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Talking turkey: local farmer sells birds for Thanksgiving Day feasts

Posted at 3:21 PM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 01:36:37-05

Just like most of 2020, turkey farmers say business has been anything but normal this year.

Beewench Farm in Shandon is one of the only pasture based livestock farms in San Luis Obispo County. Thanksgiving, not surprisingly, is the busiest time of year for turkey sales.

"Turkeys is a crazy time of year," said Beewench Farm Owner, Sarah Ziegenbein.

She and her husband have spent the past six months raising turkeys.

Just days ago, dozens of birds went out to customers, just in time for their Thanksgiving Day meals.

"It's a mad dash of four days of processing turkeys and getting them packaged up, getting them weighed, and then we personally hand deliver every single turkey to our customers," Ziegenbein explained.

This year, the farm bump up prices from 7 dollars a pound to 8 dollars.

"With taxes and energy costs and feed costs, I mean, basically, everything went up this year," Ziegenbein said.

Last year, the birds were in the 12 to 15 pound range. But this time around, they were 18 to 25 pounds.

"We start taking deposits in February and we're usually sold out right around the end of September, early October," she said.

This year was no different despite smaller gatherings due to COVID but that means plenty of leftovers from the bigger birds.

Dede Boies of Root Down Farm in San Mateo County never expected seven months ago that people would be having smaller Thanksgiving dinners.

But she says, it's been a crazy business, all year.

"I mean, it was almost immediate as soon as COVID hit, interest in sales, just increased substantially," Boies said.

Boies got her turkeys processed a few weeks early so they'd be smaller. She then posted the weights online and crossed her fingers.

"We sold all of our turkeys in two hours," she explained.

Even large companies like Diestel Family Farms in Sonora, California which sells turkeys to chains like Whole Foods says demand is up 30% for birds weighing as little as six pounds.

"These turkeys have just we sold out of all of our petite varietals, we just we don't have any more. It's just very popular," said Heidi Diestel of Diestel Family Farms.

Back in Shandon, while there won't be any turkeys for Christmas, they have pork roasts and a bunch of different cuts all available to order onlinefor home delivery in lieu of farmers' markets now shut down from COVID.

All of the animals on Beewench Farm are fed no corn, no soy, and non-GMO food rations.

On average, Americans are paying the lowest for turkey prices in 10 years this Thanksgiving.