“Dad, do you remember that Minecraft YouTuber that I used to watch?”
“Yeah. I remember Stampy,” I replied.
“Oh my goddess,” she said, clutching her heart with a nostalgic look, “One of his videos popped up and it brought back such good memories!”
As my daughter shared her memories of Minecraft videos, I started asking myself, “What are the memories I am creating with her and with my other kids, that will move them to clasp their heart with nostalgia in one, five, and ten plus years from now? ‘I remember when my dad and I would…Such good memories!’” They’ll say.
Our Memory Makers
Our son was diagnosed with severe milk allergies as an infant. My wife and I were thrown into this wild world of reading food labels, learning about ingredients, and approving every food that entered his mouth. That food journey led us to the decision to start a vegetable garden and eventually get chickens. There’s no real connection between the garden, chickens, and food allergies, but we thought we’d try our hand at growing and raising some of our own food.
The garden and the chickens have served as fantastic memory makers for our family. My daughter sent me an image recently that elicited, from me, a similar response as she had to the Minecraft video. The image read, “Gardening Dad: Like a regular dad but cooler.” It made me stand a little prouder that day that she took the time to send it to me.
We started slowly with raised beds and eventually planted rows for the veggies. This led to nearly a third of the yard being either a garden or the chicken run. We had up to eight chickens at one point.
We’ve tried lots of different plants, but I’m partial to our mojito garden (lime tree and mint). I’m planning on a small patch of sugar cane to complete the mojito garden.
Whether it’s eggs, thyme, peppers, or rosemary, not a day goes by where we are not harvesting something. My youngest loves to gather eggs. My oldest eats the peppers like they are going out of style, and my nostalgic middle daughter is my main garden help.
The memories that rise to the top
I built our first raised beds out of cedar. I probably spent way too much money on them but they were beautiful. One was dedicated to tomatoes. My wife, Jennifer, was watering them one day and she kept hearing a squeaking noise. Turns out a wild rabbit gave birth to some bunnies. If I were further along in my animal raising journey I probably would have built them a home and added them to our family.
Another morning I woke up to find a hole had been dug at the base of the chicken coop. Some animal was motivated to get the “girls.” Jennifer bought me a game camera so we can find the culprit. It was a fox!! Coincidentally foxes are my youngest daughter’s favorite animal. Luckily, I overbuilt the coop’s foundation and nothing was getting in from below.
But then came the band of raccoons that got to the chickens one night and the backyard looked like a murder scene the following morning. There were piles and trails of feathers that led out the yard to several chicken heads!
The great chicken escape and the mice
I remember vividly when my wife was miscarrying with one of her pregnancies, it was important for her that I stayed with the kids. It was my birthday, and I was agonizing not being by her side. To pass the time, the kids and I (2 at that time) shot our original film “The Great Chicken Escape.” Chickens make great therapy animals!
There was another time mice had burrowed in our raised vegetable garden to position themselves strategically to break into the chicken coop and eat the feed. My son and I found one of their points of entry, lit a few smoke bombs and possibly a roman candle, and stuffed it in the hole. Smoke started pouring out from several other spots followed by 5 or 6 mice! Needless to say, my wife was horrified and it wasn’t much longer after that that the chickens went to “the big farm” where I’m pretty sure they ended up in soup!
Chickens Round 2
After a 7 year hiatus of no chickens, just vegetable and butterfly gardens, my wife gave in to our (me and the kids) patient petitions for chickens. “They gave us so many memories.” So in September of the pandemic year, we got 3 chicks to complete our garden again.
Today we are building more memories. As a family, we have watched the chickens befriend TchaTcha the neighborhood cat, whom I welcome anytime as rodent control. Our neighbors’ children watch the chickens through the fence and regularly sprint to the coop when they come to the backyard. Our pepper garden is crushing it and my neighbor is envious of my tomatoes.
It’s Father’s Day week and all I want is to keep making memories. I’m a gardening dad and that makes me a little cooler.
About Erik Garcia
Erik is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and investment advisor.
He and his wife Jennifer were both born and raised in New Orleans and keep busy by raising 3 kids and 3 backyard chickens.
Erik loves culture and being born to Cuban parents in one of America’s most soulful cities. He is privileged to be surrounded by some of the richest cultures on planet earth; from food to music, it’s hard to beat New Orleans and Cuba.
He is a Saints fan, a soccer fan, an entrepreneur, and a lover of coffee.
Erik launched the Building Us podcast in 2020 with his co-host Dr. Matt Morris, a show about relationships with people, with community, and with money.
His earliest memory of “working with money” was when his grandfather would empty the change from his pockets into an ashtray. He let Erik take all the quarters and Erik would exchange the quarters for dollar bills with his uncle, who needed the change to ride the bus. This made buying baseball cards easier for Erik.