I have two passions in life: chickens and heirlooms. This month, I had the pleasure of enjoying both at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Spring Planting Festival in Mansfield, Missouri. In case you don’t know, I live in Missouri, birthplace of Harry S. Truman, Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, and Jesse James, and home to Laura Engels Wilder.
Among the Missouri notables is Jere Gettle and his homestead, The Bakersville Pioneer Village. His village is a unique homestead of old time stores, herbal apothecary, a natural bakery, blacksmith shop, a Western jail, a seed museum, heritage poultry, gardens, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds carries more than 1,400 varieties of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. All are open-pollinated, non-hybrid, non-treated, non-patented, and most importantly, non-genetically modified heirlooms. Bakersville is open to the public at all times, but on the first Sunday each month, March through October, they hold Heritage Day Festivals.
This month, I had the pleasure of attending a special festival, the 12th Annual Spring Planting Festival. I enjoyed more than 140 vendors, 70 old time musicians, and over 40 craftsmen. There were record numbers of vendors and attendees this year. I think this is a sign of more people returning to our roots, a time when things were simpler and more natural. People were leaving with arms and baskets full of plants. It was a beautiful sight. Vendors sold plants, birds, and handcrafted items such as rolling pins, walking sticks, hats, soaps, and a variety of foods.
Several different breeds of birds were on display, including Nankins, Silkies, La Fleche, and the Bourbon Red Turkeys. The birds were all in individual pens scattered throughout the homestead. The Nankins are an ancient bantam breed, used in the development of the Sebright. They are small (24 oz cock, 22 oz hen), come in single or rose combs, and their conservation status with the ALBC is critical. The hens are known for being very good mothers and extremely broody and in fact were historically used to brood eggs for pheasants, quail, and partridges. Silkies are unusual in that they have bluish black skin, bones, and meat. They are extremely docile and friendly. Another excellent broody hen.
The La Fleche is often called the devil bird because of it’s V-shaped comb that looks like horns. They originated in northern France, are excellent foragers, and are famous in France for their large breast meat proportions. They are critical on the ALBC conservation list also. They also had a beautiful Bourbon Red Tom Turkey. The Bourbon Red Turkey breed was developed in Pennsylvania and Kentucky from the Buff, Bronze, and the White Holland. They are excellent foragers and taste amazing. What a beautiful bird!
The kids followed around with me for a couple of hours before we found the kids tent. There were some fun activities including sack races, egg races, seed planting, and a giant white board for drawing. My kids participated in all as well as taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in egg races and sack races. We really enjoyed our trip to the Spring Planting festival!