From Cowboy to Birdbrain
Written by Steve Shaw
Like many fanciers my first pigeons were ferals that I borrowed from the nest, and then raised on chick starter and water from a mustard squirter. At that time there was no World Wide Web and the only information available to me in rural Oklahoma was of others experiences with ferals. Then I meet a gentleman who took me to Springfield Mo. for a poultry show and I bought some pigeons at the swap meet there. I later showed at the Tulsa State Fair & won Champion pigeon at the State Fair with those birds. I was hooked. Did I mention there were only 6 birds in that show; I couldn't have been more proud if it were 600.
Life and college took over so pigeons were out for a while. After finishing College with a degree in Animal Science, I relocated to Tennessee to manage a small cattle operation for a few years. Then off to Nebraska , where I managed a couple purebred cattle ranches and expanded my genetic knowledge through further education and hands on experience. My job duties included planned matings, breeding, and marketing, as well as shows and displays, I loved it. For some, it was all about who had the best cattle that day or did the best job grooming. For me, it was a personal competition against the other breeders to see who had the best long range plan and who was getting the pieces to fall into place best.
I meet my wife Teri a on a wagon train and she moved me to the city and started the domestication process. Not an easy task, I must say. I got an indoor job, took my shoes off in the house and even took my hat off at the table. Something was missing. It was the friendly competition, the cowboy fix. I went to Des Moines that year to the biggest pigeon show I had ever seen or dreamed of and was amazed. I had money in my pocket, but not near enough. What happened to the $2 pigeons? I saw pigeons sell at the auctions that brought as much as a saddle horse. I did make many contacts and lucked into a good pair of birds that put me on my way. I've been showing ever since. My present job and lifestyle don't allow me to ranch and run a 1000 momma cows. I don't do planned matings using AI sires from around the world or haul a string of bulls to the Denver Stock Show. What I am able to do, is all the same cattle stuff on a much smaller scale in my back yard, and within an affordable budget. PIGEONS. Breeding, prepping, and showing pigeons are my cattle ranch. It allows me to match my skills with other breeders in friendly competition. I'm able to plan matings and future matings with a goal to produce a bird as close to the NPA Standard as possible. I haven't done it yet, but every year I see progress and know I'm one step closer.