Chicken People (2016) Movie Script

- When I'm working
with my chickens,
I feel that it calms them.
Maybe it doesn't;
Maybe they hate it.
But, you know...
when I'm awfully low
when the world is cold
I will feel a glow
just thinking of you
just the way
you look tonight
- I've studied my
"standard of perfection"...
Time and time and time again.
- We're trying to create a bird
that looks exactly
like the "standard
of perfection."
That's a book that was drawn
over 100 years ago.
Each breed has
an excellent illustration
of what it should look like.
We have a written description
of every feather,
what it's exactly
supposed to be.
And everyone strives
to get the bird
as perfectly to that standard
as you can.
- Instead of reading
a novel or, you know, fiction,
I get out
my chicken "standard,"
and I'm constantly striving
to educate myself
on things that I might not be
so well-versed at.
- If you understand your breed
and you understand
the "standard,"
then you know you're confident
in what you're raising.
And you really want the judge
to see that.
- We've never created
a perfect bird,
but we're all working on it.
That's the goal.
- I bet she's happy
to get out of that box.
- I know.
She's very happy.
- Really, mom?
- I can--
- really?
- I've been washing chickens
for five days straight.
I mean, every day.
It's so rewarding.
When you put all that time
and effort into something
and then you raise a bird
that makes it
all the way to champion row
and then potentially
a best in show,
I mean, what else could you
ask for in life?
That's perfect for me.
- When you come
to the Ohio nationals,
you expect
to just get your butt whupped.
- All the best breeders
are here.
They all bring their best birds.
Everybody brings
the best stuff.
- There's 10,000 birds here.
And there's people
from 40-plus states,
and they all do what I do,
and they're passionate about it
just like I am.
- Everyone comes with that goal
ultimately to win the show.
I mean, it's like
the westminster of the chickens.
- Patty has a mind
of her own.
She does whatever she wants,
whenever she wants.
- Oh, yeah, you're really happy.
- Stanley.
- Oh.
- Yeah.
- This is my all-time
favorite show,
Ohio nationals.
It's just huge.
And in order to--
- she got a little yucky.
- She laid an egg, and--
- uh-oh.
- I'm currently in a show
in Branson, Missouri,
called number one hits
of the '60s.
- You know make me want to
- shout
- kick my heels up and
- shout
- throw my hands up and...
I put my performance job
in jeopardy
to be here with the chickens,
Get her little beak
clean here.
- She just doodled
on the floor, there.
He just basically
wants to spend his whole life
messing with chickens.
- Look at the head too;
Look at that skull.
- Yeah.
- The best thing about this is,
i get to do it with this guy.
- Yeah.
- You know?
- That's a good thing, yeah.
- Or you could do
the two cocks.
- Sure, let's do
the two cocks.
Oh, boy.
You can tell
that some of these
still have old feathers.
- No way.
You've got to be kidding me.
He didn't like her
a bit.
Doesn't know what
the hell he's looking at.
Look at that back.
There's a flat back
and then a...
He doesn't know his ass
from a hole in the ground.
I know what my birds are,
and I know how good they are.
It's a very natural thing
for me to get quite...
Um, upset...
When a bird of mine doesn't do
as well as it should,
because I study
my "standard" constantly,
so I know
what the breeds require.
- Judging is not
an exact science.
The "standard of perfection"
is a guideline,
and it tells us,
for example,
a brahma should have
a moderately long back.
So how long is that?
Is that this long, this long?
- See how all those
that he picked had flat backs?
And mine go whoosh.
He needs to read his
australorp "standard" again.
- People ask me,
"do you eat them?"
And my usual answer,
"you got kids?"
"Do you eat them?"
'Cause these are my babies,
and you don't eat them.
- People think of a chicken,
they think of,
like, a white chicken,
pretty generic.
And they don't think
that it can be something
beautiful like this.
- This is actually
not nasal spray.
It's called vetrx,
and we put it on their combs
to make them redder.
- This is smooth and shine
polishing spray for hair.
Changes a farm chicken
to a show chicken.
- Needs a facial, doesn't he?
- You can't show her like that.
Gonna have to go
blow-dry her butt.
When you compete
at this level,
they're nitpicking everything.
It's the eye color,
it's the feather quality,
it's the wings, the feet,
the toes.
It's the whole package,
so everything counts.
- Shari is the mama hen.
I guess I was gonna say
mama bear,
but mama hen
is a better word for her.
- Do you have bacon
on your burger?
- I have five children,
my four dogs,
a llama named comet...
200 chickens,
oh, my gosh, and 40 bunnies.
It's a big family.
- She's really nice.
- My family comes first,
my children and my husband,
but my poultry is my life.
They listen to you.
They interact with you.
I mean, they really are
a lot like--
I hate to say a human,
but they are.
- They all have
their little quirks.
This one's a little ditzy.
- They recognize voices
and can tell who they don't like
and who they do like.
- And they recognize
other chickens too.
Some hold grudges
against other birds
and never forget how mean
another bird was.
And others are best friends.
- Not much of a crest
on him, though.
- He's looking
at that cockerel now.
- Wow.
- That's a nice bird.
- Nice crest.
Pretty good quills on that one.
- Yeah.
- Smells good.
This is the best silkie
of the day.
- He gave me four thumb.
- Well, that's not too bad.
- Congratulations, foley.
- Thank you very much.
I am over the moon.
- Oh, great, thanks.
- My black pullet was second
out of a class
of probably 40 birds.
I didn't come here to lose.
I came here to win,
just like the rest of us.
Hopefully next time,
it'll be a little bit better.
I'll be best of breed
and champion of show.
- How's the wings on her?
- She's actually
a little narrow-laced.
She could be, you know,
sharper and wider.
- But it--it's even.
- But look how even it is.
- Yeah.
- What makes me tick
is creating a bird
that nobody has.
This is the best silver-laced
wyandotte I've ever had.
This bird is the 5,494th
silver-laced wyandotte
that I've took
out of the Incubator
and put a wing band on.
And the light brahmas,
I'm up to 11,500.
I'm a hatch-oholic.
