This story had only one interview, but it was the longest I had written at the time. The interview lasted 43 minutes with the owner of the turkey farm across the street from HHS and the entire experience lasted about one and a half to two hours. I’m not trying to complain, though, the man gave me very nice quotes. So nice, in fact, that I was having a hard time with what to cut. It happened, though, and that’s what matters.
This was my first actual article in the newspaper since my other article was cut from A2 due to needed space for jumps from A1.
Yes, I know I am typing this up a little late. Please excuse my tardiness, school is just piling up at the moment.
Here is my article:
TURKEY FARM, NOVEMBER PRINT 2015
The turkey farm across the street from HHS experienced business as usual, despite the holidays. Clark Martin, the manager and partial owner of the farm, doesn’t feel the effects of Thanksgiving on his business.
“This poultry growing thing is so different from what it used to be. It used to be Thanksgiving and Christmas was a big market, and it still is, but now they’re using so much turkey meat for further processing,” Martin said. “Normally, the highest price for turkey is from August up until December because people are buying for the fall or the holidays. Usually by the first of December, everyone has everything bought up that they’re going to buy…Thanksgiving and Christmas certainly do boost [profit] some, but it’s not like it was 50 years ago by far…we just raise turkeys just like normal and it doesn’t have any effect on us, not that I know of.”
Martin has been working at his farm for 43 years. He feels he is a natural with turkeys because of experience.
“I just [go through routine] without thinking because I’ve done it so long. I look at the turkeys; after you’ve looked at turkeys for so long they’ll tell you what they want. If they’re out of feed, they’re chirping…they’re out of water, they make a lot of noise. If they’re cold, they’re huddled up. If they’re too warm, they’re panting and you look at the turkey and they’ll tell you what’s wrong with them,” Martin said.
He keeps 9400 birds for their entire lifetimes, but for Martin it’s only a third of a year.
“We keep them maybe on the average of 17 weeks…if we start 9400 we sell about 8800…we don’t butcher them, we have a dressing plant where the Virginia Poultry Growers Co-op is,” Martin said. “They bring the polts, they bring all the feed, take them, dress them and sell them, we just raise them.”
Most turkey farms function differently than this one by taking the turkeys for only certain periods of their lives. For Martin, raising all of the turkeys in the same place requires extra work.
“[My hours] depend on whatever age the turkeys are…how much care they require. They come in here one day old, [so we have to] have a lot of heat, [we have to] hand feed them and hand water them…turkeys, when they’re really small it’s really labor intensified…there’s a lot more [work],” Martin said. “We have a brooding house for the babies and a grow out house for the large ones. We keep them in the brooding house…approximately for six weeks and then we drive them over to the grow out house with large feeders large waters and we finish them out. It’s six weeks, it’s a lot of labor to get them moved from the brooding house over to the grow-out house.”
Martin finds satisfaction in his work by knowing he is helping others.
“The best part…it’s knowing that your work is going towards feeding the people, making food for the people. That would be the benefit for everybody…producing food for the public,” Martin said.
ps. a few sentences of this story were cut by hannah for spacing reasons