The next stop on the tour de coop was the Dechow Farm. This is one of the most impressive farms in Port Oneida, a status that is surely tied to the relatively good soil quality on the farm. The Dechows, and after them the Kletts, also seem to have been smart about how they used their land, devoting a lot of it to pasture for their cattle (which requires less fertile soil than field crops and which cattle happily convert to milk) and investing in a very advanced (for the day) milking operation. This farm was also in operation longer and later than many of the others, so a lot of the buildings are more "modern" and have had less time to decay. Walking around the farmyard, it is easy to "read" how the buildings were used. For views of the rest of the farm, check out the pictures at the link above. I was focused (perhaps a little obsessively) on chickens.
In addition to their milking operation, the Dechows/Kletts kept the most chickens of any family in Port Oneida. That is instantly apparent from the size of the first coop, which is variously referred to in the literature as a brooder and as the broiler (i.e., meat bird) coop. From across the yard, it is easy to spot. Distinctive coop architecture: check. Orientation to the south: check.
Hex Signs of the Pennsylvania Dutch and tells me the 8-pointed star proclaims abundance and good will for all. Good symbol for a coop!
The other coop stands behind the big barn and I'm embarrassed to say that on my first visit I was so taken with the first coop that I entirely overlooked the second. So much for my agri-anthro-archi-archaeological skills. But on a second visit, I make its acquaintance. Looking now at the photographs, I cut myself a little slack for having missed it. Aside from its south-facing orientation, it looks nothing like the rest of the Port Oneida coops and is practically barn-like in its scale.
I can only imagine that in 1935, farming must have seemed awfully hard and the rewards tenuous. The automobile was the future and a gas station was probably a very sound investment. The historical record is silent on what happened to poor Frank in the big city (although his brother's 1945 obit lists Frank as living in Detroit still) but the city slicker with whom he traded (Mr. McGaughlin) lasted only a few years in Port Oneida. In the late 1930s, Elmer Klett, who had been a farmhand for the Dechows, bought the property and improved it. The Kletts were the first Port Oneida family to have electricity--in 1941!