Most people are familiar with the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Well, how about 600 birds? That’s what is in Vivian Fent’s hands at her home in Robertsdale. Mrs. Fent raises anywhere from 600 – 1,000 of the birds each year and sells them in what has become an unusual post-retirement livelihood.
Mrs. Fent was born and raised in the Elsanor area, just seven miles from the land she calls home today. She and her husband Curtis moved to the current property in 1978. They lost one house to fire in the late 1980s, but rebuilt on the same spot soon after.
The Fents were truck drivers for many years, a job that took them “everywhere east of the Mississippi,” Fent says. They took in sights up and down the East Coast. “We’ve been all over, but going to Gettysburg was one of the highlights,”
Mrs. Fent says. “All the history made it so interesting to see the actual place.”
In addition to spending a lot of time on the road, the Fents raised two sons, both of whom live in southern Baldwin County.
Mrs. Fent stayed on the road with her husband until 2000. Mr. Fent retired in 2003 and was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. His illness was the motivating factor behind the quail business, which before that point had been more of a hobby. The couple gradually added more and more birds and customers. In 2013 alone they raised around 1,200 quail.
Mr. Fent passed away in 2014. During his last days and after his death, Mrs. Fent says she wasn’t sure if she would keep the quail business going. “But I had clients depending on me, so I kept it up for them,” she says.
Relocating is Mrs. Fent’s next plan. She hopes to move her home and her business to Elberta to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She’d also like to pass quail raising on to her grandson, so he can keep the business going.
“There are still things I’d like to do before I get too old,” she says. “There are lots of places in this country I haven’t seen.” Having traveled throughout most of the East Coast, she’d like to see some of the sights out west and dreams of a family vacation to Disney World.
Until then, she’s got a home, a dog, three guinea hens, three acres of land and a flock of 600 quail that need her care. And as she puts it, “there’s always something that needs to be done.”