Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #18, 7/19/12

What’s been going on!

Newsletter a day late as yesterday was turkey moving day, planting and on to Farmers’ Market so there was no opportunity to sneak away and write.  The first stage happened Tuesday morning when I was up at 5:45 to catch the eleven guinea hens while they were still a bit sleepy.  They have moved over to Liz’s Bushy Tail Farm where they will grow up and hopefully eat all of her ticks.  When the Barkers are ready Confit and Fricassee (or is it Grits and Gumbo?) will move on over to their house to live out their guinea fowl lives.

Yesterday morning I was out just after 6:00 (this damn heat!) getting ready for the move of the remaining 70 birds.  Turkeys are always a bit daffy when exposed to new things and so I wanted them to have 24 hours to get used to not having the guinea hens around before yet another new experience of moving to a new field.  By the time Jennie and Liz arrived at 8:00 I had the electric fences up, waterers and feeder moved; everything ready for the long walk.

Like last year I thought it would be less stressful to walk them the 200 feet down to their next location instead of catching each one, putting them in the truck, driving them down and then grabbing them again and setting them out.  I have to say that this group is not as cohesive and sharp as last years but it still seemed the best option.  30 minutes and a lot of patience we coaxed them past the gravel drive (they are easily distracted by bright objects) and the sliding tunnels to some nice green grass and the shade of some bushes.

Usually when turkeys move into a new lush area they make the “happy turkey” sound, heads down searching out new bugs and tender greenery to eat.  This outfit stood in the corner of the fence calling out and staring back towards the brooder.  Eventually they finally settled down and the heat drove them under the bushes and close to the waterers.  Finally late in the day they began to explore their new larger accommodations, another successful move.

Picture of the Week

6 feet per minute, through the scary narrow gate

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Peregrine Farm News vol. 9 #16, 7/5/12

What’s been going on!

Hope you all had and good July 4th and are managing the heat well.  We spent the day with some early work before the heat set in (Betsy had to cut some flowers and I had to irrigate and attend to the turkeys) and then we hid out in the AC catching up on paperwork, reading and eating.  It is the peak of our tomato season and so there are lots of not-good-enough-for-public-consumption fruits crowding our kitchen counter.  Yesterday we made our first big batch of salsa for the season now that we also have serranos and red onions.  Betsy is headed towards making tomato juice and for dinner we took a cue from Ben Barker and grilled some fish then laid it on top of slices of what may be the biggest Striped German bi-colored tomato of the season (slices at least 6” across) and then topped it with some salsa fresca.  Do we have to go back to work today?

Speaking of tomatoes, if you haven’t already registered, our annual tomato class at A Southern Season is this Sunday.  In tandem with Craig LeHoullier who is the heirloom tomato guru who introduced Cherokee Purple, Chocolate and Green to the world, amongst others.  We talk tomatoes while Marilyn Markel cooks up a great three course meal using our tomatoes, wine included!  Not a bad way to spend another 100 degree afternoon.

The turkeys are three weeks old and it was time to let them outside.  The brooder building was designed for about 65 birds and having 83 in there, in this hot weather, makes it a bit tight.  As usual we pulled one of their field shelters in front of the brooder and connected the two together with sections of chicken wire.  To give them extra shade I also strung an old tarp across the gap.  Down came the front opening/gang plank and they were more than happy to get out and stretch their legs and wings.

With them out in the open we finally got a chance to get a count how many guinea hens we were sent by mistake and the number is eleven.  It turns out that the Barkers want a couple of them for pets and tick control over at their place.  We told them that was fine but we first had to choose the right pair and give them appropriate names.

These are the Guinea Hens Confit and Fricasee next to one of the turkeys

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #15, 6/27/12

What’s been going on!

Newsletter a day late, had an unexpected visitor yesterday morning that ended up taking up the whole morning.  Here is where I was when I was interrupted:

Wow!  A look at the forecast brings a great shake of the head in disbelief that such hideous weather could possibly follow a day as succulent as yesterday and a morning as bright and clear as this one.  Possibly five days of 100 plus degree temperatures with higher humidity, really??  This is certainly a stretch of temperatures to brace oneself for, plan the days carefully and for early exits from the field.  We must also irrigate early in the mornings to get the most from the tiny amounts of water that the drip irrigation lines deliver to the base of the plants while getting the field chores done.

The turkeys are now two weeks old and growing fast.  The extra eight or nine “runts” that came with the order are now clearly looking like a different bird.  In years past, with other hatcheries, we have had roosters chicks added in to make sure that there were enough birds in the box to keep them from being jostled around too much during their trip with the USPS.  I called our hatchery and asked if they had done such a thing and they said they never did that but if a mistake had happened they might be guinea hens or pheasants.  After a quick Google search for two week old guinea hens and I am suspicious that is what we have.  If so, it is not so bad in that Liz, who works for us, wants some guineas for her farm to eat the ticks.  We’ll know better what they are in another week or two.

An important note for the coming July 4th week.  Because the 4th is on Wednesday the market will be held on Tuesday instead.  That will allow you to get all of your holiday meal and picnic needs in advance and just in time.  Until then, stay cool!

Picture of the Week

A brilliant, cool and low humidity afternoon

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