Let's Talk Rusty Iron

Where's the Beef?

| November 2005

Chicken operation the source of foul memories

It's almost November, so I'll tell you a little about my father's chicken business in the 1940s. I know, it's supposed to be turkey for Thanksgiving, but in those days we sold a lot of chickens for the holidays.

I don't know just when my father and uncle, who made up the Moore & Townsend partnership, got serious about raising chickens in addition to shipping milk. It was probably 1940 when the first large chicken house was built at our place. This was a single-story frame structure maybe 20 or 25 feet wide and 60 or 70 feet long. During the war, a two-story building of the same size was constructed just west of the original, and the two chicken houses were connected by a granary.

Besides two large bins, one for wheat and one for oats, there was room in the granary for sacked feed storage, and a McCormick-Deering hammer mill of probably 10-inch capacity.

When the partnership was dissolved in 1945, Dad ended up with the chicken business, and he did very well for five or six years. I helped with every phase of raising those birds and developed a keen dislike for chickens and all they stood for.

During the early 1940s, our birds were white Leghorns because of that breed's high white egg production. In those days, the city market in Beaver Falls, Pa., bought most of our eggs, along with some chickens. Saturday was "go to town day," and we always took along a crate or two of eggs, and sometimes a crate of live chickens for delivery to the store.

The chicks (we never called them "peeps") were delivered by the mailman in large, cardboard boxes that I think each held 100 of the little, fluffy, cheeping birds. The boxes were divided into four compartments and had round holes punched in the sides so the chicks could get air. It seems as though we got two or three boxes at a time, but I don't remember how often they came.