Holiday Bonus

Turkey Run

 Thanks to American Express for sponsoring posts today about small businesses.  American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27.  They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook.  Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button at the bottom of this entry and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply. 


I cannot lie. I just spent three hours in the car. Three long, torturous hours. Procuring our Thanksgiving turkey. 

It wasn't supposed to take three hours, of course. Half hour up to the farm, 15 minutes there selecting the bird, another 20 minutes or so wandering around with the boys, visiting with the -- ahem -- pardoned birds still wandering around the pens and the cows and what-have-you, taking adorable photos with them all decked out in Thanksgiving-y outfits I done picked out special...and then a half hour trip back, high on life and the knowledge that HOT DAMN, that is one delicious-looking, never-frozen turkey sitting on the passenger seat there. 

Most turkeys from the grocery store around here -- and all of them at the farmers' markets -- have to arrive frozen. Buying directly from the farm is the best way to get fresh, never-frozen bird, and as we discovered about three or four Thanksgivings ago, the difference will blow the top of your skull off. Figuratively speaking, with only the teensiest dash of hyperbole. So ever since, we've made the trek up to Maple Lawn turkey farm and lugged the thing home in a big-ass cooler. 

This year, it was my turn to make the trip. The day got away from me and I left a smidge closer to rush hour than I would have liked, but hey, I was driving to the COUNTRY. There's no rush hour in the COUNTRY. Come on, kids! Grab the camera and the earth-toned sweaters, and let's make some memories.

It took us an hour to get there. Noah fell asleep. Ezra demanded my entire stash of for-emergency-only granola bars. We hit traffic and red lights and detours and fender benders. It started drizzling at one point and the entire driving population of suburban-to-rural Maryland lost its damn mind. 

And when we got there, it was already too dark to take any pictures of the turkeys or the cows. But it wasn't too dark to see the line. THE LINE. 

The line for turkeys stretched across the barnyard to the...uh...turkey dispensin' barn, I guess, where it wrapped around and looped back and forth about four times inside. Most people came armed with their preorder slips and wheelie coolers -- except for me, who came armed with only a clunky SLR camera and two stir-crazy children. 

But we waited. "Everybody" swore they'd never seen a line or demand like this, even though "everybody" also swore that they'd been buying turkeys from this farm for years. That math didn't really compute, but I didn't really care. I was...happy for the farm. Happy to see the dozens and dozens of people buying their food directly from the growers and caretakers of that food. The other parents explaining to their children that yes, the turkeys in that pen over there were, in fact, the same thing that they now carried wrapped in butcher's paper and a plastic bag. Everybody, despite being gobsmacked by the line and worn out from the drive, readily swearing up and down that it was worth it. Buying from here was worth it. 

"You should have seen my mother-in-law's face," the woman behind me said, as I eavesdropped on her conversation with another stranger in line. "You can't screw these turkeys up, but SHE doesn't know that."

Eventually, it was our turn. One of the farmers asked Noah and Ezra if they were excited for Turkey Day, and they both obliged him with an enthusiastic "GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!" on cue. I selected our bird -- which cost just about a buck less per pound than the equivalent organic birds at the supermarket -- and wearily corralled the boys back outside, where it was now way, way, WAY too dark to get the pictures I'd hoped for. 

Instead, we marched back to the car and prepared to leave. Suddenly, Noah started to shriek and laugh. I looked over out the window...just in time to see two or three dairy cows stick their heads over the fence I'd pulled in next to, close enough for Noah and I to reach out our windows and touch the tips of their noses. They mooed in approval before moving away. 

Yep. Just like every year: Totally worth it. 

Small Business Saturday



I'm Swedish, my husband is American. We live in Sweden. I've always made little Thanksgiving dinners for him with either a chicken or with turkey breasts... but this year for first time and we're about to go buy a (alas, a frozen) turkey (we're cooking it on saturday as we don't get time off like you dirty americans!) I've invited my entire family to come over and we're going to watch movies that feature Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving episodes of series (like the Gilmore Girl one when the girls go to a bunch of Thankgiving parties) and perhaps a superbowl. So far I've bought frozen cranberries to make the sauce and uhhh. Yeah. That's it. What do you guys eat for thanksgiving? I'm so overwhelmed about the choice of food.

