Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Heritage Turkeys: What's the Difference?

Heritage Turkeys: What's the Difference Between These Birds and the
Broad Breasted Whites?
Please be aware that we are not raising heritage or broad breasted white turkeys in 2012. From 2004 through 2011 at Emma's Family Farm we raised heritage or rare
breed turkeys. Every year, at Thanksgiving time, we're asked about
the differences between these birds and the broad breasted white
turkeys that we also raise. Hundreds of articles have been written
about this subject; some of them are excellent but some make claims
that aren't really credible. I'll start by saying that your
experience may vary from ours; everybody's taste buds and cooking
methods create variables.
Our broad breasted and heritage turkeys are raised here without
antibiotics feeding on quality grain and pasture. All of our meats are
premium quality, state inspected and raised with care.
We guarantee you a better price than any mail order service. If you
would like to see heritage turkeys, call and ask about a visit.
The first difference noticeable is the shape of the bird. Heritage
turkeys have longer legs so they are taller; their breastbones are
also longer so their body shape is more like a wild turkey that many
of us here in Maine have seen. The ratio of dark meat to white meat is
more equal than it is in the broad breasted whites.
If you would like to see video that shows the heritage body in detail,
Frank Reese, a long time breeder and raiser in the midwest has created
one. It is 8 minutes and 35 seconds long and eventually promotes a
specific "brand" of turkey available around Kansas. It includes
history, and much more information from a true expert:
Of course, cooking the bird can be different and will vary according
to your taste and pleasure. Many people have created specific recipes
for cooking the heritage turkey, we often tell folks to think about
cooking these birds at a lower temperature; this does not necessarily
extend the cooking time as pastured birds, especially heritage
turkeys, cook more quickly. Most recipes encourage the use of a meat
thermometer, we do too. Overcooking any turkey will cause a dry, less
tasty meal.
If you search on the internet you can find many recipes, even the New
York Times has gotten in on the act. Here's a link to one from Local
Harvest, a farm listing service and information clearinghouse for farm
raised products:
Texture and Taste: Oh yes, very different! The taste is more intense
and if you like turkey you will really enjoy the flavor. All of the
good qualities of turkey taste are more pronounced and, since these
birds are raised on pasture, the sunshine, grasses and other forage
plus high quality grain we feed allow for no off or bland tasting
birds. Our birds are usually eaten very soon after slaughter and have
not been frozen. If they do get frozen, they should be held at a
constant temperature, preferrably about 10 below zero Fahrenheit to
preserve the flavor and texture.
The texture is hard to describe; it is certainly different from the
broad breasted turkey because these heritage birds have excercised in
different ways; they can fly, they often run, and this builds muscle
which is what meat really is. They are also more mature at slaughter
time which creates more taste and a more compact texture for the meat
and finally, the meat is less "soft" but not tough. Industrialization
has created quick growing birds by breeding and the broad breasted
bird is a product of industrialization. Heritage birds grow more
slowly; their bone structure and internal organs are well developed
before their meat really begins to add weight. And, though that fact
doesn't describe texture, it is actually a big factor in the texture
differences; the turkey's healthy conditioning makes a high quality,
compact meat.
"Well," you say, "that wasn't much of a description," and I'll tell
you that although we've eaten heritage birds for at least nine years,
we still haven't been able to explain the differences well. I can also
tell you that many people, after trying a heritage turkey, tell us
they don't want anything else for their special meals.
Here are a few more resources for you to view:
At Local Harvest, where we list our products (search for Emmas Family
Farm) an article with links to cooking information and a recipe:
At the Sustainable Table website:
This well written article from "FriendsEat.com" has much information
but makes a claim that heritage birds are "safer" to eat. That claim
isn't necessarily true, its the grower and processor that insure your
"Don't Get Duped on Heritage Turkey" food News Media

posting from Emma's Family Farm,
Windsor Maine;
Steve Hoad
See what we're doing on the Farm at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Maine turkeys: Heritage and Broad Breasted Whites

