BYC Member Interview - duluthralphie

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by sumi, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Ralphie, known to BYC members as duluthralphie, has been a member of our community since December, 2014. Another wonderful all rounder (and secret duck lover), he's known for his humorous contributions and beautiful flock of birds.

    1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

    I am retired, I am married to the WWD, and have been for 43 years. WWD stands for Wicked Witches Daughter, there are 4 of them. My DW is heir apparent to the throne as the oldest. We have Grandkids. My wife has a couple years to go before she can retire. We bought the farm I grew up on from my brothers where we live now.

    My hobbies are my birds now, they are my reason to get up and do something everyday. I also started mushroom hunting last year with Jerryse and Bogtownchick. We have kind of been learning together with Jerry being the leader because of his knowledge.

    Things about me… Hmmmmmmmmmmmm... I have a lot of airman certificates: Commercial pilot, helicopter, fixed wing single and multi engine, Instrument rated, with flight instructor for single and multi engine fixed wing and instrument instructor for both.

    I have PTSD and have had it for a long time, there appear to be two ways people deal with it, one is drugs and alcohol the other is becoming a workaholic. I became the latter. Which gives me a wide and varied career. I was always restless and looking for the next challenge. Because of PTSD I have become extremely withdrawn in my personal life.

    That all changed about three years ago for me, I had a friend that was in a study at the VA. They discovered over 75% of people suffering from PTSD have ADHD. I was tested for it and found I had it, which put my life in perspective. It explained why I would get A's on my tests in school but could never seem to finish a homework assignment. It explained why I was always searching for something new to do and another “thrill”. I say this mainly with the hope one of you suffering from PTSD read this and get yourself tested for ADHD. Your life will change, flashbacks and nightmares will end. You will get joy from normal little things and not need the “thrills” to feel alive.

    I was lucky enough to work my career for a large law enforcement agency which gave me lots of room to become part of different divisions and a decent retirement. I was able to keep myself working at the same place while still being able to move around geographically. I spent the longest period in the Duluth Minnesota area.

    My wife is a nurse and we owned and ran several businesses on the side while I flew for a couple large companies on my days off. As I said I was a workaholic.

    And here comes a photo bomb:





    Above are my favorite pair of Dominiques. I started showing last year, these two did well. I wish I could take the credit for breeding them, all I did was hatch the eggs I bought from Duane Urch, a giant in chickens and a great person in the industry. I thank him for the great stock he sold me.

    2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

    I had my first chickens when I was 4. I grew up on a small farm on a sand dune. We had a bunch of animals of all kinds. I have always had or wanted animals. I seem to relate to them better than people. We have had animals during our married life several times depending on where we lived. So it is hard to say when I first got chickens. This go around it was in 2011 or '12, when we bought the farm and moved here to retire.

    3. Which aspect(s) of chicken keeping do you enjoy the most?

    Of course, the hatching and chicks. I like all of it except carrying water in the winter. (which is about 9 months a year here).

    This gal is having a rough molt right now.

    This is the Silver laced Polish I am currently using on my hens. I like his beard.

    Above is one of my toads. They are so curious and such great birds. Toads are a "breed" of sustainable meat birds I have been working on.

    The above picture creeped out some of my BYC friends, they claim they look haunted, I think they are cute.



    Above is a pair of Partridge Chanticler from this spring's hatch. Maybe I will get lucky and one will win at the national show this fall.

    And of course, I had to show the above, it is why I dislike ducks so much, as you can see they are mean and evil.

    These (above) are some of my Partridge chanticleer breeders.

    A Royal Palm deciding it is better to go to the source instead of waiting for the seeds that drop

    This is my Yoki. Everyone needs a Yoki, the tails are so cool.

    Below is a guy that decided it was time to see why I had not been out to feed him yet. He likes looking in, the WWD does not like his looking in.



    JJ in an older picture. (above) and below is another view of my Yokohama



    Above and below are "cuddles" my Speckled Sussex rooster.



    Above is the current "Bert". A Bert is like the king of the toads. He is father to the below bunch.


    Above Appenzeller Spitzenhaubens. A great bird for the cold. They eat very little and lay a larger egg.

    Above is Weinerhead one of my Partridge Chanticler breeders and a hen


    These two are a lame attempt to keep the combs whole, It failed.


    Above is Ethel and myself one fall day.

    And a picture of my MIL.

    This is Weinerhead at the state show last fall.

    The following three pictures will show in detail how I made my award winning entry into the Halloween egg decorating contest, that I did not seem to ever get a prize for.




    Below is JJ again when he was a little older. Like last summer.

    Below are a few of my Legbars, as you can see I have white frost legbars, they are one of my favorite birds. I think I have about 30 of them now.

    Here is a regular plain ordinary legbar with her more famous sisters.

    The above is a find of mine when looking for mushrooms.


    Above is one of the previous "Bert's" trying to get into the layers coop. I had to pick him up and carry him in, the door was just too small. They even slept together, some nights the poult was under his wing and I could hardly see it.

    Above is "sidekick" last year he decided he wanted to be a Mom and adopted this poult...


    Below is my cherry crop from last fall. It was quite the haul!


    The Speckled Sussex below had chicks in a hollow tree. Because of where I kept the birds I knew the chicks where pure.

    Above is Ethel with some babies She did not care what she was mother to, as long as she was a mother.