Happy first kind of real Thanksgiving to me! And to you! And to all!


I wish I'd known about this earlier. I'll have to check it out for the next Thanksgiving I'm cooking for a crowd.

Thanks Amy!

Sprite's Keeper

Happy Thanksgiving!


I'll keep the farm option open for next year - You make it sound too good. Happy Thanksgiving!


This non-frozen, free-range turkey sounds intriguing.... I wonder if we have any turkey farms here in Southern California? How on earth do you find out about these places?

Happy Thanksgiving!


I live in Maryland and we got our turkey from Maple Lawn a few years ago, the last time we hosted dinner. It was delicious!

And you're not the only one shocked by the wait- several of our friends tweeted pics of the turkey line. The line was crazy all day, from what I've seen.


Awesome post! This is something we will have to try. Thank you Amy. Hope you have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

julie w

Maplelawn saved my husband's a** two years ago when I came home on Tuesday before thanksgiving and saw that he had left the refrigerator door ajar all day. We live 10 minutes away and there was no line that year. And it was so much better than we could have expected from the bacteria ridden beast we had to pitch...


Wait, so it wasn't my superlative turkey-roasting skills that made my turkey so delicious last year? It was the fact that it had never been frozen? Boo, here I was patting myself on the back. No worries, though, if that means that this year's turkey will be just as good. Honestly, it was the best I'd ever had...


This is lovely.

We've never bought off the farm directly but we have picked up a tell-me-what-size-you-want-so-I-can-have-it-butchered-this-afternoon turkey at the Organic Butcher of McLean. And it DOES make all the difference. Later we tried going frozen but organic and nope. Not at mindblowing.

Have a great holiday!


For G.G.R.: stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy are the key in my household to a successful Thanksgiving dinner. And more stuffing. And more gravy. Plus some squash or sweet potatoes and maybe a green vegetable to pretend that we are eating a healthy meal. And then pumpkin pie, with whipped cream. Lots of it. Have fun!


Hmmm, I just bought a turkey from the same farm at MOMs and they assured me it was fresh. Is it not fresh? Must explore this.

Will say we got this turkey last year and it was amazing.


I LOVE Maple Lawn, I went to the highschool right next to that farm. Boondocks it is.

Stacy in Europe

I've recently become an "ethical omnivore" which means I only buy meat from local producers -- which basically means that due to the sky-high price of local organic meats, means I'm 90% vegetarian. So... I had this big debate with myself about whether to do a turkey this year. Poultry is the worst treated animal in the food chain, with turkeys being treated the absolute worst of them all. But but but it's THANKSGIVING! It's my all time favorite holiday! And I live overseas so it's like 1000x more important!!! Aaaagghhh!!!

I did it. I ordered a $9 per pound local organic turkey. OUCH DUDE. My turkey costs $54.00 and is 6lbs. I am insane.

Suzy Q

Wow - you have a close-by turkey farm? The closest thing to that I suppose we have down here is a pig "farm" for the Noche Buena roast. Not that I've ever been.

Ellen M

I had to read the first paragraph several times before I understood that the 20 minutes after the 15 minutes you spent choosing your turkey were not you and the boys waiting for the chosen turkey to be slaughtered. I wondered how the heck the farm was able to "process" so many turkeys so quickly.


No complaints from the boys about the smell? I taught at the elementary school next door for 5 years and when the wind was blowing toward the school it was intense. They actually took the kids on field trips to the farm for a few years but stopped because all the kids would talk about was the smell. I'm glad to hear they're doing so well though, especially now that I don't have to smell it every day :)

nfl apparel

Just wanted to give you a shout from the valley of the sun, great information. Much appreciated.


I love that they got to see that their food was LIVING before they ate it. Brings to mind a post I've been meaning to write. So, thanks for that! Hope it was a good Thanksgiving.

The comments to this entry are closed.