Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gearing up for Thanksgiving Turkey Harvest

Here we are in the middle of october! How did this happen!?!? That means our biggest event of the year is just around the corner! Thanksgiving!

So .. here's the list of things in process preparing for that day:

Turkey processing practicing
Yesterday we did another round of processing for breeders. The goal is to get the system streamlined so that the thanksgiving rush is not overwhelming. With small adjustments here, there, and lots of practice we are making progress. I was able to process about a dozen turkeys in 3 hours, almost entirely by myself.  I have no idea how that compares to other's capabilities but hey.. its a VAST improvement on my own abilities so I am happy!  The good news is that  rate was without rushing ! Just a relaxed sustainable pace.  This is encouraging because in a month we will have about a hundred turkeys to do within a few days. With a dozen every 3 hours, this is doable. That rate can of course increase dramatically with help expected for thanksgiving.

Cooling and Brining
We have enough space now to easily cool and brine as many turkeys as we can process in a couple days, making this also a sustainable process. It does take lots of ice, but it is doable.  This is important because brining truly increases the flavor and tenderness of the birds and is a strong recommendation from us for anyone buying heritage turkeys.

We are switching to a new packaging method that both looks more appealing and provide better protection for storing birds in the freezer. We are testing heat shrink bagging methods to encase the birds in a waterproof, airproof tightly sealed package. This prevents freezer burns while allowing visibility of the contents, and is rugged enough to withstand handling of the heavy birds in frozen conditions. We will be testing this tomorrow with the freshly brined birds.  This packaging method also allows for a more streamlined packaging process. This too will be experimented with  this week.  It consists of building a "rinsing and drying rack"  from plumbing parts that then allow easy bagging of hte large birds for dunking in the hot water to seal the bags. If we get this worked out, packaging should be a breeze.

Turkeys on new pasture
We have moved the turkeys onto a new pasture of mostly dead grass. Why? Bugs! grasshoppers and other hopping bugs love dead grass. The turkeys like to eat the grass seeds, and consume every moving bug in sight. We are also providing loads of organically grown fruits (apples, pears, etc) to help build fat.  Top this off with our soy free non-gmo turkey ration and you have the makings of a fabulous turkey! The birds are somewhat contained in large movable pens of our own design that allows for plenty of movement without stressing the birds out, but it limits movement to help them build fat and tender meat.  We do let one pen at a time out to roam and hunt, to further increase their nutritional variety.

Order tracking
We are investigating a new farm management software system that will provide rel invoices and receipts without much work,. as well as track order details and special requests.  It is geared for home delivery systems such as ours. We are very hopeful that this will allow for less time in the office, more in the pasture, and still provide a better experience for our customers.

Private member association
We are setting up a private member association, to allow us to exercise our rights and the rights of members to experience the good healthy foods they need in the form they need it.  This is perhaps the most exciting change overall in the history of little sprouts! The benefits are huge and well worth the effort. More details to come!

So stay tuned! October / November are busy months at little sprouts!

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