Friend Earthworm

Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits
of the Most Important Animal in the World

by George Sheffield Oliver, B. Y. P.

Part II


EVERY living thing, be it a tender blade of grass or a giant oak, an infinitesimal germ or a human being, has one point in common with every other living thing -- it must eat.

And, though eating is as commonplace to human beings as breathing, most of us dig our own premature graves with our teeth -- if our teeth haven't given out before the grave is ready to receive the remains of a badly mismanaged and mistreated body.

In the light of present-day science and the ease with which knowledge may be acquired, one is forced to stand agape at the general apathy the public maintains in matters pertaining to food.

We need not go beyond our own circles of friends and acquaintances to have this fact brought to our attention. Who among us doesn't know of an overweight woman who greedily devours every dish before her, especially those containing sweets and starches? Or a thin, sickly woman who pecks and nibbles at what is placed before her?

Overeating and undereating bring premature destruction to countless thousands of individuals annually. The overeater deserves little if any sympathy, but the undereater is, indeed, a subject with whom we might well sympathize. Usually, this type of individual is putty in the hands of all and sundry food faddists, new idea dietetists and their ilk.

Someone long ago passed out the misinformation that the human body is a machine and ever since that unfortunate moment faddists and charlatans have hooked their financially profitable ideas to this erroneous statement, and, to use the parlance of the day, have "gone to town with it."

Fundamentally, the human body is no more like a machine than modern printing resembles the crudest of prehistoric methods of record keeping.

The human body, as Alexis Carrel clearly explains in his remarkable work, "Man, the Unknown," originates in a single cell and grows into a series of cells which ultimately become the manifold unity of a living, breathing individual.

A machine is brought into being by an entirely opposite method. First, instead of one small unit -- the single cell that is man's beginning -- there are hundreds of small parts which, when properly assembled and fitted into their designated positions, make one complete unit, ready to function as its designer planned.

Feeding living organisms, be they plant or animal, poultry or man, should not be looked upon in the same light as one considers fueling one's automobile. In the latter case, gasoline, lubricating oil and water are required in all but a few air-cooled motors. The gasoline is the actual "food", with oil and water playing their roles of lubricating and cooling the mechanism so that the gasoline will generate power, or, if you prefer the analogy, life.

Living things demand more than one, two or three essentials to continue to live. The living organism is a highly complicated unit, with each component part requiring definite types of foods or fuel.

It is the hope of this volume -- though primarily designed to assist poultry raisers and breeders in developing a sounder and more economical system of producing better eggs at a lower cost, thus, consequently, producing better, healthier poultry -- to explain food values which may be applied by human beings to their advantage.

Though the writer does not accept the Freudian theory that each individual's life is controlled by his or her sex glands, he does accept the scientific and biological fact that in the sex glands of all living things are gathered by Nature the chief chemical and mineral elements necessary to bear or beget their kind.

And so, from this premise, I approach a subject hitherto eschewed.


Lesson 1

What Is Food?

Various names for food -- Alexis Carrel, Nobel Prize winner, quoted -- Devitalized foods -- White flour -- Refined sugar -- Pasteurized milk -- We need a better Pure Foods and Drug Act -- How children suffer from improper foods -- Potency of procreative glands in animals and plants -- How religion has bred ignorance on this subject -- What are vital food energies? -- Errors poultrymen make in feeding their flocks

FOR the purpose of blazing a straight trail to the goal of Part II -- better eggs and poultry at revolutionary low cost -- it behooves us to consider food as nourishment for plant and animal life, including man. In a general sense, everything animals eat, and plants absorb through their roots, is food. In a more strict sense, food is any solid matter taken into the systems of plants or animals which serves to build up physical structure.

A food may be extremely pleasing to the optic, olfactory and gustatory senses, yet have no more food value than a tooth pick. Much of this deception was generated in, and promulgated by, commercial and industrial interests who were selfishly seeking definite financial gain rather than preparing and marketing food stuffs with high nutritional content. While these commercial and industrial movements were heralded as being for the common good -- though nothing was said about the greater profits accruing for the sponsors! -- the benefits derived by the public are, at best, debatable.

We need not go beyond three staple foods -- bread, sugar and milk -- to bring this fact prominently to notice.

