The Extraordinary Women & Youth Of Exhibition Poultry- Page 1 – by Tarah Payne

This page is being added 

Hello fellow poultry enthusiasts! My name is Tarah Payne. I have owned poultry since 2010. 2023 marks my 5th season of showing. I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to do it. This hobby takes a lot of work, dedication, planning along with blood, sweat and tears. During the last 5 years, I’ve noticed the women in this hobby silently working just as hard if not harder. Not just with exhibition but behind the scenes putting on some of the best poultry shows across America. This will be the spot where I get to highlight those hard working women. I am honored to do so. I will also be spotlighting youth that have worked just as hard in their short poultry careers. They are the future of this wonderful hobby !  Upcoming feature stories are listed below. Tarah

About Tarah :

Tarah Payne is from Iowa. She has a top line of Marans and New Hampshire Bantams. Tarah and her two daughters are active in poultry shows ranging from IA, IN, WI and the MEGA SHOW. Tarah is also Assistant Show Manager of the MEGA SHOW and she is also a member and District Director of the Marans Chicken Club USA. She was also the highest point setter for the Marans Chicken Club Club USA for 2022. The rankings are listed here.

Tarah is actively recruiting Outstanding Women in the Exhibition World who are making their mark in the Exhibition World. She will also be doing articles on the Youth of Exhibition Poultry, ect… If any outstanding ladies would like an article done and their story told, contact Tarah directly. This is her page.

Contact Tarah on FB at https://www.facebook.com/tarah.payne.5, or at Midwest Marans at https://www.facebook.com/Midwest-Marans-105477441009824



More Upcoming Feature Interviews Coming Soon – (Invitations are being sent out at this time)

Coming Soon – MANY others.

Current Interviews

  • Susan Mouw – FL
  • Becky Pelton – SC
  • Raven Myers – AZ
  • Diana (Rieber) Dahir – IA
  • Sue Dobson – OK
  • Pam Sebo – AR
  • Cindy Rusk – MO
  • Mia Beaulieu – CT

Susan Mouw – SC

Hello everyone

I’m retired now from showing/breeding/raising Ameraucanas, but I have many fond memories of that time. I fell in love with the Ameraucanas very early – their easy temperament, the beautiful egg color, and fluffy muffs and beards drew me in like a mouse to the cheese. I knew my days of showing horses and dogs were over, so when I learned about chicken shows, I was hooked!

When I first got Ameraucanas, they were all of the wheaten/blue wheaten/splash wheaten variety, but eventually migrated to just blue, black, and splash varieties. Clif Redden, may he rest in peace, was a major contributor to my early breeding program and a huge influence on my breeding strategy.

Progress was made through the years and by 2019, I had many show trophies displayed throughout our home, and I could see the improvements in the breeding pens.

But, things were to change that year. Health issues began to creep in and by early spring of 2019, I knew I would have to make some major changes. I sold off most of my breeding stock and breeding and hatching equipment, resigned my position as Secretary/Treasurer of the Ameraucana Breeders Club, and resigned myself to the impending surgery and long recovery.

Well, to say I resigned myself to all these changes would be misleading. I actually wasn’t happy, at all. In fact, some would say I fell into depression. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to play…heck, I didn’t even want to eat!

The surgery in May 2019 went well, according to the medical community and the medical reports. But I wasn’t doing so well. But God… probably two of the most powerful words in the English language. God had other plans.

Although I was raised in a Christian home, I moved away from all I had been taught in my mid-teens. It was the 70s! Rock stars, rebellion, and refusal to comply with society’s demands were the order of the day. I moved out of my parent’s home the summer before my senior year in high school. Somehow, I still managed to graduate and somehow, I managed to find my way in life. By age 42, I had a great job, a five bedroom home, and had achieved “success”, in the eyes of the world.

But something was missing and in the car, moving from Jacksonville, Fl to Winston-Salem, NC, I found that “peace that passeth all understanding” and turned my life back over to God and accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour.

In the years that followed, while I was still working during the day, at night I would come home and write. Poems, mostly, about my walk with the Lord. My parents, my siblings – anyone that had known me from 17 – 42 and the life I had lived were shocked. My mother even asked me once, “who are you and what have you done with my daughter?” A computer programmer, and by that time, in project management…writing poetry? About God and Christianity?

One of my first poems was about that 25 years from age 17 to 42, called appropriately “Twenty-five Years”.