    Below is "Andy" when I was training him for the purple ribbon. I hate to have a bird freak out at the color purple so I train them young to accept the winning ribbons gracefully.

    Below is an evil critter. Very very evil. This will be my last year with them, as soon as they give me eggs, I will sell or eat them.

    JJ and Ethel a couple years ago.

    The dogs and turkeys. They are trained hunting dogs, yet to not bother my birds at all. I force them to do protection duty to keep the eagles away.

    This is the proper distance one should have between themselves and the cities.. This is at Togo, the center of the universe.


    Again JJ and Ethel. They preferred the great outdoors to a coop.


    Below is protection duty. A job Pearl does not relish.

    4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?

    JJ and Ethel are my favorites, or were, They were two turkeys I got from someone in the cities, (to those of us in Minnesota the cities is Minneapolis/St Paul and any of its suburbs. They were advertised as blue slates. When I got them they had been living under a deck in 2 feet of wet sloppy manure. The deck had been fenced under it and covered in plastic to keep the moisture in. We could not tell what they were except pathetic looking birds. There was a third turkey but she died within a month of bringing her home.

    Once they molted and got new feathers we found they were not blue slates, but rusty slates. If you follow turkeys you know they can have a ton of different colored offspring. We let them do that for a couple years. JJ and Ethel were are lappers, they followed us and sat next to us. We could hold them and pet them anytime we wanted. JJ is the tom in this video fighting the rooster.

    I lost JJ this spring/winter. Ethel was taken by a coyote last year when she was sitting on a stolen nest. I tried to keep her close and find her nests, but she was an expert at escape and evasion tactics.

    5. What was the funniest (chicken related) thing(s) that happened to you in your years as chicken owner?

    There are a ton of funny things, some black humor funny others just funny. About 35 years ago I had been to the feed mill and picked up 3 broad breasted turkeys. We named them Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. They were just white turkeys. When the weather got warm enough I had set them outside for a few hours. I had no more than set the box down, tipping it on it's side so the turkeys had a place to go to if they wanted out of the sun. The WWD and our kids were standing around watching the turkeys exploring, having a good family moment, when a small dust devil formed and picked up the box, took it about 8 feet in the air and dropped it. Right on a turkey poult. Easter was deader than a doorknob.

    It is funny now in a black humor way, was traumatic then. Shortly after this Christmas died, so we only had Thanksgiving left. Thanksgiving lived up until a few days before thanksgiving. I had trained Thanksgiving to lay his head across a chopping block to eat corn kernels. However, when the time came we did it the old fashioned way. He really only had a little time left on thanksgiving as he was just too big. The laying the head on the block was just something to do with him. It was funny in a black humor way also.

    6. Beside chickens, what other pets do you keep?

    I just did a count the other day I have over 150 chickens of 9 varieties or breeds. I have 19 turkeys, 4 varieties and 28 Guineas that will be leaving here in a few months for either freezer camp or other peoples farms.

    I have 2 dogs, and 2 cats that earn their keep as mousers in the pole barn.

    I would like to get some cattle and goats, maybe even a pig, but my wife is anti all of them. She claims the last time we had goats she had no flowers in the yard. Flowers are overrated in my book.

    7. Anything you'd like to add?

    I think I would just add how glad I am to have found BYC. I have some good friends here, many of whom I know and have seen in real life. We have a very active thread in Minnesota and enjoy each others company. Sharing our lives and birds with each other just enhances the experience. I know we are always warned to not connect with people we meet on the internet, I have to say, to me, my best friends have come from BYC. Maybe it is the Minnesota Nice thing but my life would be way different without all of them.

    See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
    6 people like this.
  2. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    Very nice interview Ralphie!
    its neat to learn a little (lot) more about you

    thank you
  3. N F C

    N F C home again! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    Good interview Ralphie, I enjoyed the pictures. Thanks for sharing with us!
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Love your black humor.
  5. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens

    Ralphie, that was a very nice interview!
    Thanks for taking the time to do this, a few pic's would have been even better. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  6. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds! Premium Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Very nice Ralphie. Nice to learn a little more about you.

    And I don't care what Scott says, all the pics were great.

    Especially the Halloween egg. Thanks for taking the time for that tutorial. [​IMG]
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    What a wonderful interview Ralphie! Finally a peek into the real you. I have always thought there was more to you that meets your posts! [​IMG]

    I think what you really suffer from is PTDS....Post Traumatic DUCK Syndrome, to which maybe some Duckie snuggles and bill kisses might cure you? [​IMG]

    Thanks for sharing, your pictures are stunning!! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
    3 people like this.
  8. Leave a LightOn

    Leave a LightOn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2016
    Where the West Begins
    Great interview! Terrific photos and stories! Thanks for sharing.
  9. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Sing Brightly Premium Member Project Manager

    Aug 1, 2015
    Now, now, people, don't say such nice things to him, or we'll have to buy ANOTHER new hat for him. :old


    You didn't hear it from me, but terrific interview, and drool-worthy birds as always. About died laughing about the turkey you trained to put its head on a block.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  10. Akrnaf2

    Akrnaf2 The educated Rhino Premium Member

    Jul 5, 2014
    Center of Israel
    Congratulations Ralphie
    Very good interview! :clap
    Thanks for sharing! But I think you missed some pics of your own ducks! :)lau)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by