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Posted 11/17/2016 10:11am by Renee Savary.

Turkey lingo or what you should know before buying your bird …  

Turkey frenzy is under way and what is on the label will tell you a lot ... or nothing ... here are my 2 cents on it :

Fresh ….

What you think it means : The turkey was slaughtered this morning (or maybe yesterday) and was rushed to my local grocery store.

What it actually means: "Fresh" has nothing to do with the time between slaughter and sale. Instead, it means that the turkey has not been cooled to below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it was never frozen.  

Young …

What you might think it means: This bird was killed at a younger age than most turkeys and is therefore more tender and delicious. Maybe it also suffered less.

What it actually means: The bird was likely killed at the same age as most other turkeys at 16 to 18 weeks, compared to the roughly 10 years turkeys live in the wild.  

Natural ...

What you might think it means: The turkeys have been raised in a "natural" environment, wandering around on a farm with a red barn, scavenging food and gobble-gobbling their cares away.

What it actually means: “Natural” is a non regulated term  and means whatever the user wants !! It has nothing to do with whether the turkeys got antibiotics or not, were living in filthy conditions or were confined indoors.

  Which bring us to a basic question : how exactly are most turkeys in the U.S. raised

The majority of turkeys are living in crowded houses,  football field-sized sheds that are entirely enclosed,  by the tens of thousands. Birds typically have their beaks cut to prevent them from injuring or killing one another, and are allotted an average of two square feet of space.

Manure often piles up beneath the birds, and ammonia hangs thick in the air. Many turkeys are routinely given antibiotic to prevent them from getting sick. Plus, modern turkeys have been genetically bred to mature quickly and have extremely large breasts (for more white meat).Many have trouble standing.

To be clear, turkey producers must still meet basic safety standards and the meat should be safe. But terms like "natural" are misleading consumers about how the birds are actually raised. Paying extra for "natural" is most of the time a waste !!!

Let's look at a few more dubious labels :

Free-Range ...

What you might think it means: These turkeys roam freely on a farm, pecking at the lush grass and getting more exercise than you do.

What it actually means: In some cases (on some small farms like Twin Oaks Farm), it does mean what you're picturing. But in the vast majority of cases, "free-range" turkeys are raised in the standard, crowded warehouses and as long as somewhere there is a door it can then be called “Free-Range” …

If the animal never even went outdoors, but you sort of open and close the door everyday then it can be called “free-range” !!!!  

Cage-Free ...

What you might think it means: This turkey had a better life than most, because at least it wasn't stuffed into a tiny cage.

What it actually means: This turkey's life was probably the same as most, because turkeys are not raised in cages.  

Premium ...

What you might think it means: This turkey is a higher grade of meat, and is more delicious and healthy.

What it actually means: Basically, nothing !!! Save your money …  

No Hormones Added ...

What you might think it means: This bird is healthier than most because it wasn't pumped full of the hormones that turn some turkeys into the Incredible Hulk

What it actually means: Once again, this term is misleading. By USDA law, turkeys (and other poultry) are not allowed to be given growth hormones. This said the use of “growth promoter” is common.

Humane/Non-Certified Humane ...

What you might think it means: Finally, a bird that has been raised according to an ethical set of principles. It was probably treated fairly and lived a decent life.

What it actually means: If there is no certifying agency, the label is probably meaningless. That's because the USDA allows companies to come up with their own definition of "humane" . That's most of the virtually meaningless terms. Let's move on to some labels that have at least some significance.

Kosher ...

What you might think it means: The turkey was raised according to a stricter set of hygiene standards. It was probably kept cleaner and healthier.

What it actually means: The turkey was probably raised in the same crowded house conditions as most turkeys. The only difference is that it was slaughtered according to a set of kosher principles.

Vegetarian-Fed/Grain-Fed ...

 What you might think it means: This turkey enjoyed a lush supply of greens and grains, replicating its natural diet.  

