Saturday, September 17, 2011

National Heirloom Expo

The National Heirloom Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa was a huge success! I arrived late Tuesday and spent part of the day Wednesday there. Kids were arriving on school buses on Wednesday. What a great event for them, a taste of something less structured and corporate.

The organic popcorn was delicious. The Corn Stalk of Life weaving I longed for was outside my budget, but it’s in my mind now and inspiring me to think of my own handwork and how I can incorporate those ideas.

The poultry show was great! Kim Consol brought her Silver Gray Dorkings from Star Rose Ranch, and I was delighted to have a chance to meet her. She had a display to explain about heirloom chickens in general and Dorkings in particular. She brought lots of livestock: her Dexter heifer behind us, American Guinea hogs and St. Croix Hair Sheep as well as the chickens. I fell in love with her beautiful cow.

The poultry show attracted about 150 birds, not a huge amount, but a good showing for its focus on traditional breeds. I saw Auburn Javas, which I hadn’t seen in person before, although I’ve written about them in Backyard Poultry. There were some Mottled Javas, too. The stately Buff Orpington rooster took Best of Show, well deserved. Other breeds, both large fowl and bantam, shown included: Light and Speckled Sussex, Australorps and Black and White Ameraucanas, Brown Leghorns and Blue Andalusians. Marans were shown in Black Copper, the only recognized variety thus far, Blue Copper, Cuckoo and Splash, next to the Penedesencas. I wondered if they were grouped by dark egg color. Spangled Orloffs were there, and both silver laced and golden laced Wyandottes. Buckeyes were shown both as large fowl and as bantams. White, Blue and Wheaten Araucanas, Black and Blue Sumatras, another variety I had never seen. Wheaten Shamos stood tall, but the Black Shamo took reserve champion Large Fowl. Naked Necks got some attention. They looked like lovely birds. Silver penciled and Golden Penciled Hamburgs, Buttercups, Dominiques and Barred Rocks, both large fowl and bantam. Salmon Faverolles, a Black Frizzle Cochin and a Blue Cochin, a buff laced Polish frizzle.

Bantams were represented by Sebrights, Belgian Bearded d’Anvers, in Mille Fleur and Quail varieties, Mille Fleur d’Uccles, Kashimo Wheaten bantam, Modern Game bantams and several Nankins. The Speckled Sussex rooster was Champion Bantam, quite good size and an impressive bird.

There were lots of turkeys, most if not all from the Ryan Family Farm in Sebastopol. Tony and Lenore Ryan brought Sweetgrass and these Harvest Gold turkeys, the first I’ve seen of them. Tom Walker in Texas has told me about them, so I expected beautiful birds and was not disappointed! He brought several Bronze and a pair of Royal Palms, Narragansetts, Black, Slate and White Hollands.

Ducks were well represented: Welsh Harlequin and Magpie, Fawn and White Runners, a Black Muscovy hen who stole my heart.

There were a few geese: two Toulouse, one Buff and two Sebastopols. This is one of them.

Three Pearl Guineas looked better than any I’ve seen recently.

I was excited to connect with a high school teacher who is leading a poultry club that focuses on traditional birds. One brought his Brahma rooster, a gorgeous bird even if he didn’t win, and they brought all the Nankins. I hope to connect with her and encourage her work with this group. Meeting Jeannette Beranger, program manager and Alison Martin, research and technical program director for the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, in person was a treat. The Internet is great, but there’s nothing like seeing people face to face.

It was worth the five-hour drive! I look forward to future expos. Thanks, Jere Gettle and Petaluma Seed Bank and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for organizing it.

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