July 31, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
66°F

Shelves stuffed with turkeys in Lafayette Twp.

LAFAYETTE TWP. — What’s a turkey farm like in the days before Thanksgiving?

Very, very quiet.

After growing from newly hatched poults to adults in 95 days, Jones’ Turkey Farm sells its product to loyal customers. Turkeys in boxes are ready for delivery. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

The former residents of Jones’ Turkey Farm — 125 birds who spent three months growing up on the farm — now sit in boxes in a walk-in cooler, awaiting pick-up by customers.

“People like our turkey,” said Melvin “Skip” Jones, 68, who runs the farm with his wife, Cathy. “It just melts in your mouth.”

In fact, Thanksgiving isn’t even here and Jones’ Turkey Farm, 6472 Lafayette Road, already is taking orders for next year.

“We’re 80 percent sold out for next year,” Jones said.

Skip and Cathy have managed the turkey farm for 25 years.

Each August, Jones and his wife purchase 125 newly hatched poults from Meyer Hatchery in Polk, in Ashland County.

The birds grow quickly, he said, reaching 20 pounds in just 95 days.

Jones said the turkeys consumed 10,000 pounds of feed this year.

“If you watched them eat, you’d understand,” he said.

However, the feed has doubled in price as times have gotten tougher.

“It’s not cheap,” Jones said.

Still, they manage to stay in the black. If the farm was taking losses, he said, something would have to change.

The turkeys are let out during the day and spend the nights in a barn on the property.

Jones said he’d let them out all the time if it wasn’t for nighttime predators.

This year’s gang of turkeys, which sold for $3 a pound, went out with a bang. They achieved international celebrity status in October when the farm was featured by a British Broadcasting Corp. camera crew covering the presidential election.

Jones was interviewed about his political hopes as a small business owner and farmer.

The small farm has been in the family since 1887, he said.

“We started farming turkeys out of nostalgia for my grandfather,” Jones said.

He said his grandfather “accidentally” got into turkey farming, and he kept doing it for years.

Because turkeys are seasonal in demand, Jones said he and his wife spend the remainder of the year selling charcoal and hay and managing a small catering company.

But when August comes around, they always purchase their turkeys.

“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t love it,” Jones said. “It’s a hell of a product. There’s just no other place that sells fresh turkey like this.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.