I love to say that I have spent every single day of my life surrounded by production agriculture, but the amount of things I don't know about it still boggle my mind.
Tukeys and the production of turkeys are a subject I know nothing about, but I am blessed with a good friend whose knowledge on the subject is overflowing.
My friend, Katie Olthoff, along with her husband Bart and two sons, have a turkey farm in Stanhope, Iowa. I have been lucky enough to visit their farm, and I love that social media has made easy to meet other agriculturists that have operations different from mine.
Did you know Americans eat an average of 18 pounds of turkey every year? Half of that is sandwich meat, not the way we eat our Thanksgiving bird. The Olthoffs' birds are raised for further processing, which includes lunch meat, hot dogs, and other turkey products.
"We get flocks of 20,000 turkeys every two months, when they are just one day old," Katie says. "They only weigh a few ounces at that time, so they need to be kept warm. Our brooder house is almost 90 degrees."
The flocks come from a hatchery in Wilmar, Minn. Once full-grown, the birds will be about 20 weeks old and weigh 43 pounds when they are ready for market.
"Turkeys are a lot bigger than they used to be because of breeding and better nutrition," Katie said. "There are no hormones or steroids used."
The Olthoffs' turkeys go to West Liberty Foods, which is owned by the Iowa Turkey Grower's Cooperative. West Liberty Foods provides meat for many grocery store chains and sandwich shops around the United States.
Katie is very passionate about sharing her story and how important farms are. She recently wrote a children's book titled "My Family's Farm."
She says this book has been a dream of hers for two years. She realized there were very few children's books depicting today's livestock farms.
"Farms have changed over the past 50 years, but their portrayal has not," Katie says. "This book is an effort to change that."
For a free e-copy of Katie's book, "My Family's Farm," visit her blog On The Banks of Squaw Creek.