What it actually means: The bird probably ate what most turkeys eat: corn and soy. But these birds have not had their diets supplemented with animal by products, which does happen often. The irony, though, is that turkeys are not natural vegetarians. In the wild, or at Twin Oaks Farm, they eat a variety of bugs and worms, along with grass and other plants.  

Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered ...

What you might think it means: These birds were never given any antibiotics of any kind.

What it actually means: These birds were given drugs only if they were sick, but not for growth promotion, feed efficiency or to prevent disease. It does not mean the birds were raised in more sanitary conditions, only that they were not given routine antibiotics.  

Heritage ...

What you think it means : Your turkey breed hark back to an era before industrial agriculture and genetic manipulation, bread naturally on a sweet red barn farm.  

What it actually means : There is no official certification program for the identification and labeling of heritage birds the way there is for organics. If you get a turkey from any grocery store you probably certain that the term “heritage” was stretched out meaning those birds have some of the genetics of heritage breed … you will find that on the very small print on the label … “Heritage” is the new fad, just don’t be fooled by it …  

Organic ...

 What you might think it means: These turkeys were raised on a steady diet of organic vegetables, green smoothies and yoga.  

What it actually means: To meet the requirements for the USDA Certified Organic, animals must have some access to the outdoors (though there's debate about whether or not most organic turkeys actually go outdoors), be fed only organic feed (non-GMO and grown without chemical pesticides) and must not be given antibiotic drugs on a routine basis. Commercial organic turkeys are a better options still knowing that  are raised in far from ideal conditions.  

Here at Twin Oaks Farm we try to raise it right and it is not cheap … no miracle …

And like everything else in food, cheap come at the expense of animal welfare, the environment and your health just to name a few ...  

Purchasing one of our turkey not only support your local farming but has a much broader impact that you may think of ... to give you an example … yesterday, as we were harvesting our birds, I noticed bees were buzzing on the  wheel barrel full of feathers .. Probably getting some minerals out of it or who knows what but this morning it was covered with bees … yesterday bees must have spread the word in BeeLand that we were running a Thanksgiving special on the other side of the house !!! … I will let that wheelbarrel out an extra day before composting those feathers … yes, composting is another by product  …  

Choose wisely my Friends …  

Turkey pre order

Posted 4/14/2016 9:19pm by Renee Savary.
Farm UpDate
 
We got a bunch of babies yesterday ... of course running in every direction I did not check the dates and the mama (she was early too) gave birth in the fields. I have to say it was not easy to move them, in torrential rain, to a secure and covered pen. This picture was taken this morning and looks like everyone is doing pretty good ...

 

 
piglets
 
Update on the geese laying situation (if you missed previous "episode" please check our web site .. it is posted there) ...
Well none of our shenanigan worked and we are exactly at the situation we were trying to avoid !!! Meaning geese sitting on top of eggs in their coop and others on the island !!!
Here 2 of them laying on top of a bunch of eggs ...
 
geese
 
please note the other two on the outside .. they are not tearing me to pieces because Paola is behind "covering" me ... 
 
geese
 
We can not move the coops anymore, if we do the geese wont return on the eggs (yes been there done it) 
and we have at least 2 other sitting on eggs on the island ...
 
geese
 
How many geese do you see ??? ... I did not go on the island but we at least 2 sitting on eggs and then 3 that were patrolling ...
Later in the morning as I was coming back from the barn, I stopped at the coops and the geese started to scream like crazy which prompted 3 of the "guards" to rush back from the island ... They are really incredible how they team up and help/fight for each other ...  They are a perfect team !! Any of the other animals I have on the farm if one of them get in trouble the rest just run away ... not the geese they will all turn against you as a block, not only they are impressive but their bills are lined by razor sharp tiny teeth ... Over the years I did loose some skin to it, let me tell you :it is painful !!!!
Here the 3 geese running back (I do need a GoPro!!) ... as  you can see we are over flooded everywhere ... 
 
geese
 
 
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Twin Oaks Farm - USDA Certified Organic - Bonifay FL 32425 

 
 
 
 
 
Posted 2/18/2016 8:38pm by Renee Savary.
Look who got in last night ....
 
