S. ABINGTON TWP. — Some people might think Thanksgiving is no big deal to a family whose business is turkey.
Those people don’t know the Pallman Farms family.
Between 4 and 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day in a small house on the family’s turkey, capon and strawberry farm, Craig Pallman’s Aunt Betsy Jayne puts two 20-to-25-pound turkeys in the oven. She is eager to feed the 45 family members who will gather in her home later that afternoon.
“Thanksgiving in our family is a big, big deal,” said Craig Pallman, co-owner of the farm with his cousin, Douglas Pallman. “I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in that house for as long as I can remember.”
Craig said his grandmother, Leona hosted the family Thanksgiving meal for many years there, where she and her husband, his grandfather, Arthur “Dutch” Pallman lived.
As the owner/operator of Pallman Farms in the 1940s, Dutch Pallman was a pioneer in the turkey business that has served the Abingtons ever since. In addition to Betsy Jayne, Dutch and Leona had a son, Richard, and identical twin sons, Bruce and Brian. Dutch died on Dec. 23 – the last day of Christmas turkey pickup – in 2009, and Leona died Dec. 1, 2013. Bruce and Brian Pallman owned the farm until retirement when they turned it over to their sons, Craig and Douglas, who own Pallman Farms and Summit Harvest, where they grow fresh produce. Craig pointed out that, at age 70, his father and uncle still help run Pallman Farms, being the first to arrive every morning and the last to leave every evening.
Especially on the days before Thanksgiving.
“At this time of year, all the stops are pulled. The whole family unites,” said Craig, explaining that every Pallman family member in the Clarks Summit area becomes part of the farm’s turkey processing and selling operation from Nov. 1 to Thanksgiving Day. He pointed out that his grandparents’ three sons all live within five miles of the farm, and most of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren still live in northeast Pennsylvania.
Craig Pallman said Pallman Farms raises approximately 9,000 turkeys for sale every year, 8,000 that are sold for Thanksgiving and the remainder sold for Christmas. Turkey sizes range from 14 pounds to
“My grandfather spent his entire life building a business,” said Craig. “He built a reputation. He set a high bar for the next generations.”
When the work of the turkey business is done, the Pallman Family puts their all into enjoying their Thanksgiving holiday.
Dutch and Leona’s Thanksgiving guest count peaked at about 30. Today, Betsy Jayne will host 45, seated at an extra-long table where furniture has been moved to make room in her living room.
Betsy Jayne will cook the turkeys and stuffing, complemented by a roomful of side dishes and desserts made by the rest of the family. Although the official Pallman family Thanksgiving feast is at
1 p.m., Craig Pallman said everyone stays all day for round two around 6 p.m.
“None of us would miss this for the world,” he said.
A self-proclaimed “white meat guy,” Craig Pallman said he likes the turkey best but also gobbles up the delicious sides and desserts. He said he cooks his own turkey at his house to guarantee leftovers, because “leftovers are pretty scarce” at his aunt’s house.
Craig said his family enjoys simple leftovers like turkey sandwiches or another turkey dinner.
“We don’t create anything new with our turkey,” he said. “We literally consume our leftovers as if they are another Thanksgiving meal.”
Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.