HE MAY have only been a young child at the time, but Michael Holmes was already showing clear signs to his family of the direction his career and life would take. He enjoyed collecting the eggs, feeding the chooks, ensuring they had enough water, and generally looking after them.
After a while, he started quizzing his dad about how much it cost to feed the chooks that were roaming around the family's expansive Violet Town property. The young boy had become both hooked and chooked.
Fast forward more than 30 years and Michael Holmes is 43, a financial planner in Wangaratta, a member of the Royal Melbourne Show's poultry committee, a chicken breeder, and a major entrant in the poultry competition at this year's show.
Michael's father, Rolly Holmes, recalled his son's fondness for chickens as a youngster yesterday, while sitting inside a giant chook shed at the Royal Melbourne Show.
"First off he used to count every egg we got. Then he kept asking me how much we were paying for feed. And then he'd tell me how much we were losing or how much we'd make," Rolly said. "And that's how it all came about."
Between Michael, his wife Kathy, sons Matthew and Dameon and daughter Gemma, the family has entered 53 birds (including ducks) in competition. Rolly and his wife Lee have entered 40 birds.
This means that all up, about 7.3 per cent of the 1270 birds entered in the poultry categories at this year's show are Holmes' birds. The two Holmes families have also entered 30 eggs in the egg categories.
When someone at Michael Holmes' Wangaratta household feels like scrambled eggs, or feels inclined to bake a sponge cake, there is never an egg shortage. The 500 or so chooks in the $40,000 purpose-built enclosure outside see to that.
But surprisingly, when Michael Holmes has roast chicken, it doesn't come from the back yard. "Nope, we don't eat them. We've got little bantams that we show. It's too much hassle, it's easier to go to the shop," he said.
But with about 240 eggs to collect each week, it's a bonanza for a man with a taste for the occasional bacon and eggs breakfast. "I probably eat eggs and bacon only once a week. But we use eggs in cooking," he said.
The remaining eggs, which aren't eaten at home, are given away to friends, sold or kept to be hatched.
For a man with a numbers brain who spends most of his week giving people financial advice, chickens are both an enjoyable and time-consuming hobby.
"It gets you away from work. It gives you the release, the relaxation. Work's fairly strenuous and pretty full-on, so to get out with the chooks, that's No. 1 …"
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