Talk about living in the middle of nowhere, Bill and Candy Vinduska of rural Marion definitely fit the bill.
To get to their property, one has to zigzag through the isolated countryside on all-weather roads, and then enter a long, winding driveway that is lined by tall bluestem grass and crosses two cattle guards.
At the farmstead, the first sound one hears is the shrill, high-pitch cry of peafowl, and you know you have come to the right place.
After producing raw honey for sale for 15 years, Bill Vinduska and his wife, Candy, are indulging in their passion for peafowl.
The pair have invested in peacocks and peahens to raise chicks for sale.
Bill and Candy both were beekeepers for
10 years before they met. They have been together five years and continue to operate their Vinduska Apiaries honey business.
Bill Vinduska has always liked birds, having raised quail and pheasants, and he was fascinated with peafowl.
When Candy brought a peacock home from a sale one day, they soon found another and then another.
Before long, they had a flock of them. They learned peafowl aren’t just the common kind but are produced in 19 colors and eight patterns, and that intrigued Bill.
“I always had to have another variety,” he said.
Peahens were added to the flock, and before long, the couple were incubating peafowl eggs and hatching them.
They have built a complex of metal buildings and pens for the birds on their farm northwest of Marion.
On Monday, 150 eggs were incubating and another 150 chicks were being watered and fed under heat lamps. They hatched a week and a half ago.
From the hatchery, the chicks will be moved to a brooder house, where they will stay for two months before being released into pens outdoors.
The older fowl are separated according to their stage of growth, from juvenile to adult, and breeding pairs are kept in 22 separate pens, where peahens lay their fertilized eggs.
Bill sells some birds to other breeders and to people who want them for their beauty. They can be crated and shipped through the postal service. Some are kept for breeding and producing.
The breeding season runs April through June. Peacocks shed their tail feathers in early summer and re-grow them in fall. Candy collects the feathers and makes crafts out of them or sells them.
Bill said he doesn’t raise the common peacocks that can be bought relatively cheaply. His birds sell for $250 to $300. He has birds of 20 different colors — including white, platinum, and peach — and six different patterns.
Bill keeps the birds tame by feeding them peanuts.
“Peanuts are good for them,” he said.
He has cut back slightly in bee production to focus more on peafowl.
“Handling birds is easier than lifting beehives and extracting honey,” he said. “Honey is heavy. It’s hard on my back.”
Vinduska’s farm is the same 160 acres that his father bought in 1950. The family moved to Wichita in 1954 but came back to farm every weekend.
Bill and his two sisters took over the quarter after their parents died. They each have a house on the land.
Bill owned the Bulls-Eye Shooting Range in Wichita for 20 years. Candy wanted to get out of the city, and Bill wanted to quit his business, so Bill built a new house on the property, and they moved into it in 2013.
Living in the middle of nowhere suits them just fine. Considering the piercing sounds peafowl make, it’s maybe a good thing.
“We love it out here,” Candy said.