They call me that because
i hatch a lot of chicks.
Took me 15 generations
to get 5,494.
15 generations.
When I started
with silver-laced wyandottes,
they didn't even have tails.
They were bad.
The color was bad,
the heads were bad.
- The heads, I think
you've improved on the most.
- She needs a better head.
- Right in the front
of the comb here,
we've got just
a little indentation.
You see that?
- I see it.
- Okay.
- Okay, Lindsay,
she can go home.
- Okay.
- I thought this fella
was pretty well colored,
hackle and saddle.
I think their best two
are over here.
- Do you?
- Yep.
- The silver-laced wyandottes,
when I started with them,
they never won.
They never beat the whites
or the blacks, ever.
The color pattern
is so complex,
judges see the faults
in them very easily.
And, you know, there's a lot
of other good birds up there.
- Black wyandottes,
reserve of breed...
Silver-laced is best.
- Did he win?
- Yes.
- Wow.
- I won best of breed.
That's huge here.
Wow, that's really neat.
- Congratulations, buddy.
You're gonna
go all the way.
I'm telling you right now.
- Oh.
Did it.
Wow, I didn't expect that.
600 wyandottes,
and he's the best one.
Pretty cool.
I normally don't get like this,
but I am, so...
This is big.
A lot of work
to get to this point, so...
I've never won the show,
the whole thing.
This would be pretty serious,
if I won the whole thing.
- Reserve grand champion
of the show,
second place,
silver-laced wyandotte
by Brian Knox.
- Biggest win I've ever had,
by a long ways.
This is huge.
- Super grand champion
of the show,
a white rock pullet
by m&j farms.
I'd like to thank
everybody again.
Have a safe trip home.
- What can you do to bump up
from third place to first?
What can I do next year,
planning for this show,
to win?
- Takes a lot.
You know, you just
have to keep at it.
So I'm not quitting now.
- I'm good to go.
I'm ready to go home and start
hatching me some more chicks.
- You got to photograph
my bird.
Did you do it?
- Oh, yes.
- You already got him?
- Yeah.
If ever there was
a more perfect subject,
I never had one.
- Really?
- He stood there,
it was like Paris Hilton.
- Every piece of the puzzle
is out in the barn.
I have all the pieces to make
the ultimate perfect bird,
but the complex part of it
is putting it all in one.
This is the champion male
from the Ohio national.
He was the best show chicken
that I've ever showed
in my life.
He's got a phenomenal head
on him.
The comb is supposed to be wide,
and then it follows the head.
He's got nice, even wattles.
He's got the black
with the edging,
really hard to get.
He's got a few little issues
that I want to correct on him.
These feathers aren't quite
as sharp as I'd like to see.
I'd like to see
a little bit sharper black.
This saddle feather,
it's not bad,
but it's not perfect,
and perfect is what
we're shooting for here.
I have a plan,
and I think I can do it.
I'm gonna breed this bird
to daughters of another male
that has better saddle color.
Okay, so you're gonna come out.
I'm an engineer.
I do that for a living.
I'm always coming up with ways
of making a motor
run better
and beat somebody on a track.
Building motors for tractor
pulling and competing there,
that's my job.
In my job,
I cut back to half days.
I only work half days;
I work 12 hours.
So then you got to work
at the chickens after that.
This male here,
I'm leaning towards putting him
on that pen down there.
I got to just see what
the genes are behind him.
348, 532.
This is the bird's number.
I got the family tree,
who its mother and father is
and who the grandparents are.
I can picture every one of them
in my head.
I just remember
what they look like.
You probably know
thousands of people.
You could walk up and you'd
see a person, you know them.
Well, I know chickens.
I just know them.
Oh, and 3091.
She's still here.
She's five years old.
4125, he was a little short,
but he had awesome color.
He's been dead for eight years.
- The whole chicken-oholism,
I think, is a huge growing
problem in the nation today.
- It was a really
short journey,
going from, "let's just
have a couple chickens,"
- Goose.
- My wife, she always says,
"how many birds
does one person need?"
We started off with,
like, 500 this year.
So I still got a ways to go
to get them down.
- What aggravates me
more than anything
about people who don't
understand chickens
is that they think
chickens are dirty
and they stink
and they're nasty.
Or, like, we're a bunch
of yahoos over here,
raising a bunch of chickens,
and they're just
crapping everywhere.
That's just not true.
I spend anywhere
from three to four hours a day
cleaning or breeding
or setting up pens.
I mean, hours.
I've been called obsessive,
which, you know...
I wouldn't go that far,
but I do think about it a lot.
- Yeah, we started out with,
like, maybe five
little chickens,
and it's exploded.
- I didn't think that we'd
end up with this many chickens.
But I am really honestly
happy for her.
- You know, and she takes over
all these areas.
It was the little playhouse,
and then she's moved
to the garage, the back porch,
and that entire pole barn.
- Kyle, get off of there.
Hey, come on down,
because you're getting
all the animals upset in there.
No, Zoey, don't chase the cat.
Watch out.
My goals coming out
of Ohio nationals
are to improve
on what I already have.
I like his nice,
full beard.
Very nice turquoise lobes.
I really would like
to work on that crest.
When it's shaped correctly,
it's actually kind of like a
ball on the top of their head,
like, almost like a hat.
This group of birds will produce
potential champions.
Each has great qualities
about him.
This bird's pecking me
on the ass.
Somebody just pecked me
on the ass.
- You can tell, like,
by what sound they make,
like, what they want
or what's going on.
- don't you say
that we must part
don't you break
my aching heart
It's pretty lonely
in Branson for me.
Being in an apartment,
I don't have my chickens.
I don't have the dogs.
I don't have that agricultural
release that I need.
- Hey, little girls.
- So this one in here
needs washing now?
- Yes, yes.
- Being in Branson,
I'm obviously not able
to care for my birds.
So that responsibility
falls to my parents.
My parents
are not chicken people.
I'm chicken people.
It's a whole lot
of work for them
that they don't enjoy,
that they're
not passionate about.
- You really don't need
to clean all that,
because it will just
get nasty again.
