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Our Farm Family Moments

Biosecurity is a way of life on our farms.  It is never far from our thought process.

We have come to realize that operational biosecurity is about awareness and action. Awareness of how our actions or inactions may impact flock health. We must have awareness to our clothing, to our footwear, to our vehicles and farm equipment. We have awareness of how close anything gets to the barn and what enters the barn. We have awareness of just how much wildlife, both winged and footed, are around the farms. Our mindset is one of – how does what we do lessen the potential of virus introduction onto the farm and into the flocks in our day to day work on the farm?  We weave biosecurity into each day, teaching it to the next generation, in hopes that for them it will be second nature.

Fact: Biosecurity is now a way of life on the farm and has changed many things about how we do our day to day work. However, we feel strongly that the practice of biosecurity will not stop our family from being close to and enjoying our flocks. We encourage the grandchildren to be involved in taking care of the farm. It is through their hands-on involvement with the farm and livestock that they learn practical skills and responsibility. We believe that it is in the moments of working with and caring for living things when the love of farming takes roots and lasts a lifetime.

We hope you enjoy some of our farm family moments.

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

The Gessell Family. Our children grew up on our turkey farm. They all continue to love the farm and enjoy bringing their children home to the farm. Samantha and JonPaul are now in partnership with us raising turkeys. (Photo, from left: Nick and Marissa with Piper, JonPaul and Samantha with Lawrence and Lillian and Austin.)

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Here is Grandpa John with daughter Samantha and grandchildren Lawrence and Lillian taking a moment to watch the birds that were just moved into the finishing barn.

Here is Grandpa John with daughter Samantha and grandchildren Lawrence and Lillian taking a moment to watch the birds that were just moved into the finishing barn.

Lawrence just can’t get enough!

Here is Grandpa John with daughter Samantha and grandchildren Lawrence and Lillian taking a moment to watch the birds that were just moved into the finishing barn.

Neither can little Lillian!

Lawrence is  taking instruction from his dad on how to use the feed scoops to feed baby turkeys.

Some skills take practice to master – including feeding the birds!

Cousin Piper comes home to help.

 

On the hunt in the haystack to see if momma kitty had her babies!

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

When Cousin Piper comes to see Lawrence, they just have to take a spin around the farm.

 

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Back to work.  Lawrence is in the shop learning to use the vice.

 

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Here are Lillian and Lawrence again, check out the flock!

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Oh boy, a sewer clog!  Call the pumper truck.

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Here is JonPaul enjoying a ride on the lawn tractor with his hands and his heart full!

Our Farm Family Moments | via MinnesotaTurkey.com/wingtips

Our little Viking Granddaughter Lillian enjoying a turkey drumstick.

Our family wishes you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day surrounded by the ones you love!

Lynette and John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter is Here!

Turkey barn and feed mill in the snow and cold | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #thankafarmer

Keeping a constant eye on the changes in the weather is something I have gotten really good at over the last 10+ years.  Thanks to modern technology, it is very simple to do from anywhere.  We use smart phones, tablets and computers to check if temperature patterns or winds will change over the course of a day or especially overnight.

Turkeys are very susceptible to changes in temperature and changes in wind direction.  Our barns do have some automatic curtains and fans and heaters are set to start and stop according to conditions in the barns but many barns still have some doors and vents that are manually opened and closed each day.  This is the most important job a turkey grower has: manage the air in the barns.

We have a philosophy that there are three things that a turkey farmer needs to be able to successfully manage to make sure conditions are right for the birds to meet their optimal growth potential.  They are:

  1. Air Conditions
  2. Water Quality and Availability
  3. Feed Quality and Availability

The bottom line for turkey growers is greatly affected by the management of these.  USUALLY, the larger the bird at market, the better the return and I don’t know of too many farmers, or any business owners, who don’t do what they do in order to make a profit.

All this being said the last week has been tough to look at the weather. Winters can be tough doing what we do. When cold spells come there usually is a similar pattern, and I have to cope with extended forecasts. I first look ahead and see that it is going to start getting cold. Then I recheck the forecast later that day or within the next couple days to see if they made a mistake. Then I usually get sick of thinking about what is to come and concentrate on what we have to do to be ready to handle it.

Making sure all heaters are working, making sure all doors, vents etc. are sealed up good are some of the things we check on when weather turns bitterly cold.  Rearranging plans we had for outside projects, moving birds from barn to barn, rebedding barns with wood shavings to keep them dry, and anything that can be rescheduled for a better time are usually done when it works.  Sometimes schedules do not allow us to do this, so we have to do bear down and do it in the cold but we always try to keep in mind what is best for people and turkeys. Storms and extreme weather patterns make for some very long days at times so we also have to be sure to manage our own well-being. I am always grateful for the efforts put forth by people who work for us but during times like these that my gratitude goes to another level.

