I still remember
In this article I want to talk again about loft visits of fanciers that have stayed with me over the years. Because these visits were remarkable and educational.
BOSUA AND CLAESSENS
Long way back, before Bosua and Ludo C had the fame they got later, I had quite a lot of contact with those men. Kees came looking for the arrival of my young pigeons from the Semi National long distance races in the 90-ies.
And I helped both guys to ship pigeons that Japanese bought.
And even then a pigeon without a pedigree, how good it might be, was worth nothing.
When I saw some pigeons that they sold, I was shocked.
Those were birds with a record so good that many others could only dream of it.
But for them they were not good enough and for me this was a sign those guys would make it in the sport. It turned out soon how right I was.
For once again: "Selection" is for me the only secret in pigeon racing.
Then there was this visit to Andre Roodhooft . I was there with a friend and after a cup of coffee and some chat we watched some breeders.
However, these were pretty shy since he seldom allows strangers into the loft.
Therefore the birds were shy and it was hard to grab the bird that he wanted to grab. But Andre did not give up. And when he finally had got the bird he wanted to hand over to us that suddenly blew his last breath.
"One of my best breeders" Andr' said. We were ashamed and apologized. But Andre went on to show other pigeons.
"This was just fate and it"s just a pigeon, nothing more" were the words I remember .
"Just a pigeon?" How true that was, and how striking his perspective appeared later when Andre was seriously ill but fortunately recovered.
The late Albert Marcelis was one of the finest people I ever met.
When people asked him the price for pigeons he felt embarrassed to mention a price. Pigeons should be traded in his opinion.
Albert himself had never spent not even one cent on pigeons.
He traded with fellow sportsmen and, it seldom happened he did not succeed with a bird that he imported," said Albert .
What struck me was at what a young age he weaned his babies. 23 days old max.
" If they cannot handle this they are not vital pigeons," he said.
In 2003 when Leo was racing under the name Heremans Ceusters I bought a lot of pigeons for a Taiwanese.
He did not have a name then, his birds were cheap and the Taiwanese did not want children of the Olympiad I remember. How times changed.
Anyway, since I liked the birds I wanted some for myself as well. I asked Leo to advise me, he knew his own birds best, and I bought six.
One year later I asked myself if I did not waste my money. The babies of those six were no good.
Then one day, when Leo was on his way to Eijerkamp, he passed my house and why not stop for a cup of coffee he must have thought.
He asked about the 6 birds. I did not have the guts to tell him they disappointed me and I showed him the birds. He looked at the birds carefully and then spoke the historic words "This 124" should be a super for sure.
Why "historic words?" This 04-124 was to become a super breeder indeed. Especially his grandchildren were fantastic racers.
The devastating results of these sprint men from Lille are widely known.
We all know the importance of good lofts for the condition of the birds.
Books have been written about the lofts, especially about the ventilation.
About the loft temperature that should be the same at night as in the day time, and about draught that is supposed to kill the condition.
Well, the birds of Stickers that perform so well are not housed in a loft but' in an open aviary! In it the birds are exposed to wind, heat, draught and son day and night.
BROTHERS DE WIT
Long time ago I bought the 1st National ( or was it international ?) Barcelona from brothers de Wit from Holland.
It was to my surprise a pure Klak ( Janssen so ) and incredibly beautiful.
" Would you like some youngsters? " Jaap, one of the brothers, asked me .
I thanked him politely despite the fact that all those blue and light scratches were birds of a dazzling beauty. But then I was so stupid as to think that the best pigeons were to be found in my area. What an unforgivable mistake it turned out to be.
Men who were less naive than I, like vd Merwe, Verkerk, Verbree, de Bruyn and others became celebrities with pigeons from De Wit , a name that would never get the fame it deserved.
You know whose pigeons also made an overwhelming impression? Those from the ophthalmologist Dr Madeira in Portugal.
Most Dutch and Belgians do not take the birds from other countries serious. They think they have the best. Is that a fact? To find out you should look at results from One Loft Races such as those in South Africa. Birds from Switzerland, Kuwait, Germany and so on are certainly not inferior.
The late Dilen who lived in Ravels was a simple man who never raced more than 5 birds. But believe me, this man was unbeatable in the 80-ies and 90-ies. I got several birds from him then and they were all good. Never ever had he visited a vet, he found medicine poison and a waste of money and you cannot believe how healthy his birds always were. When I was there once he showed me a bird of which I almost triumphantly found it had canker.
"Is that so?" he said? "Hmm. I have something . "
Then he ran into a shed, I thought to grab a pill, but he came back with an ax . What happened next you can guess.
V D WOUWER
It must have been in 2008 that I wanted some pigeons from Gaston v d Wouwer.
He had put 10 in a basket, and I picked out 6. Direct children and grandchildren of his "Kaasboer". "Why do not you take more?," he almost begged.
I should have listened to him and buy all that I could buy.
He then charged 100 euros for a baby, he recently auctioned some on the internet.
Average price 4,400 euro average!