BE a champion and stay a champion

DER BOMBER Wijdewormer, August 18, 2021
In the sports newspaper last Monday I read that "Der Bomber", his real name is Gerd Muller, died a day earlier at the age of 76. Why this extra attention? In the first place because, as a life-threatening striker of the German national football team, he scored the winning goal against the Netherlands in the unforgettable final of the World Cup against the Netherlands in 1974. He was an unparalleled player, a real top scorer with even a higher average than the already legendary Messi. Germany mourns the loss of one of their football showpieces. The name Der Bomber acquired an even greater value for me. Many pigeon fanciers often give their better pigeons the name of an outstanding athlete which I do that too. At the end of 1974 I named my best cock NL73-587568 De Bomber. He was already a star as a youngster and in the following years he became better and better with remarkable performances in short a real topper! As a youngster he won 5 prizes including 1st against 4572 pigeons. I then played with my father because I lived in a flat where keeping pigeons was impossible. At the beginning of 1974 my parents moved to a retirement home so the pigeons had to be sold. Fortunately there was a sports friend in the neighborhood who had a small pigeon loft that he didn't use which I was allowed to use and put 6 pigeons on it including “the 568” who had no name at the time. The pigeons got used to it and I could just play with them in 1974. Five of those six pigeons did wonderfully well at their new address. At the end of the year I was able to enter all 5 for the national competition WHzB. It happened several times that I had all 5 at home, one I did not play, while the man in whose yard I played did not yet have a pigeon at home. Also in that loft “de 568” won the 1st of 4439 pigeons. He got after that season the name De Bomber. That same autumn I got a house in a completely new residential area and no pigeons were allowed to be kept there. Again I got help from a good friend of mine. He owned a cafe and next to the parking space I was allowed to place a pigeon loft. Again the pigeons and their youngsters got used to it and luckily I could play with them again in 1975. I did lose the hen I didn't race with during that period. It was my very best hen ever her name was “de three zeros” 182000 with 12 first prizes. That year too De Bomber won twice the first against 3486 and 4032 pigeons in yet another loft. In those three years he was the fastest four times and his honors list included a total of 37 prizes, 29 of which were 1:10. A pigeon that wins a first prize in three different lofts is talked about. I was approached for youngsters from various sides. Under no circumstances did I get rid of it because I was rebuilding my colony. A great champion approached me for a loft visit he really wanted to see De Bomber and his youngsters which was no problem at all. The man was on his knees so to speak to buy the pigeon. I had 5 small children and could use the money but I didn't sell him despite the fact that he would even gave my wife a fur coat that she happily hates. I told him with a smile that he just had to save a little longer. He already ordered 4 summer youngsters for the following year. In 1976 I had given De Bomber another hen and possibly because of this the performances on the first flights were less. Still I kept playing him which in hindsight was a big mistake. You have to be careful with pigeons that perform well for several seasons and then suddenly less. There is something wrong with them and that certainly does not have to be a serious illness. He went on Tergnier (326 km) at the end of May 1976 and I never saw him again. If I regret anything it is the super offer on De Bomber that I declined and in the end also the 4 ordered boy could not deliver. At such a young age, I was 38 at the time, you are very driven. You want to win and you don't want to lose a pigeon certainly not a topper. Then I started to think differently. The drive remained but you can do very nice things with money especially if you are a father of 5 young children. I sometimes want to sell good pigeons directly but real toppers remain after three years in the racing loft for at least 3 years in the breeding loft. They leave when they are 6 years old because at that age they are still interesting for other fanciers who can enjoy them for at least another 4 years. Because I've never had many pigeons (but luckily a lot of good ones 😉) I couldn't breed too many from the same couples. As a result I changed my 12 breeding pairs every year and at least two disappeared every year. Now I have 20 breeding couples that belong to me and my son Marco. Every year we share the youngsters, he the first and I the second round plus a few from the third round. At the moment I am in the lead for the championship youngsters. Last year Marco became champion and now he is fourth. There are still 4 races for the championship so there is still a lot if not everything possible, in any case very exciting. We will have 2 flights every Saturday for the next six weeks. One for the youngsters and one for the late race in which old and youngsters participate. For us speed players a nice prospect with 2 exciting sprint competitions every week. The disadvantage is that the old pigeons begin to molt a lot. They have been breeding for a few days now and as soon as there are small youngsters in the nests the molting stops so that hopefully we can finish the whole season with pigeons that are still well feathered. Because if too many small feathers are molted the aerodynamics are gone and it is also done with winning top prizes. The youngsters are currently only molting the flight feathers, mine have only thrown two or three. In the past I have won the first prize several times with pigeons that still had three old flight feathers. So no one needs to give up if that is the case.

