Is it time to eliminate the middleman and serve a local turkey this year?
There was a time when heading out to a farm to pick up your Thanksgiving turkey was as much a part of the holiday tradition as making the stuffing and cranberry sauce. But factory farms have overtaken much of the turkey industry, and places like Bailey Farm in Lyme are hard to find.Lyme native Dan Bailey began turkey farming at age 10 as part of a 4H project. "A friend of mine who lived across the street and I decided to do turkeys that year," he says. "The leader took us to get our first dozen turkeys and I've done turkeys every year since."Now Dan and his wife Millie typically raise 400 to 500 free-range turkeys each year on their quarter-acre turkey field. The birds are bred exclusively for the Thanksgiving holiday and most weigh in at 22 pounds. The Baileys rely on word-of-mouth advertising, and although most of their customers are local, they've had visitors from southern New Hampshire, the North Country, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. "One year one of our turkeys went to Texas on an airplane," Millie says.The Baileys feed their turkeys a custom mix of corn and soybean, as well as fresh vegetables including squash and tomatoes. "Over the years we've come up with a grain mixture that really grows 'em and puts the fat where it belongs," Dan says. "And I just feel that the exercise and the fresh air and being free and walking around is half of the turkey."Those interested in a Bailey turkey should call the farmhouse to place an order. Turkey pick-up typically occurs on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.<
This article appears in the November 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine