By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
The Bartlett family of Portales showed geese at the Roosevelt County Fair for the second time this year.
“The neat thing about waterfowl is not everybody does it,” said Joe Bartlett.
Joe’s 10-year-old son, Clayton, won Champion Waterfowl with a 2-year-old female Chinese White goose this year and Best of Show last year.
Joe and his wife, Kathryn, have raised various types of poultry since they were married, and their children have joined in. They have shown chickens for three years.
Clayton has competed with waterfowl for two years, and his sister, Lindsey, 12, started with the water birds this year.
“I think it’s a good experience for them,” Joe said.
Raising birds teaches Clayton and Lindsey about taking care of things and the course of life from birth to death, or possible sale for fowl, he said.
Lindsey said her favorite part of raising the waterfowl is seeing what they grow up to be.
“My worst part I hate about them is when they grow up and get all feisty and want to bite people,” she said.
Clayton said he enjoys seeing how pretty the birds become. A ruffled gosling with a bent wing turned into a champion Chinese White goose.
Joe said that goose came from a feed store as a gosling. When the bird was young, Clayton said, a turkey chased her, but an older goose taught her to swim and defend herself.
Joe said the Chinese White behaved nicely until she won Best of Show last year and was put in a pen at the front of the barn. The bird didn’t take to the commotion and children sticking their fingers in her cage, and has hissed and snapped at people ever since.
However, she does allow her owners to hold and carry her with little struggling.
The Bartletts’ geese live in a pen with ducks, chickens and turkeys. They have a wading pool to swim in and get high-protein feed, whole corn and sunflower seeds to eat.
If the weather gets too cold, Joe said, the waterfowl need extra shelter and unfrozen water to use to clean themselves and keep their feathers in good condition.
For shelter, his family provides doghouses with straw on the floor and heat lamps. They use electric de-icers to keep water from freezing or haul fresh water to the pen.
Joe said fowl are easy to raise, requiring a lot of care but less space than livestock.
“You can grow a lot of birds for your dollar,” he said. “And there’s good variety.”