Prakash Thombre feeds his chickens at his Oregon farm that was rebuilt with the help of the community. The chickens graze on four acres of alfalfa in season.
Jetta Fraser Enlarge
Prakash Thombre and his family are rebuilding their K&P Farms free-range chicken operation destroyed by fire early last year with widespread help from the Oregon community.
The January, 2009, fire killed 150 goats and more than 300 chickens and other animals, along with burning down the Thombres five-building barn complex at 7150 Corduroy Rd.
Although the Thombres plan to raise a few goats, they now have about 400 chickens whose eggs primarily are sold in Walt Churchill's Markets in Perrysburg and Monclova Township and Churchill's Supermarket in West Toledo. The chickens graze on four acres of alfalfa in the summer, and the operation is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"They like to scratch outside," said Mr. Thombre, a scientist by profession who works on ethanol research. "They like to go outside. They like to roam."
Critical to K&P Farms' rebirth was help the Thombres received building a 120-foot-by-40-foot barn with a 12-foot lean-to, where the chickens roost and are treated by Mr. Thombre's wife, Kyrmen Thombre, a veterinarian in their native India. Materials cost $30,000, but labor would have cost at least another $75,000 if they had not received help, Mr. Thombre said.
"This is a testament of how people, neighbors help people," Mr. Thombre said. "And we didn't know most of them."
Oregon resident Paul Ackerman, president and owner of Ackerman Industrial Equipment, spearheaded an effort to help the Thombres. At first he and his son Michael, a Clay High School classmate of the Thombres' son, Lang, pitched in with cleanup.
"It looked like a disaster," recalled Mr. Ackerman, who did not know Mr. Thombre before the fire. "He credits a lot of people, but he [and Lang] did a lot. His family deserves a lot of credit."
The Thombres received help from neighbors and people at their church, New Life Assembly of God in Oregon.
They also got help from people at Mr. Ackerman's church, First Alliance Church in Toledo, which was damaged by fire in June not long before 20 members helped put the Thombre barn's roof on in one day.
"A lot of people just wanted to kick in and help," said Mr. Ackerman, whose family now is friends with the Thombres.
The Thombres hope to find other outlets for their eggs, which they also sell at their farm for $2.50 to $3 a dozen depending on size. They had 1,000 chickens at one time, Mr. Thombre said.
Mr. Thombre moved to Oregon in 1999, and the farm had received nuisance complaints in 2004 and 2005 before the property was cleaned up.