My first tasks were to prepare the four buildings and their equipment to receive over sixty thousand hatchlings. These long structures would house the birds for about nine weeks until they became the size to be called Cornish Hens. For several days I followed Ed’s instructions and provided maintenance and repair.
Each building had a large feed hopper attached to it. Most likely the auger that feed food to a conveyer needed old compacted grain cleaned out of it so that it would be able to deliver fresh feed to the expected chickens. They would also need water, which meant small nozzles that feed a trough running around the shed’s perimeter would need cleaning. It seems the previous guests were messy and left the accommodations in not good order.
After all the mechanisms that provided food and water were put into working order, we needed to spread fresh straw on the floor throughout the sheds. It was no small task. The largest of these buildings were over five hundred feet long and thirty feet wide. Two were this size the remaining two were quite a bit smaller. Nonetheless, hauling a bale of straw, one at a time, in a wheelbarrow and spreading it out over all that floor space took up a whole day. The third day was spent making sure the rope and pulley systems that raised and lowered the canvas shades that covered the sides of the buildings were in working order and the canvas in good repair. A similar system that raised and lowered gas heaters needed also needed attending. After all these accommodations were in order we could await the arrival of a new batch of chickens.
During the three days, it took to accomplish this I got to enjoy Ed’s stories. He was able to talk about his adventures as a US Marine who survived the trauma of a forced retreat from the Inchon Reservoir during the Korean conflict. Ed’s wife, Billie would stay at the house preparing us the three meals per day it took to supply the nutrients to conduct our work. The rest of her time was spent glued to the television absorbing the continuous performance of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker on their PTL Club. For Billie salvation meant a daily contribution of money or ordering of religious trinkets in support of their ministry. She also kept busy with the incoming and outgoing mail corresponding with the PTL Club. I wondered if the chickens who were due any day would understand the notion of salvation.