"Our life is influenced in a large measure by commercial advertising," Alexis Carrel tells us in "Man, the Unknown." "Such publicity is undertaken only in the interest of the advertisers and not of the consumers. For example, the public has been made to believe that white bread is better than brown. Then, flour has been bolted more and more thoroughly and thus deprived of its most useful components. Such treatment permits its preservation for longer periods and facilitates the making of bread. The millers and the bakers earn more money. The consumers eat an inferior product, believing it to be a superior one. And in the countries where bread is the principal food, the population degenerates. Enormous amounts of money are spent for publicity. As a result, large quantities of alimentary and pharmaceutical products, at the least useless, and often harmful, are thought to be necessary for civilized man. In this manner the greediness of individuals, sufficiently shrewd to create a popular demand for the goods that they have for sale, plays a leading part in the modern world."

Dr. Carrel's analysis of the promotion of white bread may be applied, and not inaccurately, to the popularity of refined sugar and pasteurized milk.

In the case of sugar, many of the most important elements have been refined out of the raw material, giving us a devitalized product. We know that refined sugar "looks better" on the table than raw sugar; that it is easier to shovel from the sugar bowl to the coffee cup and that it keeps indefinitely in our cupboard. These things we know, but advertising and publicity has led us to imagine refined sugar superior to raw sugar.

Pasteurized milk is the third staple which modern advertising has inveigled us into believing is superior to raw milk, regardless of the fact that pasteurization completely destroys many of the vitally important elements in milk necessary to good health.

Summed up, white flour, refined sugar and pasteurized milk are counterfeit foods passed off on a gullible and apathetic public.

A large percentage of our present day ills may rightly be traced to deficiencies in our food. Many of these deficiencies are traceable to the high-speed and high-production systems employed in modern plants concerned with the business of making, packing and canning food stuffs.

This is civilization. Perhaps the Oriental Sage was not far from the truth when he defined civilization as a deterrent to progress.

Every civilization has within itself a suicide germ. This germ is fed by collective and individual greed. It destroyed the Greek, the Chinese and the Roman civilizations, and, as we have seen in the introduction to this volume, it is gaining potency in America through the medium of monopolies. All about us on this whirling sphere national civilizations are cracking and crumbling. American civilization is cracking -- every reasoning person is cognizant of this. Will it crumble? That is a question only time will decide.

No race, no nation whose members are both physically and mentally deficient or deteriorating can stem the encroachment of racial or national destruction. And no race or nation can expect its members to increase their physical and mental development if it persists in permitting misinformation about food deficiencies to continue.

"But we have a Pure Food and Drug Act on our statute books in Washington," you say. Yes, there is such an Act, but it is as useless as a gunless submarine on the Mojave desert. If this act were rewritten, sincerely rewritten for the benefit of you and me and our children and their children's children, every sack of flour, every bag of refined sugar and every bottle of pasteurized milk would have in large letters, a statement reading something like this upon it:


But the mere mention of a truly sincere pure food and drug act sends shivers up and down the spines of the financially powerful milling, refining and kindred industries, whose leaders commit the sin of omission by refraining from telling their customers the true facts about devitalized foods.

Dr. Carrel merely brushed the surface when he wrote that "In the countries where bread is the principle food, the population degenerates."

The unnatural conditions that follow in the wake of a continued diet of devitalized foods are destined to take their toll in weaker physiques, duller mentalities and in human lives.

The current generation of children is probably suffering more from food deficiencies than the preceding generation. This is partly due to the fact that a large majority of American parents have been forced, through economic conditions, to buy cheap food, or food of which they receive quantity rather than quality.

Another important factor, mayhap the chief factor, is radio advertising. The popularity of radio has made of this medium an ideal outlet for the fancy and romantic, albeit questionable, phrases of advertising copy writers.

"Eat Whitey's Wheat Wafers and become a football star."
"Breakfast on Betty's Baked Barley Blocks and win a husband."
"Drink more Pasteurized milk and lick your weights in wildcats."
"Give the kiddies Carter's Coddled Candy Cakes and watch how quickly they grow," and so on, ad infinitum.

Radio advertising is the height of psychological suggestion. Few, indeed, are the radio fans capable of entering a drug or grocery store without leaving with a bag, package or bottle of a product their favorite radio performer says is "tops."