Reading this in Maine and want a turkey?
or call 207-445-2141

November 1 and the countdown to Thanksgiving begins. We have raised
heritage and broad breasted white turkeys for sale commercially since
2004. Each year we gather ourselves to deal with each facet of
completing the "turkey process" and the stresses that go with each
segment of completion.
1. Prices will have been determined all ready and the factors of
pricing include many variables. The least controllable variables are
potential wildlife damage, weather events and diseases. As November
arrives we worry about each one and do everything we can to prevent
damage and mortality; these are issues that determine what our season
looks like in the profit or loss column.
2. Our personal health and physical fitness are important factors as
well. Various fall maladies are always around now and we must take
care to keep ourselves healthy so that our flocks can be well
maintained, watched, picked up at the appropriate time, loaded and
processed, and finally, distributed to our customers. Poor health of
any farm member makes more work for the others.
3. Processing on Time. It is a certainty that our customers want their
turkeys on a specific date, usually Thanksgiving. If there is some
hitch in the system and things don't get done on time, we stand a
chance of not having turkeys ready.
4. The customers want their needs met. Although we work to get our
customers to order early (as mentioned here previously) there is
always a crush of calls and e-mails, needing the "perfect" turkey for
Thanksgiving. It seems hard to make potential customers understand
that there are only so many turkeys available, that others have
ordered earlier and planned ahead, and that we can't manufacture a
turkey to their exact required weight.
In years past, we have worked to smooth out the wrinkles in our
operation so that things can go more smoothly but the stresses still
remain, the factors listed above will always make this a stressful
month for us as long as we raise turkeys. Some time between the
Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and dinner on Thursday, we must
unwind enough so we can enjoy our own Thanksgiving dinner --- yes, of
course we eat turkey!
Each year, we look forward to Thanksgiving day with the hope that we
can give thanks for making it through another turkey season and
knowing that our customers have enjoyed a premium quality bird for
their dinner. Later, as we evaluate profit and loss, measure effects
of the stress and think about what we enjoy as farmers, we plan for
the year to come and decide whether there are more turkeys in our
future. Our decision is often based on what happens during November,
the month when Thanksgiving occurs

posting from Emma's Family Farm,
Windsor Maine;
Steve Hoad
See what we're doing on the Farm at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Applying for Mainecare: Workers and Evasive Potential Customers

Steve Hoad
The recent video brought forward by the Maine Heritage Policy Center tells an interesting tale; not the tale, however, that MHPC has tried to tell. It certainly appears, in the professionally edited 2+minute version, that the MaineCare worker (Diane) tells the potential customer to ignore his undocumented income. Watching the long 47+ minute version of the video something quite different is portrayed.
Videos here for viewing
Short much publicized: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVxgLLWvKl0

Long and rather tedious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r19zhpUc5v4

In that long video, we see a worker offering information about MaineCare eligibility, offering information about Cobra to extend his soon to expire insurance, and giving details about the Dirigo insurance offered in Maine. We should expect this from our safety net programs in Maine, workers who are familiar enough with alternatives so that potential MaineCare customers realize there are options if they are ineligible for MaineCare.

When potential customers go to a MaineCare office they may be under significant stress; many do not want to ask for a “handout” and many are uncomfortable about releasing personal financial details of their private lives. When customers are evasive or unclear about issues, it is the worker’s job to be nonconfrontational and help them understand what information must be disclosed and how it is used. Both workers maintained an upbeat attitude throughout a long, tedious, repetitive and evasive interview and were never confrontational about the customer’s evasive responses. Throughout, each worker continued to show the respect which we would each want if we needed to ask for the assistance of a government program.

When the customer asked for a paper application, the worker complied and asked for intervention of a more senior worker to help answer the customer’s questions. That senior worker’s intervention helped answer some of the questions about income and expenses that the customer was asking and even explained, in a nonconfrontational way, that the evasive and unclear answers that the customer was providing made it hard to give clear answers to the questions being asked.

The customer, however, continued to be evasive and even indicated that he would have his name taken off of an account that had significant monies in it. He had access to the account to pay his expenses. The senior worker explained that a letter would be necessary to explain his use of this money and a phone number should also be provided by the holders of the account so DHHS could contact them.

Throughout the 47 minutes of this video we see workers, our Maine state employees, acting professionally and giving as much information as possible to a customer who was being, as we now know, purposefully evasive. This attempt to entrap our employees was a failure; they neither violated the customer’s rights nor declared him qualified or ineligivle for MaineCare. This customer wasted a significant amount of state workers’ time to try to prove that people are fraudulently receiving MaineCare or that worker errors are creating fraud. Neither case was proven. These facts can only be known by watching the long video.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is it Certainly a Choice?

June 28, 20011
Is it Certainly a Choice?

To be in a place that is quiet;
Enough so the days can get lonely,
Without really being too lonely
Under no circumstances would the noise of cities be tolerable
for any length of time:
It is a choice.

Doing without the constant need that society has
To spend
To spend
To shop and spend.

Outside of that choice
A small frame of reference must be maintained,
There are things that we need in today's modern world.
If nobody else had them, or even the majority was without
it would not be important;
Transportation, modern communication, and some knowledge of what the rest of the world is up to
Have been forced upon this rural life.

