Parkinson LJ 6
Last week photos of lofts that I have had over 30yrs and told you that I would include the loft that I would build if I had the land and money to do it in the first place. The loft was designed by Gust Taveirne & Frans Rigole for Peter Casterlain in Belgium. The building was originally where Peter made his living but then had a new factory where he produced thousands of oat cakes. On my first visit I was taken into the factory where I saw them being made, at a fair rate of knots. This place was ideal for me because not only does it have a cracking racing and breeding loft it also has what looked like a swimming pool. No not a swimming pool, although it was for swimming, it was an above average fishpond with clear water that looked drinkable. Peter had several rather large filters set up so that the water was continuously being cleaned. Such a set up would suit me because I can sit watching fish all day long and every time, I see water I look at it as a place to swim which would relax me. There was a small natural pond in the corner of the garden when we moved here. I put a bench by the pond and would sit there watching the fish while the pigeons were exercising. I came home from work one night and looked down the garden, Elizabeth looked at me and said she had filled it in because the dog fell in and nearly drowned. To stop the water keep flooding the bottom of the garden we had land drains put in so it is much dryer. Although I missed sitting watching the fish it did me a favour in a way because it stopped me being in the garden when the pigeons were out exercising after that the pigeons flew better around home because I was not there. I trained them to come down when I was in the garden, I did this because when they went to a training toss, I made sure I was there when they came back. This was the procedure for race day when I wanted them to drop instead of flying around, I was there and they soon came down. This helped when the ETS was installed, I would stand by the trap with my hand on the landing board, they got used to me being there and the trapped much better. The only problem was as they were flapping as they dropped the bloom would blow in my face and that was not a good idea so I had to move further down the platform. I think a lot of it was down to there being so many cats around here, two in the house behind, three to the right and one to the left, making 6 cats bordering our garden and there were several more within a couple of house either way. I put those plastic fence strips that are meant to keep cats out but they would even walk on them. Now that was a waste because I bought enough to go all round the garden. Anyway, getting back to the building which was initially the bakery many years ago so it was a fair size and had plenty of room for loft experiments. When the lofts were first made it was because Gust was going to be the helping hand because he wanted to race pigeons. As we all know the bigger the lofts, more pigeons are housed and more work for the fanciers. They started winning but then for reasons, I do not know Peter and Gust parted company so they did not get a chance to achieve the kind of results that they could have done.
Photo 7 is a front view of the lofts with the left-hand side from the doors being for racing. Photo 8 shows what is the landing area with traps into each section. Photo 9 is the young bird sections; some fanciers go into pigeons in a big way. Photo 10 is where the hens are housed and each hens section is opposite where the cocks are housed in their nest boxes. So, when the cocks are away the hens doors are opened for the hens to go in without being caught. This looks like a large set up for racing pigeons, which it is, but the one thing about these lofts is they are spacious, there is plenty of room for the pigeons which is something not many pigeon fanciers can do. The pigeons are not all fighting for perches and therefore more settled and happier in the loft. If there is a shortage of space and perches then they are not as settled and therefore not as happy. Like the perches the nest boxes are on the side of the section so that the hens go straight across the corridor into the section where the cocks are, a time saver. You have probably picked up that this set up is ideal for me with enough room to do everything with the pigeons and the excellent clear pond full of fish for me to sit by and relax.
We are not all going to have or even be in a position to have such a set up but remember, no matter how spacious any pigeon loft set up may be the owners of such lofts are always beatable. Some fanciers do give up before they get started and this leads to complacency around the pigeons and they lose the edge that they need to win which results in them losing interest in the pigeons. Through talking to many fanciers, I have found that most are happy to have a reasonably sized set up in their back garden. They enjoy having the pigeons under control in sections where the pigeons cannot get away from them too easily. In the next few weeks, I will be including what was/is the most spacious loft I have ever seen, I never did get to the bottom of how he caught them. I think I will add the photo this week while we are on the subject of big lofts. The loft is that Dave McGuiness from the potteries raced to the very spacious loft. The section on the right is the office then there is the young bird section which is the biggest I have ever seen. I would image they would be harder to control in such a big section.
While doing the Q&A the odd fancier added a few extra photos so with me always looking for material I am using them in these weekly notes. This week I have a few photos from Paul Kitching including one of the loft’s and garden, race loft on the left, stock loft on the right in green. Then we can see the interior of the race section where they had just paired up, this photo was taken in April. We can see Paul with a chequer pied yearling cock from the “New Laureat” “kleine Jade” and Hugo Batenburg breeding. Another is of a light chequer cock being a grandson of “Jelle Man” again a son of “New Laureat” and “Kleine Jade” Barcelona International winners. The other sees Paul with his favourite “Dark Cock 53” a combination of Brian Long's “Vale Cahors” bloodlines crossed with those of the Van de Wegen family. As you can see Paul has based his pigeons on the distance lines.