In the relatively pathological scramble for more business, manufacturers of food stuffs are permitted by an apparently disinterested government to flood the nation with devitalized foods for man and beast not a few of which are as valueless for nourishment as a rubber band.

This lack of necessary food elements in a growing child's diet results in the child actually gorging itself in an unconscious effort to obtain sufficient and proper nourishment. The stomach of such a child begins to distend, it is forced to distend in order to accommodate the unnatural and unreasonable amount of food is receives. In time, the child is never satisfied unless it has packed its unnaturally dilated alimentary canal until it feels, and actually is, full.

Though it is not generally known, the average American eats nearly five times more bulk than he needs. If this absurd condition continues, physiology text books in the years to come will refer to Americans as a mongrel breed of human beings noted for their Gargantuan stomachs. Certainly, this is not a complimentary prediction. Yet even today there are many stomachs distended to ten times their necessary size.

The consistent eating of dead or devitalized foods is quite probably responsible for the increasing, number of sterile men and women in America under thirty years of age.

The procreative glands, being composed of the richest elements that have been transformed by the various organs of the body, can not be supplied with those elements if they are not in the food consumed.

Continued dieting by motion picture actresses in an attempt to remain slender to meet the exaggeration of size produced by the cinematic camera have not only injured their general health, but probably their procreative glands as well. When the body can not receive sufficient elements from the food intake, it automatically turns to the procreative glands to supply the deficiency. This reservoir is eventually drained, resulting in a sterility that, more often than not, becomes chronic.

However, this reference does not mean that all normally-sized or obese women (or men) are fertile. Undue fat on the human frame does not denote health; usually it signifies the opposite. Fat-producing foods contain very insignificant amounts of the elements demanded by the procreative glands.

Except in instances where a physical abnormality is responsible, eating too much of the improper mixture of food may be rightly blamed for the supercargo of avoirdupois that is being hauled around by obese men and women.

However, human beings are not the only animals that gorge themselves. Many plants and domesticated animals glut, not because it is their nature to do so, but because their diet is deficient in one or more elements necessary for a healthful condition.

All of this may appear to be a roundabout approach to our subject -- poultry. Nevertheless, we shall presently observe that what has been said about food for human beings, aptly applies to food for all forms of life.

Let us now consider the difference between organic or live food and devitalized or dead (inorganic) food.

It is at this point that the classical bull is taken by the horns and a subject discussed that has been shunned by writers on food and food values -- the unequaled nutritional value of the procreative germ as food.

Our subject must be approached gently, for religious thinking in the past warns us that sex, in any form, is more or less taboo.

But no matter what one's religious theories may be, the fact should be accepted that life begins with sex. All living things owe their humble origin to sex, regardless of the method Nature employs in planting the fertile, procreative germ.

In this germ, infinitesimal as it is, Nature has combined all -- not one, or a few, or an incomplete group -- but all the vital necessities which, when blended with its direct opposite, produces a human being, an ant, an elephant, an orchid.

The vital qualities that are in the germ-plasm are what our bodies need. We receive one type of them when we eat wheat that has not been devitalized. Such a food is a "live" or "organic" food. When we eat bolted wheat, most, if not all, of these vital qualities are missing. Bolting has destroyed them. Such food is "dead," or "devitalized." Its nutritional value is practically nil.

Fruits, berries, nuts and all grains, if not devitalized by dehydration or cooking, are the quintessence of the richest elements from the mother plant, tree or bush.

However, these germ cells are not rich -- some are even sterile -- if the plants, like human beings, do not receive their necessary elements from their food, the soil.

The average person has no qualms about eating the germ cells of fruits, berries, nuts, grains and vegetables. Nor does he object to eating eggs, which, if fertile, contain procreative germs.

The genitals of domesticated male animals -- those whose flesh we approve as edible -- are both palatable and nourishing. Most persons balk at the mere thought of such a dish -- a delicacy when properly prepared. They will eat a fertile egg without a quibble, but make a wry face if the above dish -- colloquially known as 'lamb, sheep, pork fry," or "Rocky Mountain oyster" -- is suggested.

Carnivorous animals in their wild state will gorge themselves, not on the flesh of their kill, but upon the vital organs. Instinct instructs them that they will procure the most nourishing elements from these organs for their bodies.