First lamb of 2016
 
She is our first lamb of 2016, yes lambing late this year ...
Mom and baby are doing great ....
 
Lamb 2016
 
We raise a small flock of Gulf Coast Sheep ...
Want to learn more about it ?? check out our web site :
 
We use to keep them inside for a few days but it seems that mom and babies are doing better if left on pasture from the start ... so here we go ...
 off to pasture
 
Hopefully this year will be a good one for our lamb ...
Posted 2/13/2016 8:50pm by Renee Savary.

The Geese … For a few months in the winter our geese lay eggs … not much, like 1 or 2 a day … After a few  weeks a couple of them will sit on the eggs and we all hope for goslings …

Our geese /
 
Now they don’t lay their eggs in their coop that would way too easy and each year it has been an egg hunt, first to find where the year cache will be and then get there before “someone” else …
 
One of our pond has an island in the middle and a few years ago the geese found out it would be a good spot !!! Access to the island is through a very flimsy bridge and you basically risk the plunge at each egg collecting !!! I would not mind it but the major problem of this setting is security at night … 2 or 3 years ago we got a gosling but lost it after a few weeks.
 
Gosling
 
Since then, each year, we are coming up with some stratagem to first get them lay where WE want and then get them in the coop at night …
Last year once they started to sit on a bunch of eggs we moved them, geese and eggs, to a coop and then at night we had the rest of the gang staying in an adjacent coop … Does not sound like much but picking up a couple of geese on top of eggs with a full gang of over protective family members trust me “heroic” is no big word here !!!
Going over the falling apart bridge, a goose tuck under your arm your other hand holding the base of the head as far away from your face as possible with the full team waiting for you on the other side, their mind set to kill you or at best shred some part of your body, I mean they are looking for blood one way or the other … then walk to where we had set the coops (not too far) … set the eggs in a nest like area, drop the geese and retreat as fast as possible … by then it is open warfare. This was last year and at the end it did not work out … the geese lost interest after a couple of weeks and we got no goslings.
 
 
 
The breed of our geese is French Toulouse, I got them as my field alarm system (remember the Capitol Geese??) and it works … They are big birds and are usually raised for meat.
They don’t walk around they parade !! All day long, they terrorize everybody from the donkeys to the hogs and everybody learned to just stay large of them. They don’t fly but for a couple of feet high and a few hundred feet in the morning when we open their coop  to just stretch their wings and make a statement … In the bird world geese are vegetarians and they eat a tremendous amount of grass, like the ducks they need to be able to clean their heads, they love the water and spend a good part of the day grooming themselves. No matter how much slush and mud we have, especially around the pig pens when it rains, their bottom feathers are immaculate white not sure how they do that but it is very impressive …
geese
This said because, I am getting at this year setting … a few month ago, Paola (my helper) and I started to ploy !!! … and the geese too (I am certain of that !!!) ….  We thought we will bring them back close to the house and far away from that damn island and we will be able to manage the whole eggs situation. Fences and gates would keep them from returning. Early November we moved their coop and then just walked them up here. For once no biggy aside from lot of names calling on their part …
They pretty quickly took over the territory and all was fine or this was our impression … Due to the warm weather we had,  by the end of December we still had not eggs and we were keeping a close eye on them knowing we were getting close ….
Then one day Paola called me to tell me the geese are back to the island and she is pretty sure there are laying eggs there !!!!!!!!!!!!!! we tried to figure out how they got there and the next day I got over the bridge (which with all that rain is getting worse and worse) … and yes here we have it …. Our first goose egg of the season !!!!!!!!!!!!! and the geese are around and at the end of the day we need to open the gate to get them back up here … after a few days of head scratching we found out that they were flying there … I mean it is quite a distance and a high to pass the fence and they are all doing it not just one or two !!!! … as I said they never flew before … most incredibly they are doing it almost every day now …
I will let you come up with the moral of the story …
Posted 4/10/2012 2:02pm by Renee Savary.

