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Remarkable remarks (part two of two)

In this edition we will again refer to remarks or opinions of great pigeon fanciers in Holland or Belgium that contain a lesson.
And ‘learn’ is something that every ambitious fancier should want. The moment we think we know all about the sport, the moment we think no one can teach us any more is the beginning of the end.
Doubts and questions are characteristics of wise men.
So here we go again.

Van der Pol surprised the country in the late 70-ies with results in young bird racing (long distance) which were unheard of.
Honestly speaking my results were just as good but not so impressing.
The reason was he raced 70 birds or more, I about 10 or so.
Though winning 9 prizes from 10 birds may be a better result than winning 50 prizes from 70 birds the man who wins 50 prizes steals the show.
This van der Pol managed to get 40 birds home when many fellow sportsmen even did not have one.
Of course he had good birds but there was more. In those days he and me were the only ones who darkened the birds.
Later on Aarts and others did the same and became a nightmare for others too.
We as ‘young bird experts’ were the talk of the day and were criticised a lot. We were suspected of having a secret, in fact we had one (darkening) but others thought about drugging.
Some concluded we were better located.
How naïve or even stupid some people can be.
How can you be better located from 500 kilometres races if fellow fanciers live in the same street?
‘A better location’ is often the excuse for losers in this sport.
Van der Pol concerning this:
‘Of course in many races one fancier is better located than the other because of a favourable wind. But as the wind changes day by day this cannot be an excuse for bad results a whole year round. Maybe places with a bad location exist though. Those are the places in which fanciers live who have poor birds.’

The late Jef Carlens was ‘something else’ but also a long distance champion with a great reputation from races such as Barcelona.
It is hard to get any information about him, as he is seldom referred to in the press. The reason is he liked pressmen as much as Bush likes Saddam Hussein.
His ‘Mona Lisa’ that won International Barcelona 1973 against 8.515 birds was a household word in Belgium for many years. I never met Carlens but have handled ‘Mona Lisa’ in the loft of the Japanese banker Shimamura.
Belgian Pros Roosen got a daughter from her that was named after the queen of Belgium ‘Fabiola’ and the off spring of this hen was fantastic.
Carlens was hard for himself and for his birds. He was ‘a man of nature’ he seldom medicated his birds and seldom cleaned the lofts.
He is also known for his controversial ideas about young bird losses.
‘Every bird that gets lost from training or racing is something to be happy about’ he used to say. What he meant was such birds are no good but he was wrong of course. There are too many examples of pigeons that got lost, which were reported and turned out to be champions later on.
He had also a very special view about selecting babies.
‘To select babies is a problem for many, not for me though. What you should do is breed many babies and sell many, or just donate them when they are still young.
Very important is that you should allow buyers to pick their own choice.
So if you need 40 babies for your own use you should breed many more. Let others pick out what they like and the birds that remain are the best. How come?

Most fanciers pick out the bigger birds and those are the worst. They pick the biggest as they mix up fat with muscles, size with strength.’

It must be admitted there is some truth in these words.

Few names were abused so much as that of Hofkens, I wrote that before. He lived close to me so I knew him very well.
He had super birds but his star only rose after his death. As for that you can compare him with some pop stars, authors and so on. The best thing they did in their career was die. After their deaths their songs became hits, their books became best sellers.
About Hofkens I know that about half of his pigeons were birds he bought. When they were auctioned after his death many, especially foreigners, showed up with Hofkens strain whereas Hofkens himself did not believe in a strain and never intended to build up one. He believed in crossings.
About ‘Golden Pairs’ he thought the same as Klak and Janssens.
‘If somebody wants to buy your super bird he often wants his parents as well. Sell them all! The chance that the parents will ever give another super is almost zero.

No one ever won so many first prizes National as Dusarduyn.
He did not write pedigrees, as he hated them. That is why he never got famous abroad as it has become almost impossible to sell birds without a pedigree.
‘What do buyers like: a good bird or a good pedigree?’ I sometimes wonder.
‘On a pedigree you can write whatever you want. You can only make a pedigree fly if you fold it like little children fold papers into ‘little planes’.