- Well, periodically,
you do.
- It does take a toll on you,
you know, when you can't hear
the roosters crowing
every single day
or you can't go look
at the baby chicks
or mow the grass.
You know, these are all things
that I love to do.
After you've gone away
And there's the '60s show.
When I approached my bosses
about missing two performances
to go to the Ohio national,
they said, "great, great.
"You go to Columbus,
and you don't have a job
next year."
And at the end of the season,
it was understood
that they weren't going to
offer me a contract for 2015.
But that's how it goes.
- Of course we're concerned
for him.
- No question there.
- No question, because
he'll know that missing
two shows out of 200,
whatever they do for the year,
if you miss two shows,
they'll fire you.
- Branson is the type of place,
i have come to find,
that a lot of entertainers
go to die, basically.
You get stuck
and mired in the mud,
and you spend 20 years
being a chorus girl.
Two, three.
Perfect, thank you.
Right on down,
we'll get you seated.
We'll get a picture
of the three of you together.
Then we'll get you seated, okay?
One, two, three.
Perfect, thank y'all.
Right on down the aisle.
I'm here because I've got
my job with extreme photo.
- Will you just watch
for blurry pictures?
- For me, right now,
this is a transition time
to just figure out
where I want to be,
what I want to be doing,
that sort of thing.
It's an odd dynamic tonight.
- That's right.
- Thank you.
- So this is where
I am right now.
There's good to it;
There's a lot of bad to it.
But that's life.
- I miss everything about
my chickens when I'm away.
They're my best friends.
- They get to sleep
next to my pillow.
And that's another one of those,
"you let the bird
in the house?" Things.
You know, yeah, I do.
- See, if you hear my voice,
then you're better, huh?
If you hear my voice,
then you're better.
- This is grass
is still growing.
My birds are a little leggy,
or longer in the leg
than I would like to have them.
My black silkies.
So I paired my breeding pen
with a male
I feel will fix that.
Stud muffin.
I call him a stud muffin
because he's just
a really prolific breeder.
He thinks that this
is his kingdom
and these are his women.
12, 13...13 girls.
And every egg for the last
four weeks has been fertile.
I'd call that a stud muffin
if I were you.
He's just really good
at what he does.
- This week,
I'm returning to Anna
to help my parents and work
on my breeding program.
We're right in the prime time
to start hatching
for the Ohio national
in November.
This building is where
i keep all of my show birds--
leghorns and reds
and australorps.
They all have single combs.
This is actually
one of my favorite females.
She's my buddy, aren't you?
You see how calm she is,
and many people,
you tell them
you raise leghorns,
they go,
"oh, leghorns are crazy."
Does that look crazy to you?
I haven't done
much drastic changing
of my white leghorn bantams
in eight to ten years.
They can compete with anyone
the way they are.
The "standard" says
the first two points
on the comb
should stand straight up.
After that,
it should lop to the side,
but not to cover the eye.
And as you can see,
that's an exemplary comb.
That's exactly
what the "standard" calls for.
Breeding chickens
is not rocket science.
You can sit and make anything
difficult if you want to.
You can make how to fry an egg
way more difficult
than it needs to be.
I've used one
of my foundation males,
and I've taken daughters of his,
and I've put the daughters in
with their sire.
This is what we call
line breeding.
And when you line-breed,
you're strengthening
those genetic markers.
Now you're gonna get
some female action.
That sounded filthy, didn't it?
Ha, female action.
- Oh, chicken sex.
Well, looks like I'm gonna
get fertility out of that one.
That was--that was quick.
- When you have a male
in with females
and he finds food on the ground
or he finds a worm,
which is just like gold
to a chicken,
you'll hear the male,
"bok-bok, bok-bok...
He's calling those females.
"I found food."
He invites them to dinner,
and then they're close enough
that he can just hop right on
and get down to business.
So there it is.
Leghorns have a tendency
to be a little more vigorous.
- In preparation,
the male dances.
He puts his wing out,
and it's, like,
something like this.
And then the girls just kind of,
like, know to just drop it.
There's no pleasure involved,
because it's not like--
they don't make noises.
Just like wham, bam,
thank you, ma'am.
It's over with that fast.
- And the roosters,
they love their hens,
and they will absolutely
take a bullet for them.
If there's a hawk,
the rooster will go, "braw!"
And all the hens and the chicks
run for cover.
And the male stands right there
and flaps his wings
and says,
"you want a piece of me?
You want a piece of me?"
And he'll absolutely
sacrifice himself for the hens.
- Yeah, this is one
of my older females.
That's probably
why she hasn't been laying.
I'm so intense in what I do.
I get up in the morning,
I'm wide open, I never quit.
And so I won't give up
anything that I'm doing
to have a relationship.
I'm gonna pick a different one
to put in with that male.
There's a couple out there
that caught my eye today
when they were running around.
I know I can find them again.
I got their face
in my head now.
Little family.
My lifestyle is not right
for having a family
or even a permanent girlfriend
all the time.
But I had Jackie for a while,
and it worked pretty well
for quite a few years.
And I met her
at a chicken show.
So we had a great relationship,
but it just didn't turn out
in the end to be right.
And now
we're good friends still.
Here's a group that they've
been in there for ten days,
and they have never
been candled.
I don't know which is fertile,
which isn't.
That one is fertile.
You can see
the blood vessels in it.
Oops, I just dropped that one.
It's still okay, though.
That one's no good.
That one's really good.
This is
a silver-laced wyandotte.
It's another possible
champion baby, you know,
every time.
- Everything really has
to be done almost perfectly.
They have to pip
into the air cell,
and the air cell
has to be dry enough
that they don't drown.
I think they kind of gather
their energy at that point.
And then they start
their journey.
All of a sudden, it's like,
you're dark,
you're in the shell,
you're, like, working
your ass off to get out,
and all of a sudden, bam.
It's like,
hello, world, you know?
I mean, you think about going
from the dark into the light.
Welcome to the world,
little guy.
As soon as they come
out of the shell,
they open their eyes.
It's like the world
is like, boom.
I love that part.
You ready to come out of here,
Just show him
where the water is.
