Eleanor Kane and Theodore Wiegand are finishing up their successful first season on Brasen Hill Farm, a 21-acre diversified farm in Dudley, Ma, where they raise lambs, goats, chicken, pigs, ducks and most importantly this thanksgiving, 51 beautiful turkeys. Bourbon reds, Broad-Breasted Bronze, and Great Whites make up their flock, though Eleanor says next year they plan to raise 100% heritage breeds.
Eleanor and Theo are ideologically committed to transitioning to heritage breeds, as keeping these breeds in production helps to maintain their popularity. “The Bourbon Reds are smarter, and there’s a bigger market for them,” she explains. “It’s a more pleasant experience on a small farm. They do really well on pasture.” Plus, Eleanor says people really get excited when you tell them you’re doing heritage turkeys.
Theo’s agricultural roots run deep– he grew up on a thousand acre wheat farm, whereas Eleanor more recently decided to pursue farming to get more involved in the food system and her community through farming. After the pair completed the yearlong Practical Farm Training Program at the Farm School in Orange, Ma they found land to lease from an old dairy farm.
Of course there are some challenges. The Bourbon Reds didn’t get as big as the pair hoped. The birds are not as aggressive of foragers, so Eleanor and Theo needed to separate out the breed to make sure they got enough to eat.
Since Brasen Hill doesn’t yet have an established customer base, many orders came in for turkeys very late. Even though they began taking orders in May, they are still adding to a waiting list! Luckily, Eleanor and Theo are tapping into a relatively new market. Many community members interested in this kind of product have been driving far to get it. Brasen Hill now offers conveniently located, top quality, pasture-raised meat. This thanksgiving, that’s 51 thankful families.