Rodents in a wild state are not interested in eating the lifeless leaves of plants. They live almost exclusively on grains, kernels, berries and seeds.

Are we to assume from these natural facts that wild beasts and rodents have "more sense" than we? Certainly, from the light of present-day eating, we would not be far wrong were we to admit their superiority in the matter of eating what is nourishing and what is not nourishing food.

Poultrymen are committing a grievous error in feeding their flocks tons of devitalized foods annually. Within their grasp is enough vital food to bring them greater profits, more productive hens and more fertile eggs.

How this germ-food for poultry and game birds is acquired is the subject of the next chapter.

Lesson 2

The Germ Life and Better Poultry

"Acquired richness" explained -- The parable of two chickens -- Live food versus dead food -- Bacteria, good and bad -- Nature destroys so that she can build -- Dr. William Shakespeare Baer, American physician, "discovers" curative powers of fly maggots -- Medical profession fought him -- Why we abhor the word maggots -- How germs evolve -- The bluebottle fly

IN this chapter, the second forward step toward better poultry through natural foods, we shall move along lines similar to those discussed in the preceding chapter.

This method of approach may appear unnecessary, but the writer's experience in these matters prompts him to dally a little so that the reader may have time to construct a foundation from which to visualize the method expounded here of producing healthier and more prolific poultry.

As we have already seen, the procreative cells of all animals and plants are extraordinarily rich in vital elements. Many other parts of edible animals and plants may be (many are) rich in food elements, but this richness is not necessarily native to the animal or plant. It is an acquired richness and comes from the food the animal or plant subsists upon during its life.

It might be well here to describe briefly what is meant by "acquired richness."

Let us visualize two chickens. One is penned up in an ordinary yard. The soil is dry and dusty. The food fed this chicken is one of a number of commercialized poultry feeds, most of which are, as we have seen in the last chapter, devitalized. The other chicken is turned loose near the dairy. All day it scratches and pecks in the decomposed animal matter piled nearby. The owner of such a hen need not spend money for commercial feed.

The first chicken is suffering from food deficiency, whether its owner realizes it or not. The second chicken is enjoying a full life, replete with a balanced, natural ration of food from which its entire physical system draws potent nourishment.

How do we account for this? Simply by realizing the fact that the chicken pecking in the manure pile has been eating live food, the other, dead food.

That one of these foods is dead, the other alive, is easily demonstrated by taking a shovelful of each and planting it. The shovelful from the manure pile will, in due time, send up sprouts of grain, depending upon that eaten by the animal that dropped it, for not all live grain germs are destroyed by the animal's digestive system -- not even in the dual systems of ruminants.

On the other hand, the shovelful of dry soil, being void of any form of plant germ life, returns nothing for the effort expended in planting it.

The foregoing example brings us again to organic (living) and inorganic (lifeless) matter. Both the dry, dusty soil in the chicken yard and the pile of manure back of the dairy barn are scientifically classified as inorganic matter.

However, there is considerable life in manure. It contains millions and millions of bacteria, which, as every one knows, are infinitesimal organisms. Bacteria are also known as microbes and germs.

At this point the reader should accept the fact that there are beneficial as well as dangerous bacteria. Some of these, according to the germ theorists of the medical fraternity, are disease germs and will, if left alone, produce illness and death.

Probably man's greatest handicap in this (so-called) enlightened age is not so much the general ignorance that is prevalent regarding Nature and her methods as it is the misinformation and misapplication of known facts, which some "authorities" distort to their personal and collective financial gain.

That certain bacteria are destructive to animal and plant tissues is a fact -- a natural fact -- but Nature, in her own definitely evolutionary and omniscient way, has developed other bacteria to defeat the dangerous inroads of destructive bacteria. This is one form of the law of preservation. Were Nature to develop one bacterium, one small insignificantly-sized germ, without also developing an enemy to keep it under control, entire species of animals and plants would pass from this planet.

Once destruction appears in living matter, if Nature can not combat it, she appears to hasten its ruin. The result is ultimate death. And even here she does not stem her onward march to destruction. Decomposition is rapid in most instances of dead, once organic matter, for Nature is anxious to prepare that matter for consumption by other living bodies. This cycle is aptly condensed by the late Ambrose Bierce, the immortal San Franciscan, who probably deserves a posthumous peerage in the realm of American satirists, when he described "Edible" in his Cynic's Dictionary as "good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm."

