Category: Learn

02 Sep 2021

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Raising Turkeys at Greenacres

Commercially produced turkeys are usually raised in huge indoor warehouses, a completely different life than turkeys raised at Greenacres. From August to November, our livestock crew cares for hundreds of turkeys that arrive as day-old poults. They spend their first few weeks in a brooder, a heated housing unit, until they’re old enough to regulate their own body temperature and live outside.

Turkeys Belong Outside

After 4-5 weeks, the young turkeys are big enough to move outdoors, but still too small to leave unprotected. They spend the next 3 weeks on pasture while housed in our poultry tractors, protected from predators while being moved to fresh grass daily. Their nitrogen- rich manure is a key component in building our soil fertility.

Once they are large enough to no longer be attractive to a hawk or owl, they are released from the tractors to large fenced paddocks where they are frequently rotated through the pasture. We keep our bulls nearby to discourage coyotes. Turkeys instinctively roost up off the ground to protect themselves from predators, so we provide roosting houses that were custom designed by our livestock manager and fabricated by our estate crew.

A Healthy Lifestyle

What do our turkeys eat? Birds are omnivores, needing a variety of plant and animal foods to stay healthy. In addition to the insects, grasses, clover, etc. they forage, we also provide a locally produced, non-GMO turkey feed. This well-rounded diet, in addition to all the exercise they get from roaming the pasture, results in a much more delicious turkey.

All livestock handling and housing arrangements on our farm meet or exceed Certified Humane guidelines. Our turkeys are carefully loaded into our trailer the Monday before Thanksgiving and driven by our staff to our poultry butcher; a small, family owned, USDA inspected facility only 80 miles from our farm. Here they are humanely processed and packaged for your Thanksgiving dinner.

The Greenacres Difference

So what’s the difference? Why go through all this trouble to raise our turkeys? Because all these choices make a difference. Our efforts result in healthier birds who live happier lives, healthier conditions for our staff, healthier soils, and a healthier, more delicious turkey to grace your holiday table. A note about feathers… The turkey you typically buy at the grocery store has been bred to have white feathers, a genetic trait selected so feathers aren’t as visible, at the expense of overall turkey health and flavor. Our turkeys have bronze feathers, which may occasionally be visible on the turkey you bring home – simply remove before cooking.

08 Mar 2021

Ohio’s New Invader: The Spotted Lanternfly

Ohio’s New Invader: The Spotted Lanternfly

Traveling this summer?  Beware of unwanted hitchhikers.  The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has officially entered Ohio with a confirmed population in Jefferson County. This insect was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2014 and now resides in several eastern states.  Lanternflies are poor fliers but can hitchhike.  Large egg masses are formed and these masses are laid on trees, wood or rusty metal (e.g. old train cars). It is these egg masses that are often moved by human assisted spread.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers and preferred hosts are Tree of Heaven and grapes but spotted lanternflies have been documented on a variety of species. These phloem feeders concern fruit producers as their large numbers can cause a nuisance.  They squirt honeydew from their abdomen (which can rain down on people) and this substance promotes the growth of black sooty mold.

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Lance Cheung/Multimedia PhotoJournalist/USDA Photo by Lance Cheung, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are traveling east, do not pack up the lanterfly when you return home.  Check yourself and your belongings for any tag-alongs.  Adults are the easiest to spot and are most abundant late summer through fall.

The spotted lanternfly can congregate in large numbers.
The lanternfly with its wings open.
05 Feb 2021

The Magic of Maple

The Magic of Maple

Have you ever wondered about the origin of maple syrup? Before it was that sweet, sticky, delicious flavor puddled on your favorite breakfast dish—before it was bottled on a shelf in the store—before it was boiled down into a more sugary liquid—before it was dripping into a bucket—back when it was just a watery sap, flowing in a maple tree in the forest. You may have heard of some stories of how people discovered and came to use maple sugar: a sap surprise from a tomahawk into a tree; observing animals licking sap from holes in trees. There are many versions of stories and myths, but they all revolve around the relationship between humans and trees.