The pull of the quiet, mostly undisturbed life
By the forces outside
Can be strong --- depressing and exhilarating
At times realizing that one cannot afford the "needs" butSometimes experiencing the immersion in the shopper's culture of sales and special treatment

Is it really a choice?
Or is it an evasion
To avoid the noise and drama
In trade for quiet and some chance of solitude

Because, if real choice were to be offered
Wouldn't that small frame of reference
abandon society's forcing and contain possibilities of choice?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Strategy that Grows; PreBuying Your Food from a Farmer

In times like these, it always makes some sense to review our investments, even the most simple ones.

Farmers, in particular, understand the recession in terms that many other businesses don't, we very rarely have bankers eager to lend us money; "Farming
is a risky business."

So, we have to rely on our own capital, grit, determination, credit cards, whatever it takes to get us through --- or the government.

CSA's are a way we can become an investment vehicle for our friends, neighbors and customers. Not only is there usually some return on the share purchase,
but there's all the quality of life returns --- open land, rural character, the ability to watch life grow and the friendly atmosphere of a farm or farmers

Sunday, Feb. 27 is the "CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Fair" time, but for many farmers there's a larger window: you can look at the MOFGA directory or look on LocalHarvest.org and
find CSA shares available in Maine. Even if you don't have time to visit the CSA Fair, you can call or Email and get a share that will be a good investment
in Our Maine Food System.

Here's wishing all of us Farmers good luck in our quests for CSA Subscribers. And thanks to all of you who do subscribe; You are more reliable and require
less paperwork than the Government or the banks.

Emma's Family Farm is offering CSA shares at 5 CSA Fairs this year:
Portland, Rockland, Hallowell, Waterville and Auburn. If you miss these fairs and wish to buy a share of eggs and meats from our farm, we'd be glad to talk
to you about it.

Its a simple process whereby you pay us up front for future products you order from the Farm. You gain 5% or 8% on your share, depending upon the level
you purchase. That's certainly better than any of today's savings account.

We gain the use of your money to acquire, feed and care for our animals and we also gain the ability to meet market demand by understanding what you want
and need in advance.

If you'd like to subscribe, share prices are
$125 yielding $131.25
$297 yielding $320.75.

We hope you will join us for 2011.

Want to see the farm? Visit us in person by calling in advance or
view pictures at

Thanks for being a farmer's friend by reading and sharing this post.

posting from Emma's Family Farm,
Windsor Maine;
Steve Rose and Helen Hoad
See what we're doing on the Farm at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Egg Information + Recipes + News from the Farm

