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Pigeons with a story (25-07-22)

Pigeons with a story

 I remember as if it were yesterday when I first stood on the doorstep of Cor Leytens. I had with me a bag of broken corncobs, given to me by a Belgian, who used them as a ‘bottom cover’. I tried it and I really liked them too. I knew the Leytens had huge fields of maize and thought they could arrange those cobs for me. It eventually happened, but it was much more cumbersome than I could have imagined at the time.

Getting the cobs was quite a job and then they also had to be broken. But the Leytens succeeded and since then I have been able to load my Caddy several times a year. Later they were still on the market, but no longer broken.


That required a return. Although Cor himself had fantastic pigeons at the time, I dared to give him two pigeons and I (and he) was lucky with that. From one came a pigeon that won one 1st after the other in the sprint against great participation. That one also became an Olympiad pigeon, from the other came their 'world champion' long distance.

Because I had given Rens v d Zijde pigeons of the same kind from which he bred the national Ace Pigeon Long Distance, it stimulated my curiosity. And when I was with Leytens again I asked if I could see the pigeon he had from me, the father of the world champion. It was still inbred to the 'Kleinen', the basic pigeon of Vandenabeele.
Cor darkened his face and soon I understood why. He no longer had that pigeon. Not lost, caught by the bird of prey or other misfortune. It was something else.


Cor and brother Harry were shy, a bit ashamed and I also had an uneasy feeling. They didn't sell it, did they? That turned out not to be the case. What they had done was killed him, or rather, taken him to the poulterer.

Purely out of annoyance because he went into all kinds of lofts. Until they got tired of having to bring him back again and again. Get rid of it. Grumpy enough. And so the pigeon that would become the father of the 'world champion' was shortened by 5 centimeters because it was too stupid to find its way home from 5 km.


Anyone who has never heard of the Olieman from Jos v d Veken has lived on another planet. I was lucky enough to hold it in my hands and even got a couple of eggs from it. He descended from pigeons from the brothers Gust and Louis van Hove. Gust was a fellow citizen of Jos, Louis lived in Merksplas a few km from my hometown and in pigeon sport it was mainly known for Hofkens.

De Olieman mainly flew from Noyon, 225 kms, and there was no better racer  anywhere. He could win with a lead of 10 minutes.
When Jos once asked me if I had been okay with the eggs from the Olieman, I had to disappoint him. But perhaps, as so often, I had had too little patience. The first year he gave rubbish and he never had a second chance.
Jos shrugged when he heard it: 'Not enough patience? Hardly believe it. ‘Nothing good comes out of it.’ However, that would change when he got a hen from Frans Verheyen as a partner, when he was 6 years old. He died at 23 but he only fertilized until he was 9. Fieneke van Flor Vervoort, considered by some to be the best pigeon ever, was still a descendant of De Olieman.


De Olieman racked up his victories in the same year that the 019 of the Janssens caused a furore. Arendonk was only a few kilometers from where Jos lived, but the brothers played in another club. Living three kilometers from each other and not playing against each other from the same flight was common then.
The club game was central everywhere and in the Kempen even the smallest hamlet had several pigeon clubs. That 019 also won consecutively, but on the understanding that he would have been beaten weekly by the Olieman in speed. The 019 was talked and written about far beyond Arendonk, the Olieman was even more controversial, but only in his own region. Because the 019 was in the loft of the famous brothers. De Olieman on that of the simple Jos v d Veken.


Another white raven in the sprint races was a pigeon named Sprint of Albert Marcelis from Brecht. Albert lived close to a cousin of mine and the visits were usually combined. My niece passed away, so did Albert and his wife. Albert was lucky enough to have someone like Eric Berckmoes as a neighbor in his last days.
At that time I once wrote that in the sprint under the same conditions all pigeons possibly flew the same speed. That the sprint was not about speed but about orientation, the straightest way home.

Albert spoke to me about this once. "You're probably right, but then the Sprint is an exception. I saw myself that he flew out the rest when I went to tossing.' When I once asked him what a youngster from the Sprint should cost, Albert said: 'Ah, always good, just give me something'. That was typical Marcelis


Everyone can learn from people like Albert and Jos. For example, the man from Retie does not believe in supplements. When he once stood open-mouthed at the pigeon food store, amazed at all those packages, jars, bottles and bags that all promised the impossible, the owner came by himself.
Jos, modest but never shy: 'Ha, there's the boss himself. Tell me honestly which of those resources adds something and is indispensable for winning races?” The seller of all that stuff: “You can do without them all, you have to have good birds.
Totally my idea and would it be different for the long distance?

Maybe listen to fellow townsman John. This year he had entered 5 pigeons for Barcelona and on Sunday morning around 9:00 am, all 5 were home. When I asked about his 'secret' he said: I said goodbye to all the supposedly indispensable supplements. I think they did my pigeons more harm than good.”


Opinions differ about supplements. But if you, dear reader, play well and think it is thanks to by-products, don't listen to me, but carry on. Or what's even better? Give half of your pigeons those 'indispensable supplements', keep it up for a while and… COMPARE.