Carroll County farmers are preparing their turkeys for Thanksgiving, including Jeff White at Chestnut Creek Farm in Westminster.
White has been raising turkeys to sell for about 15 years now. Although he usually brings in between 40 and 50 birds, last year and this year he‘s had a relatively small batch, between 25 and 30, due to lower demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We usually sell out and we have a lot of repeat customers,” he said. At this point he only has a few available for the upcoming holiday.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, which this year falls on the 25th.
White orders his turkey chicks in July, giving him four months to prepare the birds for market. By November, the birds get to be around 25 pounds.
“Turkeys grow pretty fast,” White said, adding he always gets a mix of hens and toms, or male and female birds. “We try to do everything locally. … This year we got our chicks from R F Warner Sons in Lineboro.
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Once White picks up the chicks in the summer, he moves them to larger areas as they grow. The turkeys roam the land during the day but are locked up at night.
“They always have feed and water in front of them,” he said. “We treat them humanely.”
In October, the farm begins getting calls to reserve turkeys and the week of Thanksgiving, they get sent to a butcher.
“Everyone tells me fresh turkeys are so much better” than frozen ones often bought at the grocery store, White said. “Most of my extended family and neighbors get their turkey from us.”
White and his wife also put one of their own turkeys on the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
“No one would do this if they didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. … A love for farming is a virus you must catch.”
The farm also sells other products, such as lamb, pork, beef and vegetables during the summer at the Carroll County Farmer’s Market, held at the Agricultural Center.