Sketched Nov. 11, 2011
Seven months ago, Lisa Sheffield’s turkeys were so little her 21/2-year-old could hold them in his hands. Now they are nearly 15 pounds each, and although they’ll survive this Thanksgiving, Sheffield plans to serve them on the family’s dinner table before the end of the year.
Sheffield, a biologist from Oregon who moved into her Northgate home two years ago, doesn’t know anyone else in Seattle raising backyard turkeys for meat. She said urban farmers are more likely to raise chickens for eggs and as pets. Turkeys may not have caught on, she added, because they need more space and bark like dogs. They also peck at sketchbooks, I learned.
Sheffield and her husband, Troy Guy, also a biologist, believe in a sustainable backyard economy, and that it’s important for their son, Miles, to grow up knowing where food comes from.
Little Miles, who also enjoys playing with the family’s seven chickens, has learned the lesson. “Turkeys … we eat them all up.”
Guy said the turkeys are very low-maintainance. They get by on water, kitchen scraps and grain pellets. The manure from the turkeys and chickens makes great fertilizer for the family’s garden and fruit trees.
Sheffield admitted that it has been hard not to grow attached to the birds after spending all this time with them. Knowing they were raising them for meat, she purposedly didn’t give them names. “I’m going to be crying my eyes out when we have to kill those birds,” she said.
For those interested in urban farming, Lisa and Troy recommended these links:
–FAQs about city chickensfrom Seattle Tilth