Local turkey farm sells thousands of turkeys

November 24, 2008 7:36:43 PM PST
In Sonoma County where poultry is a multimillion dollar business they are talking turkey these days.

Whether it is free-range, "ready for your range," or just served up in a diner, "Willie Bird" is all turkey all the time.

It is a little bit lonely these days above Santa Rosa, where on a turkey farm, just a few birds remain among feathers in mute testimony.

"We had 45,000 turkeys runnin' around here," said Rock Koch of Willie Birds, referring to last week when most of the birds finally paid for their good lives of corn, soy beans and-free range roaming.

In the north counties the name "Willie Bird" has become synonymous with turkey. Willie Benedetti began the company in high school going door-to-door selling his FFA projects.

One man told ABC7 people used to call out, "Oh here comes Willie with his birds? and the name Willie Bird came about."

You'd think he has an MBA. His deli alone will sell 6,000 birds this season. Tuesday he expects cars to back up into the highway.

Willie's turkey empire includes a restaurant which sold out long ago for Thanksgiving. Variety seems to be the spice of life there.

"We have turkey sausage. We have turkey bacon, turkey fried steak..." said one employee.

Back on the ranch the turkeys are stuck in group think, living in an idyllic and ignorant bliss.

When a man spends his life with so many turkeys, one might wonder what it takes to break through to his heart.

Henrietta is the only turkey at the ranch who is not pure white. She survived Thanksgiving thanks directly to Rock's intervention.

He says her coloring shows her wild side.

"I'm a sucker for a pretty feather," he said.

He's thinking she might make it past Christmas, if she's good.


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