The Experiences of Two Young Women in Putting Into Profitable Practice the Knowledge Gained in War Work
GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLENovember11922
TWO COLLEGE GIRLS ON A POULTRY FARM
WOMEN and THEIR WORK
The Experiences of Two Young Women in Putting Into Profitable Practice the Knowledge Gained in War Work
GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLE
WHEN to-day rural depopulation is a subject of debate in Parliament, and the cry is that the higher learning is educating our youth away from the land, it is encouraging to learn that two young college women have turned their backs on city life and are running successfully a good-sized poultry On a main travelled road fourteen miles north-east of Toronto may be seen affixed to a grey, weather-beaten fence a sign that reads “Martin-Harvey Egg Farm,” and on observing the place it becomes evident that the long, grassy lane, bordered with cedar hedges, is “the only way” to the house, which is gabled and almost hidden by trees. It was a perfect summer day that introduced us to Cedar Lane Farm, with a blue sky, in which fleecy white clouds lazily floated, spread over the wide countryside that stretched out for miles around. Autumn fruits hung ripe on the trees, asters, hollyhocks, zinnias and mignonette ran riot in the garden, bees buzzed everywhere, hundreds of snow-white pullets played around, and a soft breeze blew hither and thither the feathers that, like snow-flakes, carpeted the yard. On being greeted by the owners of the farm in a quaint living-room with attractive old furniture, we met unexpectedly two little children who were all friendly anxiety to show us around the place. So while we strolled here and there, enjoying the country air and summer opulence of the scene, Miss Martin accompanied us, telling as she did so of how she and her friend came to take up poultry farming, and what the work was like. It was the accident of war work really that revealed to Miss Hazel Martin, and Miss Winnifred Harvey, the possibilities of poultry as a means of earning a liveli-
poultry as a hood, and their e xperience which at first was interes ting and ended in also becoming remunerative, may show the way to others whowouldlike to live this healthy, free a/id independent life. In 1917-18, when continuing war made greater production an imperative necessity, and all the strong me n were away fighting, the Ontario D e p artmen t of Labour in Queen’s Park, Toronto, opened a bureau for the purpose of enrolling and s u p p 1 y i n’g girls and women for work on farms, putting in charge Miss Winnifred Harvey. Women in ever-increasin
numbers answered the call of their country and the work of organizing and supplying these rural helpers finally grew so onerous that more than one person was required to handle it. One day before she graduated from the University, Miss Hazel Martin entered the Department and became a co-worker with Miss Harvey in putting women on the land. This association in war work led, nearly three years later, to their partnership in the Martin-Harvey Egg Farm. Trying it Out in Overalls IN THE second year of their war work, Miss Martin took charge of the Land Girls, while Miss Harvey obtained six months’ leave of absence to work on farms—all kinds of them—in order to see what the tasks really were. In her desire to learn of the actual working conditions, she laboured on mixed, poultry and dairy farms, gaining thus exact knowledge of what the girls were asked to do, and also acquiring most valuable information which was to prove very useful later on. A year later when a chance came to rent on shares a hundred acre farm, the two girls joined forces, and for the next twoand-a-half years did team work in looking after poultry and live stock, the hired man—sometimes two hired men, doing the field work. The'farm was one that specialized in pure-bred Yorkshire pigs, dairy and poultry. The rather surprising fact, soon established, was that the poultry paid much the best of all the farm’s activities, giving at the end of the first year a profit of $5 on each hen, which was extraordinarily high. Their success with poultry led the tw’o girls to decide that when War lifted its black pall from the world they would take up this branch of agriculture.
It was in November 1920 that they started to look for a location where acreage was cheap, yet accessible to a city. After spying out the land to the north and to the west of Toronto, and finding nothing to their taste, they came across their present site, which at first glance they knew would exactly suit them. It had originally been an eighty-acre farm, but now twenty-one acres were to be sold with the dwelling and buildings. They bought Cedar Lane Farm, therefore, and have rejoiced exceedingly ever since, for it is ideal for their purpose. City people with happy memories of a childhood in the country will feel envious when they learn there is a swimming hole with a nice, sandy bottom close by. The countryside thereabouts is both prettyand fertile, while the tiny village of Unionville, to whose skirts the farm clings, has quaint old houses and shady trees that touch overhead. One of the characteristic features of Cedar Lane Farm is its huge, red barn that dominates its surroundings, and yet far from being a blot on the landscape it suggests friendly security, peace and plenty. A good young orchard is an asset, as its fruit belongs to the most sought-after varieties, such as Spies, Greenings, Wealthys, Baldwins, and Russets. Being on the main road, passing motorists are tempted to buy the apples, and this is for business.
