Left: Yonkman’s Canadian Texas Longhorn cow, ‘Midnight Run,’ with her newborn calf.
Middle: One of Yonkman’s Blue-shouldered peacocks is an example of fine feathering.
Right: One of Yonkman’s Mouflon sheep posing in front of the Koi pond.
Vermilion’s Bernard Yonkman showcased his selection of specialty animals on August 1. A trapper back in the old days, Yonkman just got back from a trip to the Yukon and Alaska, and is now building a trapper’s cabin next to the cache in his yard. “The history of gold mining there is so interesting,” said Yonkman. His most recent highlight was that his favourite longhorn cow, called ‘Midnight Run,’ had just calved on July 30. “She’s probably the best longhorn cow in Canada. I saw her six years ago as a bred heifer and said to a friend, ‘If I’m ever going to buy a longhorn, it will be her or one like her.’ I was since going to get out of longhorns, but when I got the call that she was up for sale I couldn’t resist. There are ones with bigger horns, but none bigger in body or as pretty. She is a registered purebred with the Texas Longhorn Association, and three years ago her daughter was the Grand Champion Female at the Canadian Texas Longhorn Nationals in Red Deer. She is one awesome cow!” said Yonkman. As lawn mowers, Yonkman has a herd of Mouflon, American Black Belly, and Dessert Painted sheep. Yonkman said, “Of all my animals they are pretty well my favourite. They follow me around like puppy dogs.” The trophy sheep are a haired sheep so they don’t have to be sheered, and they bunt and fight near breeding season much like Big Horn Sheep. You can tell the age of the sheep by the rings around their horns. “I’m a believer in quality, not quantity,” said Yonkman. Yonkman also has 13 breeds of pigeons including Frillback, Rollers, Tumblers, Trumpeters, Fantails, Archangels, and Racing Homers. He also has Black Tailed Japanese Bantam, Creole Old English, South Blue Old English, Black Copper Maran, and Deathlayer chickens. “The Deathlayers are an older German breed but are new within Canada over the past year or so. They average 250 eggs per year and lay for 6 - 7 years. They also lay right through their moult. Ordinary chickens are only good for about 3 - 4 years, and cease laying eggs while moulting. There was a miniature Rex rabbit and a Harlequin rabbit roaming the area along with some free range chickens. There were 6-week-old Black Maran chicks, 3-week-old chicks from a Mille Fleur and Golden Sebright cross hen, and 1-week-old peachicks. Yonkman also has Ayam Cemani chickens which have black feathers, black skin, and black internal organs. Other birds Yonkman has include a Jumbo Ringneck Pheasant, a Red Golden Pheasant, a peahen, three Blue-shouldered peacocks and a Black-shouldered peacock. “The peacocks are good alarms for coyotes. Every year they grow a new tail in February, keeping it on display all day long from March – June; moulting it in July,” said Yonkman. Aside from caring for his animals, Yonkman has enjoyed many years of fishing and outfitting and many have ogled over his collection of mounts. Though he admits that his son has succeeded him now, he still holds a bear record in a Boone and Crockett all time largest animal book.
Left: A Frillback pigeon enjoyed the morning sunshine on August 1.
Right: Bernard Yonkman with his dog on August 1. Photos Angela Mouly