Those poems were saved, some printed out, some just saved digitally on my computer from when I started writing in 1998 to those days following the surgery in May 2019. In the darkness that ensued, there was a glimmer of light, and I was led to put a collection of those poems together in a book. I learned about self-publishing through Amazon and published my first book, “The Road to the Cross” in the summer of 2019. The first poem in the book? “Twenty-five Years”

Then, in 2020, I began to see the path down which this world was headed and the fulfillment of prophecies from so long ago. I wrote and published my second book, “Go Set A Watchman” in June 2020. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that book was to become the first in a series, called the Beginning of Sorrows, and the second book in the series, “As In the Days of Noah”, followed in 2021. The third and final in this series, “Convergence”, will be out this summer.

The lesson here, at least for me, is whenever you come to what seems to be a dead-end, ask God to open the doors He has for you. He always has a plan and His plan is always the best.

You can find my books on my website, roadtothecross.org, or through Amazon with the links listed below:

Road to the Cross – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1706357575

Go Set A Watchman – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089J3LR76

As In the Days of Noah – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NRRFVBW

Thank you, Richard Peters, for giving me the opportunity to write this.


Becky Pelton – SC

You will not believe how excited I am to be writing this article.  I love to share my passion for the Ameraucana chicken breed.  I believe everyone needs this sweet and hardy Polk-a-dotted Ameraucana Chicken I call the “Ermine”.

I have been around chickens all my life.  I was introduced to Chickens by my Great Grandfather “Mac”.  His chickens where tiny Bantams with no names, laid lots of eggs and free ranged.  These little ones would eat anything and took care of themselves and their chicks. They were nasty little things that never allowed me to touch them, they were adorable little cotton balls on legs. I really needed chickens in my life so when I was able to own my own my flock I began searching for the perfect chicken.

After more than 20 years of searching for the perfect breed of chickens I found the Ameraucanas.  This was the breed I needed! A large multi-purpose breed that was not only beautiful but had adorable fuzzy faces and great personalities.

This is where my chicken journey began . . . March 2008 I purchased two a “Ameraucana”.  A Self-Blue Cock and a Easter Egger hen.  I loved her beard and her personality, so I started hatching.  After hatching several hundred chicks I hatched out a white chick. She had a single black spot on her head.  I decided to keep her and her solid black sister.  I named the pretty pair of sisters  “Peppermint” and “Patty”.  When Peppermint was fully feathered out.  She was stunning.  A pristine white Pullet with black feathers scattered throughout her body.  I never wanted to create a new variety I just wanted a pretty chicken that I could sell locally to make a little extra money.  You all know how chicken Math works.

After several years of trying to recreate my beloved Peppermints pattern, she passed away while sitting on a clutch of eggs.  I was devastated by the loss and imagined my time with these Polk-a-dotted birds were over.  I still had Peppermints daughters Dipping & Dotts but they where almost 3 years old and I still had no cock that would recreate the correct pattern.  So, I started searching for a healthy and happy Cockerel for my sexy ladies.

I purchased a Erminette Cockerel (the original breed) in 2015. Unfortunately when these chicks grew out they were not what I needed or wanted so I decided not to continue this line and culled out the cockerel along with all the chicks but one.  That single chick was Ducky.  She was my first show bird.  She traveled more than 1,000 miles with me.  Ducky was the first Emrine I introduced to the World. She was also the Hen that caught the eye of my biggest fan and close friend Susan Mouw.

Susan has always been a champion for this variety. She believes in my skill as a breeder and encouraged me when I needed a mentor. These beautiful birds would still be in my back yard if it were not for her inviting me to my first chicken show.

Susan said I needed to come up with a “proper name” for this variety, so I started searching the internet for white and black chickens. That’s when I found the Erminette breed of chickens.  Studying the bird itself and speaking to the breeder I chose to use the Erminette name for the variety I was working on.   After serval shows and much confusion over the name, I chose for my Ameraucana project chickens I decided to shorten the name to “Ermine”.

In 2019 I hatched “Spike” the first cockerel that met the SOP I had written up for the Ermine variety.  “Spike” is still with me, enjoying time with his ladies. He is sweet and gentle to his ladies.  He has never been aggressive towards my grow outs and I’m never afraid to let my grandchildren collect eggs from his pen.  It makes my heart happy to know I have created a chicken that was not only beautiful and healthy but personable and safe to work with.

I did mention Susan Mouw earlier, but I also have to mention Janie Mead Vila. She has been encouraging me for years. She helps me with genetics, keeps my head out of the clouds.   Together we have set up a Facebook page for Ermine Ameraucana-Breeders only. I mention that page because I don’t want to leave anyone out.  Without them it would have been impossible for me to be where I am today.

