From Where I Sit... (thoughts on breeding)
by Gary Tom

First published in the Pacific American Singer newsletter, volume 4, number 2, April 1997.

It's another year, another chance to improve over last year. A chance to produce my first best in show. After all, last year I managed to not only win first and seconds with half my team, I actually placed in the points (1 to be exact). So why not shoot a little higher?

This year I've given up on nest pads in exchange for disposable coffee filters and my fabulous home baked "corn bread mess" for Pro-25 and Petamine moistened with water. Oh, the ease and convenience of breeding in the future!

Unfortunately, much as I try, I can't stop playing Mother Nature and Nervous Nell. You know, that urge to look, to check, and to supplement feed. For which I credit saving and maintaining many youngsters annually. (Right!) Actually, I've lost a baby with too thick a formula too fast. So much for this Mother!

Every year I agonize, fret, swear and wonder why? and yet...

I'm in the throes of another breeding season now. half way through and hope to be done by mid May. Relishing my successes and bemoaning my hens that don't want to do what nature and I wish they would.

Once again all those fabulous pairings you envisioned and gorgeous pedigrees you dreamed of creating this season have been dashed to some extent. Once again duped by Mother Nature, the birds and their own master plan. We breeders not quite the architects we thought merely the keepers of God's creatures.

I've often wondered why it is no one else ever writes about their hens. You know, the ones who sit so tight they don't want to get off their nests. Jump off to eat and dash back tight as a Tupperware lid (forgetting to feed!) How about the ones who hate bands on their young and begin the baby toss? If you're lucky, you'll find them still warm. Push the nest way down and pray the next time you check. Blessed are the hens and their mates who stuff and stuff and stuff and thank God they can't count! These are the ones we treasure and depend upon to foster for us and never let go of.

Of those other hens, needless to say they're eliminated from the program. What I've wanted to do to them has mercifully stayed on the dark side of my mind. Please don't pass them on to newcomers. I myself did my best to foster two newcomers and ended up giving them very successful hens whose sisters I retained did not fare well at all. You just can't tell, can you? That thing about a good hen line is true, however sisters and daughters seem to vary in performance.

I regularly remind myself not to count chicks 'till they're weaned and fledged and stay sane by dreaming about the coming shows and the mystery of this year's songs yet to be heard.

All in all, my birds (yes I only have American Singers) serve as my refuge from the world. Nature has allowed and entrusted their future and song to us to engineer ... to a certain extent.

When life hits it's low points and sour notes, I steal a few moments longer in my birdroom to sit, listen, watch and wonder "why the caged bird sings?" Maya Angelou says she knows why, I continue to wonder.

This season as yet unfinished, I realize more is at hand to learn and try next year.

Return to PAS Articles Index