Scott Landry of Farmington stands in his coop of young homing pigeons. Young birds compete in races up to 300 miles while races for older birds are 500-600 miles. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON —There is always time for Scott Landry’s pigeons.

Landry has been hooked on pigeons since the age of 10, when he found one injured while living in Massachusetts and nursed it back to health under the guidance of his mentor.

“We moved there when my dad worked for the Chamber of Commerce. I fell under the wing of an old German fellow. I worked in his clothing store all through high school, until we moved back to Maine,” Landry said. “He had no kids, so he took care of me. He was an incredible person. During World War 1 he trained great Danes, dobermans and shepherds for the German army.

“He had a wealth of knowledge, knew animals. I got hooked.”

Scott Landry races and shows homing pigeons. This coop is filled with Blondinettes, Satinettes and Oriental Frills show birds. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

In one coop Landry showed off his Blondinette, Satinette and Oriental Frills pigeons.

“The Blondinettes are the dark ones with dark heads. The Satinettes have white bodies with colored shields (wings). The Oriental Frills have no beaks, can’t feed their own young. I raise other birds to feed them, usually half breeds,” Landry said.

When breeding those pigeons, a standard is used. Preferred body parts include a short beak, wide nose. They must have feathered feet, he said.

“The Satinettes are the hardest. You have to breed for a pattern. They have to have a barred pattern, white body, 10 white flights (feathers). The Blondinettes you don’t have to worry about that,” Landry said.

In addition to showing homing pigeons, Landry also judges pigeon shows, although there haven’t been many this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another coop is filled with racing birds.

Racing pigeons carry a band with a chip in it to track times. Each band also includes a number, where the bird was born and the club name. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“We ship 20 birds to a race. Each bird has a band with a chip in it. Each bird is entered into the club’s system. When they come home, the birds are scanned to determine each bird’s time,” Landry said. “Each loft is GPS surveyed so we know the number of yards flown from point A to point B.”

Young birds are raced at this time of year, he said.

“I have about 55 young birds, I’m in pretty good shape. Most club members are down around 15-20. The Central Maine Pigeon Club has about 10 members,” Landry said. “Up here where we are, it’s more for the love of racing because each loft is spread out so much. We have flyers from Rumford to Hancock and from Wiscasset to Farmington. That’s about 60 miles wide and 80 miles deep.”

Parents in Landry’s flock are known going back generations. Different strains have different strengths, he said.

“I have 2 pure whites this year, which is unusual. Predators pick the white or red ones out of the flock first,” he added.

Landry started racing pigeons in 1985. Birds are sometimes swapped among each other at club auctions, he said.

In the midst of molting, the sheen on this racing pigeon indicates it’s in excellent condition. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“When I was living in Wilton, I had a bird that did 666 miles in 12 hours. I was some pumped when I saw him come in,” he said. “Back in those days there were no chips. We stood out back and watched for them. A rubber band on the bird’s foot had to be taken off, put in a capsule that was then put in a clock. You turned the clock, cranked it and hoped the tape hadn’t ripped or wasn’t too dark.

“Things are a lot easier now. I can go to a family function, don’t have to wait for the pigeons to come home.”

Landry built his earth bermed home in Farmington about 5 years ago. One-half to three-quarters cord of wood are used to heat the 2,300 square foot structure annually. A heat pump is also used sometimes, he said.

“It’s very efficient. When the wind is blowing, we don’t hear it. In February and March when the sun is low in the sky, by 8:30 in the morning it’s 80 degrees inside and we’re opening doors,” Landry said. “That’s a good problem to have.”

A greenhouse is used to start seedlings for the vegetable gardens. Fruit trees provide plums, peaches and pears although getting apples to thrive has been a challenge, he said.

It has been hard to find canning supplies this year during the pandemic, he added.

Sheep, beef cattle and chickens are raised for meat and eggs. There are also bee hives on the property, Landry said.

Eggs gathered at Scott Landry’s in Farmington are sold at the Farmington Farmers Union. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“Eggs are sold at the Farmington Farmers Union. I give a lot of it to family as Christmas presents. They don’t have to hang it on a wall, say they like it,” Landry said. “With 7 kids and 10 grandkids, there’s plenty of use for it.

“It’s a real good thing to be able to share with family. It’s a good way to unwind.”

 

 

 

 

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