Nieurlet, France – This is a village in the French region of Pas-de-Calais… with a population of 454… and is part of the St.-Omer district. In the distant past, the village had the Flemish sounding name of ‘Nieuwerlede’. And if you are looking for a good holiday destination, the brochures assure us that Nieurlet is just that.
So with a light heart we travelled to French-Flanders, but as soon as we passed the first Flemish name signs, the heavens opened. The rain fell down in sheets and the last 30 of the 200 kilometre trip went over glorified farmers tracks.
Nevertheless, for someone from West-Flanders it was an interesting experience. I had never thought that this part of Flanders would be so beautiful. It was like coming home in familiar countryside… with familiar names… familiar farms and… familiar people. I will definitely go back…
And when on top of all this, the International Barcelona was won by a small fancier… that gladdens the heart even more. A small fancier who almost reluctantly ‘crawled’ out of bed on the morning of the race. He only anticipated a few small prizes, with luck… “because don’t forget this is Barcelona”… and he didn’t think the pigeons would get through so well!
It poured with rain but the sun shone its best at the Route de Bergues 1c in Nieurlet! For the Deu family this was the best day of their career… no, not only that, but the best day of their lives! Things they could not have ever imagined are now part of their life! Pigeons coming back from Barcelona extremely early… winning Barcelona… buyers who fought with bared sabre for the Barcelona winner… their champion! They were an ordinary family, but now everything was upside down… and their small child was fed in the midst of boisterous fanciers.
But everyone kept smiling…
Small fancier indeed…
It is immediately evident that we have arrived in a real pigeon fanciers family… no less than 8 brothers, uncles and nephews are active in the sport. The man who was responsible for starting the colony from which the Barcelona winner 2012 originated was brother Dimitri. He raced with pigeons from 2001 to 2005, and his brother Gregory learned the finesses of the sport from him.
Dimitri got married… left the parental home… and in 2006, Gregory took over the pigeons. Father Philippe liked the pigeon sport as well and a short while later the pigeon colony saw father and son at the helm. But it has to be said… Gregory is the boss.
The basis of the colony was acquired from local champions like Jo Baillard from Saint-Momelin… Francis Brioul from Saint-Omer… Christian Devalle from Norpenne… out of the combination Daniel Darras x Roger Sinecourt… and Gaby Vandenabeele from Dentergem as a famous name in this small colony.
Philippe and Gregory started the 2012 season with a team of 18 old and 16 yearling widowers, and 40 young pigeons.
The first pairing was done at the beginning of December, and most of the couples reared two young. The second coupling followed in early April, and this time they sat for 10 days. In between the rain showers of this spring, training was started… some four times away with the car… and then Morlincourt… Clermont… Nanteuil… Chateaudun… Issoudun… Riom… and after that the journey to far-off Barcelona (1,043 kilometres). In recent years they have only participated in long-distance races.
The method of feeding is very simple. In the morning and in the evening the pigeons are given 2 spoons of sport mixture in their feeding bowl… there is no specific build up in feed. They only get brewer’s yeast regularly over the feed and vitamins in the drinking water.
Before the first pairing there was a five-day treatment against trichomonas through the drinking water. And during the following two months the pigeons were twice more treated with Spartix. Bronchial infections have never occurred and have therefore never been treated.
And the ‘Barcelona’ (F07/382176) is indeed ‘un beau pigeon’ (a beautiful pigeon)… by now he has cast two flights… has good muscles… a head with character… and is a nervous pigeon! But above all, he won the international victory from Barcelona with a flourish.
It was about 5.40 AM when Gregory got out of bed and immediately looked out of the window. He had to rub his eyes twice, because on top of the roof there sat a pigeon, waiting for things to happen.
Immediately he was wide awake… he recognized straight away his ‘Barcelona’ (who at that time was still called the ‘Marseille’)… and this pigeon came in quite soon. The clock showed 5.50 AM… he got 1,801.62 m.p.m. behind his name… and almost from the start it was clear that this bird had a chance to win the international victory.
And when that was confirmed the party started in earnest in Nieurlet!!!