Advice To Buyers —Do’s and Don’ts
Buyers should be compost explicit and Frank
Buyers Should Be Honest, Explicit and Frank In Their Demands—Tested Pairs the Best
—Know Something About Breed
By PROF. R. R. BARLOW
Misunderstandings between buyers and sellers of pigeons are not uncommon. The bellyaches I have heard about some of our leading, most sincere and most honest breeders! Recently the jobbers of pigeons have been under fire; yet only a few are deserving of censure—because of carelessness or a misunderstanding of the buyer’s desire, usually.
The small in-and-outer or fly-by night breeder often causes grief for the buyer. The breeder with a reputation for pushing his breed, who works in his breed’s association, who advertises consistently, may misjudge his buyer, but he is less likely to willfully cheat on a deal.
As a breeder and a seller of Giant Homers for many years, I have observed prospective buyers of pigeons with a great deal of interest and sometimes with grief for the methods they may use on occasion. Following are a number of do’s and don’ts for buyers, as I see them. if confusion is to be reduced to a minimum.
Strangely, to me the most irritating prospective buyer is the fellow who tries to be tricky. He just wants some nice pigeons to occupy his idle hours. Therefore, they should be cheap in price. You ship him utility birds that will out-produce anything he has ever seen, and what happens? A squawk because those nice pigeons are not show birds.
I will never forget the fellow who wrote from a place in California called Yucca Flats or Yucca Canyon or some such name. He said he wanted show birds, but he said he lived 150 miles from an express office and it would take him eight hours for the round trip to get the birds. His English was a little picturesque, and I imagined the fellow as a sort of Death Valley Joe with his burro and a shovel and a need for a haircut, not mention a whisker trim.
This fellow does not know what a show bird is, I told myself; he just wants some nice big birds that have plenty of spizzerinctum; and I made him a price accordingly. Holy smoke, when he received the four birds, he erupted in a letter that revealed he was not a Yucca plucker, but a very active member of a pigeon club and a gentleman of some parts. I hastened to return his money and in the eight years since that time he continues to tell others what a gypper I am. Perhaps I was at fault, but I am not sure that this man was not trying to trick me by his pose as a Yucca plucker. I have shipped quite a few show birds to California, including some top-notch show winners, but this is one case in which I must admit I made a mistake.
The moral is that the prospective buyer should be honest, explicit, and frank with the seller.
Another point is involved in the above case. There are buyers who want young birds ready to go to work. A young bird seldom will match a yearling or old bird in size , weight, and even in general conformation. A young bird often is simply not filled out the way an old bird is. One of the young cocks shipped to Yucca Valley, or whatever its name was, later sired my first place young bar hen at Watertown, Wis., a show which in some years has exceeded the National in Giant Homer competition. My best AOC at the Indianapolis National, a Silver cock was sired by a big, rangy cock which was the first bird the judge threw out in its class the year previous. Pigeons fool even breeders.
On this point maybe the moral is to buy only show winners, if you want show birds. But try to buy show winners! Even a $100 bill will not always buy one.
Buyers should impress the seller with their sincerity. Enclose a stamp for reply. Write a letter, not a postcard, explaining and telling all you have in mind in buying. I get letters and postcards from buyers which are vague or they want a dictionary, full of information, or they are more concerned with the cost of shipping than they are with the kind of birds they will get for their money. I am the only breeder who does not answer all of his mail.
Do not expect fancy printed and illustrated literature, except from the big dealers who buy and sell in large numbers.
Another point: Why insist on young birds? Pairs or breeders that have been tested for a year or two or even more are better investment than young birds which had not been tested. I have pairs eight to ten year old that are still active, and which are, of course, not for sale. They are worth more to me than six months old birds.
As for the use of postcards, I am not discouraged by postcard inquiries, if they convince me the buyer is sincere. Many do not. Old customers can write me postcards and I feel I can reply in kind. We are old friends.
The buyer can expect shipment to be made in strong but lightweight crates. But he should not ask for shipment on a weekend when express offices are closed. I am wary of requests to ship birds so they will arrive on Saturday. Or any other specific day, for that matter, because birds do not always make connections at transfer points.
Orders for specific colors should be clear. No substitute colors wanted. If the seller can be given some leeway on color selection, specify a second and third choice.
Finally, I cannot help advising the buyer to learn, if possible, something about the characteristics of the breed. For example, recently a buyer ordered four pairs, each of a different color. One pair was to be yellow. When they arrived he liked the pairs of other colors, but complained the yellows were somewhat small, although the color was good. Perhaps I should have informed him in advance that among all the yellows I have bred and those I have seen at shows for years, seldom does one find a large, heavy-boned yellow, and if one is exhibited it is likely to be of poor color. Good clear yellow and fine bone seems to go together, although I do not think there is any genetic reason why, and eventually we will have clear yellows and also clear chestnut reds with good body structure and coloring that is free of smut or other discoloration.
I am not trying to sell birds at the present time. This article is written simply to urge the buyer of pigeons to stop and think about certain matters that make for less misunderstanding. Do not assume that the seller is a crook. Establish a friendly basis for dealing and the seller is likely to respond. After considerable correspondence, if you decide to deploy buying or not to buy be courteous and write the seller to that effect.
I wrote half a dozen letters to one prospective buyer, and he indicated he would order and specified the colors he wanted. Then absolute silence. No order. A year later he again wrote me wanting to buy a few birds. I gave him the same treatment. Absolute silence.