Most of us can’t remember what we had for lunch yesterday and probably don’t know what we’ll have for dinner next week. But when you want to raise 4,400 turkeys on your small family farm like Kyle Becker of Becker Farms, planning your Thanksgiving dinner is a year-round job. That’s right – YOUR Thanksgiving dinner, not his.
Market Wagon customers can preorder their turkeys right now for Thanksgiving in almost all markets. Some farmers offer a variety of weights as well as even some specialty items like Cajun turkeys. Customers can also click this link to order tasty foods and dishes to go along with the main course including potatoes, mac & cheese and pumpkin pies, with many partner vendors offering a preorder option.
As for Becker Farms, Market Wagon has been a partner with Kyle for 3 years to bring customers their Thanksgiving turkey. Customers in Central Indiana, Fort Wayne, Michiana and Evansville can preorder theirs now with different farmers in their local marketplace.
Farming is never an easy job. But raising turkeys is far more complicated and challenging because the of the firm deadline.
“You’re shooting for one day of the entire year,” Kyle says.
Planning for this year’s Thanksgiving began 18 months earlier in May 2020. Becker, who has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Purdue University, decides how many birds he is going to raise.
Next, he must determine exactly what the turkeys will eat each day they will be on the farm. It’s a constantly evolving meal plan to have the healthiest and freshest diet, along with a variety of different weights depending on what customers want. Most birds will only be on his farm for 8 weeks. And unlike mega-turkey operations, Becker Farms turkeys have the ability to move around in his pastures.
The advantage of a local bird is unquestioned freshness. Birds are processed about 7-10 days before Thanksgiving which means they are never frozen. Plus, never-frozen turkeys won’t dry out from water loss from the freezing process.
Kyle doesn’t get sentimental about the idea that 18 months of work will be the centerpiece on the dining room table for family gatherings.
“I’ve done this my whole entire life,” Kyle says. “It’s just what I do as weird as that sounds. I don’t get all nostalgic about it. This is just my contribution to the world.”
Make no mistake, raising turkeys is an important lifeline for Kyle, his wife Emily (who he met at Purdue), and their four children. It’s often the difference between making money or operating at a loss for the year.
“If we’re going to be in the black, it will be Thanksgiving,” Kyle says. “I work in the red every month until Thanksgiving. You push every year to Thanksgiving.”
So it should be no surprise that while you may give just a couple days or weeks of thought for what you will be eating on Nov. 25 this year, Kyle Becker has been planning for more than a year.