In 2019 I decided to bring to an end my career of gamekeeping and working for the landed gentry. I progressed and set up my own business to become self employed in garden maintenance and pest control.
My lovely, patient and very sup- portive partner Jane and I moved from the countryside and bought ourselves a quaint little town house with a wee cottage garden. Within our garden before all the raised beds, flower borders and fish ponds were even thought about my main priority was a new shed! For someone who had always lived and worked in wide open spaces of countryside, this move was a big change for me. The biggest part of that change was that for the first time in my life I was left with nothing to care for, no chickens in the yard, no pet sheep in a paddock and no pheasants in the woods. What was I going to do in my shed within our quaint town garden? Chickens were dismissed almost before they were even mentioned due to the location and neighbourhood etc so there was only one thing for it…. Fancy Mice! I could think of nothing better to keep things compact and quietly contained within my newly built 12 by 10 wooden shed. Not only would mice quench my longing to become a stockman again, but also the show man within me was once again keen to compete. During my childhood I attended various country shows where myself and my mother would show on occasion goats, poultry, eggs and even home baking. Whilst attending these shows I was always drawn to the Fancy mouse section tucked away in a marquee corner somewhere, little did I know then that this early interest would seed my passion for exhibition mice all those years later. With a bit of research I soon found an NMC member (Jolene Hanson) who wasn’t too far away from me here in Scotland. Contact was made and orders placed and before long I had my very own stud of fancy mice. A breeding program began and once the Covid lockdown was lifted I entered my very first NMC show being held in Sowood, Yorkshire. The welcome I received was warming and very interesting with quite a varied mix of characters. To make my day even more enjoyable I was able to win one of the three sections I’d entered with a very respectable Ivory Satin doe. That was the start of things! I was now well and truly hooked on mice and the exhibition of them. Barely a show was missed and many many miles were being travelled to attend these shows. I soon became involved in stewarding where my first role was at the “Bradford Championship Show” where John Webster was judging. I can’t emphasize enough how important a part that stewarding has been to my early success, all the books, pictures and internet fo- rums all take second place to this very hands on and up close introduction to the showing of exhibition mice. The combined knowledge and experience of the judges within the NMC is not to be sniffed at and after my first stewarding appointment I found myself volunteering for the task from show to show month after month serving many different judges. Opportunities like this should not be ignored as it’s one of the very best ways for newcomer’s to learn. Not only must new fanciers be prepared to put many hours of time and effort into their stock they must also be prepared to travel often, more often than not this will involve many miles and ever increasing expenses to attend shows, I dread to think of the mileage I’ve clocked up but at the end of the day the best mouse in the world won’t win a thing if it never leaves the shed! So to round things off here, the road to success isn’t easy and straightforward but for those that are prepared to put in that extra effort it can be rewarding, exciting and educational whilst meeting many different characters along the way.
Enjoy the trip and good luck.