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Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

HOMEGROWN Life: Parenting Lessons from the Barnyard

Thursday, October 29th, 2015


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-BLUEIt’s hard to find better examples of parenting than in the barnyard.

For months now, I’ve been enjoying the lessons all the animals have been teaching me about unconditional love, sacrifice and patience, the basics of parenting. I’ve watched when a sudden storm brews up and a cold rain starts pelting down as my tiny Bantam hen Mama huddles down to accommodate 7 bits of fluff under her, protecting them from the wet and chill. When one scoots out prematurely, before the rains are over, she’d rearrange her entire body, adjusting to a reordering of the fluff balls beneath her.


One of my Royal Palm turkey hens created a nest of 21 eggs, nestled in the catnip bed. Each day I watched as she added yet another egg until she was satisfied with the number. She then sat, with breast feathers fluffed and wings stretched over the brood, keeping them safe and warm. When she’d take a short break to stretch her legs or get a drink from the pond, she’d return to the nest, lower herself over the eggs, turning them as needed to spread her warmth evenly over their ever thinning shells. At day 28, on my birthday, they began to hatch. 15 brand new turkeys now occupied this Mama’s every waking moment.

I moved the family into the coop and immediately Daddy came to assist in the raising of the young. At times, he would chase Mom away, as if to say, go take a rest, I’ve got them. The poults would transfer from under Mom to snuggling under and around Dad. When Mom needed a dust bath in the herb garden, she’d take the little ones with her and Dad would sit nestled in the nearby grass, watching.IMG_6578

One of my does, Sea Princess, became a Mom this year. Her babe, named Piper, after a bagpiping friend came to visit, has grown up nursing. This is a first for the farm as usually babes are bottle raised to better supervise their intake. For months now, I’ve watched Sea Princess and Piper form a Mother and son bond. They share a subtle language, sometimes vocal sometimes through a look. From Mom, it seems to say, I’m never far away, I’ll keep you safe. From Piper, it’s all about trusting that she means it. I’ve been blessed in that he’s extended that trust to me. He and I are embarking on a new journey together as he is beginning to train as a draft animal. That means, when he’s big enough, he and I will be taking trips together with him pulling me along in a cart and in the winter, plans are for a sleigh. It’s another form of trust in learning his commands, standing still while we put on his gear, listening to what I say. I listen too.

Sometimes, Piper just wants to play. At 16 weeks, I hear him when he seems to say I just still want to be a babe. At those times, we forget about gear and just head to the pasture where he runs through my legs and then eventually finds Mom who is happy to provide him with a big of nursing before a nap in the sun. Being a parent. It’s a delicate juggling act. I’m just thankful I have so many good parents to enjoy and blessed that they share their little ones with me here on the farm.



HOMEGROWN-life-dyan-150x150Dyan Redick calls herself “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Bittersweet Heritage Farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross flock, goat milk soap, lavender woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Her farm is also an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food sources, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.


HOMEGROWN Life: A Tiny Life, Remembered

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

HOMEGROWN LifeWe lost one tiny life today on the farm. One so small, if you weren’t really watching, you might miss it.

One of the turkey chicks was showing a little weakness yesterday as it wandered around the garden, being carefully watched over by both it’s parents. It was back in the coop in the evening, eating with the other little ones so I thought maybe it had just gotten a little tired exploring all day. When you’re only 3 inches tall, it’s a big world out there.


But then, this morning, when I opened the coop to offer the new flock it’s breakfast, I noticed the same little one was not looking refreshed and seemed to be struggling. I snatched it up and took it to the barn. I have an emergency station set up in case of needing some extra heat or a bit of sugar water for a weak chick to give it a boost. I popped this little one in and turned on the warming light. It was standing, although it was obvious it was making a great effort to do so. I prepared a tiny dish of water and added a drop of molasses to it, instant energy. I offered it a bit on the end of a dropper but it was spending all it’s energy just staying upright so I didn’t force it.

Knowing that sometimes, just a bit of extra heat can make the difference between life and death, I left it standing under the light to provide it additional warmth. A sorry substitute for snuggling under Mom or Dad admittedly, but Mom and Dad were pretty busy at the moment getting their breakfast and keeping their eye on the other tiny yellow bits in the coop.


Every 15 minutes for the next couple of hours, I went out to the barn to check on this little one. After the 3rd or 4th check, it was receptive of a drop or two of the vitamin rich molasses water. It opened it’s tiny eyes after having them closed from the time I brought it in the barn, blinked, and I was hoping we were maybe, just maybe, turning a corner.

I wish I could say there was a happy ending to the morning but, there’s not. The little one lost it’s battle with weakness.

What difference does it make that one tiny farm animal doesn’t make it? After all, there are plenty more where that one came from, right?

But when I think of all the effort that went into bringing this little one into the world, I feel a little sad for losing it. It’s Mom spent 3 weeks, laying one egg a day to create the nest of 21 eggs, nestled in the catnip bed. She spent the next 4 weeks sitting on the eggs, carefully turning each one daily, rotating them under her to spread her warmth evenly over them.

I covered her with the wheelbarrow at one point, to shade her from the blazing summer sun and the rains and offered her dishes of water and food to keep her comfortable.

When the eggs hatched, 15 new Royal Palm turkey lives filled the garden and the coop with their tiny yellow fluff and little feet, following their Mom and then their Dad wherever they went. Now, there is one less.