Wijdewormer, 12 August 2021. This year we are dealing with very changeable weather. Last weekend too we had to wait until 1 pm before unloading could take place. Due to the predominantly southerly wind speeds rose to well over 100 km per hour. On the short-distance flights the wind largely determines where the fastest pigeons arrive. This time it was clearly on the west side or on the North Sea side. Within 13 minutes the 300 prize pigeons were home and despite the easy flight there were still a number of losses. This problem is starting to approach the misery of the coli bacteria. As soon as the pigeons have recovered from the coli infection they can be used again fairly quickly on the flights. It is terrible if you suffer from this young pigeon disease during the season because then you are eliminated from the championships. The advantage is that you still have to select. If they are left behind on the flights you have lost them so much that there is little left to select. Still a selection has to be made. It is not an art to keep pigeons so that the breeding lofts are all filled again next year. No, they must be pigeons that have earned their place in the eyes of the boss and can provide the necessary game fun as a yearling. I myself try to supplement 50% of youngsters every year. The prizes won naturally play a role in this but are not the most important. In the first place I must like the pigeon in its entirety. I like well-built pigeons a cock must be a real guy. No hens that are too small and I also pay attention to the color. I absolutely do not want black, white, gray or red pigeons. My preference is for light blue, light scratches and a single white pen is also allowed. Others don't mind at all, neither do I but I have my preference and that is also part of my hobby. I used to always say; an ugly pigeon that performs well becomes a little more beautiful every week. I got off that. The performances as a youngster are not decisive but as a yearling they must play at least 50% prize if not they disappear. The breeding loft often contains performance pigeons especially those that have won one or more first prizes or pigeons with a 70% prize in a season. This season and especially the season for the youngsters is going very rough. We have not yet had to deal with high temperatures this season but with a lot of rain and delayed releases. It is a pity that many fanciers have to deal with large losses especially the small fanciers who start with a maximum of 35 youngsters every year. Most of them don't have the option to select very strict due to the losses and if you want to keep competing with the very best that is a prerequisite. For the coming period the weather forecasts look good for the youngsters, nice clear weather and not too hot. Let's hope that we have beautiful pigeons weather the second phase of 2021 until the end of the season.

For example last Saturday we had a marathon flight of around 1100 km in our playing area. The pigeons were released on Friday 6 August at 7.30 am in Perpignan on the French/Spanish border. That same day the first pigeon arrived at 9.39 pm from a distance of 1088 km. On these types of flights there is a neutralization time. In other words the competition comes to a standstill during the night. It is assumed that the pigeons do not fly but spend the night somewhere on a roof and when it gets light again in the early morning they go home again. This measure was taken at the time and has also been changed several times to ensure that such a tough competition is fair. But what is fair in pigeon sport? Nothing! We don't all fly the same number of pigeons. We don't all live in the same place so the finish line is in different places sometimes with a difference of 80 km. The wind also has an influence here but fortunately much less than on the speed flights. The neutralization time was therefore a good solution until more and more pigeons flew through the night and arrived at night. So the flight I'm talking about also had its own peculiarities. The first pigeon that was clocked at 9.39 pm on the release day at a distance of 1088 km was in the result 6th, 2nd, that same day 5 pigeons came home. However the winner was the pigeon that arrived at 1.10 am from a distance of 1134 km. Number 2 was home at 10.08 pm, distance 1125 km and number 3 at 1120 km was there at 00.15 am. Such are the regulations in my view it remains an unsatisfactory matter that someone who clocks a pigeon at 1088 km is beaten at 9.39 pm by someone who clocks 2.5 hours later and lives only 44 km away. What about the man who clocks at 1125 km at 10:08 pm and is beaten by a sports companion who has a distance that is 9 km further and who clocked only at 1.10 am. I wouldn't be able to handle that even though I can handle my loss well. Now that it increasingly happens that competitions close at night it is high time that the neutralization time expires for those flights. The flight from Perpignan that this story is about closes in the morning at 9.30 am. It once happened that a pigeon fell on the loft in the middle of the night is becoming more common and that certainly has to do with the time of year in which these flights are held. It is then never completely dark and the entire flight line is illuminated by artificial light. I don't know how many lamps are lit in every city and village and then pigeons just fly on especially if they are not tired and have a strong wind on their tail.

