When I returned to my parents house after visiting Fresh Pasture Farms (on the other side of my home town,) I laughed as I described the amusing antics of the young turkeys.
I visited this farm, mainly to see their arrangements for egg laying chickens, in addition to my interest in their overarching approach to raising animals in rotating pasture spaces.
The owners let me wander across their property with some general directions. I checked out most of their animals. I loved their “egg-mobile,” which was a chicken house on wheels. It allowes the chickens to free-range, have new grazing space every day. The chickens also had a Newfoundland guard dog buddy (who noticed me before I noticed him.)
But the turkeys. They made me laugh out loud. As I approached the movable fencing, they honked and squeaked and quickly made their way to where I walked. Some flapped their wings and darted through the tall grass, as if to hurrying over to greet me. I am instantly won over by a personable animal.
Back home, recounting my meeting of the turkeys with my parents, my dad said, “You know, your great grandmother raised turkeys.” I didn’t know much about my great grandmother, besides that she grew a lot of strawberries. With some family history, and an old photo album, I learned that my great grandmother was a strong, independent farmer, and I instantly find her story to be inspiring.
From what I can find, my great grandparents, Frieda and Edward, were married in the early 1900s. They had four children, before Edward passed away at 44 years old. After her husband’s death in 1939, Frieda supported her family through farming.
She did grow a lot of strawberries, and sold them in town and at the big farmers market in St. Louis. She also raised turkeys.
My dad remembered the turkey raffles that she would run at the local taverns. The raffles were lively events that included free turkey salad sandwiches, grandkids selling tickets table-to-table, and a giant spinning wheel to choose the winners. People seemed to love the festivity of these events and enjoyed beers and kept the tavern owners happy.
Frieda had a good support system of nearby relatives who would help out on the farm at critical times, but she was a tough one. As my dad put it, “She worked hard. And everybody knew it.”
As I left the St. Louis region, to push on with my journey, I took one last stop at the historic Soulard Market in St. Louis. It’s likely the same location that my great grandmother sold extra produce, and perhaps her relatives sold here too.
I bought some plums from Scharf's farm, another hometown classic, and was on my way.