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Life on a turkey farm

Turkey Day has a whole new meaning if you are the one supplying the turkeys.

Just ask sophomore Lauren Pounds, whose family has run a turkey farm near Pittsburgh, Pa., since 1935.

For Pounds, Thanksgiving means two weeks of butchering (or “processing”), plucking, singeing, bagging and boxing 11,000-12,000 turkeys.

She said the farm, which also has about 50 head of cattle and a small store, hires 40-50 seasonal workers just for those two weeks.

“It smells really bad and I hate the whole idea of killing something like that,” she said.

The nasty work, however, does not keep Pounds or her family from eating the traditional Thanksgiving meal. In fact, Pounds said her family eats turkey every day.

“I think I’ve become immune to triptofan,” she said. “I never get tired anymore.”

Pounds credited her enjoyment of turkey to the wide variety of turkey products that her aunt and uncle make and sell at the store. She said that their smoked turkey annually wins first place at the Pennsylvania Association of Meat Processors’ processed products competition.

When they are not processing turkeys, Pounds says they focus on raising the poults, which they order from hatcheries around the country, and giving tours of their farm.

For Pounds, the farm, where her uncle’s family and her grandmother also live, holds fond memories such as playing with the poults when she was little and drawing on them with markers to claim as her own the ones she especially liked.

It also means strong family bonds.

“I loved it, she said. “We just had each other. It didn’t matter if there wasn’t anyone else to play with.”

Although growing up so close to her family and a few close friends created what Pounds described as a “bubble,” which she says has caused her to be identified as na’ve at times, she says she is very grateful for her childhood on the turkey farm.

“My favorite part is the summer,” she said. “The lightening bugs look like stars in the ground. It’s a good place to go relax and pray.”

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