Wijdewormer August 5 2021. After a start to the season with changeable weather almost weekly it feels like we have just started but the first half of the season is already over. The game with the old birds is over and the end of the season is already in sight. Despite the abnormally bad weather, especially in the weekends, the flights did not go very badly. Between the showers it was still possible to release every week. We played twice on Friday and quite a few times on Sunday while almost all flights are scheduled for Saturday. Quite a bit of creativity had to be added to be able to release responsibly. Some races had very high speeds, others were slower but without significant losses. Unfortunately this did not work on a few occasions so that the races took extra-long with the necessary stragglers. If a flight on the day of release goes very badly it is usually soon referred to as a disaster flight. A disaster flight is accompanied by large losses and that can only be determined on the Wednesday after the race. The first days after such a tough race a lot of pigeons usually get through and that is not the case with a real disaster flight. Now that we have only just started with the youngsters the fanciers are complaining about the large number of laggards and there must be a cause. This cannot be due to climate change only.

That may have to do with the quality but it is usually the same fancier who have to deal with this problem. It is always the same fancier who play well and always the same ones who knock the door of the vet. The cause may be overcrowding. Nowadays everything with two wings is bred which certainly has to do with the large losses. Everyone wants to start with a large number of youngsters to be able to absorb setbacks which is not the right method. Breeding only from the very best pigeons does not guarantee that you will not lose them. Health is the most important thing for young pigeons. If they are super healthy the quality can be a little less in order to perform well. The climate in the loft must be good. No drafts, no windows that are too big and certainly not too humid. In the Netherlands we need sun because it doesn't shine as often here as in the southern countries but we still have to be careful with sun. Large windows are perfect especially in chilly spring and autumn weather. Be careful at high temperatures because then that lovely sun burns too much oxygen from the loft causing the pigeons to catch a cold, suffer from wet eyes and stuffed ears. Many pigeons are lost due to self-training especially from the first short distances. My experience is that it makes absolutely no sense to release the pigeons at distances of less than 10 km. Young pigeons that are healthy leave for half an hour at a given moment. Then you have them as they should be to participate in the races and the time is right to start driving them. After two or three times you can no longer drive against it. When they come home they are already flying around the loft or are all already inside. What I personally find very important is observation. You achieve more with that than scratching shit. If there are a few individual pigeons in your loft that clearly show that they are not feeling well get rid of them or place them in an open aviary for a few days. An oxygen cure in the open run sometimes works wonders usually you see them improve after three days. If not say goodbye to them and certainly don't let them sit between your other pigeons. Pigeons that with updo nose feathers or not tight or produce bad manure ruin your mood. Every day when you enter your loft the first thing you do is look at the pigeons that are wrong. Get rid of them, don't waste your time and money on them. Enjoy your healthy pigeons and only give them medicine when the whole family needs it. You cannot lose the pigeons that you dispose of yourself from the flights and that prevents the necessary disappointments. Many fanciers breed too many pigeons for the space they have available and do not forget that the selection already starts in the nest. Make sure your breeding pigeons lack nothing give them good versatile food plus the necessary oilseeds. Fresh vegetables and minerals at least once a week and fresh grit plus red stone every day which is sometimes lacking. Feed breeders three times a day means that their youngsters also get food three times a day and that promotes growth because they are always with a full crop. Youngsters who frequently squeak or lag behind in growth compared to their nest mate, say goodbye to them. You have to take very good care of your pigeons then you can also set high standards for their performance.

It is a wonderful place to be for people and animals. I am talking about the place where my wife Cora and I have been living for 28 years now. From the city to the countryside what an Eldorado. Too bad time flies so fast. When I came to live in the polder I was 56 years old and a loft was built just the way I wanted it. Big plans were made there to enjoy the game with the pigeons and that worked from the first year there was really no size. I still hear my father, who was also a fanatic pigeon fancier, say “boy enjoys here as much as possible because life moves even faster here than in the city”. You are only a guest on this planet for a short time and before you know it everything is over. Now I'm 84 and I still make plans but no big ones anymore. Still I have ordered 40 rings again for 2022 so there are plans to sign up for another year. This year they are performing to full satisfaction. With my 12 couples I finished 5th in the ZCC combination in the sprint races, 4th in the middle distance and I am currently in the lead with the youngsters. It turns out that they are super healthy because I only lost two of them. Don't let me cheer too early because all flights are not over until mid-September. A very nice side effect is that my son Marco was the very best in the sprint races and takes 2nd place behind Dad with the youngsters. All with pigeons that are bred in our joint breeding loft with the pure clean air from the polder.

