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The Joe Murphy Column - 30-10-20

The Joe Murphy Column
Today as I write this article it is 2 years since I took my stroke, which seems unbelievable. The progress I have made during this time has been amazing I still have problems with my memory and my right leg and use a crutch when out walking but other than this I feel good. Plus the fact that I have a good wife who looks after me and as a matter of fact it is our 53rd wedding anniversary today as well. Due to the Covid 19 we are confined to the house, however our children have all been on the phone to speak to us, which is nice.
Walter Boswell Part 2

Walter Boswell of Hamilton see text

Walter Boswell

As I previously said, the cocks were driving my national hens again for their 4th set of eggs which I was a bit worried about. As these eggs were too early to set them down on and I could not stop them from going back down as I had no room to split them up. So I increased the flagging to one hour morning and night and was waiting on the first good day to get them on the road. The 1st race was upon us and I was delighted when one of my sprint late breds (purchased from Louella Stud) a Jacob Poortvliet won 1st club 1st west section 4th open from a convoy of 3600 birds and she took all pools in the club winning over £100 so a good start to the day. After the race it turned out to be a nice day but the wind had changed to a strong northwest so not ideal for the birds 1st toss; as the race team had been at the club race the previous day. I decided to take the 24 young sprinters as cover for the national birds, my logic being the more targets in the sky the better chance James and I had. So we basketed the birds and it was a bit ‘blowy’ at the home end but not too bad. So we set off but when we arrived at Crawford the wind was very strong I said to James, ‘I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing here? I’m not worried about the old birds they have been hedge hopping before but this is a new experience for the young birds. The wind was a bit severe for their 1st head wind, we stood for 10 minutes and the wind seemed to die a little. ‘Well they have to learn sometime’ I said, plus this is there 16th training toss from this point. With that we liberated the birds and they cleared quickly heading for home. They would be skipping over the top of the hills and down the other side out of sight as we came off the slip road at Abbington; we saw them cross the motorway 6 inches off the ground. ‘Oh no’ I said to James just as I feared there could be birds missing today mate - I should have stuck with my gut instinct but, it’s done now. Previous to this training toss the birds were taking 32 to 35 minutes to home, however these earlier toss had been a south wind. We were home and on the 48 minutes mark the first batch came over my eyes and I scanned the birds for Helen and Mary; but they were not there. There was only over ½ the birds home from 46 sent and the next batch came about 5 minutes later and my 3 good hens were there and I could breathed a sigh of relief. The old birds were all home but I had a few youngsters missing and they started to return injured. At the end of the day I was 4 young birds down and 3 hurt but no excuses; it was my own fault a mistake on my part. I’m still making them after all these years in the sport but the one good thing was my national birds had their 1st toss and all were home. Another lesson learned about young bird training and for the next 5 days the national birds were trained and almost all homed together so we had 21 training tosses in total from Crawford. What pleased us more about the training flights was we had NO hits; and the national birds were getting faster and faster as there fitness improved. All that is apart from ‘Helen’ as she was always 5 minutes behind and she was taking a different route or was it because she had laid 8 eggs this year and was this a ‘burden’ on her. I did not know but something was not right!!! ‘Mary’ was always with the batch and she had also laid 8 eggs this year. Maybe ‘Helen’ was still catching up on her fitness as the birds were now a constant 35 minutes from every training toss. Maybe they need more work as I was intending to jump them into the 120 mile point for their 1st race. I worked out I would have to lift their eggs again to get them on a 3 or 4 day old youngster (their 1st of the year)   So I would need to let them sit 10 days or they would go back down too soon and be on a big youngster which is not good as it takes to much body off these small hens. My other problem was them sitting 10 days would kick start the moult and I checked the hens every day. Sure enough 8 days sitting both dropped their 1st flight and my fear was they would drop their 2nd and this would trigger the moult trying to catch up. Some people say this is a ‘sign’ of condition but not for ME; to me it’s a PIGEON that has been held back trying to catch up. If this did happen it could leave a big gap in the wing for air to pass through with every single wing beat; this is just my opinion; but I want my birds to go to the national with as full a wing as possible. I was in contact with my pal Andy Burgess who had moved house and I wished to visit his new home in Lauder as it sounded a fantastic set up. When he was completely settled in I arranged a visit him and drove along the M8 motorway then onto the Edinburgh by-pass. My eyes were opened to what our west section birds have to overcome flying through in Britain against with a prevailing west wind. As I drove farther towards the Scottish Borders following the road signs I could see the coastline of the North Sea in view most of the time. It became apparent we in the west have no chance of winning a national unless we get an east wind or the race is a ‘disaster’ where the birds are not following the coastline. But in a true race we are latterly peeing against the wind and are racing against birds that are flying in a straight line straight up the east coast. I know this opinion will not go down well with some fanciers; but it is a fact pure and simple. I’m not out to make friends I have plenty of these; but my advice to west section fanciers if you want to win a national then you will have to go to the east section.  I’m not saying east section birds or fanciers are not good but there is no comparison to a pigeon flying into the west section. Anyway that’s my rant over!!! I arrived at Andy’s house and he is really out in the sticks, every town or village I passed on the way has had a national winner in it. I asked Andy if he had any problems with falcons and he told me never even seen one, and I had drove all most 70 miles. I also thought this might be where I could bring my national candidates for time on the wing. My thinking being I should get 1½ to 2 hours out of them which would be perfect if safe. As at the moment I can’t get this distance down the west side of the country without getting slaughtered by hawk attacks. So a few days later James and I headed for Lauder with all the birds except the youngsters and we tossed the birds, and then headed home with fingers crossed that we would get a good toss. The birds did it in 1 hour 40 minutes with the first birds and within 15 minutes all were home except ‘Helen’ she took over 1 hour behind the rest of the birds, and now I was getting worried. She should be reasonably fit by now - something was definitely wrong with her. By this time she had laid her 5th pair of eggs and was that the reason? My chequer hen ‘Mary’ had laid the same and she was showing no ill effects. So was it last year’s injury I just did not have a clue. The next day I went back to Lauder and for the next 4 training tosses she improved but she was still behind the batch. I checked her over once again but could find nothing out of order, other than she was handling a bit lean. I had just changed the feeding from a basic widowhood mixture and was adding hemp seed conditioner and peanuts. She should have blown out like the other hens so I decided to give her a full Flagyl tablet for canker in the event there was some internal canker that I could not see; and bang 3 days later she was a different pigeon. I sent her for her 1st race from 120 miles she was about 20 minutes behind my 1st bird. So it was back to Lauder again midweek and she was up with the batch I sent her into the next race from 160 miles and her and ‘Mary’ was my 3rd & 4th pigeon’s home.

