It was the first of April and they arrived in boxes with pin holes on top to let air in for the baby turkeys.Their were 1200 of them and they had just hatched out of the egg the day before now having completed a days' trip by truck from the Hatchery in Zanesville, Ohio. Mom had the pens prepared and ready for the little ones. The floor was covered with a straw like material called Stays Dry. In the middle was a small coal fed stove to keep the area warm. Small dishes with ground grain feed were carefully positioned in the pen area as well as water dishes. Interestingly, colorful marbles were placed in the dishes so the turkeys would pick at them, get food or water on their mouth and learn to eat. Thus began an annual process of raising turkeys which would provide Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the residents of Middletown, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.
The water pipes to the chicken houses were buried under the ground about 14" deep. Normal winter weather left the pipes undisturbed. However, there were some winters where the low temperatures prevailed and the ground froze deep and yes, below the 14' depth. I recall one time when not only did the pipes freeze, but some lines broke and it was many weeks before they could be repaired. What this meant is that we had to carry water in buckets to the chickens. Sometimes the full bucket would slop over the bucket edge and the result was wet pant legs. How cold and uncomfortable it was as now even the pants froze. Water was carried twice a day and even though I was just a little guy, the entire family worked together to get it done.
In Pennsylvania the snow is on the ground and it is very deep. Trudging through the hand shoveled paths one wonders if the ground will ever reappear. The barn and chicken houses seem so far away, yet they are less than one hundred yards. My memory tells me that the crisp winter air states that winter is still very much alive in this northern state. Our family was accustomed to the snow and cold, so it all seemed pretty natural, yet we longed for the sunshine of warmer weather.