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									       JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY

SHENANDOAH VALLEY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT




           Oral History Interview
                    With

          CHARLES W. MILLER


          By: TIM VAN SCHAICK

        BRIDGEWATER, VIRGINIA

             APRIL 12, 2007
                                                                                            2


                      JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY:
                SHENANDOAH VALLEY ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

General Topic of the Interview: Mr. Miller’s experiences with developing a poultry
industry in the Shenandoah Valley and tracing its development through forty years. Also
discussed are the changed in poultry companies in the area.

NARRATOR: CHARLES W. MILLER
DATE: APRIL 12, 2007
INTERVIEWER: TIM VAN SCHAICK
PLACE: MR. MILLER’S RESIDENCE, BRIDGEWATER, VA.

PERSONAL DATA
Birthdate: July 10, 1932.
Spouse: Thelma, married ten years
Occupation: Farmer, semi-retired.


                                       BIOGRAPHY
Mr. Miller’s family has owned the house he grew up in for many generations. After
attending Virginia Tech and gaining a B.S. in Agricultural Education, and working as a
weather observer for two years in the United States Air Force, Mr. Miller returned to his
family home to pursue turkey farming, as well as teaching industrial arts and agriculture
at Elkton and Turner Ashby. He built his first confinement house in 1966 in a joint
venture with his brother Willard. They built three more in the 1970s before they
dissolved their partnership, and the operation now consists of three confinement houses
for raising mature birds.


                            INTERVIEWER’S COMMENTS




                                     KEY WORDS
                                                                                           3


                  Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project
Transcription of Interview with Charles Miller on April 12, 2007at Mr. Miller’s
residence.

TV: Initials of Tim Van Schaick.
CM: Initials of Mr. Charles Miller
TM: Initials of Mrs. Thelma Miller

TV: Before we start, I just wanted to make sure that you fully understand the assignment,
and that you’ve consented to being interviewed and you’ve read over the consent form
and signed it and at the end of the interview we can review it and you can choose whether
of not to sign a release form. Is that correct?

CM: Yes.

TV: Okay. What is your full name?

CM: Charles William Miller.

TV: When and where were you born?

CM: I was born (clears throat) on this farm near Spring Creek, Virginia, July the tenth,
1932.

TV: What are your mother’s and – mother and father’s names?

CM: My father was Roy Forrest Miller and my mother was Hallie May Wine Miller(??).

TV: What were their professions?

CM: He was a farmer and she was a housewife.

TV: Okay. Were you an only child? Did you have-

CM: No, I have one brother. He’s still living. His health is in rather bad shape.

TV: Really? What’s his name?

CM: Willard Miller.

TV: Willard. Is he older or younger than you?

CM: Three years older.

TV: Okay. You grew up on this farm?
                                                                                          4



CM: Yes.

TV: Okay. You mentioned earlier that um- you grew up during the Depression. Can you
remember anything about what that was- what it was like just being younger?

CM: Yes. It probably affected more than we really realized because my father was deeply
in debt and all of his life he was very concerned about borrowing money and spending
money, that he did not want to go through another depression. He did not want to
accumulate debts and that type of thing. We did some, but it was sort of hard for him to
accept.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: The Depression really, it was really tough on people, and you just can’t realize what
it is to be just right on the bottom and barely getting the necessities of life.

TV: Were your neighbors having similar problems –?

CM: Oh yeah, just about everybody during the depression. That was – today’s young
people would not have any comprehension because, I mean, you – I had almost no toys
and that kind of thing. You worked from the time you were old enough to do something.

TV: My grandfather grew up in the Bronx during the Depression, and he told us so many
stories about just – he had eight siblings and they just didn’t have anything.

CM: That’s right. We had food. You grew your food, for the most part. But it was just
pretty tough, and of course he had built a house and bought some land and was – he
wasn’t any worse off than a lot of people, but he was a good manager. You had to be
thrifty.

TV: What was – your father was a farmer. What did he primarily grow on the farm?

CM: We had a sixty-acre orchard, apple orchard, and beef cattle to begin with, and some
poultry. We always seemed to have poultry, and the poultry was expanded. The apples
went out in – oh probably the late fifties, early sixties, we cut back the orchard.

TV: Okay. Where did you attend your schooling? From elementary –

CM: My first three years I walked to Spring Creek, which was a little over a mile.

TV: A mile? Okay.

CM: The rest of my elementary school and high school was at Bridgewater High School,
Bridgewater Elementary and High School. I went to – I had my B.S. from Virginia Tech
in Agricultural Education.
                                                                                            5



TV: Um- hm

CM: I went to school for seven years. One year of agriculture, two of industrial arts,
which you probably don’t have any idea what that’s about.

TV: No.

CM: -and four years of science. Industrial Arts was just a very practical, general school
thing where they taught shop. They taught you how to use hand tools and other shop
equipment – things that everybody ought to know how to use. But it didn’t qualify for all
of the new type of stuff, and I thought it was one of the most practical courses in the
school.

TV: Did you learn a lot in that class that you didn’t, hadn’t already learned growing up?

CM: Yeah, and I learned a lot in that from – of course I was teaching it, but I started out
in ag[ricultural] education, and with that they had a whole room – well equipped shop,
and you had to be able to use, demonstrate, adjust, all of that equipment and that’s where
I really learned it and then industrial arts put a different emphasis on it – approached it
from a different angle. Of course the agriculture is things you used in agriculture.
Industrial arts was things you used ornamental and various other things. Leather and
ornamental iron, wood projects. But it was a real practical course – things that you would
use.

TV: When you were going to high school in Bridgewater, how far away is that from
here?

CM: About five miles. I rode a bus.

TV: You rode a bus? Okay. When, I’m sorry I’m jumping around. When did you
graduate from high school and then from Virginia Tech?

CM: Forty-nine. Virginia Tech, I graduated in fifty-five.

TV: Okay. I know we talked about this already, but you said you were married
previously?

CM: I married Phyllis Moffet. This was my first wife. We were married in fifty-six, and
we were married for thirty-eight years thereabouts. Married while I was in the Air Force.

TV: When were you in the Air Force?

CM: In fifty-seven, fifty-eight.

TV: Okay, and where –
                                                                                             6



CM: Stationed at Bowling Field, Washington, D.C.

TV: What did you do there?

CM: I was a weather observer?

TV: Sorry?

CM: Weather observer.

TV Weather observer, okay. And do you have any children? If so, what are their names
and how old are they now?

CM: Okay, Forrest Miller, William Forrest Miller, and he is forty-nine. And Frederick
Page Miller – he is forty-five – he’s either forty-four right now and he’ll be forty-five this
year.

TV: Okay. And you’re currently married to Thelma?

CM: Thelma. Her original name was Wolfe and Hall. Her first husband was Lucient Hall
(??)

TV: And how did you two meet?

CM: Well, we originally – her husband was teaching in Elkton when I taught down there,
and we knew each other but not all that well. Later, when they moved back from
Richmond up to back here and we went to the same church.

TV: So after you were in the Air Force, what did you do from there? Did you move back
to this area?

CM: Yeah, I came on back home and went to farming.

TV: Okay. You also mentioned that you were teaching at Elkton?