Louella Mary

Things were starting to come together fine and I lifted both hens 5th set of eggs and put dummies under them as they had laid 3 to 4 days to early. I kept their eggs in the house and put them back under them 4 days later so both would be on their first chick of the year 3 to 4 days old for the national. So that was the incentive sorted out now if I could just get a 8 or 9 hour race out them they would be perfect. Meanwhile I started flagging the bird’s morning and late at night with them dropping onto the loft at 22-00 hours or even a bit later. The next race was 210 miles and this turned out a ‘Stinker’ with many birds missing I dropped 5 good birds that were going to the nationals and ‘Lady Helen’ was almost 8 hours on the wing. ‘Mary’ had only been just over 5 hours on the wing so ‘Helen’ was stopped and rested while ‘Mary’ was sent to Melton Mowbray which was a real bad race with ½ the birds in our club and federation missing including ‘Mary’ and another 5 national birds. A few of these had scored already and it was a real ‘let-down’ for me. ‘Mary’ had been 3rd section E from Roye twice and 11th section E from Ypres proving she was a ‘real class’ hen and now gone. I consoled myself with the fact that ‘Helen’ and the young hen ‘Maid Marion’ were looking great and sitting perfect for the race.
In part 3 - Only 3 days to basketing what could go wrong!!!!!!

Joe’s Joke

Two men are walking about the airport looking for their wives. They stop and speak to each other and explain their predicament so they decided to go together to look for them. The older man says ‘What does your wife look like?’ The younger man replies, ‘She is tall, slim, beautiful looking with big boobs’. ‘What does your wife look like he asks the older man’? ‘Never mind’ he replies, ‘let’s look for your wife’!!!!

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