Because I believe all children need to feel the joy of watching chickens hatch, I donate eggs to several local 4 – H groups for their Embryo Project.  In 2023 I donated 12 dozen eggs, that allowed more than 7,500 students to watch chicks hatch.  Most chicks are brought back to me but occasionally a student was able to raise the babies they hatched.  I’m always available for an online chat or question from the students or teacher.  It’s always fun to speak to them, I never know what questions I will be asked.  Just last year I received more than 200 Thank you letters, notes, and stories from children who would have never experienced this without my help.   If you have never seen the excitement in a child’s eye because of a cotton ball on legs you have missed a blessing.  In 2024 I added a new County to my list, this is going to be a WONDERFUL year.

I also had the pleasure of breeding a Pullet that was shown in Washington State by a 7 year old boy.  This young man received a new book bag, a blue ribbon and $25 for Best of show at his State Fair.  When His mother sent me his picture, I could not have been more proud of him.  His little Ermine Pullet was staring up at him like he hung the moon.  I think she was waiting for another treat but that did not matter.  The smile on his face melted my heart and I knew what I was doing was something good.

I truly did not realize how special these chickens where until a friend told me I was going to be a modern Nettie Metcalf.  I had no idea who she was so off to the internet I go again.

Well let me tell you about Mrs. Nettie Metcalf. . . . She is the ONLY woman to be recognized by the American Poultry Association. In 1896 she created the Buckeye variety.  She made history in 1905 because of her diligence, strength and belief in herself and her chickens.  I now understand the significance of this journey, if I succeed in getting the Ermine variety recognized I will only be the second woman to do this.

I must admit I’m really scared about the spotlight I have been put under. I’m a 50 year old grandma that has a small backyard flock in Sunny South Carolina.  I have had many struggles in the 15 years I have been breeding. My biggest obstacle has to be my husband Steve as he believes we only need 7 chickens, lol  so I keep him happy by having a small flock of Ermine Ameraucanas.  I don’t count my other chicken breeds, ducks, geese or rabbits.   SHHHH as long as he does not feed the critters, he will never know how many animals I really have.

The most important information you can take away from this is to never give up in what you believe in.  You don’t need 100s of birds to make a name for yourself.  All you need is a few.  You also need the passion for that particular bird.  It does not matter whether it is a chicken, duck, goose, turkey, Guinea or other fowl it just has to be “perfect” for you.

Remember :    Quality over Quantity. . . .   I started with one, and here I am now.

If you want to keep track of this beautiful breed you can always find them on my Facebook Farm page; Dusty Bugs Poultry.

If you need to contact me you can find me on Facebook at; https://www.facebook.com/becky.pelton.14 

Or Email me at;  BPelton72@yahoo.com

Thank you for reading my story and keep your eyes open for the Bantam version of this variety.

Raven Myers – NM

Hello my name is Raven Myers and my farm name is called Sky High Sumatras located in Silver City, NM.

Gosh where do I begin! I have had a passion for chickens and insects ever since I was a tiny little girl. I have been breeding and showing Blue, Black and Splash Sumatra LF, and Silver Spangled Hamburg Bantams since 2007. When I started, I was 12 years old and didn’t have the best start. When I met my mentor Judge Frank Joseph he really helped me with breeding, showing, and acquiring lines from AZ, NJ, CA, CO, and NM. From there I have studied the American Standard of Perfection up and down. I was going to three shows a year and did exceptionally well at the poultry shows with my lines. I would only go to three shows a year because I was balancing my college studies and during the summers I would do internships or travel to exotic places like Africa, Ecuador and Costa Rica to do insect research/ photography. Sadly I haven’t shown chickens since the beginning of this pandemic, but I cannot wait to get started again. I just graduated college with two of my degrees: My Liberal Arts Degree and Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree in Arts and Sciences. But showing may have to wait until after I settle down and find my dream job, which will be working at an insect Zoo educating people about insects. I am doing this for my future and for my chickens. Because let’s face it, I will be breeding and showing Sumatras and Hamburgs until the day I die. And I hope to one day become a master exhibitor and master breeder with the breeds I work with. I also wanted to thank my parents for supporting me and housing my chickens at their place until I can figure out where I’m going. They have sacrificed so much for me and I can’t thank them enough!