Thank you

Seaside Times

for featuring me, the farm and my feathered co-workers ...

We love the article and all the pictures ...


http://www.theseasidetimes.com/






Posted 4/5/2012 12:40pm by Renee Savary.

Easy Duck Roasting ....

A few times a year I have Muscovy ducks available. They are raised slowly, over a 10/11 weeks period, on pasture supplemented with organic soyfree grains. The result is an incredible meat probably one of the best I ever had.

Most duck recipe are quite elaborate and can be intimidating. Raising ducks slowly on pasture let them develop their own flavor and I found out, like with our chickens, the simpler preparation was the better one and let you taste it’s true flavor. 

I first rub the duck with our Grey Sea salt and lemon and olive oil and black pepper, then cut the breast skin in a cross hatch pattern without cutting into the duck ... just to open the skin to let the extra fat drip ...

Warm up your oven to 325F and in a roasting pan cook it for 45 minuter per 1lb of duck ... for example a 4lb duck would be 3h ....

*** Note: on cooking time, if you get a larger duck, like 5 or 6lb, roast it like a 4lb one and then check the temperature, larger duck gets larger in lengh ... 3 to 4h cooking time should be enough for a 5 to 6lb duck. Also all temp/time are for a conventional oven and do NOT work for convection oven.

The first hour the duck is roasted breast side down, then turn it for the remaining time .. at time of turning I add 1 or 2lb (depending the size of the duck) of onions, cut into big chunk, to the bottom of the roasting pan .... the onions will caramelize in the duck fat ... 

Once the cooking time done I take the duck out of the oven, cover it with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes ... then carve it ...

In  the meantime  “deglace” the bottom of the pan into a smaller pan and scooping out the onions, add salt/pepper to taste and 1tsp of Dijon mustard, some dry white wine bring it to a boil cook it for a few minutes, strain it and serve it aside the onions.

I like to serve it with roasted potatoes (roasted in duck fat) and some Twin Oaks Farm cranberry sauce...

 Best duck ever !!! ...

Do not remove any of the extra duck fat and make sure to save all the left over fat and render it ... it will keep really well in the fridge and will do marvel with spring potatoes ...

Et voila ... Bon appetit ...

Roasted duck

Posted 3/28/2012 9:32pm by Renee Savary.

Easter Eggs with Natural Coloring


Easter is just around the corner and it is time to think "coloring" ..
With just a few simple ingredients you will have a rainbow of eggs ...

 Here is what you need to create your rainbow:

RED
2 cups of beets, grated - 3tbsp white vinegar - 2 cups water

YELLOW to GOLD
3 large handfulls of yellow/brown onion skins - 3tbsp white vinegar - 3 cups water

BLUE
1lb frozen blueberries, crushed - 3 tbsp white vinegar - 2 cups water

Green:
Boiled spinach leaves - 3tbsp of white vinegar - 2 cups of water

Purple
Make a strong hibiscus tea with 2 cups of water then add 3 tbsp of white vinegar

 

Coloring ingredients


Mix combinations of the primary dyes (in separate cups) to make secondary colors : red and yellow for orange, yellow and blue for green, blue and red for violet.

 

Coloring

The vinegar acts as a fixative, without it the dyes won't stick to the eggs.
For uniform color, strain each dye mixture through a cheesecloth or a fine strainer.
For a mottled, tie-dyed or spotty effect, leave all the ingredients in the pans.
Use crayons to make designs on the eggs.

eggs coloring
The longer the eggs remain in the dye, the deeper the color.
For special effects, dip half the egg in one color, the other half in another.


Happy coloring ...

... et voila ...

Posted 2/12/2010 1:21pm by Renee Savary.

