Pigeons with a story (2) (May 9th)
There are such pigeons that remain etched into the deepest caverns of your memory. Sometimes not so much because of their exceptional qualities, but because of the fact that there was some anecdote to it.
"The Sprint", was the name of that legendary racer from Marcelis with his more than 20 first prizes. I remember visiting Albert for the first time in 1980. My birds did fantastic that weekend, winning the 5 first prizes, but what did I read later on? From the same station and on the same day Albert won 1st, 2nd and 3rd and those birds had made a faster speed than mine.
Yes, even then I was figuring out results! After all I was looking for good pigeons all my life. I kept visiting Albert and one day he said: "You wrote that pigeons fly equally fast in the same circumstances. And that it is mainly choosing direction that counts. You are probably right, but there are exceptions, such as my Sprint. He even separated himself from his loft mates at short tosses. Hmm. Maybe he was right. And possibly Jos v d Veken's Olieman was also such a pigeon.
In my childhood "all the street" was playing with pigeons and my parents and all 5 uncles too. Uncle Jef had a super. His "old light", the whole village knew him. But "the whole village" also knew that he had never given a youngster capable of winning a prize, no matter with what hen he was mated. For five guilders, the money I had made looking for lapwing eggs (and "finding" of course) I could buy it. A few years later, as a 17-year-old, I was able to (sometimes) beat fellow fanciers thanks to descendants of "the old light". After years of giving nothing but junk with several hens, it gave me one good after the other.
A person has such years that he never forgets. For me, in particular 1996, 1998 and 2000 were those years. Years in which I grew so many good ones that it even got me into trouble. Not allowed to pool anymore was one of the smallest. In 1996 I had the 1st and 2nd Ace pigeon youngsters with brother and sister in the Fed against an average of more than 11,000 pigeons. I never dared to think that the cock 96-145 (Ace Four) would be a good one. He arrived broken from 145 kilometers.
"This bird won't be of much use to you," said Jos, who has come to see the home coming of the birds for 25 years. Then came that hard race from Etampes, almost 400 km, warm and headwind. And who won the 1st prize? Yes, the 145. Again broken, though. "Mine hadn't suffered at all," said a clubmate proudly. I congratulated him heartily. "Fresh arrival from a flight?" For me it became yet another dogma that could go to the trash.
A son of Ace Four was Home Alone (98-162). Like his father and aunt, he would have won several firsts as a youngster if not been beaten by loft mates. As a yearling, he was entered for Creil as first nominated and fully pooled.
It was terribly hot on racing day. Suddenly, before we expected the pigeons, we heard something. We just saw a piece of the pigeon's tail that I would call Home Alone from then on. In the evening several phone calls. Whether it was true about my clocking time. In the Fed it won first from 13,037 pigeons with a lead of 5 minutes. And what is so strange? After this remarkable race the bird was finished.
GEELOGER AND KANNIBAAL
People who are able to form breeding couples and get paid for it too? Don't believe them. For me, most are charlatans. In particular, see how iconic pigeons such as the Geeloger from Koen Minderhoud and the Kannibaal from Dirk van Dijck were born. The Geeloger owes its existence to a bird of prey. He had mutilated a pigeon from Koen in such a way that he was forced to move him to the breeding loft where it became father of Geeloger. The Kannibaal’s story is similar. Dirk lost a good pigeon, a loft mate took his box and also his hen. They would become the parents of the Kannibaal.
The Olympiad of Gust Janssen (later Leo H) was still such an exceptional cock. I myself had two youngsters, but I gave them away. Not because of my human kindness, but whenever I handled the father, the Olympiad, it was a letdown. A somewhat angular pigeon, anything but an athlete. Leo also said he had doubts. Those doubts grew even more when sportsmates told him "Leo, what have you brought home?"
We also see how great the role of chance often is in Willyke, base pigeon of Luc Geerinckx, who passed away too early. Luc raced in my club and often told me the "story" of Willyke. In a public sale of Jef Keirsmaekers there was a cock that he liked and he bought it. After the sale, some pigeons were left that nobody wanted and Luc took them almost for free out of respect for the seller. Still there was a nice hen. Luc paired them with the purchased cock and ... They became Willyke's parents.
Paula 5000 from De Mey is by many supposed to be the best hen in history. She belonged to the National Ace pigeons for 4 years on a row and was twice Olympiad pigeon. At the time I drove with American Ganus to De Mey to buy youngsters. But what a junk it was. Even the color was horrible. We left without pigeons. At the Olympiad in Dortmund she was judged. When the points were added, no pigeon turned out to be "worse". Even pigeons from countries where pigeon sport was still in its infancy were found to be better.
We end with another pigeon from our own loft, the "Shitter". I received it from Pierre van Dulmen. Normally I would not have basketed him much, perhaps removed because he so often produced watery manure. But Pierre vowed to trust me. The father was also like that. The flatter the manure the better it flew. And unbelievably, the son, so my Shitter’ was no different. When he had won again and a clubmate wanted to see him, I pointed him to a pigeon with his legs in his own wet manure. "That's him," I said. You should have seen those eyes. But aren't it such things that make pigeon sport so interesting?