It was the summer of 1996 and I had flown down to Ontario with my 5 year old son Justin to enjoy some father-son time together. Our first stop was at my long-time friend Brian Pogue’s place where we were to spend a couple days. I had always had pigeons and Justin was always with me in the loft so pigeons were already a big part of Justin’s life, however I had not kept Fantails since Justin was born so these birds were new to him. Brian and Justin connected at once and Brian was completely taken with the way this little boy could handle the birds with such ease and care. The day we left Brian took us into his loft and said to Justin “you can pick any Fantail in my loft.” Brian then turned to me and said “you cannot say anything. This is between me and Justin.” Among them was a red saddle hen. The only saddle on the place and that is the bird Justin selected. Brian made arrangements with Larry Ross for a mate and so Justin had his first pair of Fantails. Saddles ended up being a difficult choice for a small boy starting in the breed. In the years that followed he acquired a couple more pairs from Larry Ross as well as a pair of Red Saddles from Larry Maelbranke in Edmonton. We took down Justin’s tree house and converted it into a small loft and then got an old brooder house from a neighboring farm and turned it into a fantail loft. Justin bred from his saddles for several years but they were frustrating for him. He was still small and was not able to master lacing and the number of young that were mismarks or had other faults was large so the cull rate was very high which was difficult for him to deal with at the time. He did breed some nice birds including one young hen that he had best Saddle with at the Western Canadian Fantail Cub Show in Edmonton. From the beginning Justin only showed birds he bred himself. It was at the Edmonton show that Justin was introduced to Voorburg Shield Croppers in the Late 1990’s. Shortly afterwards he decided that this was a breed for him so he dispersed his small family of Fantails and focused on the Voorburgs. In the 18 years since, Justin has established himself as one of North America’s Priemier Voorburg breeders winning many breed Champions across North America with his bird being highly sought after by top breeders. 12 years ago Justin began his family of Bar Jacobins as well and has since created some of the finest Blue Jacobins this country has ever seen winning Best Blue at the U.S. Nationals and Canadian Nationals whenever he has shown.
In the fall of 2011 I decided I wanted to get back into Fantails after going out of them in 1988. When I told Justin he said if I was getting back into them he wanted to as well. Justin’s choice was Blacks and Andalusians. Justin called Brian and within a few weeks two pairs were on the way. Two Black cocks and a Black and an Indigo hen. That first season Justin bred 16 young from those two pairs. Two Andalusian young cocks were the standouts. He showed these two birds at the Mid America Meet in DesMoine and they were Best and Reserve Andalusian. Justin showed the reserve cock as a yearling at the Mall of America (Central Fantail Club Meet) where he was Best Andalusian. From this cock along with several other birds from Brian and Bobby Phillipo, Justin has now got a nice small stud of 5 pairs. Justin likes to breed from only a few top birds and uses feeders to increase production in our short breeding season.
Right from the start Justin has been totally hooked on Fantails. The thing is, it is not so much the birds but rather the fantastic people that make the Fantail hobby such a wonderful place to be. Some of Justin’s closest friends are now Fantail breeders and he cannot wait for the show season to arrive so he can see them all again. Justin has said over and over how good it feels to be with the fantail people and how welcome they make him feel. It’s a very special thing and something the Fantail hobby should be proud of. Justin refuses to take sides or join cliques, everyone is equal to him and he looks for the best in everyone.
This past show season Justin took a few birds to the Mid America Show in DesMoine. Brian offered to take a bird for Justin to the Trifecta show in Pittsburg so Justin sent his old Andalusian cock just so he could be a part of it and maybe have a chance at winning a color class. I can still remember the phone call I got from Justin saying Brian had called and said he had won the show. Justin refused to believe Brian and he even said to me he thought Brian was teasing him and he didn’t think it was funny. When it finally sunk in, Justin said he almost passed out. Justin is the first to tell everyone if it wasn’t for Brian none of this would have ever happened and the support and encouragement of so many breeders has made it even better.
At the Mid America show this past December Bobby Phillipo won Champion with a sweet little Black hen. Justin fell in love with that hen the moment he laid eyes on her. When he found out Bobby was selling her in the Trifecta auction Justin said to me he just had to buy her to mate to a young cock he had bred that was ideal for her. Justin said “Dad, pigeons are what I get enjoyment out of. I have cash saved up from birds I have sold just for something like this. I am going to buy her.” That is exactly what he did. As of right now Justin has Babies from that hen as well as youngsters from his Champion Andalusian mated to another Black hen Bobby gave him that is a perfect fit. So 2015 is off to a nice start and Justin is already talking smack to his Dad about how he is going to kick my butt in Fantails. So with us the competition starts right here at home and we wouldn’t have it any other way.