Wijdewormer, July 21, 2021. No pigeon sport at all this weekend at least not for the program players. For the marathon players Marseille is on the program. It will not work this year with the weather conditions. Every weekend there is something going on that makes our sport almost impossible. The young pigeon season has so far completely rained out and as a result far too many pigeons have been left behind and that has absolutely nothing to do with quality. So a rest day for pigeon and fancier something that most of us do not enjoy. Whether the decision to cancel the flights is a good decision will become clear on Saturday. High temperatures and a chance of thunderstorms are expected which is disastrous for the young guard. We must also be careful not to be too careful. I have kept my pigeons at home many times because the weather forecast was abominably bad. To my horror I saw on the early Saturday morning that the sun was high in the sky and the weather was fine to release pigeons over the entire flight line. Now we have the most modern equipment and yet we cannot predict what type of weather we will have in 5 hours. I assume that it is a well-considered decision because we have to trust our release officers. The racing program for the youngsters has now been adjusted. Next week we will start again more or less and let's hope that we get a lot of nice flights until mid-September.

It is pigeon disease number 1 and many people have to deal with it every year. Usually an outbreak occurs about fourteen days after the darkening has stopped. Some say it comes after the pigeons are vaccinated against paramixo. Still others claim that youngsters get stressed if they have to spend some time in the basket the first time or because a strange pigeon enters your loft after a few days of wandering and infects the whole team. You can quickly see that the pigeons will suffer from coli. The appetite is reduced, drink a lot, throw up, green ollie-like manure and stay outside after training. It is highly contagious but the infection is also controlled fairly quickly. Make sure you have a coli cure at all times so that immediate action can be taken. Recently I reported that my youngsters had coli. I was deeply disappointed but after 3 days of treatment I saw I them recuperate. They became more mobile, started to lose weight again and the appetite returned. The days before that I gave them less than a third of the normal amount of food. They did have some weight loss but the most important thing is that their intestines had rest and the weight should be back to normal by the end of this week. Lucky for me that the flights of this weekend have been canceled so that my pigeons can recover for another week. Because I didn't know this morning that the flight this weekend will not take place my wife took the youngsters one more time to 35 km. Of the 30 3 came a few minutes before the group the others followed very quickly so that I am again in good spirits for the coming matches. My experience is that the pigeons recover quickly after they have had a cure for three days and that it has no negative consequences on the performance of the coming flights.

The start of the classic among the classics caused the necessary problems internationally. After the pigeons had been in the basket for a week they were released on Sunday morning at 6.45 am and not everyone was in agreement. It would be much too early and Barcelona was basically split in two. Due to the early release time the French pigeons (which have the shortest distance) would have an advantage and it showed. On the day of release 36 French pigeons reached their home port and only 1 Belgian pigeon achieved that. The rest of a total of 16.595 participating pigeons came on Monday and it must be said that pigeons arrived everywhere with regular clocks that day. So this year no heavy flight but a flight with a blemish. In North Holland there were 3005 pigeons from Chateauroux. Also here the release was postponed by a day. The fastest Chateauroux pigeon arrived at a distance of 650 km at 6.26 pm and made a winning speed of 1058 meters per minute a sign that it was not an easy flight. The last pigeon on the day of release arrived at 10:43 pm and then it starts to get quite dark. The next morning at 8.54 am the competition could be closed. The season is over for my old pigeons and I only focus on the young pigeon races because they are doing very well with both me and Marco. It is a pity that the season ends with a lot of obstacles. Many fanciers get discouraged by every week rain, fog or strong wind. It is striking that the weather is fine during the week and the weather is particularly bad at the weekend. The fanciers in Limburg in the extreme southeast of our country have an even bigger problem. Due to the enormous amount of rain that fell there in a very short time last week large parts of villages have simply been swept away. Irreparable damage and hundreds of deaths and missing people of course also the necessary duped fanciers. The same happened in neighboring parts of countries such as Germany and Belgium. It is not yet known how big the disaster is and how many pigeon fanciers have been affected. You only realize all the misery when you see all those horrific images of flooding and human suffering. Then a few postponed releases are the least you will worry about.