Diana Dahir and father Art Rieber – 1st Father Daughter Judging Duo

Greetings my fellow poultry enthusiasts. My name is Diana Dahir from Minden, Iowa.
Have you ever wondered how a young lady gets her start as a poultry judge? Well, here is my
story to share. I was born and raised in Iowa and live there today. My Dad, Art Rieber and I
became the first father-daughter judging duo in 2010. My Dad was the reason that I chose to
pursue my licenses. As the oldest of 4 siblings, I wanted my Dad to see a child of his follow in
his footsteps. Poultry has been his life long passion. Having grown up attending shows with my
Dad, raising my own birds and running a poultry show for 20 years, I had done just what my
Dad desired, to have someone follow his lead. One of the best decisions I have ever made. My
Dad asked me in 1997 to be the United Poultry Fanciers show secretary. It was a new Iowa
Poultry Club that Judy McAlexander and her family, Bob and Dee Mejstrick and my Dad had
started in Avoca, Iowa. This was the greatest training a girl could ask for. I met exhibitors and
judges on a new level. I learned the ins and outs of hosting a poultry show. My Dad taught me
integrity and fairness, led by his example. Then with the help of some of the best judges in the
country like Jim Sallee of CA, Bart Pals of IA and Gary Overton of IN, I grew more
knowledgeable and confident while preparing to get my licenses.

I received my license from the
APA in 2010 and the ABA in 2016 making me a dual license judge. After I judged my first show
in 2010, I was hooked. I have judged in over 25 different states and have had the honor of being
asked to judge several national meets for specific breed clubs.
When I am not judging, you can find me at Tri-Center High School in Neola, Iowa. I am a
high school librarian and substitute teacher. I assistant coach boys high school soccer and cross
country. I am a mother of 5 of the most amazing human beings, Emma 24, Lily 22, Annie 20,
Christian 17, and Nicholas 15. I am also the superintendent of the Iowa State Fair open class
poultry show. I judge several county fairs in the summer and love to inspire 4-hers to learn and
dream bigger with birds. I raise a variety of birds at home. I have a small flock of ducks, Chinese
geese, guineas and a variety of bantam and large fowl birds. I have always had children in 4-H
and it has always been a driving force for myself. I was a 9 year member of the same club in
which my children attend today and feel this is one of the best ways to balance out a childhood
by giving positive experiences and learning responsibilities.
One of my greatest pieces of advice I can give, is to raise a variety of breeds just to get
familiar with them, it also helps you develop a better eye in the show hall later. I enjoy
conversing, answering questions, sharing views and hearing from others too. I feel we grow as
judges and as people by communicating well with one another. A quote by Kevin James Breaux
says it well, “ if we are not learning then we are not living.” It has been easy to love judging
poultry and I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to do so. My greatest takeaway from
judging poultry is the relationships I have built on the path that I have chosen. I love to invest in
others and am so thankful for those who have invested in me with guidance, judging jobs and
I owe so much praise and thanks to many other loyal friends, exhibitors and judges that I
haven’t mentioned but who helped set up shows, clerked for me, and judged with me. Each
experience makes a difference and I appreciate the efforts of many to make it happen.
Thank you Judy McAlexander for nominating me, you were very kind to do so.

Sue Dobson – Oklahoma

Perusing the internet one afternoon came across an ad for the Livestock Conservancy. I clicked onto their web page and began reading. I had no idea that animals were endangered on becoming extinct. As i read more, I realized chickens were a huge part of the list. Pondering for awhile, i thought, well, i could do something, pick a breed and help get it off the endangered list. after all , I thought, I had backyard chickens. So I began looking through all the different breeds listed on the critically endangered list. i was enamored with the Crevecoeur. Reading this birds history, i became determined, this was the bird for me! I was able to research the Livestock Conservancy breeders list and found a breeder close enough to me to get stock. After a series of emails, I obtained 12 baby chicks, driving 5 hours each direction to fetch them home. And so began my journey with the Crevecoeur.
My first show was Tulsa State Fair in2018. Didn't win anything, but did enjoy all the comments from the general public and answering questions about the birds. As time went on, I studied and read a lot of literature on raising birds, showing, nutrition and housing. As I attended more shows and spoke to other breeders , I learned about feather condition, feather thickness , and all sorts of things to look at to pick out a good bird. Then an opportunity landed in my lap. I was able to obtain a full French cock bird, Bruno. He was massive. Eight and half pounds in comparison to my two cock birds at home, that maybe weighed 5 and half pounds. I put him over every female bird i had and soon the difference was evident. The Standard of Perfection wants these birds at 8 lbs for males, 6 lbs for females. I was beginning to hit that mark. I showed one of Brunos' daughters at Tulsa State Fair in 2019 and won Reserve Champion continental. My heart sang! And a pullet that I had gifted a 4 H girl won Champion continental in the Junior class. what a great weekend that was. Soon I had people calling wanting eggs. I developed a farm page on facebook to further advertise my beautiful birds and get others interested. Soon I was shipping hatching eggs to California, Oregon, Utah,Minnesota and Conneticut. The icing on the cake came in 2021 at Knoxville Tennessee, the Dixie Classic Poultry show, where I won Champion Continental and then went on to win Champion Large Fowl. I thought I would faint. Through tenacity and hard work, reading and studying and learning all I could about poultry and the Crevecoeur breed, I finally was making a difference . I set out, not to win shows, but to get people interested in the most magnificent bird ( I think ) ever! What is not to love watching a glistening black bird stride across a green yard, his feathery tail waving in the breeze! I had hoped to make a mark in the life of the breed and as long as I am able will continue to promote and show and talk to anyone I can how wonderful a bird the Crevecoeur really is!

