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 drug-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