Sharing Stories in Bits & Bites

Glorious Gabriola Gobblers

Here’s a true confession...this girl could never be a farmer. Ne-eh-ver! Not too keen on putting a face to my food. I swear, my kids try to gross me out at the table by asking me what kind of meat we are eating for dinner.

“Okay this is beef right? Mommy is that a pig or a cow?”.

“It’s meat, be quiet & eat it.”

I prepare and cook 95% of the meals around here and I’m happy to pull a carrot out of the ground, but don’t ask me to choose which beautiful brown-eyed cow is going to turn into my next roast! There was a short time that I ate vegetarian only, because it bothered me that much. It lasted until I smelled a chicken roasting in an oven.

Nom nom nom…bring on the meat! Well friends, I tried.

My respect for people who do farm however, is immense. My neat and tidy Thanksgiving bird was delivered to me yesterday. I had no part in his growth and development. I contacted the lovely lady, Sue Boulton, whom, along with her family, is responsible! She generously gave me some of her time despite her swamped schedule!  Since 1948, the Boulton family, just a hop, skip and a jump away on Gabriola Island, has been tirelessly developing their farm. With a sincere love of the land, this fourth generation homestead has been producing healthy cows, chickens and yes, turkeys since the beginning. This year, four hundred and twenty five of their gobblers will be the …uhm “guests of honour” at tables all over Gabriola and Nanaimo. The number swells to over eight hundred and fifty at Christmas time! That’s a lot of turkey!

The poults (baby turkey’s) arrive on their farm at a wee day old from a hatchery in the Fraser Valley. They have chosen to raise white turkeys because they are much less susceptible to various diseases. The first six weeks are a challenge for the teeny turks, so they are attentively kept inside, well protected until they are past that first bit. Once they have built up their strength, Sue says they like to head down at dawn’s light to their pasture, where they get lot’s of fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Unlike many of the birds available at larger supermarkets, who are sadly stuck in a crowded building with only artificial light for their entire lives.

Although running a farm these days is a real challenge, Eric and Sue are continually encouraging people to eat local. They are fortunate enough to have their own ‘100 meter diet’ with such plentiful offerings of their meat and vegetables available right at home! A dedication to real food and a heartfelt stewardship for the land they tend, motivates them to keep the farm within the family. The second generation is still in charge of the show, for now. Although they admit that the lion’s share of the work is being covered by their children. Proud grandparents also disclosed that the teens of the fourth generation are showing a keen interest for the same lifestyle, and are actively involved in 4H Club.

When I requested a turkey tip, Sue revealed a 45 year old ‘trick of the trade’ from her mother in law. “Simply put your prepared bird in large brown paper grocery bag on a strong baking pan. Shut the bag up tight…and forget about it! Don’t over cook it, the fresh free-range birds do not take as long to cook as the store bought ones. No basting needed, the bird will be well-browned and there is lot’s of juice for gravy.” WELL, I’m digging up a brown paper bag today and giving that a try…if I can fit this beast in a bag! With around fourteen of us here for dinner tonight, the bird I have is not of the smaller variety!

Sue generously ended our conversation with an invitation to visit the farm and an offer for a little “farmucation” for our family. I’m totally game to do that…as long as I don’t meet my Christmas turkey while I’m there! Eeek! Those of you that are interested in trying one of the delicious Somerset Farms turkeys, you can order them through Piper’s Meats on Bowen Road or call the farm directly for other sources at 250-247-9202. Say hi from me 😉

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving my friends…whether you are eating a turkey, a ham or a sweet potato shaped like a turkey…it’s all about the company ♥ Blessings to you all.

Coexistence: what the farmer does with the turkey – until Thanksgiving. ~Mike Connolly 


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