Come on, babies.
This guy might have
to have a hobble,
because his little leg
is sticking out to the side,
and that happens sometimes.
So what I'll do is see
if he's able to get up on it
so it's sitting
underneath of him.
If not, then I'll make
a little string,
like the other one,
to help keep his leg in place.
I believe everything
should have a chance.
- Got to love him.
Didn't quite make it
out of his shell.
He's not gonna make it.
We're gonna have to--
gonna have to take care
of that guy,
and that's not a fun job.
One, two, three, four reds,
six leghorns,
and two faverolles.
Good job.
Two faverolles.
- Two faverolles.
- 21 total.
- I knew there was a--
- well, 22.
There's one down there that
didn't make it out of the egg,
and you're gonna have
to take care of him for me,
because he's not well.
- I'll do it.
- All right.
- He was willing to separate
with the horses,
and he was willing
to separate with the sheep.
But don't ever try to take
his chickens away from him.
I think you'd take
his heart out, you know?
- I want to take the workload
off of my parents.
That's one of my
number one goals.
I want to purchase
a farm of my own
where I can take the birds
with me.
My dad's done nothing
but help me my whole life.
I feel like I'm doing
the opposite of that,
because as much
as I love chickens,
my dad's my dad.
And, you know...
- I messed up on the humidity,
and they got a little dry.
And he was stuck,
but he's doing fine now.
When I was nine, I got chicks
in the mail from a hatchery.
You open the box,
and you got these little chicks.
And it was my first real pet.
I mean, I had a dog, but...
Since I've started,
I've probably hatched
30,000 chicks.
I don't know.
I'm just gonna take some water
and spray the eggs a little bit.
- When he was
about eight years old,
we set up the Incubator
in his bedroom.
As I remember,
he was like a nervous mother
with a new baby.
- They'd lay right out
on the newspaper asleep,
and I'd wake up in the night
and I'd look at them,
and I'm all upset because
i thought my chicks died.
So I'm poking them,
and they wake up,
and they're like--
none of them were dead.
They were all fine.
But I just wasn't used to chicks
sleeping like that.
You can hear the difference
in that male, right?
White wings, voice?
It's definitely a male.
- It didn't take too long
that we were thinking
that our house
was starting to--
- smell like
a chicken house.
- Smell like a chicken house.
We had this old garage
that we actually didn't use,
so we let him put
his chickens in there.
- Newspaper
and 250-watt heat lamp
is not a good combination.
So, anyway,
that didn't go well.
- All I know is,
we looked out the window,
and the place
was all in flames.
And by the time
the fire department
got here after we called,
it was, like,
burnt right to the ground.
- That was a bad day.
- It burned everything up.
He was really torn up
over that.
So I said, "well,
don't worry about it, bri."
I said, "we'll go down
and get the lumber,"
and I said, "you and i
will build a brand-new one."
And we did.
- It was only six or seven miles
from where I lived.
And some friends told me
about his loss to the fire.
And I think, initially,
that's how Brian and i
got together.
- And he started taking me
to the shows with him.
- The first show we went to,
his enthusiasm was obvious.
- Wow.
You know, I had never seen
some of these birds.
They were, like, incredible.
That was it.
I was done. I was hooked.
Now we got to move on
to the silver-laced wyandotte.
This is gonna be 6,003.
And I use wing bands.
They have a number on them.
They go in the wing,
and I record the number
of the bird,
because my old mentor
dick Stevens,
he always said, "you got to know
what's behind them," he says.
- Otherwise, how do you know
what you're doing?
- 'Cause I see so many
grandparent traits
pop out in these birds,
it's incredible.
- And we're very sorry
that a poor bird
had to lose his life
so that we can eat well.
- Amen.
- Amen.
- Bless the Turkey
and damn the skin.
Open your mouth
and cram it in.
- Yeah, I do eat chicken.
I like chicken;
I eat chicken.
I don't eat my chickens,
but I eat chicken.
- We do;
We eat our chickens
when they don't quite make
the "standard of perfection."
- Sure, I eat my own chickens.
- No way I could ever do that.
- I have fried chicken
anytime I want it.
- This is like the biggest damn
chicken, I think, on earth.
You know, there's bantams
and large fowl.
This is like
jumbo fowl, here.
- I've got a good idea,
this is so fun.
One person starts
making noise,
like, ting-ting-ting-ting,
then somebody joins in
with a different noise.
And you got to keep going.
- Boom-t'ss, boom-t'ss...
- I'm next?
- Yeah.
- Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee...
- Go, Kyle.
- No.
- Oh, there it is!
Nobody helped me!
- I met Larry
when I was divorced,
living with my kids.
Larry and I got married
in 2000.
- Are the brats cheesy
or regular?
- I don't know;
They're brats.
- I don't want one.
- Have they been soaked
in beer?
- I can make them
beer brats if you want.
- I'll take a beer brat.
- Okay, no,
i can't eat that.
- Mom, alcohol
burns out of sausage.
- Now they're beer brats.
- I like beer brats,
i guess.
- Oh, great.
- Oh, great.
- Mm-hmm.
Back when I was drinking,
I mean, there was no way
that I was there for my kids
like I should have been,
I mean, because you can't.
I mean, you may think you are,
but you're really not.
- She'd get us up
for school every morning,
but by the time we got home,
I mean, she was
completely drunk.
- She got to a point where,
you know, she was
basically miserable.
- I didn't do anything
with myself, you know.
And then I found something
that I really loved to focus on.
When I switched over to really
concentrating on my chickens,
I started to get
really more involved,
kind of like an outlet for me.
I just wanted
to give it my all,
which, that's what I did.
- We would much rather her
be spending all this time
doing something healthy,
where, you know, she could be
drunk and in bed
by the time we have dinner.
We take it--i mean,
it is what it is.
- The guys at work call me
queen feather legs.
I work with all men.
- We make fun
of our mom sometimes,
because she goes to sleep
and has, like, gel in her hair,
and wakes up, she looks exactly
like a Polish chicken does.
Maybe we both look
a little fluffy today.