CM: Right. I started farming and I – after I was back a little while, they called me. They
needed somebody to teach agriculture at Elkton until they could get another teacher. It
ended up I stayed for the year and went back to Tech again and got certified in – didn’t
get certified, but I took the basics for Industrial Arts and a position opened up at Turner
Ashby [High School]. So I taught two years of agriculture. My father came down with
tuberculosis and so I stopped teaching and he went to the sanitorium and came back. He
recovered pretty well, so I went back to teaching and I lacked one or three hours of being
certified for teaching science, so I went to Madison [College, Harrisonburg] and took a
course in geology, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
                                                                                          7


TV: Did you enjoy teaching?

CM: Yeah, I did. I learned that you don’t have two full time jobs at the same time, and
you don’t keep them (laughs).

TV: While this was going on, you were also actively farming.

CM: Oh yeah. I was living here and we remodeled this house. It was in pretty bad shape.
Dad was back then too, so he was doing some of it and we weren’t pushing farming.
Farming wasn’t paying all that well, but we had beef cattle and some poultry.

[Pause in Interview]

TV: Okay. I guess we’ll move on and talk a little bit about your work as a poultry farmer.
How long have you been a poultry farmer? How long you would say you’ve been
involved?

CM: Almost all my life.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Well, when I stopped teaching, we built our first- that would have been in sixty-six,
we built our first grow out house – confinement house. They were new. This was one of
the first ones that was built. It was fifty by two hundred twenty four feet and pole
construction, and then in 1969 we built three more houses. And then seventy-one,
seventy-two, my brother and I were partners at that time and we later dissolved the
partnership. But that’s the time I was really active in it. The other time growing up, dad
was doing the managing and all of that.

TV: Before you had confinement houses, were the turkeys – was it turkeys or chickens?

CM: We have over the years – we have gone through the whole works. My dad had
raised laying hens.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: - for Jordan Brothers Hatchery. We had broiler houses. He built a twenty-four by a
hundred broiler house, and then at one time we converted that and the laying house to
laying hens for eggs, for commercial eggs. Then we used that house for broilers and
laying hens, and then we got into the turkeys. With the broiler house, we – or the laying
house which was converted back to starting again. We started raising turkeys and then we
put them on range. With that we originally had barrels that we put out that had a hog
water with a float on it that the turkeys drank out of. You’d have a tank on a wagon that
you would take out and fill the water. Feeders were homemade, built with roofs on them,
but the roof would flop up and you could fill them. They held ten or twelve bags of feed.
You started out with feed in bags and later we got a little auger, a piece of auger
                                                                                          8


equipment that would handle the feed in bulk, and so that saved a good bit of work. Then
we finally went to confinement, but we raised them on range for quite a while. I
remember one time we had just put turkeys out, I guess it’s early in the spring, and we
got one heck of a snow. And we lost just a pile of them because they would get in the
snow and that one bird would step on the next one’s head and drown him (laughs). But
you just- there wasn’t anything you could do about it.

TV: When you built the first confinement house, what were you growing at that time?
Was it broilers?

CM: It was turkeys.

TV: Okay, turkeys.

[Pause in Interview]

TV: So you said that your operation kind of switched. You had the first confinement
house in 1966, and then three more in the seventies?

CM: Yeah, in sixty-nine, we built three at one time. We were raising Rocco then, so I
guess we got involved in the contract business while we were still raising turkeys on a
range.

TV: Before you were in the contract business, who would you give your turkeys to?

CM: Well, I think we just probably – I don’t remember if dad started out on his own or
not, but it used to be that you could sell birds to Marvel or Spencer’s it was before that.
But early on, we financed the turkeys and the chickens, but after you’ve got into the
turkey business, the companies started financing because we didn’t have much money
and this was a chance to save borrowing a tremendous amount of money because you get
a lot of money in a flock of birds. And so that’s one reason we went into that and that’s
caught on pretty fast. And so we were raising with Rocco at that time.

TV: Other people in the area were building confinement houses too?

CM: Yeah, it was just getting started.

TV: Okay.

CM: Yeah.

TV: Can we walk through a little bit how the birds you were raising changed over time?
You said you’ve done a lot of different kinds of birds?

CM: Yeah, the turkeys. We started out with bronze turkeys. I can’t tell you what the
weights were, but they would – we would raise them up on range to a certain place and
                                                                                          9


then they’d come in and take the – catch the hens. Then they would come back later after
the toms got bigger and catch the toms. After we got into the houses, of course, this got
you out of the weather, which was quite important really. Because you could get some
really bad situations – snow, and Hurricane Hazel came through when they were still on
the range, and we just almost lost all of them.

TV: Really?

CM: Yeah, we had them in an old apple orchard, and they got under the apples trees and
just piled right on.

TV: Wow. What are some of the advantages of confinement housing versus free-range?

CM: Well, one is you control temperature. You can (clears throat) control your weather.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: You can have permanent feeders and permanent waters and so you go to
automation. That of course saves a tremendous amount of labor. Your growing conditions
are better. You can control just about anything. And medication, when that happens, is
easier to administer. They are definitely in a much dryer place, because on the range,
whatever the weather was, they had to live in it. We had shelters out there, but they only
did so well. You would have the disadvantage of having to bed your turkeys – put down
bedding and clean out after and all of that. That takes a good bit of time.

TV: What involves laying down bedding?

CM: Well, you’d buy sawdust or shavings is basically what it is. You would put in
several inches in the house. Just depends on the equipment you have as to how you would
go about doing that. Nowadays we put it on a manure spreader and just run it off through
the house and that will hold some.

TV: Okay. Before you had confinement houses, would you range turkeys year round?
Could you do that during the -?

CM: No, just the summer.

TV: Just the summer?

CM: You got a bunch ready to go on range about the time in the spring, and you’d finish
those out. I’m thinking we’d run two bunches during the year.

TV: Two? Okay.

CM: Yeah.
                                                                                          10


TV: How many can you do with the confinement house in a year?

CM: Well, you range them – you run them all year long. Just depends on the size of the
house and the size of the birds you are dealing with.

TV: Um-hm. So the first house that you built in sixty-six, how many turkeys could you fit
in there? Do you remember?

CM: Right now, we’re putting in about thirty-four hundred – thirty-four or five hundred.
And the ones we built in sixty-nine, the starting house, you could start ten thousand five
hundred in it. Of course you had smaller equipment and didn’t take the room, then you
moved them out in the three finishing houses, and those we built were designed for about
thirty-five hundred. The first house we built is just a little smaller than the next ones.

TV: Okay. So at this point you have five – is it five turkey houses?

CM: I have four. I had a starting house and three finishing houses. And now that has
changed. We no longer start the turkeys on the farm, but they bring them in at five weeks.
The reason being, they did not want to ages, different ages of turkeys on the farm because
of the chance of spreading disease. So when you move the turkeys out of the starting
house, your starting house stayed empty until after those turkeys were sold. And then
those houses stayed empty until you got the next bunch of birds out of the starting house.
And so as it is we’ve just closed down the starting house and are using the other three,
and they bring them in at five weeks. And so you have a week’s – theoretically you have
a weeks’ interval that the houses are not filled.

