duct tape wasn't in exactly the same spot!


And this one was in the same building - hanging garlic!


We thought this one might be difficult for people.  We made sure that Rob did some work with the power washer Saturday AM and then he left it out for people to find it!



The next one (a closeup of some of the scaffolding) was a bit easier since some painting had been happening just prior to the festival.



But, this one was nearly impossible without some direction.  If you got this one on your own, good for you!  It was located on the ledge just inside the Poultry Pavilion.



The front of the Poultry Pavilion


And, the two pictures above were also just in front of the building.  One to the left of the opening and one to the right.

The next picture wasn't too hard if you were interested in the chickens or turkeys.  It's the top left of one of our gates to the poultry yards.




We left the granary open so you could see our feed bin.  If you saw the big red feed bin, you probably saw the ladder that goes to the top!



And, finally, we took a picture of some wood and other things inside the metal flair box (Tammy's flair box).  I suppose I should get the wood out of that thing so Tammy can use it!



Thank you to everyone who attended.  We're glad you all enjoyed GF7.  Hopefully, we can do more with this sort of thing in the future!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Melon Collie Baby

Of course, the title implies two things. 
First - the author of this post has a thing for bad puns.
Second - there are either melons, or collies or babies somewhere in this post.
And, we just uploaded a batch of pictures off of the camera, so we thought we'd weave it all into a blog post for you!

With that out of the way, let us begin our journey.

Clyde turns 200,000 miles
We purchased Clyde (as in Clyde be Clean - impossible for a white Honda on a gravel road) in 2006 (or thereabout) as a new vehicle.  He recently surpassed the 200,000 mile mark. 

This milestone is all about miles.
Of course, a car this age requires that we pay attention to any mechanical issues.  But, frankly, it is really nice not to have car payments.  And, it is going to be really difficult to find any newer car that is as good as this one has been.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm melons!
While this has not been a bumper crop year for melons, we have had a decent number of them.  Melons like warmer weather and we haven't gotten a whole lot of it this season.  Nonetheless, our shorter season melons have done well.  Even some of the longer season melons and watermelons have represented themselves reasonably well.

Eden's Gem is a great short season melon for us
We've doubled last year's melon production.  Granted, the production levels are still modest.  But, we think this bodes well as we still had an increase despite some adverse conditions.  In all likelihood, we will drop a couple of melons from the production list and hone in on a smaller set of varieties for next year.  This is hard for us to do because Tammy and I like our melons.  And, there are so many good sounding melons out there.  If we had more space and desire to do this, I wouldn't be surprised if we got as much into heirloom melons as we are into the tomatoes.

Then, Rob tripped over this in the field
It wasn't a surprise to find a batch of Sweet Siberian watermelons in the field.  After all, they are a short season (and smallish) watermelon.  But, when Rob stumbled over this beautiful Orangeglow watermelon just prior to the GF7 festival, there was much rejoicing.  You see, Rob and Tammy KNEW how good Orangeglow tastes.

Mmmmmm Orangeglow!
We also know how good Sweet Siberian is.  In fact, we have grown Mountain Yellow Sweet, Orangeglow and Sweet Siberian for some time.  The memory of how good they taste is enough to get us to try them every year.  Mountain Yellow and Orangeglow are longer season, so they don't always work for us.  But, when they do....

They put smiles on our faces
 The Sweet Siberian, on the other hand, is short season, so we see some of them most years.  They have more texture, are less 'watery' and have a little bit of a hint of honey to their taste.

Get used to the seeds and be prepared for a GREAT taste!

 Even better, we spent some time this past weekend checking the watermelons in the field and came up with a reasonable crop.

It's nice to fill the hayrack up with watermelon


GF7 on a Near Perfect Afternoon/Evening
The GF7 (Genuine Faux Farm Fall Festival and Fetid Fruit Fling) was well attended and included some pre-party painting.  Three members of the Bridge Program came and finished the mural they began this Summer.

Some serious painting going on here!
We even had special help from Oscar.  Thank you Oscar!

He's a natural!
Then, the Wartburg contingent had to put Orangeglow smiles on their faces...

Nice job, ladies!
A Kitten Looking for a Home

We recently discovered a small, boney and sickly kitten on the farm.  It is clear to us that she was dumped in the country by someone who decided they didn't want her anymore.  The veterinarian estimates her age at four months.  It is also clear to us that she was initially raised indoors.  She's pretty mellow and friendly.  We do not think she is cut out to be a farm cat, but she might make someone an excellent house pet.  If you know someone who is interested, point them to us.  She has been to the vet once and got her first round of shots.  We will pay for a second vet visit and her next round of shots for whomever takes her.

She is a sweety, that much is certain.
Apples of Our Eye or... I Have Apples!

Last year was our first serious harvest off of our young apple trees.  We weren't sure what the follow up might be like.  But, we were sure at least one of the trees wasn't going to survive the Winter after it was girdled by rabbits (they ate around the trunk).

We say good-bye to the apple tree that didn't know it was dead for half a season.
We thought perhaps we'd get about the same amount if we were lucky.  But, we are also aware that apple trees can alternate years.  Who knows?

Ok, that apple tree is loaded.  I like it!
We spent time this weekend picking the apples off of a couple of trees.  Sadly, we have misplaced where we wrote down the varieties.  So, we simply taste them until we find the apples to be ready.  Then, we pick.  Scientific approach.  Right.

That's about 180 apples for those counting at home.
We may even have enough this year to sell a few.  If you are interested in a few no-spray, certified organic apples, you know who to contact.