Back in 1874 Barry Bogle's ancestors farmed the land of Safari Road just to get by. Now a sixth generation does the same to keep the birds of Hamilton thriving through the winter.
By Wayne MacPhail
High in the rafters of Barry Bogle's wild birdseed barn is an old rack lifter. It's a hand-built platform used to raise wagons full of hay overhead so the field hands who worked the farm of Barry's grandfather could pack the hay barn to the roof. Barry's still working that same land, just off of a Highway Six on Safari Road in Hamilton, Ontario.
A few scenes from the early days on the Bogle farm (including the rack lifter, far right).
But, these days the barn is packed with oats, corn, millet and sunflower seeds. Barry Bogle now runs Bogle Seeds, the largest sunflower seed farm in Ontario. He also provides wild bird seed to Hamiltonians who need to keep their backyard feeders charged. "I would say 98 per cent of are sales are direct from the barn here," says Bogle. He and his family also do a bit of wholesaling of corn and oats for geese, ducks and horses. "When we first started doing this we were the only game in town," he says. "Now every corner store sells wild birdseed." Bogle thinks his mix, which he hand blends using old school machines that haven't let him down in decades, is better. "A lot of mixes out there have wheat and milo in them. Birds don't eat wheat and milo. It's put in as a filler," he explains. On a recent Saturday afternoon Bogle was selling his mixes to a steady stream of customers who backed their cars up to the barn, took delivery of heavy bags of seeds and headed home with winter fodder for the sparrows, jays, waxwings and warblers of Hamilton. All of them, probably, praising Barry Bogle to the rafters.
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Bogle Seeds. 572-4 Safari Road, R.R. #2, Hamilton, Ontario