Dakota Datebook

Turkey Talk

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

 

Thanksgiving is coming! And while few decorate for this particular holiday with the same vigor they do for other holidays, there is one important item that almost everyone agrees makes for a necessity for this holiday: Whether it’s turkey or tofurkey, that special entrée is the reason for this season!

The Fargo Forum devoted a great deal of ink to the matter of turkeys on this day in 1928. Like us today, they were very concerned about the costs of the holidays. Luckily for them, turkeys were supposed to be sold for a discount—8-10 cents cheaper than they had been the year before. Of course, the year before, turkeys had sold for 45 cents ahead of time, and “a few days before Thanksgiving they were as high as 50 cents a pound—not quite comparable to today’s prices.

Of course, one couple from near Watford City wouldn’t mind the price turkeys sold for, no matter how high—Mr. and Mrs. Schettle were especially qualified for “talkin’ turkey,” since they held a turkey production record. The couple was originally from Germany and had moved to Chicago before settling in North Dakota. They had been farming in McKenzie County for the last 13 years, raising turkeys for the last eight, and over the last four-year period, they had made a record 100 dollars per turkey hen, which topped any previous record of money made by over 25 dollars.

In 1928, Mr. and Mrs. Schettle were preparing to send more than a thousand turkeys to market over the next month, in addition to the approximately 50 “head of breeding stock” they had sold recently. The turkeys were in excellent condition for the upcoming holidays, and it was predicted that they would each earn at least five dollars apiece.

To raise their record turkeys, the Schettles protected them, keeping them well-incubated in the spring and herding them around together under watchful care. Right before the holidays, the Schettles kept their turkeys well-fed on all the home-grown ground barley, wheat and corn the birds could handle.

The couple and a hired man also dressed and packed the turkeys for sale themselves. In one day’s time, they packed between 50 and 80 turkeys.
It was all worth it, to get the biggest, best gobblers possible.

Sources:
Fargo Forum, November 25, 1928, Sunday morning

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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