For years, Thanksgiving celebrants have headed down a bumpy dirt road in Pasadena to Schramm's Turkey Farm, one of a small number of such places in the country.
That tradition will end soon, as the operators of the 213-acre farm leave the turkey business when they finish selling their current supply of birds.
"They just can't get any help, and it's too much work for them, and they can't stand it anymore," said Evelyn Schramm, 85, the no-nonsense mother and aunt of the owners of the farm.
"We're not going to raise any more young ones," said Evelyn Schramm, who answers the phone at the business. "We'll sell turkeys for Christmas and New Year's, and then kill the rest and put them in the freezer."
"We're just getting too old. We cannot handle it," said Emma M. Schramm, 62, one of the owners. "Eventually, we will have to sell part of the farm."
Emma Schramm said high inheritance taxes, combined with the low prices farmers receive for their goods, make farming a difficult life, at best. More than a few developers have eyed the farm hungrily. "We average one [offer to buy some land] a month. Sometimes it's one a week," she said.
Neither she nor her brothers and cousin, who all run the farm, ever married. "We never had time to," Emma Schramm said. "This is the end of the name Schramm."
The farm, which has been in the family since 1909, began selling turkeys in 1944. Customers include some markets, companies that give the birds as holiday gifts and area residents who consider the drive to the farm a holiday tradition.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, car after car gingerly picked its way down the dirt road, raising clouds of dust. Each passed the turkey pen, where scores of fat feathered birds gobbled in unison and strutted, rather interested in the commotion.
Buyers crowded into a small room to pick up their dinners. Schramm's has been including a notice breaking the news with each customer's order. Not surprisingly, many customers are none too happy about the turkey farm going out of business. "It seemed like a funeral parlor in the sales room," Emma Schramm said.
Hens sell for $1.45 per pound and toms for $1.30 a pound, almost twice what you might pay for a frozen supermarket turkey. But hundreds of annual customers apparently believe the fresh turkeys are worth the extra cost.
Evelyn Schramm said the farm would continue to raise vegetables for sale at an aging stand on Mountain Road, a short distance from the farm's entrance and a new townhouse development.