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Houston Chronicle: Gambling on the Gobble - Brenham Turkey Farmer Bet on his Birds in a Risky COVID Season

Houston Chronicle: Gambling on the Gobble - Brenham Turkey Farmer Bet on his Birds in a Risky COVID Season

By Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle

In March and April, when most pandemic-frazzled Americans couldn’t plan two weeks ahead, Michael Marchand was trying to figure out Thanksgiving.

In Brenham, Marchand, his wife Leslie and their four kids run Whitehurst Heritage Farms. They raise grass-fed cattle, pastured pigs and chickens, and they grow organic vegetables.

Plus turkeys: In 2019, the Marchands sold around 300 Thanksgiving birds. High-end chefs bought most of the farm’s output then, and the turkeys were no exception: About two-thirds of them were served at restaurants such as The Dunlavy and chef Richard Knight’s Atlas Diner.

But what havoc, Marchand wondered in spring 2020, would the new coronavirus wreak? His restaurant customers were closed. And as outbreaks shut meat-packing plants in other parts of the country, he wondered whether the processors he depended on would be available, come fall.

And what would his individual customers want? Would the virus be under control, and big family gatherings back in vogue?

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