Children and Poultry NOW after nearly two years in operation the partners are putting in some needed final improvements. Already the south side of the barn, that is large enough to quarter a regiment, has been turned into laying pens for the hens, with fragrant hay piled high up overhead, and the whole interior the sort of mysterious
that children delight in. But the snowy flock of pedigreed poultry and their upto-date quarters, interesting as they were, did not touch the chords of feeling as did the faetthatgradually came to light that the little girl and tiny boy, who call MissMart i n “Auntie Hazel,” and Miss Harvey “Auntie Winnie” were adopted, since, as Miss Martin explained, “we felt we could provide a happy environment f o r two little ones who were alone in the world, as a farm is such a nice place to bring up children, and then too,” she added, "lots of parents
on our income have quite big families.” So the little dark-eyed, rosy-cheeked maiden frolics happily about, and is encouraged to pick the flowers in the border for visitors, while the four-year old little man asks deep questions about “Who makes the thunder?” and "How can you tell when someone loves you?” Then quaintly answers them himse’.f.
But to return to the barn, -carpentering operations would have been under way had it not been a holiday, but the next day would see a resumption of the work, in which Miss Martin shares. These well-cared for hens will soon be snugly housed in draught-proof quarters, with glass windows facing south, and in the centre between them wire netting covered with cotton to provide ventilation. Electric light to encourage winter laying is also being installed. Space will be provided for 330 hens at a cost of eighty cents a bird, although this would come higher without Miss Martin’s assistance in driving nails and tacking up tar paper. On the floor will be laid fresh, clean sand from nearby, six inches deep,—twenty loads of it altogether. This should please the single comb white leghorns, the aristocratic pullets that are to winter there.
This strain of poultry was selected because it is a veritable egg machine. The partners, preferring to specialize in eggproduction, do not scatter their energies in other directions, therefore contrary to the usual rule there is not a single incubator on the place. Hatching of eggs is not encouraged at Cedar Lane Farm, for the plan followed is to buy one-day old chicks direct from the breeder. Early in the spring ten large boxes arrive at the Unionville station, containing one thousand cunning little fluffy chicks, and these are at once put in brooders, which like kind nurseries, take care of them for six weeks. Each brooder contains a heater and provides comfortably for two hundred chicks.
The birds, given the liberty of the farm, were noticeably bright-eyed and vigorous looking, with the snowy feathers and clean-cut shape that show generations of careful breeding. Eggs from such wellcared for, scrupulously clean birds could not help but be superior to t hose produced in a haphazard way.
Profits Are Coming
UP TO the present the partners have been putting all their profits into the business, but at the end of their second year—which is just at hand—they anticipate good returns from their investment and labour. F'or the benefit of those who incline towards poultry-keeping, it may be stated that their expectation is to realize $3 on each bird per annum. Initial expenses for the first year or two are always
heavy, but once the necessary equipment has been installed and stock purchased, the profits begin to flow in.
Although one thousand chicks journey to Cedar Lane Farm at the end of April, not all of them turn out to be egg producers, fully one-half being cockerels. So these non-layers are fattened and sold when they are from eight to ten weeks old. The partners have no trouble in getting rid of these at the best market prices, as a city club takes 100 a week for four weeks, and this disposes of what might otherwise be a problem. One would judge that the girls do not wait for business to come to them but go right after it.
In June the birds are carefully divided into the following three classes:—those for quick selling; those to be sold in September: those to be kept over the winter to lay. Out of this spring’s thousand chicks about 477 pullets were raised, and with the birds remaining over from last season’s stock, about 700 will be on duty and lay throughout the winter. And it is the winter eggs that are so remunerative, fetching high prices.
Said Miss Martin:—“We expect our birds to start laying the end of September, and the heaviest laying to be from November to March. You know we have built up a big retail trade from producer to consumer direct. The eggs are shipped in cases, twelve dozen to a case, every fortnight, and frequently a customer will get a neighbour to share it with her. It is the retail trade that pays the best, and our customers know the eggs we sell them are never more than two or three days old.” The prices charged for the eggs are those given in the official weekly bulletins from Ottawa.
Miss Martin gives great credit to the helpfulness of the bulletins issued by the Experimental Farm at Ottawa, and also those of Guelph. She remarked enthusiastically, “They have been conducting wonderful experiments in the feeding of pullets, and the results have shown us why we were so successful with the first two hundred we raised on the farm during the War. We fed them eggs, making a custard of them with sour milk, but uncooked and stirred into the mash. Another splendid food that makes the young birds’ legs strong is canned tomatoes—this was discovered by Professor Graham of Guelph—so now we are using both these foods: One great thing that these Ottawa experiments have disclosed is that by adding to the mash one-half of its quantity of chopped green feed, such as clover or grass, the result will be more quickly maturing birds and a decided gain in economy.
“But,” concluded Miss Martin, “the three great essentials to make a success of poultry are good stock, good housing and good feed.”
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