The story of the twins
I know that one of my infirmities is that I can get real cynical when talking pedigrees. I am not cynical by nature but I was made like that.
"Those stupid papers should never have been invented" I sometimes think.
They upset novices and they are emptying the purses of good, but naive people.
In my youth people hardly bought or sold birds and did not talk about pedigrees.
But times have changed.
Today many birds are sold or offered for sale and pigeons without a pedigree have no value, regardless of their quality.
In the past fanciers wanted to see birds before buying.
Nowadays the first priority of many is the pedigree.
I find pedigrees interesting, but nothing more than that.
For several reasons I can only race old birds since 1999.
From that year on I put my youngsters in the loft of a partner who lives in another province that is known for its strong competition.
They performed like crazy up till 2006.
Then the poor man passed away, I had 40 babies ready for him, but since I could not race them I decided to sell 20.
I know fanciers want to see pedigrees, so pedigrees I made.
When buyers came to get those birds I lay the pedigrees on a table and put the 40 four-week-old birds in baskets.
They carefully studied the pedigrees and made their choice without even looking at the birds or their parents.
The 20 Babies that they left me I put in the lofts of Mr. Maegh in Belgium.
That was in March 2006.
Also Maegh races in a real strong federation in which fanciers of many clubs compete.
'Are they of good origin?' Mr Maegh asked.
'Of course' I said, adding 'all my birds are of good origin but that does not mean they are all good, on the contrary, but'I cannot imagine they are all bad either'.
When I told him others picked out 20 birds already he became even more sceptic, but I told him not to worry.
It was just unthinkable the buyers had picked out the 20 best and left me the rubbish.
It must be said though that the start was bad.
The first training toss was a smash with immense losses.
It took the birds that made it home some days to recover.
I advised him to skip the first 2 races and local fanciers laughed at those Dutch birds.
'Are you already scared before the season starts?' they sneered.
It kept Maegh awake but not for long.
When he started racing, the birds did real well and after the 4th race I decided to go and watch the home coming with some Dutch friends.
When we got there we were stunned to see so many people in the yard but soon we found out why.
Those locals were curious how '019' and '020' (two sisters) would perform, since they were always on top of the result sheets in the previous races.
And indeed, the 5th race they did it again.
Locally they won 1st and 2nd and in the Federation 2nd and 6th place.
'What kind of birds are these?' my Belgian fellow sportsmen asked.
'I will check' I said and jumped into my car wishing them a nice day.
Honestly speaking the only thing I knew about those supers was that I bred them.
RIGHT OR WRONG?
Back home the first thing I did was check my breeding book.
I looked up the parents of '019 and '020' but the band numbers were not familiar to me. They were birds of my race team but where were they?
Then I remembered I had taken some to the poultry, since they were no good.
Though I had often sworn to never eliminate old birds until I knew about the results of their babies, again I had made the mistake that I had often made before.
However, my story is not finished yet.
You should know that apart from pigeons and a dog I have a wife walking around.
Sometimes that is handy, sometimes it is not.
When you just get married you feel like in heaven, but little by little that changes and a man learns to keep his mouth shut.
But poor me was so pissed off about the birds that I had taken to the poulterer that I could not keep my mouth shut this time.
'Go there' the wife said, 'maybe the parents are still alive'.
I found it a remark so stupid as only women can make, but still I don't know why, I followed her advice and to the poulterer I went, with my knees shaking.
I was sure some one had enjoyed a dinner eating the birds I had taken there but much to my surprise they were still there, alive and kicking.
When I saw them, I felt like kissing the man and when I left I thanked him bowing like a Japanese.
Anyway, the birds whose final destination was supposed to be a restaurant, were located somewhere else; in the stock loft.
My Belgian partner was happy and so were the people who put orders for their babies but not for long.
Both the first and the second round of eggs were broken due to fighting.
'Do not worry' I said adding 'the chances that they will produce birds that are as good as '019' and '020' are almost nil'.
'No kidding' they stammered.
'No kidding indeed' I reacted and wished them a nice day.
Why I was so happy with the parents then?
Because with such birds you have more chances but... no more than that,
Then came September 2006 and my partner wanted me to come over and select the birds for the new racing season.
'I will come, but first write down the band numbers and the results' I said.
So I went there, studied the results of the 16 birds that were raced and I advised to get rid of 6 of them.
'Don't you want to see the birds or the origin? they wondered.
'No, I don't' I said, 'just keep these birds only. These were the best racers and forget about the rest'.
'Now we have a problem' my partner said.
'9 Of the 10 that you advise to keep are hens.'
I just shrugged.
'Then we race hens only in 2007 and mate them to young cocks' I said.
'Race hens only?' Mr Maegh wondered.
'Right' I said, 'only race birds that have proven to be good, so just the hens in this case'.
'Do you really think they can compete widowhood cocks!?' was his next question.
'Wait and see' I said. 'The hens cannot only compete but beat them.'
In 2007 as yearlings those hens performed unbelievably.
'We are so grateful' my partner said.
'Thank you' I answered and reached for a cigarette.
I felt I had deserved it.