Hopefully I can answer some of the questions asked pertaining to my farm. The turkeys I purchased are heritage breeds. There are three Bourbon Reds, which are indeed the light colored ones, three Narragansett, and three Standard Bronze. The last two breeds are somewhat similar, but the Narragansett turkeys are lighter than the Bronze, even at this young age. They are all very beautiful, and I love them.
About the conservation program for wildlife….I have enrolled a large portion of my farm in the Grassland Reserve Program. A farmer can enroll in this program for a period of time, like say ten years, or they can do it forever. I believe I am the first person in New York State to enroll my farm forever. This means that the land in this program will always be in either pasture or used as hay land. I take a first cutting off my entire hayfield and then save about half for second-and-third cuttings. I rotationally graze the other half. I always move my cattle once a day to a new section of grass. I am currently grazing eighteen head of cattle. On the area I consider pasture, I set aside about six or seven acres in what I call the reserve area. This is where I eventually make hay for Kris and her equine family. I do not graze this at all until about thirty days after the hay is cut. I start grazing in the field that the reserve area is in on about May 1st. This year was later due to the longstanding winter, about May 11th.
Many, many grassland birds nest in the pasture, especially in the reserve area. I am not great at bird identification, but I know that they are many Bob-O-Links and also Savannah Sparrows. This year, the reserve area was mowed on July 24th. I am happy with this date. I believe July 4th is too early. I also do not clip the rest of the area that the cattle have been grazing until August. Right now, the cattle are grazing in the hayfield. On Monday, August 4th, they will return to the pasture, where they are also moved daily. Then every day when they move to a new section of grass, I will clip the old section to get rid of thistles and other tall weeds. I do not clip it very short, as this is better for birds and other little creatures and also better for the grass, in my opinion. I use one strand of polywire to fence my cattle, along with 3/8-fiberglass fence posts. The cattle are easy to fence because they are very content. My border collies move the cattle for me.
Someone asked about how to get into a program such as the Grassland Reserve Program. The thing to do is contact your local Natural Resource Conservation Service agency (NRCS). They are usually very helpful. The thing about grassland birds, though, is that they need a somewhat significant amount of land to nest on. I do not believe that one-or-two acres will cut it. However, there are many, many things that you can do to acreage like that to encourage other types of birds and wildlife. For example, you can plant flowers, shrubs, and trees that attract birds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. You can also provide water for these creatures. Of course, birdhouses will also greatly encourage birds to nest in your area. Once again, the NRCS can be very helpful in providing information about this. If they do not have the information, they will tell you were you can locate it. Hope this information helps. This winter, from January until the end of March, I plan to build one birdhouse every week. I want to attract lots and lots of tree swallows, as I love the way the look swooping around the sky.