TV: But I’m sure you have to clean the houses during those weeks.

CM: Yeah, you have to clean them. Yeah, not completely usually. They usually
completely clean them once every year or once every two years depending on the
situation.

TV: Okay. Can we just walk through a typical day? Let’s say there are turkeys that are
just growing. What time would you usually get up in the morning and what time would
you go to bed?

CM: Right now, I’m, we’ll say semi-retired. And I don’t get up as early as I used to. I get
up about at 6:30, eat breakfast and go up and walk through the turkey house. It’s the first
thing you do in the day. You have to – you check water and feed and you walk
completely through the turkey house and pick up any dead ones and note anything that is
– that might be wrong. You have fountains breaking down. You check ventilation,
ventilate them. Then dispose of the dead. Then you would do that by composting them
now. Then I generally, if the weather is decent, if there’s no reason to go through them in
particular, I check them again right at noon. Then once again make sure that the feeders
and waterers are working. I don’t necessarily walk through the houses at that time but
you look in and see that the ventilation is what it should be or you adjust anything of that
                                                                                             11


nature and then do the same in the evening. Normally if everything is working well, that
is pretty much it, but you have medications and times that you need to do them. You need
to keep up with medication or if there’s anything that is amiss you have to go in and fix
it, but very often things work very smoothly until you get sickness and that type of thing.

TV: Um-hm. When did the automation start coming in with turkey houses?

CM: We got automation on the first house in sixty-six.

TV: Okay. Automatic feeders and automatic waters?

CM: That’s right. The waterers came in – waterers go on back. It wasn’t – as soon as you
were able to have water pressure and a source of water, you went to the automatic
waterers. Of course when you went to any numbers at all. Numbers is the key. You don’t
want to carry but so much water.

TV: Uh-hm.

CM: So in sixty-six we had our feeders – we had hanging feeders on a track. And the
track, the hanging feeder moved, and you filled from a bulk tank with a flexible hose as
they went by. Then we got the auto – somebody came up with the automatic feeders and
the flexible augers that filled them and that’s the way it’s still going on now.

TV: Have you ever had problems with diseases?

CM: Oh yeah. This is a part of it. We had probably more on the range. I remember one
time we got cholera, and boy it just went right through them. And of course birds fly
from one flock of turkeys to the next. Birds like turkey feed too. And they just spread it
right around. You had a problem with foxes. They enjoy turkey, a turkey meal. In fact,
the county had a fox trapper basically to help the farmers. He’d come around and catch
them if you had trouble.

TV: The fox trapper came to your farm?

CM: Yeah, Walter Leavell(??). He use to come in. He’s able to think like a fox and he
knew where to set the traps and how to set them to fool the fox. It’s quite an art. You just
don’t set a trap and hope he’ll step in. But diseases are always with you and of course
when the birds are out on range you probably – they have a whole lot more exposure to
other birds. Birds like to go to those feeders and eat, and they put droppings in there.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: -in the feed and in and one thing and another, so it’s a good place to spread disease.
And of course you can control that a whole lot better in houses. We’ve had, let’s see,
we’ve had – I can’t tell you the year. We had A.I [Avian Influenza] not too many years
ago that we had to depopulate. We’ve had some pretty good losses as far as diseases are
                                                                                          12


concerned at one time or another. One time I was working on the fans in a couple of the
houses where Forrest is, and as I put the cover back on the breaker box, I hit the main
circuit breaker and it went off, and I didn’t catch that. And we came back and we lost
about seventeen hundred or something like that at that time. They were probably four
weeks old, something like that. Just very little things you just have to be very careful
about.

TV: What does depopulating involve? When you said you had to depopulate at one
point?

CM: Yeah, well of course they just did this in West Virginia.

TV: Okay.

CM: To depopulate, when you have something like A.I. that could mutate into something
that would affect humans, you have to go in and kill the turkeys. Over in West Virginia
they had a new type of machine they used to kill them with. It was some type of a foam
machine, and that broke down, so they sent to New Jersey for another one, but when we
depopulated, they put up oh, about a four-foot fence – wire fence. Drove the turkeys into
this area where it was – they were crowded. They weren’t packed.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: They put plastic sheet over that and then they used carbon dioxide, cylinders of
carbon dioxide. Open the cylinders, and in five minutes the birds were dead. It’s painless.
It really – it’s one of those things that’s simple to do. I think we’re – sometimes we get
overanxious on some of these things. In fact when A.I. first came out in the mid west, and
what we have in Virginia it was treated. They did all this depopulation, and I don’t know
if you were around at that time, but a lot of farms depopulated when they had A.I. But in
the Midwest they treated the birds and they got over it and that was it. You just don’t like
to say this out loud, but you have to wonder a little bit about our approach.

TV: How many birds were depopulated at the time you said?

CM: Oh (pause) I guess it was (pause) Did Forrest tell you anything on the matter, or say
anything on the matter?

TV: I haven’t gotten to listen to his interview yet.

CM: Oh, okay. I guess it was probably toward ten thousand. I’m not certain on that.

TV: Okay.

CM: I wasn’t – this has been sort of since he was managing it, but I’m thinking at that
time one group of houses was empty and the other was filled.
                                                                                           13


TV: Now are those turkeys composted, or are they taken away?

CM: Those they took to a landfill somewhere out in the country. Now the ones they
killed over in West Virginia – they’re composting those right in the house, so they don’t
– they’re not carried anywhere.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: And that’s the reason that they’re – they just keep people off of the premises and the
composting – these viruses don’t live but a couple of hours at the most outside of the
host.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: And so you – I think most people used to know that but maybe they don’t anymore.

TV: You’re not personally worried about avian flu? It’s all I ever hear about.

CM: Well, you watch closely. We go to great extremes. Maybe that is all justified but we
don’t know for certain.

TV: Another farmer I talked to said he had a big problem with black head. Has that ever
been a problem?

CM: It used to be and I haven’t had any for some time now. Black head used to be one
that would come in. Of course one of our problems is so many of our medicines have
been outlawed. The things we need to treat these animals for one reason or the other, and
you have to wonder sometimes as far as the reasons for this, whether it’s really justified
or not, but that’s sort of the way it goes. You’ve got a lot of very theoretical things going
on.

TV: Yeah. I guess they worry about it getting into the meat tissue of the turkeys.

CM: Well, yeah, and usually most of your medicines pass through the turkeys and are
gone. But there are some things that if they can’t find where the medicine goes through,
they won’t let them use it.

TV: How old was Forrest when he started helping you on the farm and working with you
in the poultry?

CM: Well, he was pretty young. I told you about that first automated feeder. Well, a kid
can do that and so he’s school-aged, thereabouts. We always had something for them to
do.

TV: Did he always express an interest in being involved in the poultry industry? I know
he later moved to cattle also.
                                                                                             14



CM: Well, he got involved – he went to Blue Ridge [Community College] and went to
auto mechanics and then he went through diesel mechanics and he worked a little bit in
that, and then he decided to come back to the farm.

TV: Aside from disease, are there any other common problems that you can associate
with poultry growing?

CM: You have so many restrictions with poultry litter and your handling of litter. I think,
well, it’s something you need to address and it needs to be done in a reasonable manner,
but I’m not sure what reasonable is. At least I’m not sure that everybody – not everybody
would agree with me. Let’s put it that way.