The first part of this relationship is getting to know your trees, specifically the sugar maple. At a glance, the tall, drab-colored trees all look the same during the leafless, winter months. Many maple trees have a somewhat pinkish hue, but the bark and color change depending on age. If you’re new to maple tapping, we recommend planning ahead and identifying your trees when they have their leaves or buds-it’s much easier! Once you have found your sugar maple trees on your land, it’s important to keep the trees healthy, because healthy trees are happy, sap-flowing trees. A few key tips to keep your trees healthy are: a tappable tree must have at least a 10 inch diameter (the size of a basketball); sanitize your equipment; mark your drill with tape at 2 inches to make sure your hole is the right depth; spread out tap holes so the old ones can heal.

Maple season relies on optimal sap flow, which happens when there are freezing temperatures at night and above freezing during the day. We all know Ohio weather keeps us guessing, so this temperature pattern can occur anywhere from January to March. Our animal friends like ants, flying squirrels, or woodpeckers will lap up sap straight from the tree. You may find yourself doing the same after you encounter sap dripping out of the spile of your first tapped maple tree. However, it’s actually only 2% sugar and 98% water! The key to making syrup is concentrating the sugar, and this is done by removing water through evaporation. Humans have used a number of tools over the centuries to boil down the sap- from hot stones in a carved out log, to metal pots over an open fire, to our modern day evaporators.

At Greenacres, we use a small-scale evaporator in our ‘sugar shack.’ The evaporator is fueled by a wood-burning stove, kept as full and hot as we can get it. We haul our buckets of sap from the maple trees and pour them into the evaporator. As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of sap for the water to evaporate and turn from 2% sugar to approximately 66% sugar. In fact, it takes 40 gallons of sap to create 1 gallon of maple syrup! It also takes a lot of time and effort for the whole process, but luckily it involves the sugar shack. 

The Sugar Shack

Can’t you just smell the heavenly scent wafting around the sugar shack? It is one of the best wintertime experiences that we can think of. The cozy warmth of the fire, steamy room, and sugar molecules dancing under your nose simultaneously trigger your brain into daydreams of maple cookies, pancakes, and drizzled maple popcorn.

What a special relationship and process, straight from the trees. If you don’t want to dabble in your own maple tapping, come to the Greenacres Farm Store and try the syrup we make from our trees. It is available each year typically between late February to early March. Thank a maple tree the next time you see one!

01 Feb 2021

Asian Jumping Worms

Asian Jumping Worms

Asian Jumping Worms have been recently found in Ohio, with confirmed sightings in Franklin County. This invasive species poses a threat to Ohio’s naturally rich biodiversity.

The Asian Jumping Worm (AJW) life cycle is similar to the European Earthworm (EE) life cycle. Both hatch in the spring from their cocoons, mature in the summer, mate and lay cocoons in the fall, and the cocoons over winter. Unlike EE which live several years, AJW are an annual species and will die after the first frost. The cocoons of AJW are very hard to see compared to EE cocoons because they are much smaller and roughly the same size as mustard seeds (Fig. 1). AJW only dig a few inches below the surface, whereas EE dig deeper. AJW feed on organic matter much more aggressively than EE and can alter the soil much faster. In addition, they excrete hard pellets that look like coffee grounds and change the texture and structure of the soil (Fig. 2). The changing soil composition results in fewer native plants and reduces biodiversity. With the reduction of native plant competition, invasive plants have a much higher chance of success.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Management and Prevention

  • Only buy materials that have been heat treated to 40–55 degrees Celsius (104–131 degrees Fahrenheit). This heat treatment kills cocoons.
  • Never buy or move any materials that may be suspected to have AJW or AJW cocoons.
  • Make sure to always clean any soil and debris from all equipment before leaving an area suspected of having AJW. Cocoons could be attached to you and your belongings.

If Found

If you find AJW on your property, please report it immediately:

  • Remove as many as you can and put them in a bag. Sun the bag for at least 10 minutes, longer is preferred, and throw it in the trash.
  • Submit reports on the EDDMaps website or phone application.
  • Visit this link and submit a report to the Ohio State University.
  • You can also send an email, with photos, to your county extension agent.