I was raised in a home that is now the Longacre Inn at 4813 Madison Ave. We had a one-car unattached garage, and behind it on our property was a small building. I was surprised when my father brought home a bunch of baby chickens, which were initially confined to a secured area in one of our extra bedrooms.
As the baby chickens grew, I discovered the purpose of that building behind the garage – it was a chicken house. Our chickens were moved to their own house and fenced-in yard. By then I had lost all interest in them, and because of my young age I wasn’t required to have any dealing with the birds other than to occasionally watch them through the fence.
Many of the houses along Madison had chicken houses at that time; our neighbors did. I remember Bob Herrmann of Herrmann Funeral Home telling me that when he lived on Madison that his father, George Herrmann, had chickens and some other small farm animals on their property. That property is now the site of their Madison Avenue facility. Back in the northeast corner of that property sits their original house. It was moved there from its original location when they built the funeral home.
Our family had chickens for a couple of years before the chicken house went empty until becoming a goat house (maybe a story for another day).
Many years later my daughter, Michelle, presented me with a rooster for my birthday. You may remember that I have written a couple of articles about my experiences with that wonderful rooster. His name was Jack, and he lived with us for several months before a petition was presented to me requesting that I find him another home. Jack was my second experience with learning about and raising fouls. I figured that would be my last.
Wrong! My wife, Lyn, decided she would enjoy being in the chicken business. She discovered a local business that sells hens and chicken houses on wheels so they can be moved every few days.
We have three young hens, but they have not started laying eggs yet. Their names are Alberta, named after Lyn’s mother; Betty is named for my mother, and Jackie is named in memory of Jack the rooster. Sometimes Lyn and I sit near their mobile home and enjoy their company.
The chickens are friends with Stuart, our therapy dog. Sometimes when we are sitting near their house, we open the gate and they come out to wander throughout the yard.
We are really enjoying the newest members of our family.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.