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Mark Miloski Jr. on his family farm in Calverton. (Credit: David Benthal)

Thanksgiving is full of traditions: third helpings of Mom’s mashed potatoes, falling asleep while watching football and, of course, turkey. 

Since 1946, to Will Miloski’s Poultry Farm in Calverton for the centerpiece of the meal. The farm gives people a chance to forgo frozen turkeys for fresh ones and has been allowing its birds to roam outside since long before “free-range” became a buzzword. 

In short, the Miloskis know how to do turkey. But how do they do Thanksgiving? 

Mark Miloski Jr., grandson of the farm’s founder, dished on the farm, his busiest time of year and where he stands on the apple vs. pumpkin pie debate. 

Northforker: Why did you decide to follow in the family business?

Mark Miloski Jr.: This started [72 years] ago now. I didn’t really have a choice. I wanted to keep up the family tradition. This is my home, I didn’t want to see it sold. I’ve never had another job. 

NF: What makes your turkeys so special?

MM: The biggest thing is they’re allowed to stay outside their whole lives. Most turkeys and chickens are cooped up all day long and never see the light of day. It’s just a more natural life for them. Birds are meant to eat rocks, pebbles and sand to help their digestion. They’re given all-organic feed, and we don’t use hormones or steroids. I also think it’s nice that you can see the animal walking around and choose it, which you can’t do if buying from the supermarket. 

NF: When does preparation start for Thanksgiving?

MM: We start [processing] about a week and a half before Thanksgiving Day, but preparation goes on all year. We clean, feed the animals and give them water, just general maintenance. 

NF: How do you balance work with family obligations around Thanksgiving?

MM: I work with my family … We’re never really separated. I don’t really think of Thanksgiving as a holiday. It’s when I make my money. I don’t even eat turkey on Thanksgiving. I just eat the sides. After selling 4,000 of them, I don’t want it. I eat it [later in the week].

NF: Oddly enough, that makes sense. What are your favorite sides? 

MM: My mom’s stuffing, mashed turnips. You can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes … or Mom’s cooking. All the sides, everything but the turkey.

NF: When you get around to eating the big bird, how do you like it?

MM: The best way is the standard baked turkey, but I love fried turkey, too. I don’t do that [around] Thanksgiving. I like to keep it traditional, but I like to fry turkeys during the summer. I don’t season the roasted one, but I go nuts with the fried turkey. I’ve put Cajun seasoning on it to make it really spicy. It gives the breast a lot of water and makes it really moist.

NF: On to dessert. Help me settle a major food fight: Pumpkin pie or apple pie? 

MM: Apple. I don’t like pumpkin, actually. I love apple and apple crisp. You need the vanilla ice cream. We usually get them from Briermere Farms. We don’t mess around.

NF: What are you most thankful for this year?

MM: This business. I think it’s really good we’ve kept it [more than 70] years. That’s what I’m most thankful for.