For me, it was only one day. A few brief hours in all actuality. But for this Farm Chick Chit Chat girl, I had found and experienced the Chicken Mecca.
On November 10, 2012 I stepped foot into the Ohio National in Columbus, largest and most spectacular gatherings of poultry breeders, exhibitors and fanatics that amassed in the state of Ohio. With my husband and 8 year old daughter in tow, I began walking down the countless rows of birds, vendors and clubs on display. The enormity of the building was overwhelming, yet every available space was occupied by people wanting to take part in such an amazing event.
Meyer Hatchery booth and say hello. For those of you who don't know Meyer Hatchery, you don't know what an amazing and helpful staff they have. They have some amazing people working there who are not only knowledgeable and have experience with poultry, but who are also very courteous and take the time to get to know you and what your needs are. They truly want you to walk away from your experience educated, satisfied and happy with your new flock members, and they know the key to return business is in these details.
After catching up with my favorite hatchery's on goings, and snagging one of their GORGEOUS 2013 catalogs (get my treat recipe with your QR scanner on page 75 and see little glimpse of my daughter, another Meyer Hatchery fan, on page 104) and calendars, it was time to look at the vendor and club tables. Products were lined up neatly as far as the eye could see; books, medical supplies, leg bands, feed, treats. You name it, it was there. Some wonderful companies had their products available for purchase and I was tempted at every turn! Buckley Bros. Inc., PBS Animal Health, Smith Poultry & Game Bird Supplies, Foy's Pet Supplies, Keipper Cooping Company and Twin City Poultry Supplies are all proud affiliates of the Ohio National.
Who else is connected with the Ohio National? Why none other than the Ohio Poultry Association, Backyard Poultry Magazine and chicken guru Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer. I didn't get to personally meet Andy, mind you, but rather he is listed on the Ohio National site as an affiliate. It's probably a good thing I didn't run into him. I'd have probably embarrassed myself (not to mention my husband and child) by asking him to autograph a copy of his book for me. It would totally be worth it! Sorry Mike and Meredith.
All these credentials aside, in speaking with Rick, I could tell he was incredibly passionate about his beliefs. As a therapy dog handler myself, I immediately connected with him and his message he is trying to teach. In his beautifully illustrated book, he tells us the story of Percy, a chicken who is told by the others that he is not perfect. "What's perfect?" Percy asks. In reading this book you learn not to question by who's standards you should measure up to, but rather to stand up and embrace what makes us different. I encourage all parents to pick up a copy of this book for the young children in your life, be they chicken enthusiasts or not. The positive message it convey's is uplifting and encouraging. I will be taking my copy of the book into school for use in my reading therapy program and I know the children will all enjoy it as much as I did.
It was a wonderful day spent admiring all the beautiful birds, gathering information on clubs and perusing the vendor tables. I could go on for days about all the amazing animals that I saw there, but I wouldn't hardly begin to do them justice. So many breeds I had never seen before, or had only seen in the glossy pages of a magazine, where right there before my eyes. Getting a first hand look at them, you really can appreciate the unique qualities of each breed. My only complaint? Trying to photograph birds behind bars! I so wanted to be able to share with everyone the details in their feather patterns, the sparkle in their eye, and of course that chicken personality that always shines through. While I think I got a few decent shots in, I was wholly disappointed that the bars obstructed my shots (and caused some nasty flash glares). Thankfully, I wasn't alone. My 8 year old daughter, Meredith, decided she'd be an ace photographer for my blog. HERE are the photos taken by her, and I thank her for showing you the Ohio National from her perspective. (Can you tell what breed is her favorite?)
I will leave you with a few more shots from my album (a few more here from my phone's camera), and some from Meredith's as well. Be sure to visit these websites to learn more about the Ohio National and the people, groups and organizations involved in it. If you plan on attending next year, please let me know. I'd love to explore the event with more chicken enthusiasts, especially if I can convince them to take pictures too!