Thanksgiving preparations may be well underway in many households, but there is still a chance to find locally grown birds at some central Maine farms.

At Greaney’s Turkey Farm in Mercer, about 800 birds awaited slaughter this week. They will be packed on ice and sold fresh to individuals and stores in the area for Thanksgiving dinner. The holiday is the busiest time of year at the farm, which starts raising the chicks in August in preparation.

“When we’re not raising them we’re always thinking about it. It’ll be a huge relief when the holiday is over,” said Emily Greaney, 16, who helps run the family farm.

She said they have about 100 birds left for sale, making them one of just a few farms in the area that still has birds left. The turkeys, which range from about 14 to 24 pounds, are selling for $3.50 per pound this year.

At The Highlands in St. Albans, farm owner Michael Vermette said he has only about 10 turkeys left. The birds are free-range but are not certified organic because in order to do so they must be fed organic grain, which can be expensive, said Vermette.

Normally he would be sold out by the week before Thanksgiving, but Vermette said he has no worries that the birds won’t be sold by Thursday.

They average between 16 and 18 pounds and sell for four dollars a pound, or around 60 to 70 dollars a bird, which Vermette said he realizes can sound expensive in comparison to prices at local grocery stores.

This week Hannaford in Waterville ran a special selling turkeys for 49 cents per pound.

“People that are willing to spend on a free-range, locally grown, fresh turkey won’t go buy a 99-cent-per pound turkey,” he said. “Of course I understand not everyone wants to do that.”

Bob Neal, owner of The Turkey Farm in New Sharon, the area’s largest turkey farm, wouldn’t comment, but a voicemail message at the farm said they are sold out of turkeys. They are taking orders for Christmas and have a waiting list for Thanksgiving birds.

In Mount Vernon, Pine Bluffs Farm is also sold out of turkeys for this year, although owner Sandi Wiles said they usually have some birds left on Thanksgiving Day. The farm lost about half of their turkeys to predators this year, she said.

“We sold out early,” Wiles said. “There was definitely no problem getting them sold.”

Greaney said the Mercer farm sells a majority of its turkeys to southern Maine stores, including Bow Street Market in Freeport.

It also sells to Emery’s Meat and Produce in Augusta, where co-owner Josh Emery, said the store pre-ordered 150 birds from Greaney, the last of which was sold Thursday morning.

The store sold about 50 more than last year, but Emery said he wasn’t surprised. The turkeys from Greaney are popular every year, he said.

“People that care about what they’re eating would rather pay for something that is healthy, grown locally and free of antibiotics,” said Emery. The birds taste and look different than a store-bought turkey does because they are not bleached, so they appear more yellowish than white, he said.

Rachel Ohm— 612-2368 [email protected]

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