Back in May of 2014 we decided to do something different and take advantage of our 2 acres in the countryside and get 2 goslings as pets for our kids. We were surprised by how enjoyable they were to raise, but the fact was we had no idea what we were doing and I had questions. The internet surprisingly had little information regarding geese, so I reached out to Dave, at Clarence Farm Store where I get my feed. Dave said “I know just the guy to help you out, he knows everything about everything Poultry, he’s the guy I call if I have questions, and his name is Hilton”. Dave said he’d call Hilton and pass along my phone number to him, I didn’t really expect him to call me back, I mean he didn’t know me, but he did call me back, in fact I think it was the same day.
Hilton immediately made me comfortable with his kindly greeting and welcomed me to ask as many questions as I’d like. We eventually started to talk about his speciality: chickens, and when I mentioned expanding our Poultry interest to chickens, he invited my family out to his place to see his. He didn’t know us, but he found someone with a new interest in Poultry and he wanted to help us see how easy and fun it was to have chickens. We took him up on his offer and travelled to his place and he greeted us outside and took us all back to his Chicken House. I think it must have been a trailer that he converted into a building, inside he had neatly kept pens sectioned throughout and in the pens were different kinds of breeds of chickens. Hilton introduced us to the different types of chickens he had and gave one of the kids a broom stick fashioned with a cup on the end, he explained how to use it to get eggs out of the pen without getting in, and then let them have a go at it. Later he let the kids each hold one of his White Plymouth Rock hens, his favourite breed for newbie chicken owners with kids. He later took us into his furnace room where he kept his incubator and showed us his new hatchlings, of which he let the kids hold. He then took us out back of his Chicken house to see his Call Ducks. He shared so much with us that day, including the eggs collected, it was wonderful and it was that visit that made us comfortable and excited about getting chickens for ourselves.
We got Charlie the rooster not long after that and then some hens for company. As we got more birds and I needed help with the million questions I had, I would call Hilton, and I called him a lot! He never made me feel bad about calling him so much, he was happy to help and I learned a lot from him. He had a no nonsense, realistic and calm approach to most Poultry problems and that mannerism in him taught me a lot, and I utilize it every time I have a situation with my birds. He became a mentor to me.
Last November I planned a Backyard Chicken Seminar and I told Hilton all about it, and he surprised me by attending. I was so happy to see him there and was proud of myself afterward when he told me I did a good job and ironically about how much information I knew, ironic because I learned most of it from him.
My friend Hilton passed away this morning, I’m not sad, he led a wonderful life with his health in good shape up until a few weeks before he passed. He was in his mid eighties and was a busy man, he had lots of friends and was well known on the Island and in the Maritimes for his love and knowledge of all things poultry.
I am very grateful for having the privilege of knowing him and soaking up some of his knowledge.
Most importantly, I am grateful for learning from him how to share my interest in poultry , and share it freely, just like he did.
I will miss him a lot, I know a lot of people will.
Sometimes we flock to our search engines for information, but the best sources of knowledge and wisdom come from folks that have experience. I encourage you to seek them out, not only will you learn many things, you may gain a good friend.
R.I.P. Hilton Bryanton, my friend.