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Five years ago today....we bought a farm and had a baby on the same day.

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News from the Farm: Turkeys, Wildlife, and Ranch Pork Chops

September 2, 2016

Dear Friends of NMP, 

 

We hope you are enjoying every last bit of summer. We are plugging away as usual here on the farm. 

We have over 450 turkeys right now. The older ones will be butchered before Thanksgiving to make ground turkey, turkey sausage, and smoked turkey breast. Those of you with an Everything Share type will be getting some turkey soon! The rest will be for big Thanksgiving turkeys that we will deliver fresh in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. We will start taking reservations for those in a couple of weeks.  

 

 

We've had about 5 litters of piglets born on pasture in the past few weeks, most of which are doing great. The weather is so mild right now that the outdoor living is easy.

 

  

 

 

There also continue to be ducklings in abundance, thanks to "the farm's most sustainable animal", according to Brooks. Muscovy ducks fend for themselves and hatch their own nests. This group can be found wandering around the east field, nearly wild and doing their own thing.

The grazing herd is currently in the power lines, aka "Jurassic Park". It got its name from the peacock calls from over the hill at sunset, which sound very much like velociraptors. Not to mention the steep, brushy hills, that make us feel that we are entering an entirely different and exotic world.

 

 

 

These power line "fields" used to be entirely thorny brush, with very little good forage for the livestock.  Thanks to the beneficial grazing effects of pigs, ruminants, and turkeys, we've seen an unbelievable transformation in the past 5 years. 

 

This is the first time we've grazed the power lines this season, since we switched to mob grazing, which requires animal movements daily. This means we have many more paddocks, and those paddocks get lots of rest before they're grazed again. There is an impressive amount of young, fine, grass (read: delicious for sheep and cows) under the tall dried out stalks from earlier in the season.

 

The wildlife benefits of these long resting periods are many - most ground-nesting birds need an unmowed, ungrazed field through mid-July in order to get their hatchlings off the ground. The thick ground cover provides shelter for moles, voles, and other burrowing critters which add to soil biodiversity and structure. The tall grasses and "weeds" allows grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, katydids, butterflies of all kinds, many praying mantises and other small members of the food chain to thrive, and often become food for turkeys, both wild and domestic! These animals feed alongside our livestock on the wild berries (autumn olive lit up by the sun in the below photo, one of our favorite fall treats!) and other forages this type of grazing encourages.

 

Can you see the two turkey vultures flying low to the right of the chicken houses? Nature's cleanup crew is welcome, but stay away red tailed hawks! That's what the guard dogs are for.