Its our Mid-Month newsletter with information about Our Farm, news
and information you can use and this time, recipes using fresh, free
range eggs from Emma's Family Farm.
We'll be in Portland at 28 Monument Square this Friday, Feb. 18 from
about 11 AM until 4 PM; we are at the Monument Square location, in
front of the Public Market House the first and third Friday of each
month. Also, as usual, We'll be at Rockport Marketplace each Saturday
from 9 until noon. You can pre-order items to be delivered on these
market days, just give us a call in advance.
Late in February we'll begin offering Community Supported Share
accounts. We'll be at CSA "Fairs" in Auburn, Hallowell, Rockland and
Portland. More information will be forthcoming.
It is important to note to You that we are out of roasting and frying
chickens. We originally thought our supply would last through March
but happy customers made sales rise so pastured chickens, from Emma's,
are gone until late May. We do have, however, some heritage chickens
that are great for soups, stews or very slow roasting. Ask for them
and we can explain more. They are more mature with full flavor and
make beautiful stock and a superior stew.
We're beginning to prepare, in earnest, for spring. We've visited one
of our favorite farmers and picked out calves to pasture here for high
quality beef in the Fall. We also checked on the availability of some
midsummer beef 'cause we know people want it.
We've ordered some pullets, (day old hens) to renew our egg laying
flock, and the seed catalogs are being perused with specific items all
ready on the lists.
Early in February we're sure all the neighbors heard "Tractor!!! Yippi!"
And because words just don't do it justice here's some visuals on this
28 horse machine that's older than Rose by a couple of years. It runs
good, has safety rollover protection and should do a fine job for us.
Some news about products and pricing:
We're just not sure what our meat prices will look like through the
spring, summer and beyond. The numbers of beef cattle are much smaller
nationally and in Maine, we've all ready seen a price increase in
calves. Even though ours eat only grass, fuel prices will effect hay
costs as well. Grain prices are very erratic and have been gyrating
and rising; the ethanol producers are using some 26% of the corn
available in the USA. This article tells of what may be to come:
"Strong demand for corn pushes up food prices
U.S. supplies are at their lowest level in 15 years, and the ethanol
industry's corn orders are Rising"
Right Now, Our hens are really laying lots of eggs. The lengtheoning
days and some warmer weather have them happy and doing their best. To
make the most of it, here is some information, and some recipes for
you to use and enjoy.
"Study Shows Eggs Lower in Cholesterol, Higher in Vitamin D
According to new nutrition data from the United States Department of
Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), eggs are lower
in cholesterol than previously thought, says an American Egg Board
press release. The USDA-ARS recently reviewed the nutrient composition
of standard large eggs, and results show the average amount of
cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than
previously recorded. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now
contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent. Some
researchers believe the natural decrease in the cholesterol level of
eggs could be related to the improvements farmers have made to the
hens' feed. Nutrition researchers at Iowa State University are
compiling a report to outline potential reasons for the natural
decrease in cholesterol in eggs."
And so, having said that, here's a recipe for a Classic Cheese Soufflé
by Ellen Kanner
Courtesy of Culinate
"The idea of making a soufflé often strikes panic in kitchenphobes,
but it's little more than scrambled eggs, and as a party piece, it
rules. With just a few staple ingredients, you feed four and make
magic, too. And once you have the technique down, you can add all
kinds of extras, like chopped vegetables, nuts, and herbs."
Of course, we're recommending fresh free range eggs from Emma's Family Farm.
Francis Lam continues his "chicken" series in Salon;
"What do "cage free," "fertile," and other egg labels mean?"
And one last recipe using fine free range eggs:
Serves 6.
Adapted from a recipe By ALICIA ROSS with BEVERLY MILLS, United
Features Syndicate Contact Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross via their
Desperation Dinners website at www.kitchenscoop.com
• 1 refrigerated pie crust (half of a 14.1-oz. pkg.) or 8-inch frozen
deep-dish pie crust
• 1/2 c. sliced green onions or finely chopped white, yellow or red onions
• 1/2 c. vegetable of choice, such as shredded carrots or thinly
sliced asparagus, baby green beans or shredded zucchini
• 1/2 c. chopped baked ham, ham steak or almost any fully cooked meat
• 1/2 c. (2 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, or provolone or Monterey Jack
• 6 eggs
• 2/3 c. half-and-half (or 1/3 c. milk and 1/3 c. cream)
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the crust, if necessary, according to package directions.
Layer the onions, carrots (or other vegetable), meat and cheese in
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper.
Whisk until frothy. Pour the mixture over the veggies and ham.
Bake, uncovered, until the top is set and light golden brown, about 50
minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes, then slice and
Hope you've enjoyed our letter this time, featuring egg information
and recipes.
Remember that we'll be in Portland this Friday from about 11 AM until
4, Rockport every Saturday from 9 till noon, and in Rockland,
Hallowell and Portland on February 27 from 1 until close of the CSA
Fair. More details forthcoming.
Thanks for reading and thanks especially for your loyalty to Our Farm.

posting from Emma's Family Farm,
Windsor Maine;
Steve Hoad
See what we're doing on the Farm at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TweetUp and Eat Up

TweetUp and Eat Up!
Rockport Marketplace: Saturday February 12!
We're planning to have fun!
Three farmers in the store, a chocolatier and the makers of fine
cheeses are planning a Mid-Winter morning's party. Won't you come?
Folks who don't use Twitter won't know that a TweetUp is when Twitter
users gather their followers at a certain place and point in time to
meet, greet and Tweet (send messages on Twitter).
Folks who don't eat? Are there really any of those. We think not, so
everybody is welcome to join us.
Of course, we want you all to know that there is a farmer's market
every Saturday morning at the Rockport Marketplace on Route 1 in
Rockport. So we are having this "Taste of the Market" so you can meet
all of us, try some of our products, and have fun learning what there
is to purchase.
Here's a partial list of the treats to sample:
Cathe from State of Maine Cheese will have coffee, samples of various
cheeses, and soufflé made with farm fresh eggs and sausage.
Lynn of The Chocolate Moose will have Italian truffles for you to taste.
Rose, Steve and Helen of Emma's Family Farm will have samples of sweet
sausage and create omelettes, right on the spot, with our farm fresh
free range eggs.
Mike from Green Hollow Orchard will have some pie for you to try.
Carol from Dilly Dally Farm will have breads, devilled eggs and other goodies.
You can graze any or all of these fine samples, talk with everybody
and have fun while shopping for fine Maine products at the Rockport
Marketplace's Saturday morning Farmers Market. Hope to see you.
More information about Saturday's vendors on the web:
State Of Maine Cheese: http://www.cheese-me.com/
Emma's Family Farm: http://www.localharvest.org/emmas-family-farm-M19443
The Chocolate Moose: http://www.thechocolatemoose.org/index.html
Dilly Dally Farm: http://www.localharvest.org/dilly-dally-organic-farm-M3931
Green Hollow Orchard:

posting from Emma's Family Farm,
Windsor Maine;
Steve Hoad
See what we're doing on the Farm at