Lynchburg, VA - The drought plus the derecho and high corn prices wiped out more than half of the turkeys on one Gladys farm. This Thanksgiving, the Bennett family is thankful to have sold any turkeys at all.
Becky Bennett sells an array of homegrown meats at the Lynchburg Community Market. This year, she nearly sold out of turkeys in preorders, but that's not necessarily a good thing.
"The drought, the extreme heat, the power outages in the middle of the night - we lost a good portion of our birds," said Becky Bennett.
Becky and her family raise the animals at Auburnlea Farms. Like chickens, turkeys have to stay warm under heat lamps in their first few weeks of life. During the derecho the power went out and the turkeys crowded together, suffocating each other. Many died.
"It was very discouraging," said Becky Bennett.
"It was really sad. I mean just from an animal lovers perspective, it was hard to see all the little baby turkeys and then from a financial perspective that was an enormous loss," said Keri Bennett.
The Bennetts started with 500 baby turkeys and ended up with only 100 full grown turkeys. Corn prices didn't help, with the price of a bag of feed soaring 30-50% higher than last year.
"Have you ever seen the price for feed go up that much?" we asked.
"Not in my lifetime," said Rick Bennett.
So, the Bennetts had to raise the price of their turkeys and didn't have many to sell.
"Being around agriculture, you know that you're going to have tough times are going to come and you've got to just keep going," said Becky Bennett.
Becky says next year they'll expect tragedy and prepare for it. She says one positive part is seeing her customers face to face, which encourages her and the entire Bennett family to keep going.