Five Minutes with Chris Bohrer, manager of Maple Lawn turkey farm

You can imagine how frenetic life is on a turkey farm this week

For Chris Bohrer, the busy season at Maple Lawn Farms — where he habitually works 14-hour days in November — may not end until Thanksgiving morning.

After all, the farm's principal product is turkeys.

"We always have that one person who calls and says, 'I didn't get what I needed,' or 'I got the wrong size, do you have any extra turkeys?'" said Bohrer, manager of the farm, a family-run business that has operated in Fulton since 1938 and raises 20,000 free-range turkeys each Thanksgiving season.

One anxious Thanksgiving-morning call is part of the farm's lore.

"We had a man call and say, 'I'm in trouble with my wife and need a turkey.' We ask what happened. He says, 'Well I took it home and put it in the washing machine in ice to keep it cold. And she ran a load of laundry.' So he needed a new turkey."

Most people purchase their turkeys before the holiday. Enough customers had made their treks to the farm this month that Bohrer said business was "brisk."

The farm was fortunate not to feel any ripple effect from last summer's avian flu outbreak in more than a dozen states that drove up turkey prices roughly 20 percent nationwide.

The farm website advertised prices online last week of $2.25 a pound for hens up to 26 pounds, and $2.10 for toms up to 40 pounds.

"Our price went up a fraction wholesale, but we didn't raise our prices at all retail," Bohrer said.

Maple Lawn gets its 1-day-old turkeys from hatcheries in Ohio or Virginia from the end of June until the end of August.

"When they're little, you check on them every couple hours," Bohrer said. "The biggest thing that happens is they'll flip over because they're built to have broad breasts, which is what the public demands. They flip over and can't [get] themselves flipped back over. They're inside until they reach 7 weeks, and then they have free range to go wherever they want."

When he's not overseeing the turkey farm, which employs about 35 seasonal workers and also has crops and a dairy operation, Bohrer is a Montgomery County police officer.

He married into the Iager family, which owns the farm. He said he is looking forward to the family's Thanksgiving dinner.

"We usually get a 30-pounder."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

Chris Bohrer

Title: Manager, Maple Lawn Farms

Age: 46

Born: Silver Spring

Residence: Damascus

Education: Associate degree in criminal justice, Montgomery College

Family: Wife, Tanya; children, Nick, 18; Izzy, 10; and Riley, 8.

Hobbies: 4-H livestock shows

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