Pigeons with a story (1) (12-04-2020)
The dream of every fancier is to have pigeons that perform as young and as old, upwind and downwind, from short distance to 1,100 kilometres. Pigeons that are also beautiful and above all breed well. However, such pigeons only exist in our imagination. And in sales lists. But pigeons with a story for whatever reason, sometimes educational but always interesting, there are plenty.
IN MY OWN LOFT
For example, not long ago I myself had two young cocks as you rarely breed. They were off my best, they were dazzlingly beautiful, but most importantly, they flew exceptionally. I was so happy with them that I kept them at home when bad weather was predicted, or the distance increased. The other youngsters I had "basketed" 10 times at the end of the season, these two had been played no more than five times. But there was more. In the winter I set them aside, they were the only ones not to come loose for fear of the bird of prey. Then spring came. After four flights I lost two pigeons, two yearlings who performed so enormously as a youngster. Right, those two. Pigeons need experience!
One of the names that will live on in pigeon sport as long as it exists is that of Desmet Matthijs. The pigeons of Valere and brother-in-law Julien have written history with those of contemporaries such as Delbar, Hector Desmet, Oscar Devriendt and Catrijsse. The Desmet Matthijs story is the story of that one pigeon: the legendary "Klaren" (46-3060539). At the age of 21 he breathed the last breath but even then he was a legend. He flew HaFo, but the one time he raced long distance, Chateauroux National, was won. If "de Klaren" was a gifted flyer, as a breeder he was even better. Descendants like "De Genaaiden", "de Rik" and "de Kapoen" would make the name Desmet Matthijs a household name in all corners of the world where pigeons are raced. As a youngster "de Klaren" did not win a decent prize and seemed unable to do so. It should be known that at that time exhibitions in Flanders were very popular and Valere Desmet put 'that chum who could not win a prize' on a show. The judge was short: 'Soup.' Only half a year later started the career of one of the best pigeons that have ever flown. And his parents, they just ran into each other. Pure coincidence.
‘SONY’ and ‘KNOOK’
When you talked about Houben at the time, you were talking about his "Sony". As a young pigeon, Jef wanted to sell him because he was real ugly. Because he was of a good origin he put him in a lot of youngsters for a German who had ordered a round. The German was satisfied, except for one; The Sony’. ‘I will replace it by a pretty one’ said Jef. It was one of the best things that ever happened to him. The "Sony" became 2nd National Ace pigeon middle distance, not to mention all its superior descendants.
Something similar happened to Klak with his famous "13". He named its father “Knook’, which means something like ‘no balance’. And again no one wanted it. Coincidentally, in that autumn Klak was short on a cock because a bird of prey had taken one for a dinner. Klak had no other choice than to keep ‘Knook’. So one of the best racers Klak ever had owed its existence to a bird of prey.
A similar story is that of Willyke, the basic breeding hen of Geerinckx. You must know that in the 90-ies Jef Keirsmaekers had an auction. Luc Geerinckx was also there and had bought a cock. After the auction some birds were left, birds that no one wanted. Among them was a hen. Luck took it home with him, to mate it with the cock he had bought. They became parents of 'Willyke', a spectacular breeding hen.
The best pigeon I have ever known was the "05" from Vermeulen, wo was my neighbor. At the time, the whole village walked out to see this wonder bird come from the races. Vermeulen was a many with money, bought pigeons everywhere and it must be said: He played fantastic. His breeding method was of astonishing simplicity. He mated the most expensive with the most expensive. Name birds with name birds. Until that year when two pigeons remained after pairing. He had got both for free. The father from a friend, the mother from his brother in law. They became the parents of the "the 05". A grandchild would 90,000 pigeons in a National race from Orleans youngsters in hot weather and headwind. I myself had a brother of the 05. It was so ugly that I doubted its origin for a while. Vermeulen swore to give him a chance. Only when he was old and almost worn out did I breed youngsters from him. One of the many mistakes I ever made.
It was in 2001 that Karel Boeckx Turnhout had two formidable racers: Two dark cocks, full brothers. One became 1st National Ace pigeon, the other 4th. Understandably everyone wants babies of such a couple. I went to Boeckx but couldn't buy anything. Boeckx wanted to trade. From me he got a daughter of Ace Four that bred him a Provincial Ace pigeon. When Daniel came to bring me the youngsters of his Super pair he said ‘I added a blue hen". So I got three. The brothers of his National Aces were no good, the free bird was a sensation. "Good Boeckxje" I would call them. That wonderful breeding hen that Jespers v d Wegen got from me, named Fleur, is one of the many good descendants.
One of the best long distance birds ever was a blue hen from Stabel. She won 16th National Bergerac, 7th National St Vincent and 3rd National Dax on three consecutive flights against huge numbers of pigeons at the time. The year before Verhoeven had too many young hens and Stabel was short of hens. So Stabel could get one from Verhoeven. Sometimes a person has to be lucky. The pigeon was sold to Japan like many good long distance pigeons in those years. The Chinese then bought cheap birds from Natural for 15 euros each.
It was one of the first expensive long distance pigeons that did not win a 1st National that was shipped to the east. Because in those days much money was paid for the winner, even if it was a lucky winner, fort its successors was little interest, although that would change later.