Visitors (okt 8)
My dislike for the phone and unannounced visits is not new, but dates from the years that not only me, but the family as well could not handle it any more. Those visits were pigeon fanciers of course who all thought that they were the only ones. Couldn’t they, the heck, announce themselves, I often asked myself.
Until the day that they were still as welcome as a fart in an elevator. I switched over to a secret telephone number, one of the best things I ever did. Of course to-day visitors are still welcome but I usually receive fanciers on the same day. Like last Wednesday. Racing day is another story. I want to be by myself then. Alone with my expectations.
The first visitor was a vet who had followed my results. He congratulated me. 'You guys were, in view of the small number of pigeons that you played, the best. Furthermore you did it against all the great names in the province’, he said. That was not entirely right. Some race in another Fed but nevertheless I did grow some inches though and said: ‘Yes indeed, it cannot become better.’
The vet: 'I doubt that. What you should do is give your birds my medicine every week like so many others. Then your competitors will become even more desperate. The medicine I am referring to will prevent respiratory problems.’ I knew he did not lie about other successful fanciers who used his stuff.
After the vet was gone Maarten stood on the doorstep. Only 29 years old but what a great champ already. Any Dutchman, who does not know who I mean must have stayed on another planet for some years. Maarten and me talked about good pigeons and casually (one minute max) about medicating pigeons. 'I incidentally treat against canker and that's it,' he said.
It reminded me of the words of that other champion: Verkerk. He also claimed to stay away from medicine as much as possible. Still I believe the vet is not a liar nor are those two champions. "In case facts contradict each other one of the facts is not a fact ', are the words of a well-known philosopher.
What I want to say is this: Some fanciers that intensively medicate their birds race well, but… those champions who say that they seldom or never use any medicine at all, are not all liars, as some say. Pretty soon I will publish my results of 2018 and then you will see the vet did not exaggerate. Well, I am one of those that stay away from medicine as much as possible. And I do not intend to change that.
What struck me though? It is hard to get pigeons from fanciers who often take refuge to antibiotics. Many fanciers think they are cheated when the birds that they bought turn out to be no good. This need not be the case though. A close friend of mine bought babies from two world famous fanciers from Flanders. They were junk but he does not blame the breeders. He blames himself.
He should have followed the advice of fellow fanciers. They told him he should not buy pigeons from those guys, since it would be a waste of money. They were so-called ‘medicine-men’ and from medicine men you seldom buy good pigeons, unless you also take refuge to medicine. Now that friend has two pigeons left from the forty that he had bought. They are his only birds that have a wet nose every now and then.
The third visitor was a novice. Unannounced like in the good(?) old days. He threw some pedigrees on the table and he asked my opinion. I hardly looked at those papers and said: ‘Even the best pigeons of the world give junk. I also read about those champions who claim to have Golden Couples that only produce winners, especially in auction lists.
Do not take that serious, dear fanciers. With babies from super birds you have more chances but no guarantee whatsoever. I once challenged a man who owned such a Golden Couple that ‘only produced gold’. I told him: ‘If you can guarantee me real good bird I will give a good price for a baby of that pair, provided the deal is done through a notary. The deal was never made.
The next visitor was an Easterner. He knew about the two nest brothers 703 and 704. 703 Had won a race from Morlincourt and some hours later, so on the same day, his brother 704 won the 1st prize from Orleans. Both birds had won 1st prizes before. Two nest brothers that were winners from two different flights on the same day could not be a coincidence and my visitor was curious to see the pedigree. I showed him the pedigree of my 751. It was clear this was a poor racer and he shrugged. Then he wanted to see the pedigree of 704. ‘That is the same, 751 is its full brother’, I said. He frowned, pulled out a magnifying glass and looked at the eyes of the bird as concentrated as if he was defusing a bomb.
I frowned and said: 'What you are looking for, you will never find, because it is invisible.' ‘So nor the pedigree or the eyes will tell you for sure if a bird is any good?’, he asked. ‘Bingo’, I said. Only the result sheet will tell you the truth. But there is something else.
What does he think he will find?
I do not like to give birds names such as Rocket, Killer or F16. I want to keep things simple, that is why I refer to those birds as 703 and 704. And you know what? From the looks I cannot see if a bird is a good racer or breeder. But when two birds of the same nest both perform fantastic you may be pretty sure about their breeding value.
-Remember my 144 and 145 (Ace Four), long way back. In the same year they became 1st and 2nd Provincial Ace: 11,000 birds in competition average.
-Think of famous ‘Harry’ from Hooymans. Very few people know his nest brother was a very good racer as well.
-Another example is ‘Olympiad’ from Gust Janssen/Leo Heremans. Nobody talks about this bird because it was sold to a German before ‘Olympiad’ became famous. Gust says this brother was a better racer than Olympiad. And what a good breeder Olympiad was.
A local fancier was my last visitor that day. He wanted me to have a look at a pigeon, that he had brought with him. The bird looked okay but was a bit skinny. He said it only got home from a bad race after three days. When was that race, I asked him. About two months ago, he said. Sorry, but it will never be the same good racer as it used to be, I said. Birds that stay skinny too long after a bad race are finished. But there was one more thing.
After a smash this bird was lost for a couple of days. Will it ever be as good s before? If it does not get back its normal weight pretty soon it will not.
The man was surprised that I had not entered birds for the last race of the year, even more since in previous races they had proven to be in very good shape. He was the fourth fancier who asked me why I had not entered birds.
With just a reasonable result I could have become 1st Champ in the Fed, he said and he added: But if you do not participate you cannot possibly have a ‘reasonable result’. Okay, I will tell you, I said. I promised my grandchildren (6 and 11) something on that racing day and to me they are more important than pigeons, let alone a stupid cup or other trophies.