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NEIGHBORS : Talking Turkey : Gary Lee's ranch, the last of its kind in the county, raises 104,000 birds each year. But he hasn't had his fill.


Something to think about as you prepare dinner tonight: About 104,000 turkeys are raised in Ventura County each year--all at Lee Ranch in Lockwood Valley.

"At one time, there were quite a few more turkey ranches than there are now," said turkey farmer Gary Lee, whose grandfather started the business in 1929. "There might have been 10 to 15 at one time. There were some out near Moorpark and about five in this area."

Lee likes to talk turkey, so he shared a favorite story.

"One year, we had a truck carrying a load of turkeys turn over in Frazier Park," he said. "I think we were 300 turkeys short when we picked them back up. They disappeared somewhere. The local populace was down there pretty fast."

So what will Lee and his family be eating for Thanksgiving? "Oh, we'll have turkey. We're not sick of them," he said. "We're just sick of live turkeys by this time."

Ruffled feathers: On the other hand, when it comes to Thanksgiving feasts, many people prefer their traditional "turkey and all the fixings" sans the turkey.

Yvonne Miles, co-director of Concerned People for Animals, is one of them. She would rather have the turkey in the living room than in the kitchen.

"Next year, we will invite 20 people into our home who don't have families," she said, "and we'll have a live turkey who will have the run of the house." And this year? "Turkey roll made of soy," she said. "It's a meat substitute with no animal products. Just put some gravy over it and put some parsley on the plate. It's pressed, but I defy people to taste the difference."

We all remember the special moments in our lives--that first date, that first car, the first kiss, the first fax. Right?

Well, at least Maureen Davidson, director of the Momentum Gallery in Ventura, had a first fax to remember.

It occurred Friday at radio station KKBY, where Davidson was one leg of a fax-relay team celebrating the 10th anniversary of the internationally distributed magazine ART/LIFE, which is published in Ventura.

"The fax originated in Santa Barbara, then went to Los Angeles, Ventura, Tokyo and New York," Davidson said. "I was told I got the Tokyo fax because I'm reliable. It's like Hands Across America. There's a certain responsibility."

The final fax arrived in New York in time for an ART/LIFE exhibit last weekend. Each of the stops on the fax's path will have a similar exhibit, with the Momentum Gallery holding one Dec. 2 to Jan. 15.

What's the best thing about going to the ballet? When you're in elementary school, it may be sitting as far away from the stage as possible.

Last week, the Channel Islands Ballet Company presented two lecture-demonstrations to 3,200 fourth- through sixth-graders of the Oxnard Unified School District. The performances featured excerpts from the ensemble's upcoming performances of "the Nutcracker."

As the students entered the Oxnard Civic Auditorium for the second presentation, one boy, upon noticing his class was being seated in one of the uppermost sections, exclaimed: "Yes! Yes! We get to talk."

As it turned out, to the delight of company Director Selma Lamb, the young audience was well-mannered, and there was but one incident: A boy cried "Ouch" when a ballerina did the splits. "We didn't know what to expect," Lamb said. "Sometimes they can be terrorizing."

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