Doherty, Earl

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                                        EARL DOHERTY
                                     By Beatrice Jardine

Earl came home with one little pheasant with crooked little toes because he felt sorry for it, says Margaret Doherty. Margaret and her husband, Earl, now raise game birds for a hobby. They hope someday they can go into business, but that is about ten years down the road, Earl added. The little bird Earl brought home is still living although it is getting old and weak. The bird is about nine years old, Earl added.

He used to be an avid fisherman. That’s how this hobby started, he said. He was tying ‘flies’ since around 1968. It took a lot of feathers, so he decided he would buy a pheasant and use the feathers that would come off the bird. Earl used to sell a few flies, making thousands over the years, but he now makes them just for himself.

“Now the birds are taking the main stream of my hobby time,” Earl added.

About five years ago, he started buying a few more birds. He now has 17 breeds of pheasants, two breeds of quail, wild turkeys, and four breeds of peacock plus domestic birds. “It’s a challenge to raise a rare species. I like the challenge.”

Doherty has four endangered species of pheasants. They are hard to breed because they have to have certain conditions like humidity, controlled incubation and such.

Each type of bird is individual and requires consistent care. But as they strolled around the well-kept pens, naming each kind of bird you could tell the love they have for them.

Margaret helps to take care of the birds. Her eyes twinkle when she looks into a cage and sees a big white peacock. “That’s my favorite,” she said.

April, May and June are the busiest times of year with a few birds being hatched in July. It takes from two to seven hours depending on the time of year, he added.

Teacher Early Doherty takes one of his five incubators over to North and South Esk Elementary School to show the children the eggs hatching. The children love to watch the eggs and are delighted when they see one hatching, Earl added.

He spends his summer building and improving cages. He has 45 pens and quite a few small ones. He is in the process of building some new ones.

He sold enough stock birds to feed the ones he has for the winter. It’s an expensive hobby. Birds range in price from $35 to $400 a pair. He just purchased a male Himalayan monal pheasant over the weekend. He is now going to order a mate.

Earl and Margaret Doherty’s home is comfortable with oil paintings hanging in the living room. Most of them he drew himself, one a friend Lois Sutherland drew for him.

Earl goes into another room and brings out a painting of a racoon and another of two ring-necked pheasants. “I don’t brag about my paintings, but I do when it comes to my daughter, Genny,” Earl said. “She is a talented girl and has a love for nature,” he added. “This is reflected in her paintings.”

Earl coached volleyball for years and is now an official for the area. He coached for 23 years. “I had a real ball coaching good athletes and the team excelled, winning seven or eight provincial championships over the years,” he said.

He stopped two years ago. “My body was having a hard time to keep up the schedule,” he said.

Doherty used to have a lot of raspberry bushes, but he has slackened off with them because the birds are taking up much of his spare time. “Besides the kids are gone, so I lost my pickers,” Doherty added.

Earl has been a teacher for 23 years. He taught art for 15 years at North and South Esk Regional High School. Last year he went to the elementary school. He teaches art, physical education, math and science. Margaret is also a teacher at NSER.

Taking care of the birds is a good hobby. It makes their day enjoyable and the housework can be done after dark, Margaret said. The birds are sleeping at that time.

Source: Miramichi Leader - August 10, 1990

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