I rejoined the mouse fancy in November 2019, exactly 50 years after I first joined as a teenager, in 1969. Back then there were many more shows, which generally speaking were very well supported. I see from my 1970Year Book, the entry for an ‘average’ show was between 400-700 entries. The three ‘big’ shows of the year, were the Annual Cup Show with 1027 entries, London Champ 1034 entries and the Bradford Champ Show 1286 entries. Halcyon times, unlikely to be repeated.
I was just starting out then and, as now, concentrating mainly on Dutch, with some Brokens and a few other breeds, such as Argente Cremes and Black Fox. I did win the AOV Points Cup with these 2 varieties. However, my first love was Dutch and I was starting to win some Best Marked awards. In five years I did produce ten champions with Dutch, mainly Cinnamon but some Agouti coloured. As you can see from the size of entries, most classes were very competitive and your mouse had to be good to win.
Following diagnosis of a serious illness in 2018, I decided to sell our small family farm, not easy, as it had been in our family, for well over one hundred years. I have always been a very active person, although I now get quite fatigued by midday and have to rest in the afternoon. I waskeen to take up a hobby, after the farm was sold. What better than keeping some mice again? So in 2019 I rejoined the NMC and acquired some Dutch mice from Dave Gillard and Joe Bennett. I realised I would never be able to show them, as I am unable to travel very far and most shows, from where I live in Somerset, are between 150 and 300 miles away. I also wanted to limit the number of boxes I had, so it was not too taxing and tiring, to keep my mice.
However, a friend from the Church I attend, Martock Christian Fellowship, said his brother, Steven Goss, had also rejoined the NMC and only lived 18 miles from me, at Beaminster in Dorset. So I made contact. Steven told me he hoped to attend shows with his wife Lucie and very kindly offered to take my mice as well.
Soon after my mice arrived, the first Covid lockdown ensued. Over the next twenty months, I had time to develop my own strain of Dutch. I really wanted to concentrate on the saddles, which can be the hardest to get right, as they have a real tendency to want to slip off the back end!!
Finally Covid restrictions were lifted and the first show was at Sowood, in September 2021. Steven collected my mice and it was gratifying to win Best Marked with a Cinnamon buck, which had a really high straight saddle. I was only able to show this mouse once more, when he won B.O.A. Marked. He is still alive and in good condition but unfortunately, one eye is permanently damaged from a piece of hay, pricking it.
Most Dutch classes, that I have entered over the last year have been quite well supported, with between five and ten entries per class. I have had a good year, especially considering I did not expect to be showing again!! I have shown at eight shows and of the 16 Dutch classes entered, I have won 14 of them.
A real ‘bonus’ has been the success of my Broken doe. She has been to two shows and won B.I.S. each time. I purchased a trio of black Brokens from Sarah Cudbill, which Steven picked up for me, at the Bradford Show in January 2022. The young buck was heavily coloured across his back, with not a lot of defined spots. As soon as the 2 does had produced a couple of better spotted bucks, I culled the original buck and bred these bucks at a much younger age than I would normally do, which is about 3 months. So in the third generation, this doe appeared. When Steven was collecting some mice for a show, this mouse was only 4-5 days old and I remember saying to him, that I might have a potential winner on my hands, if things went well!! I very much appreciated Phil Hall phoning me, to congratulate my first BIS win with this mouse, he described her as outstanding. Also Stephan Mӧnninghoff, when I emailed him, replied describing her as a flyer, with the potential to win a lot more, if she stays fit and well. However,in 1970 I did have a couple of Broken bucks, that would give this mouse a run for her money. When I wrote one of my earlier articles, I did send pictures of these mice, courtesy of Trueprint, to Ruth. Unfortunately the quality was not good enough, to reproduce in NMC News. The 6 spot buck did win a BIS but the 9 spot never did as well as he might have done, as Eric Kitchen’s famous 13 spotBroken swept the board at virtually every show and became a supreme champion. Steven Goss has missed some shows, due to prior commitments,so I will not be able show again till October. However, I am really pleased to have done well, at my first year back showing. Having not been able to send to every show, over the last year, and yet still bewell up in the Top Twenty list is very gratifying.