Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Visit to Nature's Harmony Farm

On Sunday morning Mr. Man and I drove to Elberton, Georgia to pick up our Narrangansett Heritage Turkey. You may remember that I wanted a heritage turkey last year and in September or October began looking for one only to find that you need to order much, much earlier. So, I put my name on a list and right after Thanksgiving last year, put down a deposit for this year’s bird. I’ve been wanting to visit Nature’s Harmony Farm for a while and was excited for the road trip (Elberton is approximately 2 1/2 hours east of Atlanta). We arrived around 10:30am after a couple of wrong turns here and there. We had, of course, brought Marley along (he loves a road trip too and since we were going to a farm it seemed like a no brainer) and no sooner had we approached the area where people were picking up their turkeys than Liz had to run out and ask us to please pick up our dog. I had forgotten that they raise Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD), a cross of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds. They are trained to not allow any animal on the farm that doesn’t belong there and as Liz explained, they don't just chase the intruder away, they kill it. No sooner has she told us this than Jethro made an appearance; he is huge, with the top of his head coming to my elbow, but as long as we held Marley he was calm and posed no threat.

We spent some time talking with Liz about how to cook a heritage turkey—very different from how you cook a supermarket turkey. Since the balance between white and dark meat is more balanced, you cook at a high degree for much less time. Our 14.5 lb. turkey should cook in under 2 hours. I promise to write and let you know how that goes. To my delight, Liz invited us to tour the farm and to check out the evisceration lessons that were going on in a nearby processing building. Now this may not be for most people, but Mr. Man and I were not going to let this opportunity slip by. We put the turkey in a cooler in the back of the car and headed over to the processing building. Unfortunately the birds had already been killed and feathers removed, but we were in time to observe both a beginning evisceration as well as one that was already in process.

Narrangansett Heritage Turkeys
Next we headed out across the field (where we were able to put Marley down and allow him to take in all the sights and smells of a farm) to check out those Narragansetts still out on the pasture and the Large Black Pigs. We had seen some along the driveway on our way in and I was curious to get a closer look. They were as curious about us as we were them and came over to give us a closer look. I tried to put my hand out to them, but they briefly smelled me and backed away. Seems the mud was calling to them. I touched the fence and got a little shock, afterwards noting the large batteries connected to them.

Large Black Pigs

After this we went to visit the cows, who were not interested in us, but the two donkeys crazing with them were. After standing for a while and talking to them softly one actually let me scratch him for a little while and then followed me for a short ways when I moved further down the fence line to get a picture of a cow and her calf. Cutting back through the fields we noted the large flock of chickens outside, inside, on top of, and under their moveable tractors. Even though they are free to roam near and far, only a few chickens are adventurous enough to wander far from the rest of the flock.

This is small farm is so inspiring, and Tim and Liz go beyond what is considered organic and humane. According to their website, they use “no artificial fertilizers, no growth hormones, no vaccines, no antibiotics and don't keep animals penned up (which was obvious on our visit). [Their] cattle forage on grass with sheep browsing what the cows don't eat. Chickens follow the grazers, spreading fertilizer naturally, and follow their instincts by foraging for insects and scratching on the ground.” This is real farming, not industrial farming which is cruel and unhealthy, to both animals and people. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.

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