(It is worth a parenthetical note here to say that only the lifeless remains of once living matter decays and decomposes rapidly. Inorganic matter, like rocks, for example, do decay and ultimately decompose, but the process is slow and drawn-out, lasting thousands of years. The reason for this is explained when we realize that Nature can put such inorganic matter to little use as food for her various species).

Bacteria, good and bad, have their place and their function in the laws governing all living things.

These minute creatures are everywhere; in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we plough. Without them, you and I would not be here. We -- all living animals -- feed, to a greater or lesser degree, on plants. Plants in their turn, feed upon water, carbon dioxide and the nitrogens and other salts.

We know where plants receive their needed water and carbon dioxide, and we should know that they receive their necessary nitrogenous salts from but one source -- bacteria -- and that bacteria, in their turn, receive their necessary nourishment from a few minerals.

In short, bacteria are the beginning of animation, of life. Beyond bacteria is inanimate matter, lifeless rocks and colloidal substances.

So we see that the chicken pecking in the manure pile has a veritable storehouse of living food, countless trillions of minute bacteria, rich in the necessary food values its feathered body demands.

In rich soil, too, soil moistened adequately with water, countless other trillions of bacteria exist. The eminent naturalist, David Starr Jordan, has pointed out that he has found over four million (4,000,000) bacteria in one gram of such soil.

Let us now return to the procreative germ, the germ of life produced in healthy, mature animals and plants. This germ is the rudimentary element, the primary source of everything that lives, the earliest stage of an organism, the cause, origin, principle and prime mover of all life.

Though science has discovered many interesting and astonishing things about germs -- both procreative and bacterial -- there still remains much to be learned about these minute organisms, many of which are so infinitesimal that they are barely visible under a strong, microscopic lens.

Until the World War period, the maggots or larvae of flies were considered as filthy and disease-bearing as any creature known to man.

It was the late William Shakespeare Baer, an American M.D. working with the French forces, who first came upon the bacteria-destroying ability of fly maggots.

Two poilus were brought to the hospital where Dr. Baer was stationed. They had lain for a week behind bushes, minus food and water. Each had a thigh horribly smashed, and the shattered bones protruded through the skins, and the wounds extended into each abdomen. According to all medical science of the day, both men should have been dead. Yet they were alive, conscious and hungry.

When Dr. Baer examined these men, he found their wounds a teeming mass of fly maggots. When he cleaned them away, the flesh and bones were bright and clear and healthy. There was not the slightest trace of a disease-bearing germ anywhere in the wounds. The fly maggots had destroyed them.

With the passing of years, Dr. Baer experimented with fly maggots. He worked on the theory that they were more efficient workmen than the finest surgeon with all his modern sanitary methods, sterilized instruments, operations and amputations.

Naturally, such a theory did not set well with certain members of his profession, but Dr. Baer cared little about them. He thought of the two French soldiers, of how they lived when they should have been dead, and of the hundreds of children suffering from osteomyelitis, a pernicious rotting of bone marrow and bone structure.

In the Children's Hospital in Baltimore, of which he was the head, Dr. Baer bred fly maggots and placed them in the openings he made in the afflicted flesh. Against what appeared to be concerted objections by the medical fraternity, he carried on his work. He fought strenuously against those whose aversion to anything new or revolutionary is common knowledge.

And Dr. Baer cured those children -- or, rather, the maggots of flies cured them!

Though the story of Dr. Baer's work and struggle deserves considerable space, there is, unfortunately, no room for it here. Suffice it therefore, to conclude that fly maggots are used extensively today by the medical fraternity as destroyers of many disease germs, all of which proves the point desired, i. e., that many destructive germs can be destroyed by other germs if we but give these friendly germs a chance to work for us.

For centuries the medical profession has been teaching the general public to scowl at the mention of the word "maggot." Accordingly, the average person has generated both an aversion and a hate for the word. One may actually question if its use in polite society is permissible. To the average mind, "maggot" is synonymous with filth, offal, danger and disease.

