Smart or not?
My first old bird race in 2006 was a remarkable one.
I won 1st, 3rd, 6th (over 10,000 birds in the race) but that was not it.
Those 3 birds were hens, while at least 90% of the entry were cocks.
Moreover, the birds that won 1st and 3rd were sisters.
Since both of them performed well the year before and one was also the fastest of another release (about 3,500 birds) it stands to reason that this was not a matter of luck or coincidence.
The father (98-162) won himself a race against 13,200 birds with a lead of no less than 5 minutes; the mother has a special story.
It was back in 2001 that I heard stories of a sensational bird in Belgium only 10 kilometres from my place.
It had won 7 firsts, only from 135 kilometres that is true, but short distance does not refer to a lucky race, especially not in Belgium.
Since pigeons that win 7 firsts are the ones in which I am interested, I put up my cap and jumped on my bike to pay a visit to the owner.
I knew the man by name (Boeckx) but had never met him.
When I got there I said:
'You have a real good bird, don't you? I wonder if there is any better in Belgium.'
'I have a good bird indeed' he said, adding 'but I am afraid it will not be National Ace, since there were not enough birds in the races. Its brother had more luck and became 1st National Ace the year before.'
'What?' I nearly shouted.
'Was its brother the best of all Belgium?'
'Can I buy 2 babies off the same parents?' was my next question.
He looked at me for a while and then shook his head.
'You cannot buy pigeons here' he said.
'Too bad' I reacted, 'but this is not the end of the world' and I was about to jump on my bike and leave.
- S. ?
'Wait a moment' he then said, 'aren't you A. S?'
I nodded and said 'and all that you heard about me are lies'.
'I only heard about your results' he laughed, since he felt what I meant to say.
I felt as proud as a 13 year old girl of her first bra and Boeckx went on:
'The reason that you cannot buy is that I prefer to trade. You get 2 babies off the pair that gave me the 1st and 4th National Ace and you give me 2 off your best.'
I could live with that and some months later Boeckx knocked on my door, carrying a little basket.
'Please open and have a look' he said.
So I did but much to my surprise I found 3 birds in it; two dark checked cocks, brothers of his 2 supers on which we had a deal, and a little blue hen.
Questioningly I looked at him.
'I made it 3 to enhance chances' he said.
The checkers were my favourites of course. I mated them to my best hens, re mated them with others and re mated them again.
In 4 years' time they gave me only one reasonable bird, so they could move.
The third bird became mother of the 2 sisters I referred to.
With the late Jos Klak I got along very well. He was a real sports man who had no enemies.
When his health let him down I clocked his birds for four years.
I could do so since I raced on Saturday and he on Sunday.
Klak gave me pigeons in return that I could pick out, he often took me to dinner and then naturally we talked pigeons.
It must be said he was not a good young bird racer, he did not participate forOrleans, but came to my place to watch the home coming of my birds from 'the big race'.
They performed so well that he bought a voucher of mine and it stands to reason I felt flattered and was as proud as two 13 year old girls of their first bras.
Since my prestige was at stake I mated my very best birds to enhance chances to give him a good one.
From the very first young bird race his first was the one he got from me.
I was as proud as three girls of 13 of their first bras but not for long.
Since Klak thought the pigeon I gave him was a good one indeed it was his first pick bird in the following races, which' cost him the 1st Championship.
The bird was late every race, I felt embarrassed and apologised, but Klak just smiled and said: 'that is pigeon sport. I myself need to breed 50 babies or more to have one good one, so I do not blame you.'
Typical Klak, realistic and understanding.
There are those 2 sisters ('019' and '020') that I bred off yearling parents that I wanted to cull, since they were no good.
These sisters I raced in a real big Federations in Belgium.
A local guy was so impressed by the results of the 2 hens that I wanted to surprise him and I gave him 2 babies off the same parents.
'A present' I said and it seemed that I really made his day.
'Thank you so much, finally I also have good birds' he said happily.
'I would not be sure about that' I reacted, 'the chances that they are good are small.'
'But aren't they sisters of '019' and '020'? He asked.
'So what?' I said.
It was back in 2000 that Willem said 'I want something new' (he meant other pigeons) and he asked me if I knew some one who had cheap and good birds.
'Let's go to Meire in Flanders then' I said.
I had visited Meire before with an American dealer, but the birds looked so bad that the American swore never to go to Flanders again.
Later on he changed his mind but you cannot blame him for that.
Only fools do not change their minds.
The point is that many foreigners, and he was one, want pigeons with 'strong bodies', the tail down, and the inevitable eye sign.
In Flanders however they have a different type of bird when compared to pigeons inAntwerp or Holland.