Pam Sebo – Arkansas

My work schedule is crazy. I work out of state a lot. I live in Arkansas. I started with poultry 9 years ago. I had 15 chicks and 2 ducklings.

As they grew I added more ducks. Then I got some Guineas. Next I
got some turkeys. At one time I had over 100 chickens, 8 breeds of standard ducks.
6 colors of Guineas and 2 breeds of turkeys. I got my first call duck by mistake and I was hooked on calls. I got more calls from Cindy Rush. I moved from Oklahoma to Arkansas the last of 2019. I sold all of
my birds but kept my calls and a pair of normal Mandarins and
brought them with me. Once in Arkansas my wild species grew. I now raise Mandarins, Ringed Teal, Marbled Teal and Hottentot Teal, also
known as Blue Bill Teal. Plus 16 different colors of call ducks. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve met some amazing people along the way and am proud to call them my friends. Cindy Rusk and
Elizabeth Morgan have encouraged me to start to show. I am willing
and ready to do so. My hold back once again is my job. I can’t wait to change things so
that I can get out there and show off some of my babies. Here is just some of my waterfowl.



Cindy Rusk – Missouri 

Hi My name is Cindy Rusk. I’ve been raising poultry for 12 yrs I got started later in life and wow have I sure missed out .I absolutely love poultry. I raise 14 different colors of waterfowl and I raise Cornish, Shamo, Golden and Buff Sebrights , Serama , Ohiki , Kiriki, laughing chickens and long crowers chicken breeds! I have also mentored several youth and have donated to several shows for awards .I love raising birds and have been showing for 10 years . I’ve traveled to several shows and have met some wonderful people and have made some great friends . I also raise Royal Palm Turkeys, Brown and Buff African Geese , Pigeons , and Toulouse Geese as well.

My advice to new Adults, and Youth as well, is to never give up . Pick a bird that you really enjoy and run with it. Never be afraid to ask questions . We have all gotten advice from others when we started out . You can learn so much from seasoned Breeders. Just always remember its a hobby . If you show you might win some and loose some but always make it fun .



Mia Beaulieu – CT

Hi there Tarah! I’m currently 18 and a 2022 graduate of an agricultural high school where I studied animal science. I am now a pre veterinary student at Uconn where I’m head herdsman of the poultry sector. I am curranty compiling a syllabus and educational content for next year’s freshman regarding poultry husbandry, anatomy, systems and showmanship. Along with college, I am a part time veterinary technician at a mixed practice named Fenton River Veterinary Hospital. At this hospital, I have the privilege of being frequently consulted for my poultry health knowledge by my doctoral colleges. As of 2021, I breed large fowl Delaware’s, of which there are an estimated 1000 breeding birds in the United States. I selected this breed because I want to make a positive impact on heritage poultry, and this was a bird not terribly far from extinction only a few years back. They are also beautiful, hardy and dual purpose. Additionally, I am starting a side project of breeding Bourbon Reds because I would really like to see more Turkeys in the show world. I am currently working under the wing of Dan Castle to hopefully become a licensed APA/ABA judge before I finish my undergrad and travel west for Vet school. I have been showing poultry in 4h as of 2016, but didn’t compete in my first APA/ABA show until 2019 when I attended Boston for the first time and immediately fell in love with the showroom. Since then, I have been competing in showmanship at every show I attend, and this year, I had the honor of receiving the title 2022 Ohio National Senior Showmanship Champion.

I would love to be an advocate for other young woman who are interested in poultry.
Mia Beaulieu – CT