TV: When did you start composting turkeys?

CM: Several years ago. Until then we used to bury them.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Prior to that, a rendering company at one time came around, and you would put
them into barrels and they came around and picked them up. But you can see what would
happen with diseases on that.

TV: Oh yeah?

CM: They used to send a truck around and pick them up, and then they would go to the
next farm and pick them up, and to the next farm, pick them up. That’s just your daily
supply, but that soon got squelched.

TV: It was a rendering company?

CM: Yeah.

TV: Where would they take them?

CM: Tran Lee(??) which is now Valley Proteins, down on the other side of
Harrisonburg. Edom -- in that area. You’ve got a big rendering company down there.
They take a lot of dead animals too. They produce meat scrap and oils – your poultry
have a lot of fat and the oils are used by different people for different things.

TV: I think we’ve talked about this a little bit already with the automation, but is there
any other ways you can think of that technology has helped in poultry growing over the
years?

CM: Oh yeah, you’ve got ventilation. Now they have these big expensive things that they
have the climate computer controlled it the houses, and theoretically you set the computer
                                                                                          15


and it takes it – I haven’t gone to that yet because I have time switches and thermostats
and things of that nature – automatic curtain openers – but I haven’t gone to that because
it gets to be pretty expensive to put in an old house. My houses are getting old now.

TV: What kind of ventilation do you have in your houses?

CM: We have two curtains. We have curtains on both sides of the house. We have fans in
the back. We have doors on the end with screens – screen doors on the end. We have a lot
of fans down through the center of the houses so you can blow air through the house or in
the wintertime you can close the curtains or maybe crack the one curtain and ventilate
with fans when the birds are small.

TV: Okay. I’m trying to get the timeline straight. You grew turkeys in the sixties when
you first started the confinement houses?

CM: Yeah. That would have been in sixty-six. Yeah, that’s right.

TV: What did you end up growing next and why did you -?

CM: Well, I was growing turkeys from then on out.

TV: Okay.

CM: Yeah, you can’t – you’re not supposed to grow chickens or any other poultry really.
When you’re growing one type of poultry you need to stick with because of diseases.
And so we’ve been in the poultry business, or in the turkey business ever since we
started.

TV: You mentioned earlier that you had a hatchery at one point. Was that your fathers?

CM: No, we raised eggs for a hatchery.

TV: Okay.

CM: The hatchery’s over here at Spring Creek.

TV: Okay.

CM: Take several cases of eggs over there each week.

TV: Do you grow white turkeys now?

CM: Yes.

TV: When did it change from bronze turkeys to the white turkeys?
                                                                                          16


CM: Oh, early on, back in (pause) – I guess it would have been close to the time or
maybe it was before we started putting them in houses. It was that. It was prior to the – to
our confinement. I can’t remember exactly when.

TV: Were there any other predators when it was free range other than foxes that would-?

CM: Oh you get dogs.

TV: Dogs?

CM: Oh yeah, now you would have coyotes. I think they were the ones – the things that
you looked out for the most.

TV: While you were growing turkeys, did you ever think about changing your operation
to something else?

CM: Before I went into the business, we debated dairy pretty hard – whether to go to
dairy route or the turkey route. And some of the neighbors went the dairy route. The
reason I did not go to dairy route – I don’t like getting up in the middle of the night, and
you have to be there twice a day at a particular time, and I liked -- The turkeys give you
some flexibility. But the people who went into the dairy business retired or they paid out
and retired a number of years ago, and I haven’t been paid out all that long. This thing is
still going just plenty along.

TV: Was it your brother that wanted to do the dairy?

CM: No, we both sort of agreed with that. In fact, he was an insurance adjustor at the
time we got started on this. We were – we both basically inherited the farm.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: And later we dissolved or divided it really.

TV: Looking back on it, do you wish that you had gone to the dairy?

CM: No, I just – I still don’t like getting up early in the morning and milking twice a day
at a particular hour. The turkeys give you – you have a reasonable amount of flexibility
as to when you – something comes up where you can tend to them several hours earlier
or several hours later, usually. But not in the dairy.

TV: At least you have a chance for some uninterrupted sleep.

CM: Um-hm.

TV: That would be nice. You said you were semi-retired. When would you say went into
semi-retirment?
                                                                                           17



CM: Theoretically I (pause), let me get my ages straightened out here. It’s been for
twelve years.

TV: Twelve years. You still maintain the turkey houses up there?

CM: Yeah.

TV: Before that, what other operations were you involved in that you scaled back on?

CM: Well, until I – well, I helped Forrest. The whole bunch of us worked the farm
together. Forrest got married just shortly before his mother died, several months. After
that I sort of moved more and more of it over to him.

TV: So Forrest has a cattle enterprise?

CM: Yes.

TV: Is there anything else that he’s a part of?

CM: He does a good bit of trucking.

TV: Okay.

CM: And does some custom work and he leases some land. He’s pretty busy.

TV: Yeah. Since you semi-retired, like twelve years ago, do you feel like you have more
free time than when you were actively -?

CM: Oh I do, but I just had to slow down. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

TV: What do you like doing with your time now, other than -?

CM: Well, I do that. I help around where I’m needed, but I’ve cut down on a lot of that,
and he is a hard man. I collect rocks. It is probably my main hobby. I belong to the
Shenandoah Valley Gem and Mineral Society in Dayton, or in in Waynesboro. Thelma
enjoys it.

TV: I’ve never heard of the Gem and Mineral Society. What do you -?

CM: This is a group of people. Some of them are professional. They make jewelry and
that type of thing. You get rocks and slab them and cut out cabeshines(??) or in various
ways make jewelry. Some of them have made their own findings that they put the jewelry
on and pens and so forth, but it’s largely people that just enjoy this, and some of them
have businesses. They do it for a living. Some of them they have shows every so often.
They’ll have a half a dozen shows a year at various places and they do that for a living.
                                                                                          18


Some of them do it something extra, and some of them just like me, do it – enjoy learning
about them and collecting. Basically that’s what I do. I don’t have time for a lot of it, but
we have quartz in our garden, so we pick up quartz as we work our garden.

TV: That’s great. When you were starting out with poultry, you felt that it was a good
way to make a living?

CM: Yeah. With the confinement coming on, this really had good potentials.

TV: Okay. Nowadays would you recommend that people who are starting out get
involved with poultry growing?

CM: You just have to assess your whole situation (clears throat). Dairy is down now.
Poultry would still be a very reasonable thing to consider getting into, but you just have
to assess every situation before you do it. I don’t know if a guy had to go out and buy his
land and put up the houses and if he would come out of not. He’d have to sharpen his
pencil pretty sharp.

TV: Okay. I’m going to stop the tape for a minute if that’s okay. Thank you.

[Break in Interview]

[Prior to turning on the tape recorder again, Mr. Miller and I discussed the different
companies he was contracted with over the years and what we would be discussing on the
record.]