They have poor backs, many of them have yellow eyes, and even the colour of feathers is different as many are dark checks or dark filthy blue.
Light checked or light blue bars you do not often see there, in other words it is not the type of pigeon that many people would want.
I told Willem but he did not care, so to Meire we went.
Willem, who is far from poor, did not buy one or two expensive birds but a round of babies, which he would race.
Most of them turned out to be junk, two were reasonable but one was a real miracle, both as a racer and a breeder.
It produced National winners for Vanlint and an Olympiad bird for Verkerk.
Willem was so excited about the bird that he asked me for a good place to go for pigeons again in 2004.
I advised him to go to the upcoming star Heremans.
Heremans expected that Willem would want babies off the best breeders but he was wrong. He bought 60 eggs off the racers and got some from their best breeding pair as well.
No less than 10 of them turned out to be real good.
When Eyerkamp heard about it he went to Heremans too, because 10 good birds from 60? Let's face the truth, that is real good.
Normally Eyerkamp only buys Aces for much money but not this time.
He bought 100 babies, raced them, and some performed so well that he ordered another round.
Many 'Heremans birds' descend from the lofts of Hasendonkx and Gust.
Both had been racing well for decades and' had never heard about pedigrees.
VANLINT AND CRUCKE
It was back in 2002 that Michel Vanlint, who had lived in Taiwan for many years, decided to get back to his roots (Belgium) and race birds there.
He had been in the pigeon business, so it stands to reason he had many contacts inHolland and Belgium.
Being the ambitious man he is, one would think he would only want brothers, sisters or youngsters of super birds.
Vanlint however was smarter.
From three friends he got a round of babies, most of them for free, and only 2 years later every body in Europe had heard about Vanlint.
Belgian Luc Crucke is also an ambitious man, far from poor and not stupid.
One might think such a man as well would buy expensive birds from proven breeders but what he did was also buy a round of babies from a local guy (van Lancker).
One of these became 1st National Ace KBDB Middle Distance in 2006.
Like other National Aces it was sold for a fortune, Crucke had paid 25 euro for it.
Now you may understand why I felt sorry for both that Chinese girl that deals in pigeons and also for her clients.
When she was in Europe she got one phone call after the other from Taiwan.
Her clients wanted her to buy brothers, sisters or youngsters from 'super birds'.
The money was not relevant, the pedigree was.
It made me think of 2004 when she had a client who wanted Meire birds.
I told Meire that the client wanted pedigrees as well, I explained to him what a pedigree was and he spent two days writing them.
But when the Taiwanese saw those pedigrees he was so disappointed that he cancelled the order.
That was one of the best things that ever happened to Meire.
He kept the birds, raced them and' won everything.
The same Taiwanese lady could buy 2 babies at a reasonable price off a bird that was 2 years on a row 3rd National Ace.
'Aren't you happy?' I asked her.
'I am' she said, adding 'but it will be a problem to sell them.'
'A problem to sell birds off that super?' I wondered, 'I thought Easterners want such birds'.
'That's true' she said 'but.. The breeder is not a big name in Taiwan.'
Three weeks later birds were auctioned through the Internet.
For some, crazy prices were paid. They belonged to a man who is a poor racer but' with a BIG name in the East, since he advertises a lot over there.
Sometimes I really think this world is crazy.
Again it seemed many foreigners make the mistake to assume good birds are only to be found in the lofts of famous names.
How frustrating that must be for many champions that humiliate those famous names when it comes to racing.
In the summer of 2006 I knew about a multiple first prize winner, called 'Goudhaantje' that belonged to Rudi Diels.
I could buy two youngsters and 2 sisters off it for little money.
I offered them to a young American but I did not mention the result of 'Goudhaantje'.
I just told him:
'If you really want good birds you should buy these.'
I could have known the answer and I was right.
He wanted to see the pedigrees first, he did not like them and did not want to buy.
Then I offered them to 'friends' in the East.
They had never heard about the name of Diels and' did not buy either.
Some months later 'Goudhaantje' turned out to be 1st Olympiad bird.
Now they were interested but I said 'you are too late my friends, as usual'.
Let's be realistic.
People that pay crazy prices for a bunch of 4-week-old feathers are far from smart.
If you buy MORE birds (or eggs) from a real champ at a reasonable price chances are much greater to succeed, since you will have the bad birds but the good ones as well. Vanlint, de Bruyn, Crucke and numerous others will confirm.
Schwichtenberg became 2nd National champion of all Germany in 2006.
He only races my birds that he got as eggs off my racers.
He paid very little money for them.
Again food for thought.