- No, I do not look
like my chickens.
My chickens are
about 30 inches tall.
- Everyone always wants to know,
how was your trip?
I have no memory of my trip.
I don't remember where I stayed
in a motel.
I don't remember
where I stopped for gas,
because all the time
I'm driving,
my head is thinking about stuff.
Oh, yeah, she's good now.
How am I gonna make
this thing run better?
How am I gonna
make this bird better?
I started building engines
when I was 14, with my dad.
In my early 20s,
i took over.
He let me do it,
and I just did it ever since.
Tractor pull, it's a contest
to pull a weight-transfer sled
down the track,
and the farthest distance wins.
It's just like nascar,
drag racing.
It's a motorsport.
My parents started drag racing
when I was four years old.
So I don't ever remember
not having
a race car in the garage.
Originally my dad drove,
and she drove the same car,
but she can make it go faster.
- I didn't grow up saying,
"gee, I want to be
a race car driver."
I just did it because
i wanted to be with him.
- My dad liked to win better
than he liked driving, so...
- That was it; I never drove
in competition again.
- The country girl
will be in Lane number one
on your side of the track.
- We gradually moved up
to faster and faster cars.
- Those cars were really
dangerous at the time.
I remember being at a race
and watching a guy die.
Then it was mom's turn
to run the same kind of car.
It was pretty scary.
They were not safe.
She had a fire.
The car going down the track,
and the next thing you know,
it's a big ball of fire.
- I could see the fire.
The flames came under the seat
and up the back.
- Boy, when I saw
the ball of flame,
I thought, "oh, man,"
'cause the motor
was eating itself up,
and that's why
it lit the finish line up
just about like day
for an instant.
- She got out of it,
and it was okay,
but it was close.
It was very close
to being bad.
- Pennsylvania,
this is Jason hathaway.
- Everything we get into,
we check it and measure it.
Everything has to be perfect.
- Well, ladies and gentlemen,
he's our number one
winner tonight.
Let's give him
a nice round of applause.
- That's how I've grown up
my whole life,
with things being perfect.
And I guess I may be
a little too much that way
with my chicken program,
a little too perfectionist
But I guess it comes
from this world.
- Broody grump.
Oh, oh, look.
She's sitting on a spoon.
Oh, my goodness.
What is this?
That's not an egg.
Did you want this back?
Crazy chickens.
I have had a lot of bad luck
lately, I guess,
here on the farm.
I noticed our llama
wasn't feeling well,
so I called my neighbor down.
He came down
and looked at him on Sunday,
and then Monday morning,
he was dead.
And then my oldest chick pen,
everybody gets sick.
Coccidiosis is something
that can happen.
They start dying,
and then you see blood.
You hatch them,
and then they're starting
to look like little--
you know, little birds.
And then they die.
I mean, it makes me sad.
But I have so many other birds
that depend on me
and so many other things to do
that I can't just sit
and fixate on one thing.
It's just like a big cycle.
You know, things die,
things are born.
Things die, things are born.
You know, it's just
part of what happens.
I mean, it's like,
when you watch them grow
and you kind of get
to know them, you know?
I mean, it's like
you just really
kind of get bonded with them.
With animals, I think
it's, like, a lot deeper
than what people think.
Animals have been
a sanctuary in my life.
We're gonna pull over
right here.
Well, there's something
right there, see?
Red-winged blackbird, male.
I call myself a baby bird,
because there's
so much to learn.
I've always loved birds.
My mom, she always had
a birdhouse
outside the window,
and she'd have a bird book,
so I kind of grew up
with just that love.
I had some really
difficult times growing up.
My dad started getting
into drinking really heavy,
and things got really rough
at home.
On more than one occasion,
I was upstairs in my room,
and next thing you know,
you hear dishes breaking,
and, like, a table's
turning over,
and, like, I can hear it
like it was like yesterday,
just that sound.
I couldn't feel safe.
It was like a war zone
at times.
Always used to dream
about flying when I was a kid.
I was like, I could fly
amazingly well.
And I would float
above my house,
and I remember looking down,
and I could see, like,
the neighbors' driveway
and their house.
And maybe I thought maybe
if I was too high
and I wrecked,
maybe I would get hurt.
But I never would wreck.
I'd always land
really, like, perfectly.
It was just amazing, you know,
the feeling
of being able to--
little chickadee around the--
sorry, I'm very distracted
by birds.
The feeling of flying
was just--it was amazing,
I mean, you know,
'cause you're just so free.
- Test, test, one, two, three.
One, two, three, four.
Test, test, test.
I'm in the process
of putting together a solo show.
I could go out tomorrow
and announce that
I'm doing a show in Anna,
and I would pack the house,
I don't mean to--
you know, don't mean to brag,
but I have enough of a following
that I can make it work.
- Southern Illinois' q106.
- Got a special guest on the
phone with us this afternoon.
Brian caraker is doing classics
from the great
American songbook,
and we've got him on the line.
Good afternoon, Brian.
- Hi there, how are you today?
- I'm doing great,
how about yourself?
- Oh, just great.
- So tell us a little bit
about you.
- I am traditionally
a jazz standards singer.
That's the music
that I grew up with,
and that's the music
i want to bring to everybody.
You put on a show,
you put on an act,
you put on a face,
and you put on a persona,
so to speak.
And it's fine and it's good,
but it's false.
So what this show
allows me to do
is just totally be myself.
- Ladies and gentlemen,
Brian caraker.
- This time, I picked all songs
that meant something to me,
that touched me
in a special way.
And when you're
true to yourself
and then people can see that,
like, that's a pretty
incredible feeling.
When sunny gets blue
her eyes get gray and cloudy
then the rain begins to fall
The funny thing is,
I can promote my chickens
all day long every day,
no problem.
When it comes to talking
about myself...
I've always had
pretty low self-esteem.
So pretty hard on myself.
When sunny gets blue
she breathes
a sigh of sadness
I don't know, sometimes I don't
feel very special, you know?
So you have to--
I've got to work
on getting over that.
Past experiences
in my life
and people bullying
and always trying
to bring me down,
no matter how much success
i would have
in whatever I was doing.
