Chicken Farming—The Way It Really Was—REALLY!

by Ray Pennock, June 1999

So you have all studied history and know all there is to know about the history of the chicken farms and early Alderwood Manor!  Certainly the number of chicken houses that were built, the thousands of baby chicks and their incubators are well documented.  The millions of nourishing eggs that were produced is also legendary.  And the fryers—well, no picnic could possibly be called a success without three or four ladies bringing delicious servings of fried chicken.  End of story?  A fitting summary of what replaced the giant virgin fir and cedar trees in South Snohomish County?

Let’s get real.  The time—the late 20s, 30s, and 40s.  The specific locale—176th SW then known as Hemlock Road.  One chicken rancher and active Cedar Valley Grange member—Horace Perry—produced all kinds of eggs and chickens for many years.  But that wasn’t the primary tonnage that moved along 176th—it was chicken manure!  Oh, there were other chicken houses along 176th, you can rest assured, all anxious to move that ever-increasingly high, stinking mess of chicken – – – -.  Gardens of the individual chicken farmers could absorb some of the manure, but rather typically, the pile kept spreading, stinking and oozing out where the kids shoes found it tracked all into the house.  But the community had some noble neighbors.  Lots of fruit was also grown in South Snohomish County.  Now if the chicken farmer could just convince the fruit farmer that the chicken – – – – was just what his fruit trees or bushes needed . . .

And so SW 176th found tons and tons of heavy chicken manure moved along its surface.  Regularly.  Oh, what a nice smile was on the wife of a chicken farmer when a load moved out of their yard!  And it sure did produce some great fruit.  And as every farm youngster remembers—what a dirty, stinking job those chickens produced!