Recently I learned, much to my surprise, that Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus raised turkeys at one point in her life. Although she never talked about it, she shared this fact in her life history. What started out as a relatively small project soon grew to become a large adventure and served to help my Grandpa and Grandma through a rough time.
When Grandpa took a job working with Heiselt Construction on the Echo Canyon Dam in Utah, initially Grandma Ganus and their two children stayed in Colorado. Later, when the work took Grandpa to California, Grandma and their kids joined him and they lived near Lake Almanor. For a while, the work with Heiselt put food on the table and provided a roof overhead, but eventually the job was completed and Grandma and Grandpa, along with the Malmgren family, moved a short distance away just outside the small town of Taylorsville, California. There they lived on a ranch that Mr. Heiselt owned. The business had had financial difficulties and my grandparents were owed several thousand dollars, so they held out hope that they would eventually be paid all that was owed. Grandma recorded that while living on Heiselt’s property, they lived in a small house on “the terrace.” During that time, Grandpa farmed and Grandma raised turkeys. According to her life history, she hatched the turkeys from eggs and she began with just three gobblers and twenty-five hens. Over time her little business grew and she raised 500 turkeys. Grandma indicated that she sold the turkeys to meat markets and that she got a good price for them.
I wish Grandma had written a little more. How in the world did she care for the turkeys? How did she know how to raise turkeys? Where did she go to get their food and how did she get there? How did she transport them to the market? I would imagine there were some challenges in raising turkeys and that some of her experiences probably evoked a laugh or two. I wish so much that she had recorded some of the things that happened during that time.
Eventually, Grandma and Grandpa decided to leave their little place on the ranch and they returned to Sanford, Colorado where their families were living.
I will be thinking of her as we eat our Thanksgiving turkey this year. I am glad that Grandma took the time to write a little about her business and although I won’t likely be raising turkeys anytime soon, I do hope I can be as determined as she was in coming up with creative solutions to the challenges I face in life.
Did your grandparents face hard times? How did they get through them?
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved
4 thoughts on “Gobble Gobble—Raising Turkeys”
My family's Thanksgivings couldn't be more different from your family's. Grandpa owned a grocery store in the Bronx and I'm sure the fixings for dinner came from his own store and from his suppliers. He never personally knew the turkeys his family ate (but I think he also made sure customers didn't go hungry). Thank you for sharing your grandparents' background, and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Michelle, your grandmother was a resourceful woman who who found a way to help her family in hard times. Three cheers for your Grandmother and her turkeys!
I loved learning about my grandma's efforts to help out financially by raising turkeys. I assumed she served turkey for Thanksgiving, but she really didn't indicate what she fixed.
Yes, she really was. I have wondered why in the world she chose raising turkeys and how it all came about, but she really didn't share very much about it. I helped an aunt with her chickens one summer and it cured any desire to work with poultry of any kind–ha ha