Raising a brood of seven siblings and sending them all to school must
have been an herculean task for my Dad, who was the sole breadwinner for
the family, and entirely dependent on his government salary. To
supplement his income, we started a backyard poultry
project, raising chickens, both broilers and layers, primarily for
home consumption. Excess chicken meat and eggs, which we had most of
the time, were sold to our neighbors. Our backyard poultry
had about a hundred heads of Rhode Island Reds and/or White Leghorns
at any one time, aside from the steady supply of chicks which
replenished the butchered stocks.
My Kuya Sander and I helped Dad construct the chicken coops for our backyard poultry,
which were made of bamboo and chicken wire. The bamboo flooring for
the layers were slightly slanted forward and extended, so that the
eggs laid would just roll out through an opening up to the stopper
where they were harvested. We had the chicken coops at the left side
of the covered garage, which was at the left end of our quarters. The
bamboos used in constructing the houses were retrieved from the sea.
Lots of it float around and are carried by the waves to the sea wall
behind our quarters, especially during typhoons. I believe they were
uprooted by the strong waves and wind from the fish pens during the
The day old chicks were kept in a separate holding
house within the garage, equipped with a light bulb 24 hours a day to
keep them warm. They remained there there until they were big enough
to be transferred to the regular chicken houses.
The chicken compost gathered from our backyard poultry were used as fertilizers for the different varieties of flowering plants and shrubs Mom had in our front lawn garden.
The more memorable by-product of this backyard poultry
raising was the unforgettable memories of the holiday seasons.
During Christmas' and New Year's eves, Dad would have a head of 45 day
old chicken roasted for each one of us in the family, which we would
partake of during the traditional eve dinners. My sons, who are
chicken dish lovers, would have extremely enjoyed those gluttonous
Extra heads were prepared if we had anticipated
guests, usually young graduates of the Philippine Military Academy
from distant provinces who opted to join the naval service, and who
had no relatives to spend the holiday seasons with. Dad, himself a
1944 alumnus of the Academy, had become a sort of a father figure to
these young graduates, who eventually became family friends, and who
later on would occupy sensitive top positions in the Navy and the
Armed Forces. Two of my sisters and a cousin would eventually become
spouses of PMAyers later on.
As our clan now would
traditionally gather on Christmas eve for our annual reunions and
gift-givings, my mind would time and again drift back to those
nostalgic memories, of which the chicken feasts the family shared together, will always be a part of. We may
not have as much assortments of food that we have now these days, but
that backyard poultry project would always suffice to make our day during those times.
[Raising Pigs for Food and Profit]