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More locals bypass the grocer’s freezer in search of holiday turkey

If we’re talking turkey, soaring grocery prices and a movement among consumers to know where their food comes from has made shoppers look outside of the local supermarket to procure Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Wilson’s Lucky Rooster Farm in Bonifay was no exception as the small family-owned farm sold out early this year on any turkeys they had to spare – by early September.

“People who come here want to see the momma and the daddy pecking around my yard,” said Kelly Wilson.

The farm on Highway 177 has scaled down from what it was when Wilson grew up there and her father, Mike Yunis, raised Brahman and Angus cattle. Now she resides there with her husband, Josh Wilson, and their three children, Maverick, 6; Karter, 8; and Dixie, 10.

“We decided we’d just do something small to start with,” Wilson said. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun, but also a lot of investment.”

The farm’s menagerie is made up of smaller animals such as poultry, goats and rabbits. The Wilson family started raising turkeys about ten years ago. The kids participate in feeding and watering the animals.
They also pick out of the garden, do yard work and love to fish with their father.

The family sells any crops they grow, such as pumpkins, rutabagas, collards, broccoli, sweetpeas and winter squash this time of year. The farm’s requests for fresh, local food has been on the rise as more consumers are in search of organic produce and meats free of antibiotics and hormones used to grow them at an unnatural rate before they go to market.

“I’m not against chemicals; it’s just not going into my food or your food,” Wilson said.

Keeping the farm free of harmful substances and microbes is a top priority. The Wilsons stopped offering farm tours to keep their flock safe from illnesses like the avian influenza.

“We do biosecurity because it’s important for me to know who is coming around my animals,” Wilson said.

Those who bought turkeys knew they were getting a bird as clean as nature intended. Those who took home three or four turkeys from Wilson’s Lucky Rooster Farm in the past wanted six or eight at a time this year.

“It’s not so much to eat but more for self-sustainability,” Wilson said.

She added the farm has done their best to not raise prices despite dealing with the increasing cost of animal feed. It helps that their birds forage all day and that the farm grows a lot of what they eat.

“Our feed bill since the beginning of the year has probably gone up around $100 to $200 per month with inflation,” Wilson said. “It’s hit us pretty deep in the pocket.”

With so much uncertainty in the economy, Wilson said she and her husband hope their life on the farm will teach their children to thrive in the world no matter what.

“That’s what we as a little hobby farm are trying to do to get back down to the basics so we don’t need grocery stores to survive,” Wilson said.

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