|I was born and raised on a farm in east central Arkansas. Early life experiences included a routine centered around all kinds of farm animals as well as the work ethic that comes with farm life. As an early teen I learned to breed, train, groom, and show Black Angus and Hereford cattle. In high school I was on a judging team that scored very well in state competition.
After Martha and I married, I had a breeding program designed to produce Black Angus/Brahman cross cattle for breeding stock. I also owned Prairie Kennel, an active kennel breeding, training, and field trialing Llewellen Setter bird dogs. The Llewellen was a vanishing breed with a very small gene pool. There were only four breeders in the United States for a number of years. When the quail vanished from our area, I could no longer train; and with much pain, I sold my remaining dogs to other breeders.
The next phase of our lives included raising and training Tennessee Walking Horses. We had five own daughters of world grand champion walking horses at one time on our farm along with a beautiful black son of old Midnight Sun, which we stood at stud. During those years, my hunting activities continued with registered Blue Tick coon hounds. We owned several good ones and enjoyed that experience very much.
Through the years I experimented with various Labrador Retrievers. I bought several from newspaper ads but just never got one that I considered to have much sense. During the winter of 1999-2000, a little black bitch changed all of that. Blackwing Mosey, purchased from Mike and Lenore Hamilton in Cabot, Arkansas, was and is the most intelligent and loving dog we have ever owned. She changed our lives. She created in Martha a love for animals that she had not previously possessed. Mosey, through her desire to please and uncanny understanding, trained herself to be a great companion to the entire family. Through her we found an entire strain of these wonderful dogs.
Since we found Mosey, we made it a life priority to seek out others of this breed. We have purchased individuals from some of the best kennels in the country in order to start our program. The Hamiltons, Pam Harvey, Pam Nichols, and Barbara Gilchrist have contributed wonderful individuals to our breeding program.
We also have begun to show in conformation shows on a regular basis. We have been fortunate to take more than our share of wins against professional and amateur handlers alike. Our dogs have been owner shown with no professional handlers involved. As I write this, we have made one champion and have another almost there. Last year we sold a started retriever that we bred and trained, as well as several show prospects.
What will the future bring? We will get better and better. Our young dogs will come of age and produce some great individuals. We will devote more and more time to training and showing as we near retirement. And, as we learn, we hope to impart to many others our enthusiasm and the great experiences we have had with this wonderful English strain of Labrador Retrievers. We believe that to truly better the breed, we not only need to produce excellent hunters, great companion, and classy show champions, but we need to teach others what we have learned. If I have regrets, it would be that I did not learn sooner.
ABOUT BAYOU BEND
|Our farm is located in east central Arkansas along the famous Cache River. The Cache empties into the White River at Clarendon, Arkansas, which, as the crow flies, is only about ten miles southeast. From the banks of the Cache to the banks of the White River, just west of us, is only two and one half miles. That puts us on a long narrow peninsula of land between the first and second heavens.
To make it even better, Jackson Bayou is one half mile north of where we live and travels through the center of our twelve hundred acres. We own the area where the picture was taken for our web site. Just north of our property is Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, a government owned game preserve.
In much earlier days, Jackson Bayou connected the White and Cache Rivers and was a major corridor for American Indian tribes which lived here. (It has since been interrupted by the White River levee for flood control purposes.) There is a major campsite on the banks at the bend where we often find flint arrow and spear points and chips of all kinds, right where they were fashioned.
The Bayou has raised many generations of children in this community. I learned to swim, fish, and hunt frogs there in the summer and ducks, deer, and squirrels in the fall and winter. My children and my children’s children play there and get a sense of the great outdoors. Our labs are trained there and love to swim in the Bayou.
No bayou would be worthy of the name if there were not tales of monsters or supernatural beings. When I was an early teen, there was an animal that screamed with an eerie shriek, stalked night hunters, and traveled across the terrain with lightening speed. It was never identified because it eluded capture by seasoned hounds and never was seen--just heard. But, all the community knew about the Bayou Monster and eagerly awaited tales of his sighting or capture. Until this day neither has occurred. Some years later, I wrote “The Legend” to commemorate those earlier times.
The night unfolded young and still,
Jack Frost on stalks did grow.
Our coats we donned against the chill,
Sick’l moon its light did throw.
A foretaste of nocturnal hunt
The primal instinct stirred.
No burrow, den, or lair we’d shunt,
Our sense of peril now blurred.
Small game thought harbored by the night,
An onyx blanket of doom,
Now flushed to flee in frenzied flight,
Hid in a wall-less room.
Dry corn did break beneath our feet,
The sound of crops long gleaned
From near and far the sounds repeat,
The myth his art did preen.
From near the baygall he did glide,
His steps precise and slow.
An even distance he did guard
Between himself and foe.
Old campfire tales that burned our mind,
They traveled on our gaze.
The hunter’s dream repaid in kind,
Our thoughts became a maze.
Sole light eclipsed by panic real,
We could not see the way,
Thru’ path selected by the feel,
Faint hearts that could not stay.
Hearts beating wildly now in fear,
Fast steps upon each beat,
The lights of home so far, yet near
Had n’er appeared so sweet.
Defiant shrieks the night did hold,
Vibrating chords of ill.
His scheme was foiled, a plan so bold,
Yet Legend chases still.
From north then south the wails did roam
As up the step we bounded.
Familiar lighted walls of home
Our rescued souls surrounded.