As Thanksgiving approaches I want to say thank you for eating turkey! When you eat turkey, you support my family. I’ve learned a lot of interesting things about turkeys, but I’m more impressed with what I’ve learned about turkey farming families since marrying a turkey farmer.
My mother-in-law takes care of a turkey starter house. She gets poults, which are newly hatched turkeys. She teaches them to eat feed and drink water. As a farmer she checks on them regularly, makes sure they get up to eat and drink, keeps their area clean and keeps them warm. When the poults are five weeks old they go to a finishing barn. My father-in-law and two of my brother-in-laws take care of turkeys in the finishing barns. As birds grow they need more space, so the finishing barns are much bigger.
Even though my husband has moved away from the day to day work on the turkey farm, he still enjoys being involved. I respect how his family works together when a repair needs made or maintenance needs done. Since turkeys need cared for everyday and sometimes a farmer wants a vacation, they help each other with chores so that getaways are possible. I respect how the family involves their kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews in their work. There are so many valuable lessons to learn and relationships to be built.
My husband’s grandparents built the starter house and sold it to my in-laws when they retired. My in-laws have raised their kids doing chores in the livestock barns. Now my son has had the opportunity to work in the barns on occasion.
When you eat turkey this Thanksgiving (and all year around) know that it came from family farms like these. You may not often meet the farmers behind meat from big grocery stores or restaurant chains, but there are people. Good people like my husband’s family. The barns are bigger than in the past, but they’re not factories, the turkeys grow with regular care from farmers! Less than 2% of the population are farmers, so it makes sense that the size of their farms has grown as the rest of us have gotten jobs off of the farm.
If you have questions about turkey farming I encourage you to seek out real farmers and ask! Happy Thanksgiving!