Life down on the farm

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2001

Farming is hard work - and you can't skip a day.

Hurlock's Happy Hennery began with about 15 acres and 500 Leghorns, but soon grew to a flock of more than 5,000 chickens housed in seven outbuildings. Every month or so, 500 more chicks would arrive.

They were watered with well water. "We carried it by wheelbarrow or across our shoulders. We never owned a truck," recalled Larry Hurlock, one of six sons of Roger and Mary Hurlock. "My father refused to buy any mechanized equipment, so we would have to shovel the driveway to the road - about 200 feet."

"We were really in the woods," he said. "We were in the middle of trees, and there were black bears everywhere."

At its peak, the chicken farm produced 1,728 eggs a day, or six cases. Eggs had to be sorted by size, cleaned by hand, and put into cartons daily.

"Production varied greatly from summer to winter because we did not insulate the floors. I remember breaking ice on the water dishes on very extreme days, inside the coops," Larry said.

The Hurlock's son Don, now a resident of Hawaii, had a sideline of raising broilers and the profits put him through college. Also, when layers were beyond their prime, they were sold as stewing hens in grocery stores.

There was other livestock, too, including a pony. "Ron fell in love with cows, and had a cow, Pansy," Mary recalled.

"I remember escorting the cow down the road to visit a bull and Mother was driving behind in the car singing, 'On Your Wedding Day,'" Larry said.

The family ran the chicken farm for about 10 years. Then they changed lifestyles completely, moving to Beverly Hills and going to movie premieres from about 1960 to 1963.

"They raised us to think we were poor," said Larry's brother Tom, now a resident of Anaconda, Mont. "My father would go in the bedroom and scream about leaving lights on even though we had seven chicken pens with lights on."

Roger Hurlock died May 27 at age 89. He is known locally for donating the site for St. Paul's Catholic Church and giving numerous housing lots to Juneau's high school vocational building program.

In addition to Larry, Don and Tom, son Ron lives in Connecticut. The elder Hurlock was preceded in death by his sons Robert and John.

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