Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time Travel & Farm Inflation

Lately, I've had a funny feeling that in some ways I'm traveling back in time. It has been a slow process, but here I am with six baby chicks in my garage. It all began innocently enough when I got my first bread machine nearly twenty years ago (I'm on my fourth one now). I know it's kind of cheating, but I do make my own bread from scratch at the rate of about a loaf a week. After I got married we started a garden (something new for me). A few years ago I took up home canning to preserve our tomatoes and make pickles, among other things. This year, my husband wanted to try raising chickens (for the eggs) so here I am with 6 rapidly growing chicks in the garage.

Now, I can compare notes with my grandmother, well, with her notes anyway. She kept log books with purchases for the house and garden. Here is a sample.

I found notes on my grandma's chickens for years between the mid-1940s and the early 1960s. As you can imagine, prices have increased in the past seventy or so years. In 1949 my grandma bought 50 chicks (presumably unsexed) for $7. We purchased 6 female chicks for about $18. 100 lbs. of starting mash for the chicks cost $4.10 in 1949 versus $8 for a 20 lb. bag of feed now. In 1949, I also found entries for building a chicken coop. For $53.25 my grandmother bought 650 feet of sheeting and 241 2x4s. Eleven pounds of nails cost a mere $0.80. We haven't built a coop yet, but I can guarantee it will cost more than my grandmother paid.

My grandma kept chickens for two reasons: for the eggs and the meat (chicken dinner every Sunday). While I'm willing to try raising chickens for the eggs I'm not quite ready to kill my own chickens. After all, a city girl has to draw the line somewhere.


  1. I love this post, Sonja! Your grandmother was so organized!

    1. Thanks! My grandma had to make every penny count so she kept careful track of everything. Paging through the books provides an interesting glimpse into her life, if only from a narrow perspective. I'm so glad they were saved after she died.