Poultry breeder Vyacheslav Komov keeps at his dacha about 400 decorative hens - there are no poultry farms in Russia like his one.
He is well known not only in St. Petersburg. Poultry breeds all over the world know his name. The thing is that he managed to recover old Russian breed - Pavlovskaya, which considered to be vanished.
Hen is a rare bird
Poultry farm takes almost a half of not a large piece of earth in Lembolovo. A hen flock of different colours led by huge black cock rushes about the cage. There are lots of different exotic breeds at Komov's dacha - miniature game-cocks, Chinese silk hens... But his first bird Vyacheslav kept on his balcony in the city.
'I was 13 when I was presented with a miniature cock,' says Komov. 'I was interested in genetics then, so I started experimenting, and breeding. Gradually, poultry breeding absorbed me completely, and I couldn't imagine my life without hens. For about three years I almost lived in libraries - I read almost everything I could find about hens. After finishing school I entered the Academy of Agriculture. I kept different hens, but dreamt to work with old Russian breeds. There are far more poultry breeders abroad than here, and it's hard to surprise them with exotics. All the breeds, which can be considered as rare in Russia, in Europe and America are quite common. I realized it when I attended all-European exhibition in Austria.'
Amateur poultry-breeder surpassed scientists
After the Revolution of 1917 hen breeding became unpopular - and in the course of time old traditions disappeared. Cock fighting weren't held anymore. Orlovskaya breed, which used to be common for Middle Russia regions, appeared abroad somehow, but unique Pavlovskaya breed disappeared. It was considered vanished. And Vyacheslav, as any aspiring breeder, dreamt about restoring old traditions and old breeds.
'Once I took several eggs in the Institute of Genetics, and when the chickens hatched out, I noticed some features of Pavlovskaya breed in them. It was in the1980-s. I started selecting and in 10 years I had a flock of birds, which were identical to Pavlovskaya breed.'
'I took one of my cocks to exhibition to Moscow. It caused a sensation and a scandal there. Many scientist tried to recover the breed but in vain. And now some unknown breeder Komov claims that he managed to achieve good results!'
However, when Komov displayed his bird, and put the stuffed bird of Pavlovskaya breed, all the opponents had nothing to say - both birds looked similar.
Things were going perfect - Vyacheslav was busy with growing his favourite Pavloskaya breed. But 4 years ago an event happened, which made Komov start everything from the beginning.
'Foxes suddenly appeared at our dacha. And not one. Everything went as usual, I came to dacha to visit my birds, to feed them and give them water and then returned to the city. And when I came back I saw a total devastation - all hens and cocks bred with such efforts were killed. Fortunately, several chickens managed to escape, they hid themselves in bushes and went out to me hungry and dirty.'
Several years have passed since that time and Komov almost fully restored his breeding farm. He made the fence thicker so that no fox could get in. And he built for his birds two-storied hen-house - a real palace!
'While the hen house was being built, some hens slept outside. They flew on the apple-tree and stayed there the whole night. And one night there was frost. In the morning both branches and birds were covered with hoar-frost. I even was afraid for my hens. But northern breeds don't afraid of the frost.'
Vyacheslav doesn't name his hens. Poultry is poultry, you should realize it, otherwise - will you be able treat the guests with fried Pete?
'Once I took a beautiful cock of Pavlovskaya breed to taxidermist, and he asked me if it was my friend. At first I didn't understand what he meant. It appeared that taxidermists often refuse people, who ask to stuff their pets and ask to make the expression of their face as it was when the pet was alive.'
There are not only stuffed birds in Vyacheslav's house. The Komovs collect items with hens - their friends bring them toys, cups, napkins, depicting cocks and hens.
'My hobby doesn't bring money at all - there are rather costs then benefits. There aren't many bird lovers in St. Petersburg to buy a bird. But it's such a pleasure to go to dacha and watch a flock of different colours: And also I dream to buy turkeys.'