It's hard to think about the holidays when the ground is just starting to thaw, but that is exactly what Meat Healthy and our local farmers are doing. Now that old man winter is starting to rest his head, it's time for the baby chicks to come out of their little shells and see the world.
With natural farming, comes the responsibility of humanely raising animals. That means raising animals outside in the fresh air, which exposes them to the elements. For baby chicks, a cold draft could be life-threatening. This goes for chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. A late winter could mean no turkey for Thanksgiving. Sometimes farmers are able to start chicks inside, so that they are strong enough to handle cool spring weather (our farmers did this with a few chickens, so chicken is coming very soon!), but for the majority, May will be hatching time.
Like all meats, poultry is hard to plan for small farmers. No contracts from big companies means no guarantees for sales in the fall. So, a farmer has to guess how many birds he/she can sell in 6-7 months. Last year we sold out of turkeys and had a few sad customers.
Are you wondering why the weird post title? It will make sense in a second.
I was planning out poultry for the year with Ron from Balsam Lake Farms and he shared with me his experience buying from the local farm as a kid (now almost 70). By the way, this is why small local farmers love Meat Healthy. We make is easy for them to know how many animals to raise. He said that a few years in a row, they had a late spring and the poultry was all behind. When they went to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey, they still had their pin feathers and couldn't be used yet. They had to settle for Thanksgiving goose.
Today's consumers never have to worry about what's in season or how long animals take to grow. Everything is packaged and waiting at the grocery store. Unfortunately, that great relationship with the farmer is gone. The life of the animal is out of site and out of mind. This ends up promoting a poor quality of life and poor quality meat.
Would you eat a Thanksgiving goose, if it was the healthier option and to.support the local farmer?
It's going to be a great spring, so no need to worry. Soon we will be taking pre-orders for turkeys, ducks and geese, so you don't have to miss out this year on an antibiotic free and non-medicated thanksgiving meal.