Scott Greaney, left center facing, and his son Adam, back center, and wife Tracy, right center, listen in their kitchen Saturday as Martin Lane and Stephanie Dunham talk about the challenges they face as a small farm. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

MERCER — Every spring, the Greaneys spend an afternoon with other local farmers and community members handing out pullet chickens.

This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Scott Greaney says that unlike previous years, he’s had to call for a second order of 500 chickens to meet customer demand that’s grown in the last three months.

On Saturday, local farmers congregated at Greaney’s Turkey Farm in Mercer to talk about the struggles of raising livestock during a pandemic, when some grocers and farmers have been known to price-gouge. Each farmer shared their own experiences of seeing some nearby farmers and grocers raising and, in some cases, doubling the price of meat per-pound.

Martin Lane of Lane Farm in New Vineyard, Stephanie Dunham of Ballard Farms in St. Albans, and Greaney said they all take pride in their family names and how they raise the animals. Since the pandemic started, all three have reported a tremendous increase in customers, some who have even begun raising animals on their own and are looking to the farmers for advice and help.

Adam Greaney cleans out the barn for a shipment of chickens at Greaney’s Turkey Farm in Mercer on Saturday. The small family farm has seen a large increase in business since the pandemic jammed up the food distribution chain. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Around 1 p.m., a truck from Pennsylvania with 500 chickens arrived at Greaney’s as vehicles lined up down Main Street, crates in tow, to pick up their chickens, which many will raise for fresh eggs.

Eric Reichenbach, of Smithfield, said he’s come to Greaney’s Turkey Farm for two decades because of the relationship he has with the family.

“(Scott) does an awesome job of raising his chickens,” Reichenbach said. “I’ve learned a lot from him too. I started raising broilers on my own and always look to Scott because he has a lot of knowledge.”

Saturday’s pickup was the first of the season. The second order Greaney has placed likely won’t be available until summertime as many around the country are also looking to get chickens.

Greaney said that during the pandemic he has maintained his prices as his customers have increased. The people contacting him, he said, are coming from all over the state, from Aroostook County down to the outskirts of Cumberland County.

“We have a lot more people calling than we’ve ever had,” he said.

“There are some out there trying to make a quick buck (off the pandemic),” Greaney said. “It’s shameful. I don’t need to make a buck off of these people that are just trying to feed their families. That’s the bottom line.”

Dunham was at Greaney’s Turkey Farm on Saturday to pick up chickens for her farm. She said that during the pandemic, many have decided to raise their own animals, but don’t know the work that goes into taking care of them, feeding them and raising them humanely.

Scott Greaney points to his son Adam, with his wife, Tracy, to the right, as they discuss the challenges the small family farm faces Saturday during a group discussion with other farmers at Greaney’s Turkey Farm in Mercer. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Lane said that while many turn to their grocery stores for meat and dairy, the best products are found at local farms.

Greaney added, “I’ve been doing this for 38 years and I’ve always looked out for my customers.”

He said he takes pride in how he raises animals on his farm, humanely and cruelty-free. Greaney’s has a slaughterhouse. Customers can either pay him to raise and then slaughter the animals or drop off an animal and pay to have it slaughtered.

The chickens delivered on Saturday were about 17 weeks old, just a few weeks short of when they are expected to start laying eggs. Greaney said that this is to allow the chickens to get acclimated to their new surroundings before they’re mature enough to lay eggs, because relocating will often delay the egg-laying process as the animals readjust.

Customers at Greaney’s on Saturday ranged from other local farmers, like Lane and Dunham, to small families picking up a few chickens to raise at their homes. Leading up to the delivery, Greaney said his phone has been ringing nonstop with people interested in buying chickens.

Though Greaney has been around for over three and a half decades, he says that now is when many are looking to get their food sourced locally. Though farmers markets are an option, he says the best way to get fresh product is to go to the farmers directly, where prices are likely cheaper than grocery stores and markets.

“This is the backbone of America,” Greaney said. “We have the same prices, people trust us and that’s what it’s about.”

Adam Greaney cleans out the barn for a shipment of chickens Saturday at Greaney’s Turkey Farm in Mercer. The small family farm has seen a large increase in business since the pandemic jammed up the food distribution chain. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo


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