June 15, 2010 // Uncategorized

Being a dad is not for chickens

Recently, I joined a Dads’ group at my parish, St. Aloysius. After attending three meetings, I have to say it’s been a good thing.

At the first meeting, we listened to a recording of a speaker who instantly caught my attention when he mentioned, every family needs a workshop. Just as Joseph had a workshop where he taught his foster son, Jesus, the carpentry trade, dads need to have a workshop or business for their families. It builds a Catholic family.

That got me thinking. My dad had a “workshop” of sorts. He was groundskeeper and cleaned the classrooms at St. Aloysius. And my brother David and I helped — although admittingly, I was reluctant at times. Even later, we helped my mom and dad clean offices after my dad retired from the parish work.

For some time, I had been toying with the idea of raising chickens. I want organic eggs. I even could use the manure as an activator in my Compost Tumbler. I also thought there could be some life lessons for Heather, 7, and it could be a project we could all work on together.

A workshop of sorts. Of course, that workshop talk in the dads’ gathering was like God speaking to me, “Do it, Tim!”

So I delved into chicken research. Elizabeth, from the Huntington Orscheln farm store, became my “chicken consultant,” answering lots of questions and providing resource books. I spent time on the Internet researching coops and breeds.

Visiting www.mypetchicken.com helped me determine that Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds would work best for us.

I am now the proud papa of 10 chickens. We started with seven the first day. One died — there’s that life lesson I’m talking about for Heather. After explaining to Heather that we had to bury the chick and wiping her tears away, I promised we would return to Orscheln the next day and get one or two more chicks. Well, I came home with four more chicks.

The chicks had been living in a Christmas tree tote box in the garage and growing and growing and growing. They eat a lot! Heather helps feed and water the chicks.
A visit to Shipshewana produced a chicken coop that perfectly matches my yard shed. My buddy Curt helped me bring the coop home just two weeks ago. His wife, who happens to be Heather’s teacher at St. Aloysius, has named the coop, the “McNugget Mansion.”

In recent days, the chicks have “graduated” from the Christmas tree tote box to the chicken coop. Heather is fascinated by them. My neighbor kids, the nephews and nieces have also taken a “liking” to the chicks. I’m a bit taken with them too, especially a “pullet” that I named Francesca who likes to jump in my hand and be held. Although I suspect now, that Francesca is actually Frank, a “cockerel.”

Any roosters, of course, are planned for a move to my friends’ farm. I’m hoping for just eggs — the unfertilized kind. Still, I’m rethinking this as Frank is quickly becoming a pet and, by far, my favorite. He perches himself in the coop, looks out the window and is very friendly.

So we got the family workshop going, at least in the initial stages, and that Compost Tumbler — well it’s producing some healthy compost these days thanks to our little flock.

Joseph taught Jesus the carpentry trade, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus had chickens too!

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