Please remember as you buy and consume meat protein products that there are countless hours involved in getting these products to you and a lot of these efforts never get recognized, in fact, they are more often scrutinized. Please take the time to thank farmers for what they provide for all of us.  As I said in my last blog post, I am “Proud to be a Part of the Ag Industry”.

Merry Christmas!

Pete

Meet Lynette Gessell – Sharing Our Family Farm Experiences

Meet Turkey Farmer Lynette Gessell | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #minnesotaturkey #turkeyeveryday #turkeyfarming

Lynette’s family in a recent photo on the family’s farm.

There weren’t many cars parked around the church as I headed into Sunday Mass this weekend, in the small central Minnesota town I call my home. The sounds of muffled gunshots reminded me why the crowd was sparse.  It was the last day of the firearms deer season and the hunting crews were out on a last push to fill their tags.  In that walk into church, I could hear the rattling of a corn auger and a tractor engine, and in my mind, I could envision the river of corn flowing out of a gravity box into the hopper as a whiling auger carries the corn up into the bin, with wafts of red chaff blowing off the corn and into the wind, covering the ground making it look like red snow.  An additional pause in my walk, allowed me to hear the revving of a combine as a farmer Gary prepared to make his way to take more corn off the field, likely because some storage space had been freed up making room for more corn.  A glance to the north and I can see 10 vehicles parked in the farm yard.  It’s time for all hands on deck to bring in the harvest of venison and corn.

Hearing the familiar sounds like the combine, the auger and the gunfire have meaning for me and I can easily context them in the experience of living and farming in a rural community.  They ground me in the pattern and predictability of life.

Lynette Gessell | WingTips Blog | Minnesota Turkey Farmer

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to carry the memories of growing up on a dairy farm and now active on a turkey, beef and crop farm.  The richness in the fall rituals of hunting and harvest touch a deep place within me, one that brings comfort, gratefulness, excitement and pride.  I feel sad for people who have not had the opportunity to experience farm living and rural communities.  There is nothing glamorous about the experience, but I believe it is through living the lifestyle and the “hands on” of farming that brings one to fully understand why farming is considered a vocation verses a job and why people yearn for a place in the country.

I look forward to the opportunity to share our family experiences of living and working on our turkey, beef and crop farm.  I am humbled to think that you will use your valuable time to read my posts. I sincerely hope, that at the end, my effort will honor your time and intellect, by providing something you will enjoy reading, perhaps gain new knowledge, enjoy a chuckle, or for other farmers out there, the resonance of a shared experience.

My husband John and I live in Central MN where agriculture in all forms is the primary industry.  We are surrounded by hard working folks who watch the weather, watch the markets and watch their pocket books.  A tally of the various farming operations in the neighborhood include beef, corn, soybeans, honey bees, hay, vegetables, strawberries, broilers, dairy, hogs and turkeys.

I write this blog post in mid November just as people begin to think about the upcoming holiday season opening with Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is obviously an important time of year for the turkey industry.  The food we raise, turkeys, becomes center stage for our North American holiday.  To be an integral part of the long tradition of families gathering together at Thanksgiving makes me very happy.

John is the third in his paternal line to take on the business of raising turkeys.  Our daughter and son in law joined us as growers too, and so we mark four generations of raising turkeys.  We raise light hens.  Light hens are female turkeys.  They are delivered to the farm when they are one day old.  We take care of them of on our farms until the hens weigh thirteen and a half to fourteen pounds.  The birds are then loaded onto semis and transported to Melrose where they are processed by Jennie-O Turkey Store.  The whole bird is then placed into Jennie-O packaging, ultimately making its way to the grocery stores for consumers to purchase and enjoy.

Our primary job is to take care of each and every turkey, each and every day, and get each and every turkey to the plant in premium shape for Jennie-O to make great products.  It is important that we as independent growers, along with the entire turkey industry, do whatever is under our control to ensure that the turkeys that make their way from our farms, into the grocery stores and onto the dinner table of families on Thanksgiving and all year long will be the most appetizing turkey ever!

I hope you have gotten to know me a bit in this first post.  Oh, my name is Lynette.

I am at the end.  Was your time well spent?  Let me know on Twitter Lynette@LynnBackGess – I would love to hear from you!