You could say I've gone to the birds.

You could say I've gone to the birds.

I recently attended "The Ohio National," sponsored by The Poultry Breeders Association, with two of my Johnstown friends Karl and Linda Harris.

Linda invited me to go with them to the show that included the national meet of the Call (Duck) Breeders of America, the Rhode Island Red Club of America, the American Brown Leghorn, the Wyandotte Breeders of America, the Dominique Club of America and the Serama Council of North America.

Linda knows how much I've enjoyed the four ducks I added to my small farm in September. She and her husband recently added chickens to their homestead. Karl even made a portable A-frame home for their birds. The upper deck has a loft with roosting areas and a retractable ladder that leads to the lower kitchen feeding area.

I must admit, I chuckled when I first heard about the poultry "meet." And that laughter continued when we arrived at the state fairgrounds in Columbus. There were chickens cackling in their pens in the back of vehicles in the parking lot. In the foyer of the show, we saw one girl who had chickens tucked in her jacket.

We must have had funny looks on our faces because she explained that she didn't bring a box, as a couple chickens peeked out from the top and middle of her coat. Others attending the show walked around nonchalantly with chickens in their arms.

We headed straight for the swap area, where there were all breeds and sizes of birds for sale. I wanted to buy a partner for my Call Duck "Junior," a drake. He had been getting picked on by my larger ducks. But instead of a white female to join Junior, I bought a pen of three bantam East Indie ducks.

I didn't realize ducks came in such a variety of colors or sizes. The Indies are metallic blue-green -- just stunning, brilliant in color. It took no time for me to purchase those beauties. As I continued to look in the swap area, I found Call Ducks in varieties that sounded more like ice cream flavors than a breed of bird -- "Chocolate," "Butterscotch," "Snowy," "Pastel" and "White Silkies," among others. In addition to the Indies, I got a pair of Butterscotch Call Ducks.

Besides expanding my knowledge of the Call Duck, I enjoyed looking at hundreds of other birds. There was a large breed of duck that appeared to be wearing a gown, with white feathers pointed in haphazard directions. She looked dressed for a ball. Then there were the beautiful turkeys with their fan-tailed feathers.

Karl, a self-taught carpenter, seemed most interested in the makings of some of the cages. While testing the spindle gate of one wooden cage, he accidentally released a chicken that flew into the arms of a bystander. The bird was immediately returned to the carrier, and we laughed and quickened our pace to another area of the meet.

In the large show area, there was a constant clucking and calls from the birds, but everyone seemed oblivious to the noise. There was also a small retail area where one man, who talked with a strong southern accent, made triple bird carriers while you waited. The nicely-made cages cost $20 apiece, the same price his daddy charged decades before.

Linda and I purchased a few necessities for our feathered friends, and we returned to Johnstown knowing a little more about our hobbies. In my case, it made me realize I have a lot more to learn.

More information about the poultry show can be found at www.ohionational.org.

I'm already looking forward to next year, when I just may add some Chocolates to my Butterscotches.

Marla Kuhlman is editor of The Johnstown Independent.

Marla

Kuhlman