Weird and haunting melodies
I didn't really let
my dad in
to how I was treated
in my high school.
To be honest, I didn't want
to talk about it to anyone.
One of the things
that helped me
get through the torment
that I experienced
every single day
was, I could come home,
and I could forget
about high school,
because me and my dad
could go to a chicken show.
The poultry is a bit
of an oasis for me.
The chickens don't judge you.
They don't judge me.
Hold her near
when sunny gets blue
- Son, that was awesome.
I have heard you sing
for years.
It was never, never
as good as it was tonight.
Thank you.
- Thank you.
- That was awesome.
If you go with numbers
of people here,
could be termed
as disappointing.
- Super outstanding.
- But you can't stop
something like this.
And there'll be more.
Stay tuned,
i guess I should say.
- This is, by far,
the most highly pathogenic
avian influenza strain
we've ever seen.
- More than 21 million birds
in commercial
and backyard flocks
have been destroyed
in the worst outbreak
of avian flu
in United States history.
Ohio officials today canceled
all poultry shows this year,
in addition to county fairs
and swap meets.
- A lot of the shows
have been canceled.
And the Ohio national
was one of the main ones
that was canceled.
- These would have been
my Ohio national hopefuls.
But no more--
there's no Ohio national, so...
It was like, darn, you know.
I was, like, so looking forward
to going back
to Ohio nationals.
I just saw on Facebook
a few days ago
that Knoxville was still on,
which is, I believe,
the Tennessee valley
poultry club.
- Okay.
Oh, them stupid guineas.
Early in the year,
we were targeting for Columbus
to be the big show
that I was gonna go to.
We backed it up a month
because Columbus was canceled.
And my light brahmas
were in better shape
a month ago than they are now.
All right, light brahmas.
A lot of molty hens.
In the light brahmas,
some of them were still
in feather for Ohio,
but then they recently molted.
Not quite all there.
Where are you guys at?
I saw one the other day
that looked...
It's disappointing.
I got a lot of nice birds here.
But they just don't have
enough feathers to win.
Here's one that's not too bad.
So that's all I got, for now.
- I really have to think
about the Tennessee thing,
because I don't mind
so much traveling
within a couple hours of home,
but it's, like,
going away overnight.
The whole thought of, like,
driving away from my home,
you know, the comforts
of my safe bubble here--
that's a little weird.
Feels unsure.
I really did not know
exactly what a panic attack was
until I had one.
It's like a snowball effect.
It starts with a little snowball
rolling downhill,
and it turns into
a massive Boulder.
I just don't know
if that's something
that I'm willing to risk
for a show.
- Over the past 20 years
that I've had
the white leghorn bantams,
I've been extremely
successful with them.
And Knoxville's coming up,
and it's like, I've done it.
You know, this year
in particular,
I'm ecstatic.
I'm ecstatic.
Just beautiful.
When I look at this bird,
the tail does not stick out
like, bam, look at that tail.
- Last year, I raised
the best bird I ever raised,
the male that was champion
bantam in Columbus, Ohio.
And I had a really good year
with him reproducing males.
I picked out ten males that
I'm gonna show at Knoxville
that are all sons of that male.
The best ten males I've ever
shown, other than that one.
- I've been thinking
about this for months.
And, yeah,
i want to win Knoxville.
It would be amazing.
I've had that feeling
where you're just afraid
to do something
because you're afraid you're
gonna have a panic attack.
I don't want it to control me.
I want to control it.
Getting ready for Knoxville.
I'll wash today.
I'll wash all day tomorrow.
I'll do straight
12, 14 hours of washing
in one day.
I mean...
Not now.
Not now.
The beard,
his is kind of sparse.
But he has an awesome body.
He is the son of stud muffin,
Two down, 32 to go.
I'll be washing chickens
for the next 24 hours.
Look at you.
You are a warrior.
- Stop looking at my cock, guys.
"Forrest Gump."
I talked bad about you,
and now you're being sweet.
- I gave her all the trophies.
She was liking it.
This one will go to the show.
- You know, far as it goes
for my breeding goals,
from where I was last year,
I think I definitely improved.
I love the crest shape.
I'm gonna call him
white tornado.
This guy, of course,
needs his bath yet, but...
White tornado.
- When you put them
in warm water,
they just kind of go to sleep.
You actually kind of have
to hold their heads up sometimes
so they don't drown.
- I've seen them get water
in their crop,
and I've seen them choke.
- And I saw a fellow exhibitor
take that bird,
breathe into its mouth...
- I'm resuscitating her.
- Beak-to-mouth,
and resuscitate that bird.
- I think we might have
needed to turn there.
- Are we almost there?
- Uh...Yes.
- In exhibition poultry,
there's a certain order
on how birds are judged.
Where we start out is,
in each color of each breed,
there are four basic classes:
Cock, hen, cockerel,
and pullet.
The first place cock, hen,
cockerel, and pullet
are all evaluated
for best of variety.
Each variety winner is
considered for best of breed.
The best of breed goes on
to compete
for their class champion.
In the bantams,
you have seven classes:
Game bantams,
modern game bantams,
single comb clean leg,
rose comb clean leg.
- Rose comb clean leg
is a class
of all the birds
that have a rose comb
and no feathers on their feet.
- Feather leg,
all other comb clean leg,
and bantam duck.
Hi, rich, how are you?
- Good,
how are you doing?
- Oh, I'm doing well.
- You brought a bunch
of birds, huh?
- Uh, 32, I think.
I'm excited to see them.
You spend months trying to get
a single male in condition,
and you put him
in a show box for five hours,
and all of that work
is out the window.
He's not gonna do a darn thing
with a tail like that.
You work so hard,
and you get to the show,
and they look like garbage.
- Man, there's a lot
of white silkies.
Okay, here, here, here.
- Two males that have lived
at my house their whole life,
right, I take them to the show.
I wonder if they stand
in the cage,
look across the aisle,
and go,
"did you see that black
rose comb female over there?
Wow, she's hot."
Guys do that,
so maybe they do that.
Hey, your cages.