CM: When Pilgrim’s Pride bought Wampler’s, I think – and everybody else was aware of
it. They were not in the poultry – in the turkey business. They were in the chicken
business, and Wampler’s had a good market here on the east coast for their chicken. We
sort of expected them somewhere along the line to sell the turkey end of this. That’s what
we - what people were projecting they would do. But then all of a sudden they came up
and they were going to close the plant in a month, I believe it was, if they didn’t sell it.
And that is no time to sell a turkey business that has to figure from hatching to slaughter,
and so it was then that the – I guess Sonny Meyerhoeffer’s the one who really got this
thing going and pushed it. And they just had a number of people in government, and the
government stayed and helped them through with this, and they got this thing rolling.
They got a little group of people – farmers that sort of led this, and they got enough
money together to buy the corporation – this part of the company, and since then things
have done better than we would ever have expected, really. But I’m not too happy with
Mr. Pilgrim, because he claimed to be a very ethical person, but you give a company a
month that involves months from start to finish on a product, a month to sell out, and it
was pretty short, and I think the people in the Co-op have done well, and we certainly –
we’re seeing an awful spread in what we used to receive, and of course it hit at a good
time, but even that – what we use to receive and what we are – the profitability of it now
is quite different?
                                                                                           19


TV: How did you find out that Pilgrim’s was going to be closing?

CM: I guess we got a letter or we heard it on the news, I imagine. It was either on the
news or a letter from Wampler’s, and I think that hit the news with a blast.

TV: Did you ever consider going with Cargill as opposed to the co-op?

CM: Well we were thinking – everybody was thinking and looking. When they finally
got to working on this co-op, we had considered and I don’t know – we have old houses,
I don’t know if we would have gotten on or not. I doubt that we would have. So, you
either find – well, we just had to start over with something. There’s not a whole lot you
can convert these houses into. Storage in one type or another, but not for something that
pays the type of money it takes to live on and all.

TV: So as far as the timeline goes, Wampler’s announced that they were going to be
selling, and then Pilgrim’s Pride -?

CM: Yeah, as far as I can remember we knew that Wampler’s was for sale whether it was
official or not – I can’t tell you how long that was. But then we got – we heard that
Pilgrim’s had bought it, since they were not in turkeys, I think everybody saw pretty
much what they were doing. They were buying these markets, is basically what they’re
doing on the east coast and it was, I think, anticipated they’re selling the turkey end of it.
But they – we figured well, they’ll probably sell it to some other turkey company and
combine and go from there, but it didn’t work out that way.

TV: So you don’t feel that Pilgrim’s ever really intended to develop the turkey business?

CM: I think that was pretty much the feeling from what I heard.

TV: How long were you contracted with them?

CM: That was several years, wasn’t it? I’m not a good historian. I just – it happened
yesterday or two weeks ago (laughs).

TV: Just for a number of years. Did you notice a difference in the business relationship
between Wampler or Rocco as opposed to working with Pilgrim’s?

CM: It was similar. It was just pretty much the same. You have your ups and downs with
all of them. You have places you think could be changed, and things that were doing
well. But I don’t think it was that much, because they kept a lot of the same help in a
number of things, so it was sort of a gradual change.

TV: Okay. What made you interested in joining the co-op?

CM: Well, it was the most reasonable way out.
                                                                                              20


TV: Okay.

CM: Well, I say with, I believe it was [Bob Goodlatte, House of Reprentatives for 6th
Congressional District] Goodlatte that was the one that just really went to work for us.
And he got things done, and that’s what it took.

TV: That’s great.

CM: And also a lot of – I think a good many people in Richmond really got to plugging
for this thing, and Cecil [Meyerhoeffer] and that group followed it through, and so I think
it’s remarkable that they got it done.

TV: Are there farmers that you still know that are- they’re in the co-op with you, or there
are other ones that are in Cargill?

CM: I don’t keep up with too many other farmers, but I’m – I know some of the people
are still with Pilgrim’s with broilers.

TV: Really?

CM: Oh yeah.

TV: Okay.

CM: Pilgrim’s is still in the area. They have laying hens. They have broilers, and I think
the people that are getting along very well. Of course, broilers is Pilgrims’ thing.

TV: Okay. Was there ever any option of converting the houses to raising broilers, or was
that -?

CM: It’s too expensive.

TV: Too expensive? What would have to change?

CM: Oh, you’d have to change all of your feeders. Probably the ventilation system, your
waterers to some of them – some people changed, but it was expensive. It’s something
you just don’t do if you can keep from it.

TV: Do you have any idea of knowing, those people that changed, if they’ve been able to
stay on top of business?

CM: I think they have. Forrest will answer that better for you than I will.

TV: I know we started kind of at the end of the story. Is it all right if we go back to the
beginning and talk about when you were first independently growing?
                                                                                        21



CM: Yes.

TV: Who would you sell your birds to? Where would they go?

CM: Basically they went to Spencer, which changed to Marvel which is now, what is the
name. Tyson?

TV: Tyson?

CM: You went to Marvel then it went to Rocco, and now it’s – it’s something else.

TV: The only ones I know are Tysons and Cargill.

CM: It’s not Tysons. [Mr. Miller gets up] Thelma? Who runs the Rocco plant in Dayton
now? Cargill? I think – Yeah, I think.

TV: Is it?

TM: They still have the name Shady Brook. That’s one of their product names.

CM: Shady Brook was one of Rocco’s names for selling.

TV: Okay.

CM: So it would be Cargill. I drive by it every time I go somewhere.

TV: I think I drove by it this morning coming down here.

TM: C-A-R-G-I-L-L.

TV: Let’s see. So it was at this time there were processing plants already built. When did
they come into the area?

CM: Wamplers, or Spencer, which was the original one, was processing broilers, and
they’re older than I am.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Or close in there somewhere. I don’t know when they really came in, but I
remember them processing chickens there – rather small place – ages ago, and then
converting to turkeys.

TV: Why did you choose to work for Rocco, contracting with them?
                                                                                        22


CM: Well, we were just looking for someone to contract with, and that’s the way it
worked out. You had a couple choices, but that’s the way – I can’t remember exactly
what it all was. We thought it was probably the better way to go, and it could have been
easier to get on with them at the time. I don’t – it’s been a long time.

TV: Okay. The other competitors, I guess in the area – there was Wampler’s at that time?

CM: I guess Wampler’s would have been another option, but I think they were about the
only two at the time as well as I can remember.

TV: When did you switch over to Wamplers and what was the reason for that?

CM: Well, in the mid-sixties, seventies (unintelligible), somewhere in the mid-seventies
or eighties. And they came to us and offered us what we thought was a better deal, really.
So we went with them. They pushed pretty hard. They courted us pretty hard.

TV: At that time they were trying to get your business, how many turkeys could you raise
at a time?

CM: Well, I guess that’s about what we have now. At that time it was all one operation,
and so we would have, let’s see – right now we’re (pause) probably twenty thousand –
somewhere in that neighborhood.

TV: You still used the starting house at that point?

CM: Yeah, we just closed the starting house or converted it to storage.

TV: That was just a couple of years ago?

CM: Yeah.

TV: Okay. All right. Do you know where the birds eventually were sold when you were
under these contracts – where they would go to?

