The Life and Times of the Shady Grove Turkey

Photo by Steve Ward

We peered in through the barn’s long ventilation window. Tentatively the turkeys approached with expressions of puzzled concern, querying us with constant soft gobbling. They seemed to be saying, “Who are you and what do you want?” Given our role in their future, we tried to change the subject.

There’s an unavoidable subtext present when meeting turkeys just before Thanksgiving but these funny looking birds are doing just fine thanks to the folks at Shady Grove Farms in Woolrich Ontario.

Run by Dan and Heather Goetz, Shady Grove supplies us with both turkeys and maple syrup. Their antibiotic-and-hormone-free flocks are free-roaming inside well-ventilated, straw-bedded barns where the turkeys have unlimited access to fresh water and feed on an all-vegetable diet. By industry standards, the barn population density is very low, which is what allows these birds to flourish without antibiotics.

Fun fact: if your bird is over 24 pounds it’s most likely a Tom; under and it’s probably a Tanya.

After 15 to 18 weeks of growing and gobbling the end is nigh. The turkeys take a 30 minute ride down the road under humane conditions to the local processors. And then they’re ready to be your delicious guests at the holiday table.

Shady Grove is a typical Sanangan’s supplier; Ontario family farms committed to their animals, the environment and great tasting meat.

Heather Goetz’s brother Kevin and friend

Thanksgiving Condiments: Cranberries Complete the Meal

By: Anne Hynes

The Thanksgiving meal would not be complete without cranberries! Their tart fruity flavour adds much needed acidity that cuts the richness of turkey, stuffing and gravy. It also adds a festive touch with its lovely jewel tone colour. Cranberries are native to North America and were introduced to European settlers by First Nations Peoples who knew of their value as both a food source and a medicine. They were an important vitamin resource for early settlers as they are packed with vitamin C. According to The Joy of Cooking, cranberries retain their nutrition even after being stored for a year or more, which is a great reason to make a large batch and can it in a water bath to have on hand for other meals.

Making cranberry sauce or jelly is easy. If you want to make a sauce, the fruit is cooked with water and sugar until the berries burst and the right consistency is achieved. To make a jelly, the cooked berries are strained before the sugar is added. (Cranberries contain their own pectin, so there is no need to add Certo in order for it to gel.) When the mixture is still hot it can be poured into a mould which is a visually fun addition to a Thanksgiving feast!

Cranberry sauce or jelly is a great condiment to have on hand. It goes well with roast meats like chicken, pork or duck, makes a great addition to sandwiches and can even be served with cheese on a charcuterie platter. Don’t have time to make your own? You can pick up a jar of sauce or jelly at the store – while supplies last!

Cranberry Sauce

1 lb cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups water
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Zest of one small orange (optional)

In a saucepan combine cranberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until berries burst.

Remove lid and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Turn off heat, add orange zest.

If using a mould, rinse with cold water and fill while sauce is hot. Let cool completely.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

Cranberry sauce or jelly is best made the day before you plan to serve it.