PORTLAND – A father and son project featuring an old swing set and some chickens resulted in an unexpected adventure during quarantine and a new book that tells the tale.
Mark and Colten Miller just released “Colten’s Eggs: How I Turned My Old Swing Set Into a Quarantined Chicken Coop” a few weeks ago and they have seen the book’s popularity quickly rise through hospitals, churches and social media.
“The way it came about was when this whole pandemic hit and they closed down schools, we found ourselves doing learning from home like everybody else,” Colten’s father Mark said. “And we just needed some things to do. So Colten has always been wanting chickens and he always asked me – the book talks about it.”
So when Colten asked his dad about the chickens again during the pandemic, Mark saw it as a perfect opportunity to not only make his son’s wish come true, it could be a big lesson as well.
“So we had an old swing set out here and I just gave Colton some tools and I said, ‘All right, your job is to take the swings off and take all this off’, so he would work during the day on school work and that was your evening reward.”
Colton said, “I just always wanted them because it’s almost like having the farm experience in a way. And I can sell the eggs and make money off of them.
“And it’s really fun and pretty easy keeping them happy.”
The two also designed a logo for Colton’s Eggs that goes onto every carton he sells.
The book came about because Colton was having issues with his knees that required surgery. During the pandemic, only one parent was allowed in Driscoll’s Children’s Hospital at a time so Mark found himself alone in the parking garage waiting for the procedures to be over.
“I start thinking about all that we’ve been doing and we had sort of talked about making a book,” Mark said. “So from the car while I’m waiting in the parking garage, I just turn over some old mail that’s laying there and I start writing this stuff out on the back of envelopes. That’s where it got started
“Then I contacted a friend of mine in Mississippi and told him what we were doing because, among other things, he is an artist.”
After a month, the two of them had a book, complete with illustrations and ready for print.
But even before one book was printed, Colton already had some fans. While at Driscoll’s he had been talking to the nurses and surgeon about his new book and they all said to bring it by when it was done.
And that’s what he did.
“The ladies were just thrilled because the book was produced and they all came back and bought copies and then they called and asked us to come back because there were more of them that wanted copies,” Mark said.
“One lady was just really touched by the message of the book and in tears telling him what it meant to her.”
At the end of the day, Colton said he learned responsibility because it is his job to take care of the chickens and gather eggs and get them ready to sell.
So is there a sequel in the works?
“I think we’re just going to see how this book does and think if we’re going to make another book,” Colton said.
His dad added that point book was how they took something like his swing set that was unused, and it was re-purposed and became useful just like God can do the same within people’s lives.
“I think it’s a timely message because it’s about doing something in the midst of the COVID experience and trying to find good in this,” Mark said. “I think that’s a real positive lesson that people need to hear and it was part of my motivation.
“He hasn’t thought about other books, but I thought we could write a whole series of books on virtues from this whole experience.
“But he’s right,” he said laughing. “We got to take this one book at a time.”
Paul Gonzales is a reporter at The News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270.