Losing this little one brought back memories of when I drove across country with one of my son’s friends. If you’ve never done it, put it on your bucket list. We were crossing Iowa. The land out there is so huge, you can’t imagine it. Fields of wheat stretched to infinity. It was then it occurred to me how small we all are. Specks. It also occurred to me the importance of each speck.

This tiny chick was an important speck on the Bittersweet Farm, even for it’s short life. I’ll miss you little turkey. You gave it a good fight, and you left a tiny mark on this humble farm. I won’t forget you.



HOMEGROWN-life-dyan-150x150Dyan Redick calls herself “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Bittersweet Heritage Farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross flock, goat milk soap, lavender woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Her farm is also an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food sources, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.


HOMEGROWN Life: Snow on the Homestead and TURKEY, Baby!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010


We have snow, snow, and more snow, with a chance of … you guessed it, more snow. It hit us like a ton of bricks. Absolutely, not expected—especially since we are located so close to the water. Within an hour of it snowing, I panicked. We still have tomatoes on the vine, bunnies in the run, and a few beans still going. Oh, yeah. I almost forgot, we’ve got just a few kids running around too. Just twenty days ago we had records temps in the 70s, and did I mention, I still have tomatoes going? We were not prepared.

Tomatoes and bunnies are in the garage—warming up. Beans I guess are a loss. I picked what I could find, but it looks like the deer felt bad for them too and put them out of their misery early. Clearly, I should have had some emergency plan laid out or maybe I should have invested in this year’s Farmer’s Almanac instead of the 2011 edition. Or perhaps it’s just the way things are. What doesn’t make it will bring life in the spring as it’s transformed in the compost.

With all of that being said, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I’d like to share a recipe that has our family and friends coming back year after year. Our Brined BBQ Turkey. Hmmm … do I have you drooling yet?

You will need to start with a defrosted or fresh turkey. We typically have a 20-22 pound on hand. Yes, we need a turkey that size, and yes we keep multiple turkeys in our freezer—we love turkey year round, and why not?


Yummy, Moist Turkey a la the Cross Clan

4 cups of kosher salt

2 cups of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

rosemary to taste

4 bay leaves


ice cubes

Don’t rinse that turkey off! Wipe it down with dry paper towels (or dish towels if you’re paper free). You’ll need a five gallon bucket, cleaned well. Yes, you’ll have to clean up the compost/weed/grain bucket, if you haven’t one set aside just for brine.

In your bucket, you’ll need to add brown sugar, kosher salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary to a half bucket of warm/hot water. Stir it up until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place your turkey upright, in the bucket. The turkey will make the water rise, not to mention you’re going to throw that ice on top too. You can switch this up if you’re afraid of spillage: turkey first, then water and ice. In the end, just make sure your turkey is covered with brine.

Put a cover on your bucket and let it sit for 24-36 hours. You will need to check the water temp from time to time. You want to keep it below 40 degrees, but you have some options here. You can add more ice if your bucket is big enough and keep it outside or in the garage. We’ve done both with no trouble. Or keep ice packs bungee corded around the bucket and rotate the frozen one. I haven’t tried this, but I bet it works well.

Whenever you’re ready to cook that bird, you’ll want to preheat your oven or gas BBQ grill to 350 degrees. Yes, the grill! We found that this way of cooking it is freakin’ awesome and it doesn’t take as long. If using the grill, be sure to place an old/disposable cookie sheet under the turkey, or the flames can’t help but lick the bird. It also helps to catch the drippings. For the oven, just use a standard roasting pan.

After 24-36 hours, pull your turkey from the bucket and discard the brine. Slice up ½ cup of butter and slide those little pats right under the skin of the breast. We have been known to spice it up a bit and slide rosemary up there too. Transfer your beautiful, brined turkey to your cooking choice and place breast up to start. Set a timer for thirty minutes. Be sure and keep an eye on the temperature of the grill, as it will drop and spike. When the thirty minutes is up, rotate your turkey ¼ turn, to its side. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Again, keep an eye on the grill temperature throughout this process. When it’s time, rotate the bird so it’s cooking breast down for thirty minutes. Then rotate to the side for another fifteen minutes. Now’s the fun part. Rotate it back to breast up, give it a sweet aluminum foil canopy, and put it back in there for about an hour. A thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh meat but not touching any bone should read 180.

That’s it. Of course, when it’s time to pull it out, be sure to let it rest. You can remove it from the roasting pan to a platter, but let it sit for a good 20 minutes or more before carving. My husband can never wait. He’s always pulling crispy skin and tender meat, wiping up the juices long before he should.

However you prepare your turkey, your meals, or for the worst weather, we are thankful to be able to share our recipe with you. We also wish you and your family nothing but the best this holiday season.

Tory’s blog is ChampagneWishesAndCouponDreams.

Tory, Sequim, WA

I live in the Pacific Northwest with my non-tree-hugging, environmentally friendly, dreamin’-of-farming husband and our four wild, dirt-lovin’ kids. When I’m not writing of the adventures (or misadventures) on our micro-homestead, you might find me stalking Craigslist, Freecycle, or Facebook. And since I’m all about multitasking, I’ll probably be out gardening, baking, menu planning, home educating, exploring with the kiddos, and scheming on how to get chickens past my HOA.