When it comes to knowing her turkeys, one has to give credit to Barbara Martin.
Ms. Martin began raising a special breed of turkey in 2008. She wanted to bring in little extra income along with enjoying a fine-tasting turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Barbara raises about 100 turkeys at her Park Hill Poultry Farm in Ithaca, New York.
She became involved in raising this particular type of turkey, known as the Narragansetts which originated from wild New England turkeys in the 1600s. Ms. Martin likes to raise these turkeys, not just because they taste good, but they are hardy and disease-resistant, too.
These turkeys are an exceptional breed, not like Broad-Breasted Whites that one finds at the local supermarket. The Broad-Breasted Whites have such large breasts that they can’t fly or mate naturally. These turkeys have to be artificially-inseminated. They grow so fat that they can barely walk.
The Narragansetts that Ms. Martin breeds are wild and need space to roam. They have a little hut where they roost at night, but during the day they are free to forage for insects and seeds in a pasture.
At one time, the Narragansetts almost became extinct. But, thanks to groups like the Livestock Conservancy, there are now thousands of them.
If you want to purchase a Narragansett turkey, also known as the Heritage turkey, contact specialty grocers, farmer markets, or online mail-order businesses. One good resource is localharvest.org.