And now the medical profession finds itself in the ludicrous position of expounding something it has hitherto warned against.

Appreciating the general dislike for the word "maggot," it will appear from now on in this work under its other name, larva.

Thousands of germs never pass the germ stage. That is to say, certain germs live and die as germs. Others go through varied forms of evolution. All germs begin life as single cells. Those that are destined by Nature to evolve into a higher plane, join another germ.

Nature employs a variety of systems to perform the task of impregnation. In higher animals, including man, the single male and female germs blend and produce the embryo. Here, the evolution of the single cell germ is made in one remarkable step.

In certain insects, the fleshfly, for example, the change from the procreative germ to the living, ultimate fly is performed by a circuitous route.

The fleshfly, of which the bluebottle is probably the best known, lays her eggs, many hundreds of them, in decayed or decaying animal flesh. In from two to three days these eggs hatch into small, white worms or larvae. In time, a sort of shell or cocoon forms around the worm. It enters a dormant period, during which the former worm is being slowly transformed into a fly. Upon the completion of the transformation, a full-grown bluebottle appears.

It is the intermediate stage that spans the egg to the fly with which we are especially concerned, and in a later chapter it will be referred to again at some length.

Thought, immaterial though it may be, is the matrix that shapes the issues of life. The mind has been active in all fields during this fruitful century, but it is to science we must look for the thoughts that have shaped all thinking.
-- Selected.

Lesson 3

Economical Poultry Housing

Poultry business in California -- Brief background of poultry colonies -- Promises made by promoters -- Poultry housing costs -- Buildings designed by "experts" -- Cost exorbitant -- Modern hennery simple to build -- Cuts housing cost down from one-tenth to one-thirtieth of general cost -- Better chance for profits when poultry housing investment is low

IN California, particularly Southern California (and in other sections of the United States to a lesser degree), there are acres and acres of empty and dilapidated poultry houses. These slowly disintegrating buildings are the ghosts of the dreams of thousands of individuals who "got the bug" to enter the poultry business and make a fortune "selling eggs." Crumbling, grim reminders of individual tragedies, they stand today as potent examples of what usually results from get-rich-quick schemes.

And, in addition to these ghosts of misapplied dreams, California is dotted with the decaying remains of poultry colonies, those highly-touted, co-operative organizations with the magnetic slogan "One for All and All for One." Usually this plagiarism from Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" proved beneficial to but one, and that one was the promoter. Gullible prospects invested in these colonies for a few dollars down, the balance to be paid from the profits made from the poultry.

Great, indeed, have been the glowing promises made to potential poultry farmers, especially in Southern California. The ghost towns of the gold regions of the state are insignificant in number when compared with the ghost poultry farms in Los Angeles County alone.

It appears safe to state that a vast percentage of those failures was due to an unnecessarily high cost of housing the poultry as well as the high cost of feeding.

This chapter deals with the problem of housing the poultry economically. In the following chapter the problem of feeding poultry economically will be discussed.

According to so-called scientific methods, housing poultry runs from one to three dollars per bird. These henneries are frequently designed by "authorities," but when these "experts" are investigated, one usually discovers that they are men who have never raised a chick, and while these houses appear attractively practical, they lack much that a poultryman needs if he expects to make a profit on his investment.

The cost of these poultry buildings range from one thousand to three thousand dollars and are intended to house up to a few thousand birds. Considering the maximum returns from eggs and meat birds, such an investment is definitely out of proportion.

All of this probably sounds fantastic to the average active poultryman; yet, if he is honest with himself, he will agree that simple mathematics prove the fallacy of such an investment for poultry housing.

I am personally acquainted with many active poultrymen. They are hardworking, conscientious men, laboring an average of twelve full hours every day of the year, including Sundays and holidays.

Some of these men have sound, healthy flocks. Their business should show a net profit of from one to two dollars per bird per year. Many of them keep no books and can not come within fifty per cent of accurately estimating what it costs them to produce one dozen eggs.

I have discussed poultry housing costs with the most successful of these men and none of them have taken issue with me when I said that any poultryman whose housing costs run to one dollar a bird -- which is probably an average cost -- must face the undeniable fact that, from eggs alone, a hen will spend her entire life paving for her housing.

