The COVID-19 pandemic has altered plenty of families’ Thanksgiving plans, as people swap large gatherings for Zoom calls and small dinners.
But for Sailor Ward and her turkeys, it’s business as usual.
Ward, a senior at Wood River High School, raises turkeys with her family in Bellevue each year, selling most for Thanksgiving and keeping one for their own dinner. This year, the Wards raised 10 turkeys in total, with all their regular customers returning for a bird.
“It’s a very gratifying feeling,” Ward said of their annual turkey tradition. “It’s so cool to see a bird grow and know you raised it so well that you can even eat it.”
The Wards typically get their turkeys around the beginning of June, Ward said, and butcher and process them throughout October.
“We try to do it as humanely as possible,” she said of the processing. “These are birds we raise for meat processing, but we want to make sure that when they go out it’s peaceful.”
In Richfield, Acee Lucero and her family raise turkeys each year alongside chickens, ducks and horses. The turkeys are sold by various vendors in the Wood River Valley, including Atkinsons’ stores in Hailey and Bellevue and Kraay’s Market and Garden.
“Just knowing where your food comes from, and getting it to your table—we enjoy that,” Lucero said. “We want to provide that for other people who can’t do that for themselves.”
Lucero describes their turkeys as “beyond organic.”
“We meet all the minimum requirements for organic and make sure they have the best quality food, care and life,” she said.
As it is at the Wards, turkeys are a family affair for the Luceros, who encourage their young daughter to help them on the farm.
“We try to give them the best lives and make sure the processing is humane,” Lucero said. “One of the lessons of the farm is we care for the animals, and one day they provide nutrition for us.”
Like many families across the country, the Wards have adjusted their Thanksgiving plans this year in an attempt to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. But like every year, they’ll have a turkey on their table.
“We normally have a lot of people come over, but this year it’s just going to be us,” Ward said. “We’ll probably have a lot of turkey leftovers.”