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Pets steal show in Osceola County

Katelyn Johnson, 11 of Sibley, Iowa, talks with the judge about her pet chicken during Wednesday afternoon's 4-H pet show at the Osceola County Fair in Sibley. Johnson received a blue ribbon in the event.1 / 2
Miss Osceola County Jenny Travaille, Ocheyedan, Iowa, waits under an umbrella to hand out ribbons during a brief shower at the Osceola County Fair Wednesday afternoon in Sibley.2 / 2

SIBLEY, Iowa -- Many of the folks attending the small pet show Wednesday afternoon at the Osceola County Fair were greeted with a simple "hello."

Jill Berkland's parrot, Matisse, sure has good manners.

Berkland was one of the youths participating in Wednesday's show, and the incoming Sibley-Ocheyedan sixth-grader had plenty of information to pass along about her bird.

"My parents got him when he was six months old," Berkline said. "Now, he's 25½ years old. They can up to 60 years in captivity."

Matisse, an orange-winged Amazon parrot, originally came from the Amazon region, Berkline said.

She added that more than 66,000 such birds were captured from their native land from 1981-1985.

Home now for Matisse is a bit different from South America, as he lives at the Sibley Veterinary Clinic.

"When people come in they say 'hello,' and he's pretty much learned (to speak) from them," Berkline explained.

"My parents had found that he didn't like to be alone at home, so they brought him to (the clinic). He loves being around people."

During the small pet show, Berkland detailed information about Matisse -- "what he does, his favorite foods, how I take care of him," she said.

"His favorite foods are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, little itty bitty pieces of food that's got vitamins ... millet, and he's also got some dried-up peppers," Berkland said. "He also has been known to eat M&M's."

There was a bird of a different color -- and type -- in the small pet show, as home-schooled sixth-grader Katelyn Johnson brought her mixed-breed chicken (which, as irony would have it on the overcast afternoon, has the name Sunshine) to the event. She explained that 4-H leader Robyn Kruger had given her 24 chicken eggs to try and incubate.

"I got five of the 24 hatched, and this is third one that hatched," Johnson said. "I wanted to show them in the fair, but then we found out we couldn't show them in the fair because they were mixed-breed birds.

"So I decided they would be perfect for the small pet show because they're tame, and they like to be held."

At 4 months old, Sunshine has plenty of time left with Johnson -- she plans to keep it as a layer chicken. The bird currently roams the backyard during the day and lives in the family garage at night.

As for just exactly what Sunshine's breed mix is, her owner is unsure.

"Maybe we'll know more when she's older," Johnson said. "Any rooster can go with any hen ... so you can get quite a mix."

Both Johnson and Berkland received blue ribbons for their pets, while Brandon Dau earned a purple ribbon for his guinea pig.

A dog show also took place Wednesday afternoon, and a horse show was hosted in the morning.

Swine and poultry shows are scheduled for today, as well as an additional horse show and the cow/calf and pen of three shows.

The Osceola County Fair continues through Saturday.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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