I think nearly every Midwesterner would agree that this winter carried on at least a month too long, and I rejoice at these great spring days we’re having as I write this. Suddenly, our grass is growing inches a day, the neighborhood frogs are back, and the plant rack has made its annual appearance in front of the market.
This time of year is also the start of my favorite season here on the farm. Our springtime is marked by unlatching barn doors to turn our flocks back outside after winter, and then chasing flocks from our outside barnyards to our ranging pastures. This time of year makes our free-range practices so visible with our flocks back outside. For those of us on the farm, it’s a daily reminder of the very different way our turkeys live.
Funny thing is, this is just standard operating procedure around here. Far from being something we do purely for a marketing point-of-difference, our free-range program has been embedded into our farm for over 80 years. The reality is, this is how all turkeys used to be grown; it’s the only way my Grandpa Dale would have known when he started out. We’re just fortunate to have the right land, right equipment, and right team to keep doing it this way.
Most years, I can almost bet that while I’m still cautiously contemplating the long-range weather forecast amidst an early-spring warm stretch, one of our farm staff will ask me if it’s time to get the birds back outside. Similarly, when we had those warm teaser days this April, I talked with one of our partner farms and he told me he’d taken advantage and already had his turkeys outside. He beat me to it! Simply put, this is the way we know how to grow turkeys.
Of course, we’re grateful that you also see and value the difference in what we do. In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to mark your calendar for Saturday, July 22nd as our annual farm tour event. The format will look a little different this year, so stay tuned for more details as we get closer. In the meantime, I hope you get to savor these great days like a springtime turkey!