Weekly Food Thoughts 02/11/2010

Good article this week in the NewYork Times about "A federal effort to push junk food out of school" (link below). While I think the effort is somewhere praiseworthy, I also think it totally miss the real problem and here is why ...
Beyond the point, the article mentionned the whole "business" of selling, let's call it junk,  to help raise money to pay for new sport uniforms or other extra cruricular programs !!! quite paradoxal : selling junk to pay for sport equipments !! it is really sad to think that schools have to go to that extend because they don't have the adequate fundings!!!
Now to the point missed: I have cookies or cake every afternoon and I would not want someone to take it away from me (make me unpleasant).
BUT I bake my cookies/cake which usually include: sugar/flour/eggs/butter and, depending the mood and the week, from nuts to dry fruits to chocolate ... in short the usual home made organic taste delicious cookies.
NOW have you ever read mass produced cookies's labels ??? (yaya I went back to the store with my little notepad) I found out that they all have more or less the same ingredients from : palm kernel oil with TBHQ for freshness (no kidding and I am quoting) (see my google result below), cocoa processed with alkali, Polysorbate 60 (often used in cosmetics to solubilize essential oils into water-based products. Polysorbates are oily liquids derived from PEG-ylated sorbitan (a derivative of sorbitol) esterified with fatty acids.) yup I did not know either !! Vanillin : an artificial flavor (sic) (all spelled out), soy lecithin (even my chickens dont eat soy) etc etc etc from yellow #5 to red #40 you got it and here where the real problem is NOBODY goes after the manufacturers of that junk, of course kids (and grownups) are going to buy it : it is available in quantities and it is CHEAP (here again) and as long as nobody will forbid the food manufacturers to put in your food the same stuff you find in your body lotion (polysorbate) why should they stop ???
If we want to stop the health problems of generations of kids let's stop to produce the crap ... if kids are not buying it at school then they will buy it somewhere else.
Let's teach the kids to bake their own cookies with real ingredients, they will love it and dont give me the "no time" crap ...  
In the meantime you can buy real cookies at the farmer's market.
See you all on Saturday ....

TBHQ is another ingredient that is in alot of food products.
TBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, is an antioxidant derived from petroleum.
TBHQ is a form of butane, i.e LIGHTER FLUID, that the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food.
Ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomitting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” TBHQ used in lab rats has cause cancer, stomach ulcers, and damage to DNA.
Ingesting 5 grams can kill.
And here’s a gross fact about McNuggests from McDonalds (they love to see you smile). TBHQ is sprayed directly on the nugget or on the inside of the box is comes in to “help preserve freshness.” They “promise” that each nugget has 0.02 percent of TBHQ oil.

The next generation of Laying Girls ...

4 weeks old layers

Posted 2/8/2010 7:27pm by Renee Savary.

Weekly Food Thoughts 02/04/2010

I got an email from someone looking for "ways" to produce organic chicken feed CHEAP!!!

Ok People we need to get out of Cheap Food LaLaLand, either we change the way food out there is getting subsidies or we accept the fact that real food comes at a price and we need to change the way we eat.

Here is how the system works now : MegaFarm is producing corn at $10 a bushel (please don't quote me on numbers or names this just for the purpose of the example) so their cost is $10, here comes UncleSam giving MegaFarm $10 subsidies to each bushel of corn. At this point the cost of producing corn is Zero (0), arrive HFCS inc., mega food manufacturer, willing to pay $5 for the same bushel of corn, of course MegaFarm is happy to sell and makes a $5 profit. I simplified it but this is the principle. Now let's remove UncleSam subsidies. MegaFarm is still producing at $10/bushel and still wants to make $5 in profit therefor they will sell to HFCS inc. at $15/bushel !! Right here the price of your food tripled !!! Of course I am not taking into consideration all the ugly scheme this corn will go through before hitting your plate. Now you wonder where the $10 in subsidies comes from ??? I have news from you ... WE are paying with our tax $$ and subsequent Health Royalties for ever and this is the "beauty" of it : WE pay before we even buy !!! ... There is no miracle or magic formula, Real Food cost to produce, at $6/dozen for my eggs I pay the feed for the chickens that's all !!!

