Being National Poultry Day it seems appropriate to write a little about my Dad, who made his living for over 40 years as a poultry farmer. Specifically he raised hatching eggs which were shipped all over the world for reproduction. Over and over last week, as we celebrated Dad's life, we talked about how fortunate we all were to have our parents there for us all the time. My father's parents lived in the farmhouse so we had an extra set of parents, as well. I, in particular, was very close to my grandparents. For many years my grandmother would help Dad to prepare the eggs for shipping and I just loved being there with her, and we talked endlessly.
In my eulogy I spoke of my early memories of the farm. Dad taught me to collect, clean, grade and pack eggs, as well as prepare chicken houses for the arrival of shipments of new chicks. For some years, we raised our own chicks, and I can still hear the loud peeping as we pulled the trays of newly-hatched chicks out of those huge incubators. We would lift the downy yellow peeping babies into cardboard boxes filled with new wood shavings, place a cover over the top and take them to my grandmother's warm kitchen, until it was time to move them to their pens. They grew so fast and very quickly feathers were forming. At any given time, there were thousands of chickens in our 5 very large buildings, several of which, were multi-storied. Of course, with all those chickens, there was a lot of manure to shovel and all of us were recruited for that duty. When a new flock was due, it was time to completely clean the pens, scraping all residue and then washing and spraying with disinfectant.
For a time, Dad had chickens on the ranges but they were preyed upon by racoons and foxes and soon that came to an end. We also had guard geese....my, they could be ferocious and make a lot of noise when anyone approached. As children, we had no fear of them and we could pat them and walk through their gaggle without harm. There was a lovely raspberry patch and a concord grape arbor, and my grandmother had beautiful flower gardens. Last but not least, there were wild cats everywhere. They did their job catching mice! So many memories.
That is just a little peak into what life was like on Twin Cedars Farm. We worked hard. My Dad's days were very long, but there was always time to drive us places, and to have family dinners, beautifully prepared by my mother, every night. Attendance was mandatory, as was sharing one's day and observing good manners. My parents put up with a lot of raucous behavior with 7 children to keep in line! It was a charmed life from my perspective today, and I am forever grateful for my Dad's choice to be a farmer.