On a recent spring morning, we moved some of our free-range turkeys from their outdoor yard to one of our range pastures. As the birds made their way out, one of our longtime staff members commented that it looked like a modern range, with our recently-built feeders and shelters, and a newly revamped water system. I responded that “modern range” would be an oxymoron to most poultry farmers, but he was right: we’ve re-invested in the way we’ve grown our turkeys on our family farm for 85 years.

This got me thinking about another good fortune at Ferndale Market, following in the “greatest hits” theme I’ve been sharing here lately. We’re fortunate that my dad and grandpa stuck with free-range farming through an era when most folks moved indoors. As I often tell visitors, when my grandpa started farming, this was the way everybody raised turkeys. He wasn’t trying some new-fangled technique. It was in the decades following that poultry (among other farm animals) moved largely indoors. There was plenty of good rationale for other farms to move indoors, but we were a bit different. My grandpa picked a farm that drained well and was situated in a good spot for ranging poultry. Plus, our team believed in it. I can remember times when they’d let the turkeys outside before we’d asked; it was simply the way we’d always known.

This seemingly “old-fashioned” practice laid the foundation for our Ferndale Market brand when we began direct-marketing our free-range turkey 16 years ago. If we were growing turkeys like everybody else, our model wouldn’t have worked. We have to do something different.

Thankfully, that something different is tried-and-true around here. It’s why we continue to re-invest in our range equipment for today’s “modern range” we were admiring that morning. I’m forever grateful to my dad and grandpa who sustained the practices that got us started – a stroke of good fortune.