Over 20 years of exhibition poultry! I can’t hardly imagine it being that long until I go back and start looking at my awards and yearbooks. So, how did this all get started? How do you get this passionate about some chickens and waterfowl you may be asking? Well, those in the fancy generally refer to it as a disease. Once you are infected there really is no cure.
When I was just a kid my mom always kept a small flock of bantams and other birds for egg layers. At the same time she owned a small pet shop in the town I grew up in.
I was around animals my entire life. As I hit my preteen years I started attending the animal swaps with her and my grandma. They attended these swaps mainly for cage birds but I started getting interested in the bantams, waterfowl, and gamebirds available. One fall my mom fell in love with a pair of snow call ducks and bought them for me. The seller was Graham Oakford meaning that was the start of a true exhibition flock. This would have been around 1990.
The following spring I hatched every call duck egg I could while still hatching and selling babies out of my hatchery stock of bantams. About that time my grandma suggested I go speak with the Karasek twins who worked at our local grocery store. I did just that. They got me pointed in the direction of the APA standard while another family friend brought me a huge box of old Poultry Press editions to read.
I quickly realized that my flock was definitely not exhibition quality except for my pekins and call ducks that I happened into via the swaps. I sold off everything else and concentrated on those two the rest of that year. That fall I entered my first poultry show, the Wisconsin International which was then held in Janesville, WI. I showed 4 snowy calls and 3 pekins in that show. I knew nothing about the junior show so everything went into open.
I spent that weekend talking to all these great people and getting more and more information about how to get this off the ground. The best part was that my dad was listening too so he knew what it would take to support my hobby even though he had no interest in being involved other than the mini vacations to the shows. By the time the show was over I was hooked.
On the way home that day we stopped by the Kidder Game Farm in Milton, WI after meeting Clark at the show. We came home with a pair of sebastopols and some rouens from that visit.
Over the next few years I got into white rock bantams and large fowl as well as cornish bantams. I expanded my flock of call ducks to include white and grays. I also got to know Art Lundgren pretty well as well as a gentleman names Garland Crist. Everyone today knows Art but not a ton of people were probably around when Garland was with us. He was a retired hog farmer from Indiana who loved gray call ducks. He raised close to 1000 a year and had some fantastic birds. These two guys really got the call ducks off to a strong start. All through the 90’s I could be found in the fairly local shows with a string of fine rocks, cornish, and waterfowl scoring some very nice wins.
In the late 90’s I cut the flock back in order to attend school and get started as an adult. After getting established fairly well I ramped the operation back up in June of 2000. Through the first half of the decade I was showing and winning with white runners, rouens, pekins, black east indies, and toulouse geese in gray and buff. I also had some fine white rocks in large fowl and bantams as well as quail d’anvers and some miscellaneous call ducks that snuck a win in here and there. Late in 2004 we decided to move to a more populated area to support my career. We decided to rent a home when we did it since we weren’t sure it would be right so I had to disperse the flock.
After a few years of moving around the country working for the new company I decided to come back to Minnesota which is where we moved to originally. I switched companies to one that is headquartered here and now own a home in the country and getting the bird hobby up and running again. We have sourced birds from the best breeders in the United States and Canada and are busy building up the best flock of bantam ducks possible.