I went to a workshop called "small scale poultry raising" or something like that. Given by UF, the first speaker, PhD in nutrition, spent 17 minutes bashing organic practices, stating that if you want problems, snags, headaches (his words) that was the way to go !! I was wondering what I have been doing for the last two years or so ?? of course the only way he was promoting was factory farms, it amazed me that someone at that level was not more knowledgeable or at least open to organic practices, it shows how brain wash most people are about food, pretending that the food system in this country is one of the safest in the world ... welcome to LaLaLand. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, I was part of a backyard chickens workshop full of people wanting to raise their own chickens and realizing how dysfunctional the food system is. I loved it and made me want to start having backyard poultry workshops here at the farm, I will give you full details next week ...
Back to reality I have a ton of feed (literally) to unload ... hahaha ... see you all tomorrow ...

PS: I watch a great documentary called : food beware: the french organic revolution (Netflix) about how a small village gets its school cafeteria to go all organic and the impact on the community from the parents to the local farmers, a perfect example of how when there is a political will "things" happend. Watch it you will love it ....

Happy Hour at the farm  ...

Happy hour at the farm

Posted 2/11/2009 10:06am by Renee Savary.

WE GOT EGGS

.... and our eggs are unique ....

let me explain why ...

First our hens are fed a USDA certified organic feed without soy added. Which  means that we know what is in the feed, all the ingredients are certified organic and there is no filler or plastic pellets (yes it does exist). The feed is made of real grains not some pelletize form of you dont know what.

Second our hens roam freely, that is called pastured (not to be mixed with free range), all day long. They scratch for greens and bugs and just have fun being hens. At night they are cooped mainly to keep them safe from every foxes, coyotes and other predators that I am sure is waiting for a free diner at every corner of the property. Their coops are equiped with nesting boxes where they lay their eggs. We moved their coops around to make sure they get new and fresh pasture.

Third our hens have never been medicated. We do not give preventive medecine (and yes most bag of feed out there as some kind of antibiotic included). We keep their coops super clean and between the fun outdoor activities and the good food they just keep healthy. We also have a strict bio security system in place.

We are not yet USDA certified organic and therefor can not sell the eggs with the organic label but we are working on it.

If you want to try REAL eggs or just taste and feel the difference we are THE place and you know we do not cut corner to produce the very best.

We sell our eggs by the dozen from $5/dozen to $6.50/dozen depending on the eggs size, the inventory/production and the volume of the order.

You can call or email us to place an order.

Let's have a look at them :

Production line

Production line 1
Production line 2

The pick of the day

eggs 3
 

eggs 2 

Hummmmmmmmm.... delicious ....

Eggs au plat
Eggs sur assiette
Posted 8/13/2008 9:13pm by Renee Savary.

 

 Snack time 3 days old

Today is a good day to start a blog !!

My first 50 chickens arrived ... they are totally cute ...

I got two different breeds, 25 Dominique and 25 Rhode Island Red, both are heritage breeds, meaning they are old breeds that have not been genetically modified for fast confinement production !!!

I got them through US mail .. pretty amazing to me … all squeezed next to each other to keep warm … I was ready for them when I got home from the post office … as soon as we put them in their space they run for food and water, I had read that when you get them out of the box, they need some time to adapt … not those ones … they were
ready for snacks … and they are still snacking !!!

They are getting organic starter feed and of course because it is organic the feed does not contain any medicine or other scary stuff … That was my biggest problem to resolve when I decided to get the chickens, to find feed without medication and organic … nobody is doing it around here … sad !!! 

Chickens 3 days old

Now,  what they don’t say in the books … those little things are very noisy !! well I guess 50 girls in a pool what was I expecting ??? and yes they are in the house … I need to keep them at 95F for now, so not sure how I will sleep …

 

I will keep you posted ...

 

in the meantime if you are interested check those links to learn more about heritage breed :

http://albc-usa.org/

a few month from now that is what they will look like ....

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/poultry/chickens/dominiques/index.htm

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/poultry/chickens/rhodeislandred/index.htm