It is my contention, and I hope to satisfactorily set forth enough facts in this volume to substantiate this belief, that any poultryman whose housing cost runs above fifty cents per bird is destined to ultimate failure unless he is financially able to forget the interest due him on his original investment.

But, you will say, you have been told that in a couple of years you will have paid off the original investment in the building or buildings out of the profits of the business.

Let us figure this profit.

Out of the revenue brought in by the hens, after deducting for the mortality, feed, wages, water and whatnot, one must consider the original cost of the flock, taxes, insurance and interest on the money invested in the ground space used, and whatever is left may then be applied on the original housing cost.

One can readily understand how long it would take a hen to pay her housing bill of from one to three dollars, assuming that the net profit of the hen (that is, the amount over and above the expense of her general upkeep) should be from one to two dollars per year. It is easily understood that the struggle to meet this indebtedness is usually extended over a period of several years -- if the poultryman lasts that long.

Let us concern ourselves now with the writer's idea of a wholly practical and extremely economical hennery.

Let us assume that we have approximately 400 square feet of land available for use for a hen house. On this we shall construct a hennery for the housing of 100 fowls.

In shape, our hen house may be square, rectangular, round, hexagon or any shape suitable for the space to be used.

The construction of the hennery is simple. It may be built where it is to be placed, or in sections in the workshop. The material used is reasonably priced -- and new material need not be used if other suitable material is at hand. This consists of lath -- or batting if stronger construction is required -- one by two inch boards and wider boards for the bases. Half inch pipe sufficient to supply water, some wire netting and a small amount of hardware complete the building requirements.

Including labor costs, whether of your own or those of a handy man, the total cost of such a hennery should be in the neighborhood of fifteen dollars -- or fifteen cents per hen! [With prices differing in various sections of the United States for chickens, and with certain breeds running higher than others, the writer at no time attempts to include an estimate of the cost of the flock.]

This fifteen cents per bird is a surprising figure, as any active poultryman will agree. It is from one-tenth to one-thirtieth of accepted poultry-housing figures -- and it should take the hen from one-tenth to one-thirtieth as long to pay for it!

Some years ago the writer constructed a hennery to prove to skeptics that his theory regarding hen houses and poultry feeding was practical. No effort was made, nor was it intended, to make this hen house anything but an experimental and demonstrational enclosure. Nonetheless, it definitely and conclusively proved its worth and admirably demonstrated the fact that better poultry can be successfully raised in compact confinement.

The reader should not jump at the conclusion that this type of hen house requires the elimination of a "scratching shed" or "run yard" beyond the confines of the hennery proper. If space is available, it may be used, especially if the poultryman insists his hens need more room for exercise.

What is inside this small, compact, yet wholly practical hennery? Having a clearance from ground to latticed roof of but two feet, there can not be much room for anything, you may contend.

But there is all the room needed when the hens are scientifically fed.

I can best describe the "furnishings" of this hennery by taking the reader into the next chapter, for here the interior of the hen house is tied in tightly with the feeding of the poultry what I am pleased to call "Intensive Range."

Table of Contents
Part I
-- Introduction
Lesson 1 -- History of the Earthworm
Lesson 2 -- The Habits of the Earthworm
Lesson 3 -- Habits of the Newly Developed Earthworm
Lesson 4 -- Potential Markets for Earthworms
Part II -- Introduction
Lesson 1 -- What Is Food?
Lesson 2 -- The Life Germ and Better Poultry
Lesson 3 -- Economical Poultry Housing

Lesson 4 -- The Interior of the Economical Hennery
Lesson 5 -- Intensive Range
Lesson 6 -- Putting the Bluebottle Fly to Work
Part III -- Introduction
Lesson 1 -- Natural and Man-Made Enemies of the Earthworm
Lesson 2 -- The Trout Farmer's Problem
Lesson 3 -- Feeding Problem of the Frog Farmer
Lesson 4 -- Housing the Earthworm Stock
Lesson 5 -- General Care and Feeding of Earthworms

My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm
Eve Balfour on Earthworms
Albert Howard on Earthworms
The Housefly

See also:
Vermicomposting resources

Community development | Rural development
City farms | Organic gardening | Composting | Small farms | Biofuel | Solar box cookers
Trees, soil and water | Seeds of the world | Appropriate technology | Project vehicles

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