World War II had dragged on for what seemed an eternity! Of course, to me, a 6 year old kid, it was an eternity. It was my entire life! But, in the winter of 1945 it was finally over and there was the prospect of prosperity once again.
(Thanks to DCS)
We lived on the farm in Bemus Point, New York and had worked very hard to make the dairy a prosperous operation. No matter what we did, however, we were always about three dollars short of the budget. It was time for drastic action!
My uncle Alvin raised chickens and had a prosperous egg business. Dad talked to him and received several pointers on how to make it work and then made a decision: sell the cattle and buy 1,000 chickens!
We ordered the 10,000 chickens from Sears and Roebuck and they were delivered by mail! Old Cassius Hazzard, our mailman, didn’t deliver them, but he did bring us a notice that they were ready to be picked up. Dad went to the post office that January day and brought all those card-board crates of tiny little yellow chicks home with him. What a marvel!
We had several galvanized brooders stationed about the barn with lights in each one to provide heat for the baby chicks. We then distributed about 200 hundred chicks to each brooder. Finally, all those 10 crates were empty and the chicks were all comfortable in their new home peeping loudly!
What a difference in the farm! I would walk into the barn where there were now only two cows which we kept for our own use and then, all those chickens! Part of my job was to distribute mash to those little beggars! It was a total joy to see them so apparently appreciative of the gift we were giving them.
All went well for the first few weeks and months. The chicks grew fast. Winter turned to spring as it always does and summer was approaching. ——–
I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist and one of the things that was especially precious to us was Campmeeting in the month of June. These meetings had been going on since the mid 1800’s as a spin-off from the old Chautauqua Tents. People would come from far and near gathering at Union Springs, New York like so many gypsies with their goods packed in their cars – and on their cars – ready to set up housekeeping it the rented tents lined up in rows. I can’t tell you of the sight, the sounds and the smells of that campground experience! What a thing to anticipate!
During the war, few people could go to Campmeeting for some of the obvious reasons. But now, it seemed like everyone who was anyone was going and Mom and Dad decided that we would go, too. We had made arrangements for a neighbor to come in to care for the Chickens and began looking forward to the experience.
Then it happened.
It was probably about two weeks before campmeeting was to begin that Dad went to the barn one morning to do the usual chores. There he found 3 or 4 dead chickens.
Well, 3 or 4 out of 1,000 was not a bad mortality rate so he thought little of it. But, the next, morning there were about 15! And, the next morning, there were about 30 – 35 more!
Now Dad was beginning to get a little worried. What’s going through the flock of chickens? We were having great success until we had decided to go to Campmeeting! Mom and dad had several conversations about “The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan” and concluded that we were being assailed by the enemy of Jesus and he was trying to keep us away from Campmeeting. That night there was a lot of prayer in our house.
The next morning Dad went into the barn and began picking up dead chickens. He came out with two or three wheelbarrow loads and dumped them in the driveway. Then he walked away, discouraged.
The next day, with only a week to go before Campmeeting, there were some 320 dead chickens lying in the driveway after the walk through the barn. We were all standing there along with our neighbor, Scotty. Dad stood there with a downcast look on his face and his hands on his hips. There was talk about “Coccidiosis” a disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by the Coccidian protozoa but no one really knew what was causing the high rate of mortality.
Finally, Dad threw up his hands and said, “I don’t care if we lose every one of these chickens! We’re going to Campmeeting!!”
I saw a worried look on my Mother’s face. Scotty just stood there and shook his head.
From that day forward, we never lost another chicken!
We, all but Dad, walked away from the pile of dead chickens. He stayed by to clean up the mess.
Campmeeting was wonderful! We all learned so much! And, we all looked forward to returning the following year.
And, we all had a great story to tell about how God won the battle back there in our driveway in June of 1946.All it took was a determined commitment on our part and once that was demonstrated, God did the rest; the part that we could NOT do.