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Teen donates 37-pound turkey to local food closet

Brian Furrer, 13, raised the bird himself
By: Stephanie Dumm Lincoln News Messenger Reporter
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To help donate for Thanksgiving To provide a turkey and/or Thanksgiving side dishes for The Salt Mine’s Nov. 21 Thanksgiving dinner, contact Blake Long at blake@thesaltminelincoln.com. One Lincoln teen’s 4-H project will help feed at least 20 people during The Salt Mine’s annual day-before-Thanksgiving dinner this year. Brian Furrer, 13, raised and sold a 37-pound turkey at the Placer County Fair this summer, which he said was “the third biggest” turkey to be auctioned off. Brian has been raising turkeys this year “to pay for a car and college.” “Raley’s (in Lincoln) purchased the turkey for resale, which means it’s a donation. They don’t want the turkey but they want to contribute to a 4-H project,” Brian said. “Since Raley’s always helps out (the Salt Mine) food bank, we thought let’s donate the turkey they purchased and give it to The Salt Mine for the Thanksgiving dinner.” Pat Gaul, store director for Lincoln’s Raley’s grocery store, attended the Placer County Fair auction in June to purchase Brian’s turkey, which sold for $480. “I’ve gone for years and it’s a lot of fun,” Gaul said. “Raley’s gives back to the community and attends local FFA (Future Farmers of America) and 4-H auctions just to give back to the kids and show appreciation for their hard work. We purchase animals at the fair, and normally we donate the animals back to either the individual who raised it or the auction itself.” Since Brian and his family knew that Raley’s helps The Salt Mine during the year by donating food to the nonprofit throughout the year, he said, “we made sure to send out a buyer’s letter to invite them to the auction.” Raley’s donates food to The Salt Mine on a daily basis, Gaul said, and “works with local Realtors who stand out front during the holidays and get donations for turkeys and canned goods” for the food closet.” “I just think it’s just a fantastic gesture that he (Brian) put so much time and effort into raising the animal, and then to give it to a charity is fantastic,” Gaul said, about Brian donating the 37-pound turkey to The Salt Mine. Helping out The Salt Mine is not new for Brian. The Twelve Bridges eight-grader said he has volunteered at The Salt Mine since third-grade. He appeared on “The Rachel Ray Show” in November 2009, after the show’s producers learned through The News Messenger of a food drive Furrer organized at First Street School in September 2009. That drive brought in 1,872 nonperishable food items for the food closet. At the time, Brian was 10. “It’s just amazing how a young man can take an idea and use it to think outside of himself and of others like that,” Salt Mine executive director Eric Long said Friday. “It seems to be a habit of his.” Brian and his father, Dave Furrer, will barbecue the turkey on Nov. 20 and bring it to The Salt Mine on Nov. 21 for the food closet’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. “What we like to do for the community is provide a Thanksgiving box for families to take home and cook the whole meal at their own homes,” Long said. “On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we provide a full hot meal at The Salt Mine to those that don’t have a place to cook a Thanksgiving meal.” That’s where Brian’s turkey comes in. Long predicts that the turkey donated by Brian will feed “about 20 people,” and 30 to 40 usually turn out for the dinner. “We are excited people like Brian are already thinking of that (donating food for the Thanksgiving dinner),” Long said. “Not only could we use more turkeys that will be prepared that day, we can use all of the trimmings and fixings, prepared and unprepared. We get people that bring their family’s special recipes and I love eating it myself, since I get to try new stuff.” Terri Furrer, Brian’s mother, wants to “praise Raley’s for their support of the Placer County Fair and all of the youth” and said Brian donating his turkey to The Salt Mine “is a great idea.” “I’m proud of him for working hard to raise the turkey and I’m proud of him for continuing his relationship with The Salt Mine and for giving this way,” Terri Furrer said. Dave Furrer said he and his wife “have raised both of our children to give back to the community and have tried to get them involved in different projects.” “Since he’s done work with The Salt Mine in the past, it was an easy decision for him,” Dave Furrer said. “I just think that in the world we live in, not all the kids will do that and I’m proud and good he’s looking (out for) others.” Raising a turkey requires more than food and water Originally raising lambs for 4-H, Brian made the switch to turkeys recently since “it’s a more efficient way of making money.” “The initial cost of the animal is a lot less compared to other animals. When you purchase a lamb its $250, but a turkey is $5 when it’s first born,” Brian said. “The initial cost, and the food, is cheaper and it’s a lot less work to raise a turkey but you get the same amount of profit.” Dave Furrer described his son as “quite the little business man.” “He’s very aware of the costs here for school,” Dave Furrer said. “He was introduced to 4-H a few years ago and raised lambs for a couple of years. His decision to go to turkeys was primarily profit based.” Brian says he purchases the baby turkeys “20 weeks before a fair and raise them until they get to a reasonable size.” “I’m raising (three) turkeys for the Gold Country Fair,” Brian said. “The turkeys for Gold Country, I would say they are at least a month and a half to two months old.” Keeping the turkeys in a kennel by his family’s barn, Brian said “you have to make sure they always have water and food.” “You have to make sure they have shavings so their skin doesn’t get irritated, and we have to practice flipping them upside down,” Brian said. “That’s how we show them, and it’s so they get used to it and don’t (vomit). It’s so the judge can feel the turkey breast.” When asked by The News Messenger if he has to walk the turkeys, Brian replied by saying, “they don’t really need to go for a walk they just need to get fat.” “They stay outside, so sometimes we have to spray them down because they get really hot,” Brian said. The News Messenger asked Brian if it was hard for him to auction the turkey’s, knowing they would be butchered soon after. “I’ve done it before, and turkeys don’t really have a personality,” Brian said. “It’s easy to let them go, they are just a responsibility.” Dave Furrer said raising animals for 4-H, both turkeys and lambs, “has increased his (Brian’s) responsibility.” “It’s not just teaching him about animals but responsibility. Turkeys don’t care if you don’t feel like getting out of bed or that it’s raining,” Dave Furrer said. “That was our agreement with him. Whatever he does, it’s his deal and he knows he’s fully responsible. Even if it’s raining before school he goes out and takes care of them before he catches the bus to school.”