CM: They went to – when we were with – let’s see, Wamplers went to Wamplers. I think
they had a processing plant at the time. Rocco went over here to Marvel or to the other
plant there in Dayton. The – when we went with Wamplers, I believe they (pause) I’m a
little confused. I believe it was Rocco was the one that hired an independent company to
catch them and take them to processing.

TV: Okay. Over the years, what kind of improvements did you have to make on the
turkey houses over time?

CM: The growout houses (clears throat) excuse me. We originally, when we built the
second group of growout houses, well I guess all of them. We had a curtain on one side
and fans on the back and we used negative pressure. You keep the curtain rolled up pretty
                                                                                            23


far and use fans to pull the air out and you would lower the pressure in the house. After
we went with Rocco, or with Wampler, they were all sold on curtains on both ends- both
sides of the house, and so we converted to that and took out some of the fans. And later
things have changed considerably. At one time they went to positive pressure. With that
they put – they opened the curtains a little and had inside fans to circulate the air, and I
don’t know who came up with that one. That one worked for a while, but we’ve been
going through a number of different ways, and most of them you can make them work,
and some of them work better than the others, but if we had stayed with the negative
pressure that we started with, I believe we’d have been better off. We’d have saved a
dickens of a lot of remodeling.

TV: So your houses use negative pressure now, is that -?

CM: Basically. We have that and we have curtains on both sides.

TV: Okay.

CM: You use – we have a combination that we’re using depending on the size of the
birds and the season of the year.

TV: Okay.

CM: You just either have fans in the houses blowing from one end to the other and you
adjust your curtains. You have automatic curtain openers, which when the temperature
gets so warm, well one side of the house would go down, then you have it adjusted so the
other side will then start down.

TV: What’s the best relative temperature for a turkey to be? I mean, it depends on the age
I guess.

CM: Adult ones is about sixty-five degrees.

TV: Okay.

CM: They start out at right up close to ninety, or over ninety, they used to a little bit. That
was just for the first day, and then you cool them down slowly. They have to be very
warm to begin with when they’re just hatched.

TV: So a lot of the time that you made these investments on remodeling the turkey
houses, was it more the company’s insistence, or was it personal?

CM: A lot of it was, yeah.

TV: Yeah? Were there any changes that you, like, you would disagree with the company
about?
                                                                                             24


CM: Well, I would have – I think we would have been better off if we had just stayed
with the negative pressure. There’s a better word for that. I’ll think of it before we get
through.

TV: Did you have a sense that the company was really informed about these kind of
experiments?

CM: Well, there’s just different ways to do the same thing, and I wasn’t convinced that
the natural ventilation was the best yet. This was right when there was an energy crunch
at that time, and so that made me feel a little bit better about it, particularly during the
summer, that you can save a good bit of fans running. But as it is I’m not sure that it was
a good move, because we’re right back almost to the same thing now.

TV: Forty years since then?

CM: Well, not quite that long, but it’s been a while.

TV: Did you ever make your views known to the company saying that - ?

CM: Oh we always talked about these things. They tell the field man, the field man
comes out. Every so often, the company will make a big change and – hold on a second
(clears throat) excuse me.

TV: Sure

[Mr. Miller gets up to get a drink of water.]

CM: You want some more water.

TV: Oh no, I’m okay. Thank you.

CM: Sinus problem.

TV: Sorry to make you talk so much. (pause) Okay, would you have the same field man
that would come out all the time?

CM: Generally you were assigned a field man.

TV: Okay.

CM: And every so often they would swap them, but they generally sort of keep an eye on
things in general if you need anything, sorry.

TV: That’s okay.
                                                                                        25


CM: If you need anything, well, they’re the people you would ask or if you’re having any
problems that you see – turkeys dying, or you see something wrong, well they’re the
people you contact. Then the company has a veterinarian if you – if it’s something else,
well they’ll send them out occasionally.

TV: Do you feel that if you ever had problems, they were usually addressed in time?

CM: Oh yeah. This is what’s it’s all about. They like to keep their problems down.

TV: Yeah.

CM: They usually try to start medicine and all of that as soon as they’re aware of
something.

TV: Um-hm. Where did the feed usually come from for the birds?

CM: The company owned mills.

TV: All the companies? Rocco owned mills?

CM: Yeah, Rocco, and Wamplers. Pilgrim’s, of course, they had bought the Wampler
Mill, and now of course the mill’s coming from the co-op’s mill.

TV: Did you ever have problems getting the right kind of feed?

CM: Oh, not to speak of. They – and of course not that you know of.

TV: Of course.

CM: (Laughs) But it’s bound to happen. You know it has happened. Human nature is just
that, but basically it’s been pretty – reasonably good, yeah.

TV: Okay. Were the companies generally understanding when you had problems like
diseases?

CM: Oh yeah, they tried to get (unintelligible) and they go very overboard for over things
like washing your feet and washing your boots and things of that nature to try to keep
them from spreading. They’re very conscientious on that end of it.

TV: Okay. So when you had the field man come, would he usually inspect the houses to
make sure everything was running right?

CM: Yeah they usually walk through. They put on a disposable coveralls and disposable
boots and a thing over their head and over their hair and walk through the houses and
look through things and they often will say, “Well, you need to do this,” or, “you need to
do that,” or they’ll catch something that you won’t.
                                                                                             26



TV: How often would he come out?

CM: Sometimes it was every, pretty much every week. Others, maybe every couple of
weeks. It just depends on the company, the diseases in the area – the need for it, really.

TV: How long were you contracted with Wampler for?

CM: Oh gosh, that’s where I have a hard time remembering. (pause) I would say
probably twenty years, more or less.

TV: Twenty years.

CM: It was a long period of time.

TV: So that was probably the longest contract you had. And then it was Pilgrim’s after
that?

CM: Yeah.

TV: Okay. I think I might have asked this earlier, I can’t remember. Did you have any
indications that Wampler was planning to sell? Was it – had business changed?

CM: I’m thinking that was sort of in the air. At least people were suspicious of it, at any
rate. It didn’t come as a total surprise.

TV: Were you worried at all about what might happen to your business?

CM: Well, you were concerned, because you never go from one company to another.
You sort of know where one company stands. You don’t know how the next company
will treat you.

TV: Yeah. Okay. Overall, is there one client that you have preferred over the others?

CM: Well, I probably – It would either have been Wamplers or Rocco. You never know.

TV: Did you enter into the co-op when it first started? Do you know how many members
were in the initial founding?

CM: Oh gosh, I can’t tell you. A good many people signed up for the co-op.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Those just like myself- you knew good and well you didn’t have a good alternative.
In many cases, a lot of people if they could, jumped on with another company, but then
the rest of us – we were glad to see we had a choice (clears throat).
                                                                                               27



TV: How exactly does working for the co-op been different than working with other
companies?

CM: You actually day to day, you don’t see a whole lot of difference. You feel a little bit
more like you’re working for yourself a little more than that, but the company – I think
they have been fairly realistic. But yet you still – a lot of things are still very similar. It’s
been a little more profitable, and that’s the main thing (laughs).

TV: Have you seen results of being part of a cooperative where the profit is shared
among all the members?

CM: Yeah.

TV: That’s great.

CM: We’ve definitely done better. I probably better stop there because I –

TV: All right. Generally, what in your opinion could be done differently to improve the
conditions or overall working experience of poultry workers? I know that’s a pretty big
question.