Old Bird section
With the Paper Panel I was surprised at how few fanciers participated compared to the number of Question forms that were sent out. Knowing how the publicity machine works I would have expected 30% to have returned the questionnaire with sufficient information on to give the readers something to read in these trying times. Instead we have had less than 10% filled in and returned which as I say is a surprise. As we know the pigeon magazines are missing the usual page filling reports on races which a lot like to see. I am aware that there are fanciers about who study results with thoughts on improving their own stock and racing teams.
Nesting pair, plus.
I mentioned our breeding programme a couple of weeks ago, I am of course referring to the wood pigeons in both the front and back garden. Plus, we have the pair under the solar panels on the back of the house. We watched them build their nest and we are now waiting to see them come from under the panels, they must be due to show themselves. The problem from our point of view is we are a bit concerned if they start to breed a few pairs and them we cannot get rid of them, after all they do start with the odd pair and before we know if they are everywhere. I think there are enough strays about without them breeding on our house. Also, in the cul-de-sac across the road where Lizzie lives there are a couple there who also have solar panels on the roof and they had a pair of dark ones nesting under them. Elizabeth has just come in from the garden to tell me there are now 4 pigeons hanging about and going under the solar panels. I thought Elizabeth was joking and I had to have a look and yes, she was right there are 4 now hanging about. I said to Elizabeth that this was what I was thinking would happen, let us hope there are no more because we could have problems. When you have pigeons in the garden you do not think about this sort of thing happening, but now it has I can realise why some people complain about pigeons.
Cock of the rooftop pair
I know there are some training because we have seen the odd batch here and there going over and in the excellent April weather that we had and they were motoring. I wonder what affect the atmosphere has had on the pigeons training when there are far fewer vehicles on the road. The air that they are taking in on these flights must be a lot cleaner and therefore be far better for the pigeons. I did see in the media that they reckon the hole in the ozone layer is smaller than it was, I wonder where they get this information from. I am writing this article in late April and some fanciers are struggling to give away young birds from winning fanciers. I am now wondering what is going to happen when everyone starts to train their birds because I expect it to be all guns blazing at some point. I would also expect when that happens there will be plenty of losses. Having said that because the young birds have had more time to settle around home, I am asking myself, “will they be more inclined to head off home quicker when they are in training”. Late April saw a relaxation of some requirements to the general public so who knows what is going to happen next, we live in hope.
You know when you are sitting there and someone passed a comment and you think, “where did that come from”. I had just skipped through the BHW and was then looking for something to watch in these days of lockdown. I heard Elizabeth say, “Isn’t there a difference in pigeons today compared with all those years ago. They are more streamlined today than they used to be” She is definitely right when you compared the Dordins and Krauths that we had when we first started. They were the two families that we kept in the 70’s and early 80’s and yes, they were far bolder than they mostly are today. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a pigeon called “Full Try” he was a proper streamlined pigeon and built for the distance. With us being on lockdown such comments create a conversation about all sorts of things, in this case pigeons, who would have thought it. The conversation filled a few hours in the day, after all we need something to talk about. Elizabeth preferred the Dordins and to some extent the Krauths because she liked to show them and they were pretty to look at and they won prizes across the channel which suited me. I always said she can pick a pigeon.
We have some movement at last with a view that racing will go ahead in June, this has to be good for the pigeon fanciers who have been sitting patiently in their gardens looking at a fit team of pigeons. The proposed Mid Cheshire race programme for the remainder of this year is as follows. Old Birds, 6th June Worcester, 13th June Cheltenham, 20th June Mangotsfield, 27th June Yeovil, 4th July Kingsdown, 11th July Cheltenham, 18th July Mangtosfield, 25th July Yeovil, 1st August Kingsdown. There are also two channel races proposed with the transport, but they are not yet confirmed with the Fed. The Young Birds go on the 8th August Worcester, 15th August Cheltenham, 22nd August Mangotsfield, 29th August Yeovil, 5th September Cheltenham, 12th September Mangotsfield, 19th September Yeovil. We have been hearing about how well the pigeons are looking, now is the time to find out. It will be interesting to see how the pigeons are in their moult, how many fanciers have managed to hold it back. These races will of course be held under the T&G set out by the RPRA and to keep racing we need to stick to what has been set out.