One photo of me and my grandad, Alan Farmer, in 1996.
Let’s just have some fun! Isn’t that what pigeon racing should be about? 30/40 years ago, my understanding is pigeon racing was just that. People sent a few birds, had a few beers at the local club on Friday night, went back down on Saturday with no idea where they had finished until they tried to work it out from looking at the verification cards, and then sat waiting for an hour or more whilst the secretary blasted away the calculator to work everything out. As a kid in the 90’s this was my weekend, I looked forward to it all week, to get down the club at one of the pubs with my grandad, Alan Farmer, spend a few quid on pop and crisps with chips on the way home, what I would give to have those days back.
One thing my grandad always said when I started back up in 2012, and he made sure my wife was in the room at the time, was, “if it starts taking up too much you’ll be getting rid of them, or I’ll come and get rid for you!” I never forgot that and swore I would never be a slave to the birds like my grandad admitted he was in the 60’s/70’s/80’s, and I know from talking to him in later life, that despite the incredible success he had, he regretted missing out on many family moments, and I think deep down he used me as his “second chance”, I miss him greatly, he did a great job with me and taught me many values that I hold true to this day.
I urge you to do one thing in 2020, have fun…for those of you who were flying in the great times, remember it well, understand that it will never be like it was, but do your best to enjoy racing and have some fun, however you want, and ignore all others around you who try and suck any of that fun away. The enjoyment of our hobby can take many different forms, and whilst competing at the highest level within our hobby is obviously on all of our wish-lists, we can’t all be super successful like a Geoff Kirkland or a Mark Gilbert. What can you do to make racing more fun this year? How about this for a list off the top of my head!
- Send to as many races as you can without expectation
- Spend time at the club when time allows, chat to the lads and lasses, reminisce and tell great stories
- Watch the birds come home with a BBQ on (if the British weather allows)
- Sit in the loft with a beer
- Get someone else to train them so you can enjoy the thrill of them coming
- Try something new, send to a race you’ve never sent to
- Get some fancy pigeons for the kids
- One which most won’t do but…don’t have a clock set for one week and just watch the birds come, it’s very kind to the soul and easy on the blood pressure!
- Get involved in a fund raiser for the club
- Go to the chippy for the whole club
- Get some “milers”
I left the “milers” until the end as I have managed to get some! I have no idea what I am going to do when I have bred from them, but it will definitely be fun, and will involve the family. I have a picture in my mind about what I want to do, but we’ll see what happens and if I can get a race across the park back to my house with the birds flying at breakneck speed to get home, with each of the family having “their bird” in the race, then I think that would be fun. You ever tried to get a 14 year old girl who is addicted to Instagram and TikTok up at 4am in the morning to look for 2nd day Channel birds for a bit of Daddy/Daughter time, it’s not easy! I reckon it may be a little easier if I could say they will be back in about one minute or so!
The “milers” that I have brought in to play around with.
So just think, what can you do to make the hobby as fun as possible in 2020. I have committed to myself, and my Grandad, that I am going to have loads of fun this year, not care about whatever anyone else thinks, be really kind to everyone in the pigeon world, and just enjoy life.
“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” Michael Jordan
Thanks for reading.