- Oh, thank you, thank you.
- Yes, how you doing?
- Hello, hello.
- Jackie's a great
chicken friend that I have,
probably the most special one.
But she was my girlfriend
for a while.
And Jackie was better
at grooming than me.
She was a dog groomer,
so she's better
at chicken grooming than me
by a lot.
- Well, they line up nice too.
She really lines up good
in rows.
- This is a small chicken.
- Yes.
- But she's good.
- So I got your seal
of approval.
- What? Yeah.
- Thank you.
- Oh, boy.
- That's great.
- Yeah, big-time.
- Everyone knows that Vicki and
shorty are the people to beat,
the top breeders
in the country.
First and second cockerels.
Come on, boys.
- All I want is a crest.
I think I remember
how the back line
is supposed to go
into the tail,
but I'm having some doubts,
so I'm going back to reading
the "standard of perfection."
Thanks, Steve.
Come on out
of the corner, girl.
You have about one minute
to show me your stuff.
More of a real chicken.
I like her mobility.
All right, put her away.
- No freaking way.
- Got stuck at you, girl.
- My gosh.
- He had one of mine
and one of yours.
- Oh, my gosh.
- And he did yours first
and mine second.
- Oh, my gosh.
You really could blow me over
with a feather.
I mean, I'm so excited.
It's so amazing.
Larry, I got
best of variety white.
- What about best of breed?
- Not yet,
'cause you got to do
all the blacks, whites,
the buffs, the splash,
and then they'll pick.
- 14 cockerels, that's a lot.
- I could see this one here,
but I couldn't walk down
to see who did what here.
- He's looking at my male
against the pullet.
- What'd you win?
- Best of breed wyandotte.
That's awesome.
That's the son of 5494,
the male that won
in Ohio last year.
So that's pretty huge.
The next step is champion
rose comb clean leg,
so I think I have
a really good chance.
- I'm picking champion
rose comb clean leg.
I got it narrowed down
to three birds
out of almost 400.
It's a black rose comb pullet,
silver-laced wyandotte cockerel,
and a silver sebright hen.
The silver-laced wyandotte.
This is what we call smuttiness.
Right here on the saddle,
the black should be
more distinct.
I do raise these in large fowl,
so I know how hard it is.
- Yeah.
- And I also raise
black rose comb,
so I know how hard it is
to get that.
The rose comb,
she's pretty much perfect.
- Yeah, he could be better.
Just gonna keep working at it,
and hopefully we can get one
that's perfect someday.
So that's the plan.
I showed ten males
all out of that male
that won in Ohio.
- Oh, really?
- Yeah, he's kind of
reproducing himself.
- Wow, he looks awesome.
Beautiful, all of them,
nice coloring.
- That girl is the meanest
girl chicken I ever had.
- I miss her.
We didn't work personally,
but I do miss her
as a friend being around.
We have a common interest,
so we have a blast
when we're together.
That's a male.
- Really?
- It's a baby male.
See his saddle color?
- Yep, yep.
- It's a weird bird.
- That's pretty awesome.
Actually, that's right.
I can't wait to see.
- I don't like doing anything
that you can't do perfect.
So I've kind of given up
some things.
I tried once,
it didn't work out, so...
I can't be perfect at it,
so I don't want to--you know,
I don't want to do it.
- Attention, there is a chicken
on the loose outside.
If anyone sees that chicken,
please capture it
and bring it to the office.
- The first male right there,
that's mine.
And he's the best one
in there, but we'll see.
- He's looking
at those cards.
- Those are the ones he likes,
which I don't see
any of mine turned up.
- He's got three of them
turned up.
Your cockerels
are turned up down there.
That's a 45-degree angle,
or better.
- Or better, yeah.
- More than 45, yeah.
Keeps going back to her,
but I don't know
if he's ever gonna do
anything with her or not.
He give her first?
The highest tail
in the...
Doesn't even know
what he's looking at.
- Well, out of the four males,
he had the best type.
I just don't like this comb.
It's too perfect.
- I don't show chickens
to be on champion row.
I love my birds the same now
that I did when I came here.
So, you know...
- Behind you, the drawing.
- Mm-hmm, yeah.
- "Faveolle."
- They did pretty good, though.
Just recently,
I received a phone call
asking me to return
to the '60s show.
I'm going back in 2016.
So I'm really excited about it.
- Brian was hurt.
But he overcame his feelings
to do the show.
- Life's not perfect.
Situations aren't perfect.
And you have to do
what you got to do.
- This is something
like I would draw, here.
- Oh, yeah, right.
- I am not a drawer.
- I get to do something
that I really enjoy,
with a good raise.
Basically, in the
not-so-distant future,
I'll be able to find
a "home" for myself
in Branson
that's not an apartment,
where I can actually
have my chickens with me.
And look how they did the beard,
how it's kind of elongated,
like a real bird would be,
like a real faverolle would be.
- To see him be independent is--
it's up here.
He's definitely
a young man now.
- Okay, we're looking for
the best brahma at the show.
It's gonna be pretty difficult
to get past this chicken
in my hand right now,
light brahma female.
She gets best of breed.
- So that's pretty awesome.
I thought my males were better,
but the males are harder.
Sometimes when you get a bird
that's harder to get,
you forget how good
the pullets are.
So still have a shot
at champion of the show.
- We're doing
best of breed silkie.
Silkies are done.
- Oh, my god.
- You won.
- Well, here we go;
Now it's on.
- Yeah, now we go
against each other.
- All right,
that's awesome.
Oh, my gosh.
Anytime you're up
against Brian Knox,
you just know
that you're in for a fight.
I'm ready.
Ready for the fight.
- They all look good.
- Really anybody's game.
- You have
a damn good chance.
- Silkie is a pretty girl.
She's exceptional,
and she's standing
like she's supposed to.
- God, I'm so nervous
right now, I could fall over.
- When I won that union show
in Georgia, over 1,800 birds,
I thought I was actually
gonna piss in my pants.
- There he goes,
back to Brian's again.
- Light brahma,
outstanding specimen.
Well, the brahma's
a great bird.
