ROARING BRANCH - Derik Remley, 19, has been raising poultry since he was in elementary school, improving his breeds each year until this year when his hard work paid off and he won more than 30 first-place ribbons in the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, held the first two weeks in January each year.
Remley, who lives in this small village near the Lycoming County line, said his biggest wins this year were for his penciled Indian runner, Grand Champion lightweight duck and his American buff Grand Champion goose and pilgrim Reserved Champion goose.
Remley said he started raising chickens when he was 11 years old to supply eggs to family and friends after a unit on hatching eggs in elementary school at Penn Manor in Lancaster.
That exposure set his course for the following years, resulting in his enrolling at Penn State University majoring in poultry science.
"I was hooked," he said.
Starting off just showing chickens at the county fair in ninth grade, Remley said he "learned the ropes of showing and never knew how complicated it could get."
Remley said he went to the Farm Show in 10th grade and decided he would aim toward showing his birds there.
There was a lot to learn, so Remley started studying what is called the "Chicken Bible."
"Every person who shows uses the 'American Standard of Perfection,"' where every breed is shown and what it should look like and what judges look for so I breed for what they want to have," he said.
Remley said each breeding season he adds some other quality judges look for.
"At first I started breeding for perfection in size. They weren't big enough at first," he said.
Then as he started seeing the traits he wanted he went for correct coloring, he said.
It really takes a lot of time, and money, though sometimes, he said, breeders will agree to barter.
Remley's journey to State Farm Show winner was not smooth going, he said.
After moving north to this area with his family, a barn fire two years ago when he was a senior at Liberty High School destroyed most of his birds.
Only two breeding roosters survived, requiring him to basically start over.
With the help of his classmates, friends and family, a fundraiser rebuilt a special fowl barn for his birds, and now Remley said he has about 50 birds including ducks, geese, turkey, chickens, guinea fowl and pheasants.
Remley said he wants to own his own business after graduation from college.
"In the springtime, I sell a lot of chicks, ducklings and baby geese. I just really love doing it," he added.
This is the first year Remley said he has actually won this many awards, easily winning more than 30 first-place ribbons.
"I don't have a lot of each. I don't have quantity. I just have quality," he said.