The Dutch dentist is known for flying successfully ‘double widowhood’.
The majority in Western Europe race widowhood cocks (hens stay home).
A small group (Engels, the late Vervoort, IJskout, Geerts, Vercammen) race widowhood hens (cocks stay home), only a handful races natural (Klak).
De Bruyn races both hens and cocks on widowhood, as this is ‘more economic’.
If you race 30 cocks on widowhood you need 60 birds.
I hate the idea to keep half of my birds home when a race is on. And there is another thing. How can you know if birds are any good if you do not race them?
If you race both sexes you will know your birds better and you do not need birds wasting their time in the aviary’ he claims.
Unlike me he likes to race many birds and as we get on well we often discuss this.
Willem de Bruyn:
‘I want to win, wars you do not win with a handful of soldiers, for that you need a whole army.‘

Dr. Lemahieu is a Belgian vet almost second to none.
When people have such big problems that no vet can help them out he is the last haven for some. I myself have also a learnt from him concerning pigeon diseases, medicine and stuff.
Now one should know that ‘pigeon tea’ is a controversial subject among fanciers in Europe. I myself think it is bull but I am sceptical about many additives.
I do not believe in tea as I experienced a lot: Half of my birds repeatedly got tea a whole year round, others did not.
Never did I notice any difference in health or results.
But I must say, so many champions, especially Belgians, have tea on the menu for their birds that it cannot be bad either. As I was (and still am) doubtful I decided to bring it up when Dr. Lemahieu and me were talking pigeons.
‘Are you in favour of tea for pigeons or not?’ was my straight question.
Dr. Lemahieu:
‘I am pro. Let the fanciers give their birds tea. When they do tea in the drinker they do not put antibiotics in it. And every day without antibiotics is a good day.’

Mr Ally is also a pigeon vet. Since 25 years he deals with pigeon diseases, since 15 years he joined the races (long distance) and he is pretty successful at that.
Of course a man like he did a lot of research about medicine on his own birds.
It is interesting to hear what his ideas are about coccidiose.
Dr. Ally:
‘A bit coccidiose is no problems, birds get rid of it without medication if the loft is dry.
The best prevention is a perfect environment.
I have noticed that after a hard race the birds have pretty much coccidiose. But some days later when they have shapen up I find less and less.
So coccidiose is related to the general condition. .
For me it has become a kind of parameter.
The less coccidiose the better the condition.
This does not mean that we can ignore it completely .
If pigeons have too much coccidiose the gate is wide open to other diseases such as paratyphoid. With chickens we see the same thing: Too much coccidiose is often followed by an outbreak of salmonella.
Dr. Lemahieu and dr. Marien (mentioned before) share the ideas of dr. Ally.

Christiaens is nick named ‘the wizard’ and it may be clear why.
He is also known for the fact that he cleans his lofts once a year maximum.
He just throws the food in the shit and… unlike many others his birds never suffer from Adeno or Coli.
‘I strongly believe fanciers have become too hygienic; the lofts have become too clean. That’s why birds are not given the chance to build up immunity.
Why are so many children allergic for one thing or the other nowadays?
Too much hygiene in the houses my friend. Mothers clean too much. In the past children ate with dirty unwashed hands but rarely got sick.
Nowadays they lack immunity. The most hygienic places in the world are hospitals.
And it is especially in hospitals where we find bacteria that we cannot kill any more.
I am sure that on the long run you will get stronger birds with more immunity if you
leave the shit in your loft. Have a look in the baskets when the birds are on their way to the release stations. How dirty these may be.
I think birds that are already exposed to less hygienic circumstances in their loft will be less vulnerable.
So far ‘the wizard’. I was at his place several times.
Seldom did I see results so good as his. And seldom did I see lofts so filthy as his.
And remember: Christiaens is a winner.

It is unbelievable how many National winning birds of two-day races carry the van der Wegen blood both in Holland and Belgium.
He is also one of the few who are considered to have a kind of own strain.
How pure this strain is?
As there are so many rumours and speculations about the Janssen birds (have they imported new blood or haven’t they?) it stands to reason that people also have questions not to speak about doubts about van der Wegen.
Especially as it is well known he has bought birds in auctions.
Once I was with Anton van der Wegen in a seminar at Ponderosa (Eyerkamp).
There a fancier asked him how pure his pigeons were and he reacted as follows:
‘Do you drink coffee Sir?’
The man nodded.
‘And do add any milk?’ van der Wegen then asked.
The man nodded again.
‘And what do call your drink now?’ van der Wegen asked.
The audience smiled.

Hope some remarks of the champs I referred to will make you think.
If you have learnt only one little thing it is already worth the money paid for your subscription.
I know many people and consequently I hear a lot.
You know what I have learnt?

People are not half as good as their friends say and they are not half as bad as their enemies say.