Wednesday, July 27, 2011

THE LAST OF LIFE ON THE FARM FOR NOW-Bill's Bits

RAISING CHICKENS - About February or March of each year was when we got our supply of Baby Chicks.  They arrived in cardboard boxes and each box contained 100 baby chicks.  Usually, we started out with 500 baby chicks.  They were housed in a building called a "brooder house.  I'm not sure why it was called that, but inside the building was a stove called a "brooder stove."  There was a large hood that hung directly over the stove that tended to collect the stove's heat and served as the comfort zone for the young chicks. The stove was fed by kerosine and you had to be careful and check the tank to be sure there was enough fuel to keep the stove running.

As the chicks were taken from the cardboard box to be put in the "brooder house, each chick had its beak put into the chicken feed and then had its beak put in to a small amount of water.  Once that was completed, the chick was placed by the warm area under the hood.  From then on it was up to Mother Nature and the farmer to hopefully watch the chicks grow. Because of the cold weather in February and March it was a treat to check on the chicks where it was very warm compared to the outdoors when I was doing other animal chores.

When the weather warmed up, it was  time to send the young birds outside into an area that was large, but fenced in with chicken wire, so they couldn't run away. Now the feeding was intended to help in the growth process and the male birds were usually butchered and become food for consumption by humans. The female chickens were left to continue growing and become egg laying hens.

Because there were fewer chickens left, they were left to roam the farmstead area. This proved to be a problem later.  First off was to run the birds down with a wire hook to catch them by the leg, if you ran faster than they did.  Secondly, the young hens were responding to Mother Nature's way of life and finding trees in our yard to roost(perch) in at night.  It never seemed to fail that on a cold night in early Fall, it was time to house the young hens in their new home, the CHICKEN HOUSE.  Yours truly had the job of climbing the trees to catch the screaming birds and hand them to my Dad or Sisters and they transported them to their new home.  It goes without saying, that I was scatched and bit by many unhappy young hens.

Actually, it was a good feeling to know the young hens(pullets) were safe in their new home.  The hens were greeted with small box area's in which they hopefully would lay their eggs.  A new type of feed was introduced in hopes that it would bring about good egg production. they also had an area where they could perch when the sun started to go down. At first the"pullets"eggs were smaller than mature hens were. Before long the egg business was coming into its own.  Depending on the number of laying hens you had would more or less determine how often and how many crates were sold in town to the local egg buying stations.

That's what I remember about the chicken raising part of my life on the farm.  Was it rewarding? yes!  Was it hard work? yes! but it bought groceries and helped pay some other bills also. My life's work was teaching, raising 3 children and being married to a very  good Mother and Devoted Wife for over 50 years... With that in mind, raising chickens just doesn't make it!

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