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Here is a video of the four remaining Narragansett Turkeys we have here at our home on Whidbey Island.  We got a dusting of snow and the temperatures have been below freezing for several days, but the turkeys are unfazed.  So what?  Well, 99.9% of all turkeys produced for food in the world are not heritage breeds like these birds, they are one particular hybrid breed called broad breasted white, and those birds would be turkeycicles under conditions like these.  The Narragansetts have the option of hanging out in their coop with a heat lamp, but they choose to forage and frolic and play in the snow.  They are just more vigorous and healthy than the hybrids. Continue Reading »

Seasoning the legs and wings, prior to pressing.

Late night, last night I pulled out the two turkeys I had harvested on Saturday and started preparing them for thanksgiving.  The thing that was so striking about them was how beautiful the birds are.  I have prepared heritage birds for a number of years, but those came from other producers.  As a result they had been killed a couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving and arrived to me sealed in plastic.  While they were perfectly fine, and certainly better than frozen, commercial birds, nothing benefits from being sealed in a bag for a couple of weeks.  Continue Reading »

 

The final product: Two young Narragansett hens that dressed out to almost 10 pounds each.

My family is about five months into our first efforts at raising turkeys for our own table.  An experienced farmers of heritage breed turkeys might be thinking something is a little wrong with my math because these turkeys take 30 weeks to reach maturity.  Ours hatched out on June 5th, so that puts them squarely at the 24 week mark.  Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is Thursday and we had to make a decision:  kill ours or find some one else’s to buy. Continue Reading »

Turkey Two Ways

 

Our 2010 crop of Narragansett Turkeys, the oldest breed of turkey there is.

While I have been buying Heritage Breed turkeys for the past eight years, this is the first time that they are making the very short trip from our back lawn to the oven, never having left our sight.  We got a bit of a late start, the birds having hatched out in the first week of June, so we will be culling two of the smaller hens rather than the big toms, which we will retain for breeding next years crop. Continue Reading »

My newly completed Hoop House will be, I hope, the cure to the tomato-less summer blues.

If you have read this blog in the past I’m sure I do not need to tell you that I love Western Washington in general, and Whidbey Island specifically.  The beauty of this geographic region is ideal to me.  I love the fishing, clamming, crabbing and other foraging opportunities that this area alone has.  The access to calm, inland waters is unsurpassed.  And the climate is pretty much perfect in my mind.  It is never much over the mid-70’s in the peak of summer, which is perfect for someone who’s family originated in the bogs of Ireland and Scotland.  I start to wilt when the mercury climbs much above 90.  I really cannot take the heat.

The one thing that has been killing me about this place is that unlike me tomatoes love heat and I love tomatoes.  I have grown accustomed to a certain level of quality from my tomatoes, especially after spending the past 16 years in Napa Valley where, in my opinion, the quality of the tomatoes is at least as high as the quality of the wines.  Western Washington just isn’t tomato country; it’s too cold.  Case in point, last summer a good friend of mine, who also grew up here, came up to the island for the weekend.  He and his very cool family come up many weekends in the season which means my family and I get a chance to hang with them quite a bit, which is a particular treat because Chuck is a great cook.  Anyway, on this particular weekend he brought up a harvest of tomatoes from his garden in Seattle.  He says to me “Hey, I brought up our tomatoes, check them out, they are in a bowl on the counter in the kitchen.”  So, with visions a huge salad bowl brimming with ripe, pound-and-a-half Marvel Stripe and Brandywine tomatoes dancing through my mind I practically ran to the kitchen… where I found a little cereal bowl with about a dozen tomatoes in it, the biggest of which is smaller than a tennis ball.  I know that he was trying, but for the love of God, this is simply not acceptable. Continue Reading »

The New Coop

And there was much rejoicing.

Here is a little photo essay of our new draggable chicken coop.  We are pretty psyched about it.

Have you ever wondered why a rubber chicken does not look like the chicken in the grocery store?  A few weeks ago Frank Reese sent me a link (which follows) to an old documentary about The Chicken of Tomorrow contest in 1948.  This contest, which was funded by the A&P grocery store chain, marked a critical turning point in how we raise poultry and could fairly be seen as the beginning of the modern poultry industry.   The whole of the film is worth viewing, in all its kitschy goodness, but one of the most interesting things for me was seeing what the birds of 60 years ago looked like when dressed out.  Guess what?  They look like rubber chickens. Continue Reading »