There's no doubt what was going on at Scott Mitchell’s farm on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Ducks quacked, hens clucked and roosters cock-a-doodle-doo'ed as the Maritime Poultry Meet got underway at Willow Creek Poultry in Bonshaw.
“We wanted to start a fall show for waterfowl guys on P.E.I.” said Mitchell, whose driveway was lined with cars from around the Maritimes and as far away as Ontario.
Ducks moult their feathers in the summer and are in fine form by fall. So, three years ago, Mitchell started the October meet. This year there were between 450 and 500 entries.
The wind was brisk, and scattered bouts of large raindrops competed with the sunshine trying to take over the autumn sky.
Humans were dressed in sweaters, coats, hats and mud-speckled rubber boots.
Inside the spacious barn, the rows and rows of poultry were dressed, too – ducks, chickens, roosters, pigeons – completely comfortable in their natural feather jackets.
Zachary Best, an 11-year-old poultry fancier, chose eight from his flock of over 30 birds to bring to P.E.I. from Londonderry, N.S., with his mom.
Five Rhode Island reds and bantams, one Sumatran hen and a pair of light Brahma bantams made the trip.
“Sometimes it is a bit hard because you’re rushing around and bathing chickens the night before, like we did last night, but it’s really fun,” said Zachary.
He checked on his pair of Brahma bantams. Clean wood chips covered the floor of the cage, and a small mason jar of fresh water sat in a corner. The birds were a little bigger than a teapot, their feathers white with grey speckles.
“Hopefully my birds will do really wel, and that people like them,” said Zachary.
Nearby were Rebecca Cowans’ and Cynthia Allaire’s English Orpingtons. About the size of a large toaster oven, the glossy black birds were twice the size of Zachary’s Brahmas.
“Orpingtons are a heritage breed of poultry, and they’re a really good dual purpose, they make a good meal and lay eggs quite consistently,” said Allaire.
She brought her birds from home, just up the road. She’s glad to see the event in her neighbourhood and to see so many different breeds of poultry.
“I like to promote the heritage breeds,” said Cowans, “because if we don’t keep utilizing them, we’re going to lose them.”
Their advice for any hopeful poultry owners is to research what you want in a bird and choose the right breed for your needs.
“If you just want birds that lay eggs and look pretty, there’s lots of fancy chicken breeds out there,” said Allaire. “But if you’re looking for something that’s also good for dinner, a lot of the heritage breeds are dual purpose, so, do your research. Otherwise, they’re pretty easy to take care of for the most part.”
Cowans was showing her rooster, BB, an Orpington from Allaire’s brood.
“For Big Boy,” she said, explaining his initials.
She reached into the cage to bring him out. The rooster didn’t protest the handling, but it still took some manoeuvring to get his tall red comb and long glossy tail feathers out through the small cage door.
Once free, BB sat quietly in her arms, his comb pivoted as he took in the competition still inside the adjacent cages.
“The trick is not falling too in love with them, that’s hard.”