Welcome to Love-Aloft!
Racing homers came into my life in the early spring of 2006. I met my first- ever pair of Blue Bars "up close and friendly" and I was hooked! I loved their faces, their eyes, the contented sounds they made, and their freedom of flight. They were beautiful! I knew I had to make them part of my life. A young friend, who had enjoyed racing homers for most of his life, a good friend of my daughter, volunteered to help. His insight into, and respect for pigeons was and is uncanny. Together we built a loft to enjoy our birds. Because someday in the future, I hoped to do a white bird release business, I came up with the name of Love a-Loft: and the motto:"For the Fun of flying." A pre-built , gabled storage barn was purchased. Five weeks later, with help from the whole family, my young friend converted the storage barn into a "pigeon-safe,"sun light filled, two sectioned loft. Attached to the loft, was a 4' wide, 8' long, 8' high fly pen. "Happiness is!" So we moved the pigeons into their new home, got several more really fine racing homer breeders from our pigeon mentor in Wichita, Kansas, Mike Gothard, and to this day follow his advice: "A good pigeon is not about its color; what matters most is how well it flies." So our pigeons paired up, their eggs hatched , the young birds went into the second side of the loft, and the fun began. While they flew, I kept one eye on the birds aloft and one eye on my books. I read everything I could find about pigeon lore and care. My friend kept both of his experienced eyes on the birds. I, too, scraped and fed and watered and medicated and learned from him. Both of us pored over the January, 2007, copy of the Racing Pigeon Digest, and every successful pigeon racer in the world knows what happened next. .........The racing bug bit; the loft was too small. We had to have another! Toward the end of "old bird" season, 2007, we had one old bird able to race, twelve youngsters for the "young bird" season, ready and raring to go, and twelve more hatching.. Furthermore, there were only a few days left to purchase bands for the GNEO Open. We banded ten of the twelve newest hatches; knowing they were from outstanding stock, but not knowing yet, which breeding pair would produce what. Some would call our GNEO win pure luck; I know it wasnít quite. We started from scratch with fine birds: superb pedigrees, many big wins in their background, and good health. I was new at pigeons but old in animal husbandry. I KNEW the need for perfect health, if we wanted our birds to win races. We needed an "Edge" and this would be ours: as near to PERFECT health as we could provide. The "money" races were the long races. We needed birds who were so healthy and so in physical shape, that 300 miles in a headwind would not deter them. Hereís how we did it.
#1. We purchased the cleanest commercial pigeon mix available. Knowing that pigeons need fourteen different amino acids, available in different seeds and grains, we added peanuts, safflower, maple peas, and sunflower to the commercial mix. The birds loved it. They ate as much as they wanted all day, unless we were training, but they had to finish all the feed before they got any more.
#2. We kept our number of birds to fifty. Wooden eggs and vigilance were the answer. Fifty was manageable. We knew all it was possible to know, about each bird ,everyday. They were our purebred, domesticated pets; not a flock of chickens, who can survive on minimal care and minimal food. It was about our being always alert and always observant. We spent HOURS with our birds.
#3.Whatever money was necessary to provide the very best medications, food, supplements, vaccinations, insecticides, etc.,etc. was spent without regret. Never was it about wasting money, it was about making sure our pigeons had the finest supplies and the finest care we could provide.
#4. This is where some of the old time fanciers laugh at us and where the young man and this old lady are on exactly the same page. Albert Schweitzer summed it up in three words: "Respect for Life." Added to everything else we were doing, this is probably the reason our little blue check hen beat everybody else home. We kept flying FUN during race season. It was fun, because the birds were feeling really good and we didnít burn them out with long, frequent forced flying tosses. They flew twice a day; for fun around the loft and once a week we took them out for fifty miles and once a week for ten or twenty miles. Every loft flight lasted one to two hours. No one forced them to fly that long; they wanted to. We didnít give them "magic potions; we didnít make them dread flying; we made sure they were feeling in tip top shape everyday. If one wasnít, we watched and medicated and rested the bird for however long it needed. When the sparkle returned to its eye , the shine to its feathers, and it could keep up effortlessly with the others, we knew it was back in good shape. When the birds werenít flying, they were provided "occupational therapy;" my theory being that a bird busy doing important birdy things was a happier bird than one pining to fly free.. Our birds have "candy," peanuts, tobacco stems , clean dry leaves to play with, long dry grasses to build nests, cool baths, and classical music....I talk to them and my friend whistles bird calls to them. They watch our human behaviors and the activity in the yard, like we humans watch TV. Maybe it is naive, but I believe that our bird who won the race was in a great hurry to get home to what she knew and loved. Her perfect health, her ancestry, and her intense determination, made it possible to fly home faster than all the thousand thirty other birds. Before she came down on her return, she flew four times around the house and loft. She was doing her victory laps!! My thanks to the kindest, most courteous flyers I know: my fellow club members of the North East Racing Club. Thanks also to Jim Beddell and Pat Quilter of the Greater Akron Racing Club who were more than patient with this new flyerís questions on loading night. Their prompt and courteous answers are appreciated. Iím told that new flyers donít win races like the GNEO Open. And no one was more surprised than I , that our hen came in First Place. I think this win is a feather in the cap of all pigeon racers. The rules are set up such that there is equal opportunity to enter birds in a race and equal opportunity for birds to fly it. This tenth anniversary of the GNEO Open has been a great adventure. And isnít the lure of all adventure, the unexpected? No one is more surprised than I, that our first year of racing was rewarded with such an unexpected success.....