I'd like her a little sharper
in coloration right there.
So we're down to two birds,
light brahma and a silkie.
So our champion feather-legged,
for those listening
in the next row,
is the white silkie,
brahma reserve.
- You won.
- I did?
- Yeah, you did.
- Oh, my god.
- I got reserve.
They did good.
- No way.
- I told you.
- That's wonderful.
- What'd I tell you?
- I can't believe it.
Oh, my gosh.
I just feel like
I'm gonna pass out.
- So now she's up
for champion of the show.
- That was a hell of a silkie.
I have no problem
getting beat by that bird.
So that's--when you get beat
by a good chicken,
you don't mind.
I want the best one to win.
If I don't have the best one,
I need to go home
and make a better one.
That's the challenge of it.
- Hey.
- How you doing, buddy?
- Good, and you?
- Dick Stevens, that was
the game changer for me.
That was what got me
into the world
of real show chickens.
- All gone on the red tails.
God, I'm really proud
that, after all these years,
Brian is still doing the same.
I got something
i want to give you.
- Oh, wow.
- I didn't know
who I'd pass it on to.
You're the candidate.
- Wow.
It's been 40 years
since we started doing this.
I'm 51, and I was 11
when you took me
to my first show.
That's a waterer?
- Yeah.
- Unbelievable, I've never
seen nothing like that.
- I have no idea, Brian,
how old it is.
- "I would like it
to pass on to you
"with the hope that you
will hold on to this fountain
"and someday pass it on
to a person
"that has interest
in poultry.
"They will continue
to do the same in future years.
Dick Stevens."
Thanks, buddy.
- Thousands of people
in this country
know more about poultry
than I,
but there's millions
that know less.
- Yeah, yeah, that's true.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- We always have one or two
chickens living in the house.
- We have diapers we put on them
if they're gonna stay
in the house long enough.
- It's made out of--
the part here is elastic,
and it clasps with snaps.
- Never know
when you come home
and try to go sit down
on the couch
to relax after
a long day of work,
and here's the chicken
sitting there.
- And you want to make sure
that this part
is definitely
covering up her vent
so it does collect the waste.
- Good luck,
hope you do well.
- Thank you.
Come here, little girl.
Let me get you a little bit
of water, okay?
Hi, pretty girl.
Today is the final judging
of all the champions,
the best of the best.
I got to put her
up there right now.
- My guess is,
it's the Rhode Island red
and the modern.
There are some nice
large fowl here.
- I like the sumatra.
- Yeah.
- Look at that Rhode Island red.
Oh, my gosh,
look at that brahma.
- Don't get in a fight
with that brahma over there.
- Ready to go
to work, boys?
- Whenever you are.
- She's a little soiled
on the top of the crest.
- It's not bad,
but as a cockerel,
you should be
a little greener.
- I had more chickens
that didn't have their beaks
and toenails trimmed.
I mean, some good chickens.
- Join the club.
- Jeez.
- Now they're looking
at the Turkey.
- You know, I had a female
Turkey that looked like that,
and when the grandkids
would come over,
she would lay down
on the blanket
and let the kids pet her.
- Aw.
- Then one of the neighbor's
dogs come up and killed her.
- Oh, gosh.
- You could have
left that part out.
Hold on, they're looking
at my silkie, Mason.
Look out.
- I like the silkie.
I really liked her body.
And by that, I don't mean
so much in my hand
as the way she stands
all the time.
- Let's look at this
sumatra once more.
I'd like that saddle up
and covering a little more.
- Right.
- All those things
being said,
we do have
to make a decision.
- That's right.
- Yeah, let's go over
a little closer.
- About right through
this part of the crest,
it's just a tick lower
and less full
than the remainder
of the crest.
It's probably a half to a point.
Not a big deal,
but when you got
really good birds,
you got to see
who's got some faults.
- Our first award
we'll give out,
this will go
for the best rock,
and that award goes
to Jerry little.
Next is gonna be
reserve grand champion bantam.
Will be a white silkie hen,
shari mccollough.
- Oh, my god.
Thank you so much.
- Yes!
- I just believe that everybody
has things in their life,
you know,
that they have to deal with.
You can let them
bring you down,
or you can fight
through those things.
And, I mean,
when you get to the other side,
you're victorious.
- And the grand champion
of show,
it's the black sumatra,
Doug akers.
- Good bird.
He picked that bird.
- I just said.
- Reserve champion bantam,
champion feather leg.
You ready to go home?
It's really, really awesome.
Biggest win I've ever had,
for sure.
I think she deserves
a name like victorious.
So I'm gonna call her
Vicki for short.
- A lot of people are searching
for something in their life,
and they never find it.
Now, I don't know
if it's chickens
or football or basketball,
whatever you want.
But you got to have a goal.
- People will say to me
all the time,
"why do you do this?"
And I say,
"well, I do this because...
I love the birds."
- It's nice to have
good birds that win,
but that's not
what it's all about.
When I go out,
i don't see a show winner.
I don't see a show loser.
I see part of my life.
You're singing too,
aren't you?
Animals enrich
people's lives, period.
Raising animals is
a spiritual experience for me,
because I see the beauty
in life,
and there is nothing
more beautiful
than to see a creation
like that.
- I see so many
grandparent traits
pop out in these birds,
it's incredible.
- I don't know,
I've always been detailed.
The whole family
has been detailed.
- If I get to where
every silver-laced wyandotte
i raise is perfect,
I'll probably get rid of them
and move on to another breed
that needs help.
I like fixing things.
Maybe I could find
something else
that I might like better,
but I'd have to give this up
to do that,
so I'm not going to.
I'm gonna stay on course.
- I thought you didn't
like cheeseburgers.
- Guess what.
College changes a person.
It's called hangover food.
- Remember, she used
to not like hamburgers.
- What are you talking about?
- Which is what your mom
wants to hear.
- Do you like ketchup now?
- No.
- I'm my best witness.
I think it's amazing
that my kids
can see me fight through things
and be victorious over things
and they can see
chickens make me brave.
They help me
face fears head-on, and, like,
they just really help me
be a brave person.