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 chanceto produce my first best in show. After all, last year I managed tonot only win first and seconds with half my team, I actually placed inthe 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 coffeefilters and my fabulous home baked "corn bread mess" for Pro-25 andPetamine moistened with water. Oh, the ease and convenience ofbreeding in the future!

Unfortunately, much as I try, I can't stop playing Mother Nature andNervous Nell. You know, that urge to look, to check, and tosupplement feed. For which I credit saving and maintaining manyyoungsters annually. (Right!) Actually, I've lost a baby with toothick 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 throughand hope to be done by mid May. Relishing my successes and bemoaningmy hens that don't want to do what nature and I wish they would.

Once again all those fabulous pairings you envisioned and gorgeouspedigrees you dreamed of creating this season have been dashed to someextent. Once again duped by Mother Nature, the birds and their ownmaster plan. We breeders not quite the architects we thought merelythe keepers of God's creatures.

I've often wondered why it is no one else ever writes about theirhens. You know, the ones who sit so tight they don't want to get offtheir nests. Jump off to eat and dash back tight as a Tupperware lid(forgetting to feed!) How about the ones who hate bands on theiryoung and begin the baby toss? If you're lucky, you'll find themstill 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 andthank God they can't count! These are the ones we treasure and dependupon to foster for us and never let go of.

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

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

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

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

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

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