Hi! You have arrived at the web page of Walt Leonard.
To give you a little history and background of how I came about raising poultry as a hobby, I have written a little about how it happened. On the third day............No, sorry that is another story. I was born and raised in San Francisco, California, and spent about 35 of my first few years there. During my very young days I spent about a year on my uncle's commercial poultry farm. After I left there, I brought a few utility chickens home with me and raised them for a couple of years. Yes, in San Francisco! I lived in the Sunset district and had the good fortune of having only one immediate neighbor, who happened to like the sound of crowing birds. Very fortunate for me!
When I moved to Santa Rosa in the early 70s I was heavily involved in racing and playing with cars and other motorized vehicles. That was my hobby, so that is why you will find a section in this web site devoted to that subject. When we first arrived at our new home, I noticed that there were poultry pens already set up. The previous owner had raised ornamental pheasants. I decided that it would be nice to have some chickens for meat and eggs, so I set about obtaining some. At that time I was unable to find utility chickens, but did run across and ad for some fancy show birds. I went right out and bought some--Old English Games and Polish bantams. I really enjoyed the different varieties and breeds, so I went out just about every weekend until I was raising about 45 different varieties of chickens. That did not count the pheasants, turkeys and waterfowl I was obtaining. It was a lot of work, but I was finding that I really enjoyed the birds.
I attended the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa the first year after I moved up to Santa Rosa and after looking at the birds in the poultry show decided that I could easily beat whatever I saw there. Well, it did not turn out that way and I was thoroughly trounced by the competition. I did not realize that pretty did not necessarily mean it was a good show bird. I also found out that I was competing with some of the best breeders and exhibitors of poultry in the US. I just happened to live in an area full of very good breeders.
Being somewhat competitive (somewhat??), I bought a Standard of Perfection and started reading. I read that and every other thing on exhibition poultry that I could lay my hands on. With that and the help of local poultry raisers, I became more competitive in the shows and after about ten years actually had some very good wins. One of my most thrilling moments was to have Ralph Sturgeon of the Thompson Ringlet strain of Barred Rocks judge my birds at the APA National at Pomona, CA in 1979. I had Reserve of Breed in an outstanding class of large Plymouth Rocks against the noted Rock breeder Oliver Bowen and other great Rock breeders. Mr. Sturgeon was very impressed with that pullet and I remember that win vividly to this day.
During the early days I became very interested in waterfowl, particularly the bantam ducks. Although I don't like to be considered just a waterfowl guy, I will say that bantam ducks are my favorites. Raising good ones is very difficult and actually impossible for some folks, but I love them. The Call duck in particular, because they have personality. Lots of it!
After paying my dues in the showroom, I would have to say that I am at least a contender in most of the breeds I keep. This is a very frustrating hobby, but if it was easy, I don't believe I would be doing it. There is no better feeling than seeing some progress in a breeding program. It doesn't happen easily and there may be many setbacks, but the rewards are great.
Going beyond the raising of poultry, I became active in several poultry organizations. The first was the Pacific Poultry Breeders Association, where I am still an active director. I was Vice President and President of the club at one time or another. In addition I was Show Superintendent when the show was held in Santa Rosa, right after the glorious Cow Palace days. There is a photo on this page showing the size of the building in Santa Rosa. It was large enough that they raced 1/4 midget racers in it. Great site, but it became too expensive.
I have been a Director of the American Poultry Association, the American Bantam Association, the Modern Game Club, the International Waterfowl Breeders Association, and the United Call Breeders. I am currently the Chairman of the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection Committee. I also hold a General Judges license in both the ABA and APA.
I believe that because of the birds I have met some of the greatest people in the world, and I do mean world. Through the internet, traveling and judging I have met people that I would never have had contact with before. I would recommend this hobby to anyone who wants a hobby with several dimensions. Though I have drifted away from actively playing with race cars, most people know the sound of the DUCK VN (somebody beat me to the DUCK VAN license plate!) Equipped with Doug Thorly racing exhaust headers exiting through 3.5 inch pipes from the 460 CI engine, it is easily recognized.
I want to thank all of you who have been good friends and helpful breeders/exhibitors during these great years with the exhibition poultry. I hope you enjoy my web site. -Walt
Unknown relative showing that it must run in the family.
Judging Runners at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association, Roseville CA, 2000.
Modern Game Trophy that I made when I was District Director of the Modern Game Club. There are only three of these in existence.
Pacific Poultry Breeders Association Winter Show in Santa Rosa, CA, when I was President and Show Superintendent.
The great Columbus show of 1998 from the mezzanine.
Whoops! It must be a Cardigan Corgi doing it's thing. (Trevor)