CM: Well, it is a big question. The – I think things are probably about – we won’t say as
good as you could make them, but realistically I think things are in very good shape. You
have your relationship with the company, and you have certain – the company has things
that they demand, but you’re always going to have that. And I think things are probably
as realistic as you could get. They’re probably doing things about as well as they can
there. I don’t know of any particular place I would say, “Hey, well they really need to
change this,” or, “they really need to change that.” But I think they’re doing very well.

TV: Um-hm. Do you feel communication is good within the co-op?

CM: Yeah. Yes.

TV: Okay. I guess I was going to ask something else about – when you were talking
about doing changes on the turkey houses – was it usually just in the curtains and
ventilation, or were there any other things like feeders or window sizes?

CM: Oh yeah, we’ve gone through a lot of fans. Add fans, more fans, and more fans. I
think originally I don’t believe we had any fans in the center of the house and then we put
fans through the centers and several years ago we put fans – two more rows of fans in the
houses, or one or two depending on the houses. The feeders have stayed very much the
same. I bought new feeders for my growout houses this last year. The old ones were just
worn out. At one time they wanted us to check the turkey six times a day and write down
the time that we checked it and the time and temperature. That made me very unhappy.
                                                                                            28


TV: How long did that last for?

CM: Oh, that was for several years. But they didn’t get six numbers on mine (laugh) for
very long, except when I felt they needed it and I didn’t get kicked out, so – no, that’s one
of the things that really bugged me. When I was growing up, well what are you doing to
do – well, we considered farming. One thing I that I said, - well there’s one thing about
the farmer. Being a farmer, you don’t have to punch somebody’s time clock. And I heard
that many, many, many times from many different people, and then when they came up
with this thing of signing- of checking the birds six times a day I – that just hit me at the
wrong spot.

TV: Um-hm. I’m sure a lot of other farmers might have –

CM: Nobody was too happy about it. It was just totally unnecessary, except – there
would be a few farmers that don’t do that. There would be farmers that don’t check the
turkeys at noon. There would be farmers that just halfway check the turkeys. You always
did that. And so everybody gets punished to try to get these few people in line instead of
just going ahead and doing what needs to be done.

TV: How would they get punished?

CM: By having to abide by a whole bunch of rules and do a whole lot of things that
should normally be done, but we do this in a way – it’s an overkill. You always get that.

TV: Did you ever hear of farmers whose contracts weren’t renewed for failing to -?

CM: Oh, I’m sure there were.

TV: Yeah?

CM: Oh yeah. You have them. You have them today. You have people that just slop
through it and that’s a legitimate reason for getting kicked out.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: I mean, the company can’t afford you if you’re not going to do your part.

TV: Yeah, that makes sense.

CM: And that does happen.

TV: It looks like I’m just about through with the guide, unless there’s anything else you
wanted to discuss.

CM: No, not really. It’s – the poultry business – it has one big drawback, and that’s the
odor. These birds particularly now – they’re about fifteen weeks. When they get older,
                                                                                             29


and particularly if you have to keep the houses closed up, there’s no way you can get
around the odor. You walk in the houses and you carry it right out with you. Walk in the
house and take your shirt- your jacket or your clothes off and you put them outdoors
(laughs). We do that sometimes.

TV: Yeah?

CM: When you have the houses open, well, you do pretty well, but you take in the
wintertime. Now when you have these houses closed up tight, and if it’s a little damp in
there, well boy that just clings to you. When you go to town you almost need to take a
shower.

TV: Do you ever get used to the smell?

CM: No. You do. It doesn’t – It’s not something that just really does you in, but you’re
always aware of it, and some times more than others. That’s one of the drawbacks to it,
and if the houses are around you, if you didn’t locate them right, you’ll get that in your
home. We’ve tried to avoid that.

TV: Which direction are your houses in?

CM: They’re up here.

TV: Up there on the hill?

CM: They run north and south. But they’re – they are south – they’re on the other side of
the road from the dwelling, but the dwelling’s back here and houses are here, where you
don’t get that right from the fans into the dwelling.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: That was done on purpose.

TV: Good planning. Do you have neighbors that are your closest neighbors? Are they
dairy farmers or are they poultry farmers too?

CM: We’ve got poultry farmers on the other side of us and had some dairy farmers over
here but – there’s poultry scattered throughout the area. We’ve got a little development
over here, as you came out before you got to the church. They sold off- somebody sold
off some land and there’s a number – there was a farm there. One or two of – several of
the children have built homes, and so you got that. You have some people who definitely
don’t appreciate the turkey odor.

TV: Yeah.
                                                                                              30


CM: But, that’s part of it, and if they’re going to live out in the country, well, we can’t
completely do away with our food process.

TV: Yeah. People want turkeys but they don’t want to have to deal with the smells, you
know?

CM: The main, in farming in general, the tough thing is the economic side of it. You
want my little sermon?

TV: Please.

CM: In 1946, my father (clears throat) excuse me, bought a sixty acre pasture. The price
was a hundred dollars an acre. Now that land is valued between five and ten thousand
dollars an acre, so the cost of land has increased at least fifty to a hundred times. At that
time, you could get labor for fifty cents an hour.

TV: Okay.

CM: Today you’re going to pay ten or twelve dollars an hour if you can get it. So labor
cost has increased at least twenty times. In 1946, a new four-door sedan – they were very
scarce, medium sized car cost seventeen hundred and fifty dollars. Today I’m not quite
sure what they would cost but that’s increased at least fifteen or twenty times.

TV: Yeah.

CM: In 1947, a medium-sized tractor cost fifteen hundred dollars. Forrest bough a
medium-sized tractor several years back for fifty thousand dollars. Now we’re comparing
grapes and grapefruit. This one had a cab and four wheel drive and a lot of things on it,
but the bottom line is it has to be paid for. In 1946, barley sold for two dollars a bushel.
This last year, barley sold for two dollars a bushel. This is the other side of this story.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Corn was three and a quarter, I think, and this isn’t too far from what corn was a
little under that for last year for a little, and yet the barley and corn are up right now. But
it’s increased almost nothing. Chickens sold for twenty-seven cents a pound, or
something like that. Today that has increased one to two times. It’s hard to get the price
on these things, but that’s on the hoof. So today chicken – well, let’s look at it this way.
Everything we have bought has increased at least fifteen times, and most of them many
more than that. So if we – the things we sell had been increased fifteen times over these
years, barley would be thirty dollars a bushel. Corn would be forty. Wheat would be fifty,
roughly.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Chicken would be. What did I forget?
                                                                                          31



TV: Twenty-seven cents.

CM: It would be three or four dollars a pound.

TV: Yeah.

