Pleasant Hill farm raises turkeys for Thanksgiving: 'This is their destiny'

PLEASANT HILL, Ore. - In a small field, enclosed in a large pen, you'll find them: 45 gobbling turkeys.

And on this Monday before Thanksgiving, they're spending some of their last hours enjoying the farm.

By Tuesday afternoon, they'll be butchered and sold as someone's Thanksgiving meal.

"You know really, here they are, this is their destiny. I mean, this is their job," said farm owner Lynn Schutte.

She and her husband Bob run the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm in Pleasant Hill. A few years back, they decided they'd start raising and selling Thanksgiving turkeys too.

"These turkeys are three and a half months old," she said. "They're pretty fast growers, they're very fast growers."

They buy the turkeys as chicks from the feed store at the end of the summer. They raise two types: Bronze Double-Breasted known to have a lot of white meat; and Heritage turkeys, a smaller bird, known for their dark meat.

"We found by getting the chicks later in the season and having them for a shorter period of time, then they tend to come in between 15 and 20 pounds," Schutte said.

On Tuesday morning, the birds will be loaded up on a truck and taken to Willamina to a state processing plant called Mineral Springs Poultry.

"We'll drop the birds off, two hours later we come back and they're all vacuum packed, weighed and ready to go," she said.

Schutte said she's already taken all her customer orders for this Thanksgiving. And while it's hard to see them go, she always gives them a little pep talk before they're butchered.

"Well I thank them, I'm very grateful for having turkeys," she said.

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