CM: I haven’t found the price on beef, but it would be right on this range. The problem is
our government is taking care of us. Why hasn’t the price of food that the farmer gets
increased at least fifteen times? Well, we have a free trade agreement with Mexico and
with Canada. Several years ago, Thelma and I pulled a camper to Alaska. We went
through the Midwest.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: I think it was 2002, we went through the Midwest. You could see the farms were in
need of repair. The buildings were not kept up. You would see junk piles – probably less
than half of the oil wells we saw in the Midwest were pumping. We got into Canada, and
the mining was big. Their grain storage buildings – they had a lot of new – you see a lot
of bright metal.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: The oil wells were going well. They had gravel roads into them. Gravel or paved.
The railroads were really working. You’d see three of these things for ties – to put
railroad ties in. They were all the way through Canada. One night we heard trains going
through the place where we were, and they stopped at ten. And I guess they were working
then. They were repairing their railroads. But our government has given us this free trade
policy, and they don’t consider the fact that Canada pays their farmers a subsidy for the
food they produce, and they are able to ship their grain down to the United States and cut
our markets all to pieces.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: And yet they’re being paid by the government, and this isn’t considered. Some of
the Mennonite kids, or young men in the neighborhood, go west and go up with grain
harvest, driving combines. It stops at the States next to Canada, because Canada
subsidizes the fuel the farmer use- those farmers use in their combines, even when
they’re working in the United States. So we can’t compete with them. Mexico buys stuff
by the boatload – grain, and pulls it into the harbor, trucks it into the United States, and
there’s not a thing we can do about it. The latest thing we saw is this cat and dog food.

TV: Oh yeah.

CM: You know where that came from?
                                                                                        32


TV: No, where was it from?

CM: It came from China, or the Orient.

TV: Oh yeah, that’s right.

CM: Canada bought it from there. They processed it, and down to the United States.
That’s what happened down there. But we’re just going completely berserk. You can’t
depend on your potential enemies for your food supply, and that’s exactly where we are.
We have – Brazil is producing a lot of our grain, and these other countries. Georgia used
to be the peach state. It isn’t any longer.

TV: Yeah.

CM: The apples. Byrd(??) closed out his apples, and it’s hard to get as good an apple.
You don’t get good apples from California. I don’t know if you’ve figured that out yet or
not. You want good apples, you get some here in the valley that are valley grown, and
they have much better flavor. These things – so much of this stuff – we’re allowing all of
this stuff to come into the country, our farmers are going out of business, and we’re going
to be hungry, and I used to say my grandchildren were going to be hungry. The way
things are going, I could see it.

TV: How do you, sorry –

CM: Go ahead.

TV: How do you feel this could be reversed?

CM: First thing you got to do - you’ve got to start keeping some imports out. Now I
know this has a bad thing, but here, we’ve got – we’re building Japan’s cars for them.
Our food – we’ve been selling food dirt-cheap. We’ve fed the world, and we need to be
producing our own food. That is for starters. And I don’t think we really need to be
dealing with all of these other countries on all of these other things because – look what
happened to our food supply from over there. You’re going to- I don’t want food from
China, and yet we’re getting a whole lot of this and well – oh that’s free trade. We have –
we’re shipping our manufacturing. Our companies are going to other countries. Somehow
something needs to be tightened up here so we can afford to produce things in this
country, and one of the big things is the labor unions. Why is it that the people making
the most money are the people who are always going on strike? Look at the airplane
pilots here a couple of years ago.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: Averaging ninety-seven thousand dollars a year but they found some reason. The
name of the game is inflation. The government loves inflation. It gives them more money
by which to buy votes.
                                                                                         33



TV: Um-hm.

CM: You want the way it is. We – I’m in favor of helping poor people, but I’m also in
favor of helping poor people help themselves.

TV: Um-hm.

CM: I’m a little disturbed. I think we’re going to soon end up with some type of a fitness
program for our poor people because they’re too fat to waddle to the McDonalds. If I can
say that out loud.

TV: Sure.

CM: I don’t have any (unintelligible). I’ve been poor most of my life. You need – we
need to get a lot of our welfare programs – the food stamp program. That’s charged off of
what part of the government?

TV: I’m not sure.

CM: It’s charged off of Agriculture.

TV: Really?

CM: Yes.

TV: Okay.

CM: That’s worked through the Department of Agriculture. It’s not a welfare group. Why
is that – and it just – you think another thing that bugged me years ago. We sold the best
coalmines in the country to Japan. Those trains are running good yet. Another thing that
bothers me is that we’re putting up plants to make Toyotas and other things here in the
United States. That’s okay, but I don’t like the profits – you know where the profits go?

TV: Back to Japan.

CM: Yeah.

TV: Yeah.

CM: And I think we need to somehow tighten up our trade relationships as to where
they’re sort of equal across the board. But if we keep on raising wages for no reason,
what are we going to do?

TV: Yeah.
                                                                                          34


CM: There’s no way we can compete, and in the long run, we’re going to be the ones that
are out of food, and it’s going to happen before you know it.

TV: Yeah. I know American car companies have always struggled to keep the business-
keep the workers happy, I think.

CM: See, that’s the thing now. In labor, we have to pay ten or twelve dollars an hour.
We’re competing against a Chinaman that’s pays seven dollars a day.

TV: Yeah.

CM: How do you do that?

TV: The figures just don’t add up.

CM: It doesn’t make sense.

TV: Yeah.

CM: Every year, Congress makes sure they get a raise, and inflation keeps on going from
there. I think it’s time they’re setting an example on some of this stuff.

TV: A little pay cut.

CM: Absolutely.

TV: Wow.

CM: Anything else?

TV: I haven’t been able to think of anything else. Is there anything else you wanted to
say?

CM: No, I’ve got my little spiel in there.

TV: I’m definitely going to transcribe that. I just wanted to thank you for agreeing to
interview me and it’s been a great experience. I’m really – it’s been informative.

CM: Glad to help you. Thelma got her Masters in library work some years ago. Long
before I really was that well acquainted with her, but – something came up here that they
wanted us to do here not too long ago with the turkeys, and I told Thelma, I said, “You
know what this sounds like to me. It sounds like somebody was getting their masters or
doctorate degree and they had to come up with a project that was different from any other
project that had ever been done but it still had to be somewhat logical.”

TV: Um-hm
                                                                                             35



CM: And if it worked, great. If it didn’t work, well that was – it showed that this didn’t
work, and so it’s not all in vain. She just laughed, she said, “yeah, I’ve been there and
done that, and that’s exactly what it sounds like.”

TV: That’s not a fun feeling, to feel like you’re kind of- it’s like an experiment.

CM: This was just one of these things they said we needed to do, and I tried it one time
and I said, “No way.” I just didn’t say anymore about – that’s just doesn’t quite add up to
me, so I.

TV: Well, thank you very much.

CM: Okay, I hope we have helped you and you get along well on this. I guess, how many
people do you have to interview?

TV: I think I have to interview three, and I’ve done two so far. One more is fine.

CM: Okay, well that will give you something to – if you never knew much about the
industry, it will be an exciting new experience, I guess.

TV: I’ve been learning so much this year just from being here – something I didn’t know
for the first few years that I was in this area.

CM: Oh yeah.

TV: That the poultry industry was so big.

CM: Yeah, well it’s like everything else. You can go into the banking industry or to any
of the other businesses around – the manufacturing, the printing and all of that, but you
pass the shops, but you never know the first things about them, and agriculture is the
same way, and as you’re involved some way you, well, look at all the pretty cattle.

TV: Exactly. Well, thanks very much.

CM: Okay.


[End of Interview]

								
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