Even after 4 months of play the weather gods are still not in our favor. Due to the bad weather conditions the last middle distance flight was already played on Friday from a shortened flight. International Barcelona also had to postpone. The youngsters were released at a later date and that turned out to be a real debacle. Many disappointed fanciers but even if the circumstances are not good there are always winners but many more losers. Setbacks are part of every sport and the real winners will never give up and that's the way it should be. Look at the European football championship tournament. England and Italy came to the final at Wembley in London. The English played for their own audience and it had been more than 50 years since they played a final in an important tournament. The final had to be decided by penalty kicks. Unfortunately the favorite England missed three out of five. A turn off full of sadness and tears but the Italians celebrated and they have become the deserved winner of the tournament. The Netherlands was eliminated early. The Tour de France is entering the last tough week with a few difficult mountain stages everything is still possible. The Dutch ladies show their skills in the Giro d'Italia and all four still have a chance at the final victory. The Olympics are also getting closer which is a pity that there is no public welcome. Argentina won the Copa America with Messi beating the Brazilians 1-0. With his 6th win at Wimbledon tennis player Djocovic (34) has come alongside his major competitors Nadal and Federer. All three have won 20 grand slam tournaments. In the field of pigeon sport there was also plenty to do over the past weekend.

Once the pigeon sport was only on Sundays. This day almost everyone was free and that is why the sport had many fans. When the free Saturday was introduced more and more fanciers prefer that day so Sunday was for the family. The transition from Sunday to Saturday was certainly not easy but it has come to the point that in the Netherlands almost only games are played on Saturday. This year the decision was already taken twice to release the pigeons on Friday due to the bad weather forecast which happened again last weekend. I had only fed my pigeons when the message came that they had to make a shorter flight that they would released on Friday. My pigeons went on a journey with a full crop of food. Perhaps a good decision to release the pigeons on Friday but with me there were many more fanciers who had prepared their pigeons for a stay of two nights instead of one a night in the basket. The news about the change was passed on to the fanciers much too late plus that there are also fanciers who have to go to work every day and they must therefore arrange at the very last minute that someone is there to wait for the pigeons. Fortunately the pigeons clock themselves even when no one is there but it is still the case that every fancier likes to see his pigeons come home because for that they do their best all week. We see that every measure, no matter how well-intentioned, also has its negative sides.

After having spent a week in the basket the pigeons from international Barcelona were allowed to go to their home port on Sunday 11 July at 6.45 am. The winner Ben Robert from Calais arrived the same day at 10.18 pm at a distance of 1043 km France and made a winning speed of 1183 meters per minute. In Belgium the victory went to Lambert Jean Charles. His pigeon arrived at 9.54 pm at a distance of 958 km speed 1057 meters. In the Netherlands the fastest pigeon fell to Johan Boonen in Buggenum on Monday morning at 7.14 am. It was a smooth competition about which more information will be provided next time.

The old birds were basketed on Thursday for the last middle distance race with a distance of over 450 km. You know the reason for shortening the flight. It was strange then that the youngsters had to be basketed on Friday for their first race on Saturday. Fortunately things looked good on that Saturday but……. it was a very difficult flight. The circuit competition was open for one and a half hours and that is very bad for a race of just over 100 km. That indicates that the weather conditions were not good and the rest can be guessed at. Might be interesting to find out the cause. Many fanciers have been duped and many pigeons are still not at home. It is a pity that such a thing happened because many fanciers who are disappointed with the results with the old pigeons now participated in the first young pigeons flight in good spirits. With such great losses many people lose their courage.

On the first flight I was supposedly “a bacon buyer”. I made a good result and lost only 2 pigeons. Son Marco was also not allowed to grumble. After the first flight I take the lead for the championship and Marco is fourth. However it looks very bleak to me. Yesterday I could already see from the pigeons that something was not right. The fierceness had disappeared and the diving into the loft over each other did not happen. The weeks before that it was a joy to watch. This morning it was all over. When the pigeons had trained for an hour it was feeding time at 10 o'clock. I could yell and whistle all I wanted there were 7 sitting outside and they were still there three hours later. Then every fancier knows what time it is; COLI! Direct medicine in the water, given little food and now we just have to wait and see how the contamination spreads. With the coli cure from Hans van der Sluis you usually see them recover after three days. Some pigeons are sick to death of it and some will even die. You will understand that the fun is now completely over it is now important to remain calm. The pigeons stay indoors for the next few days and receive very little food. This is not easy for an old man who had evil plans and now sees everything go up in smoke but nevertheless I try to keep my spirits up.

The pigeon sport is running at full speed. Some weekends an overcrowded program and that while the number of active fanciers is decreasing visibly which is a shame. The organizations are of good will but also maybe not. Look at the small number of participants and participating pigeons then it is actually irresponsible to organize so many long-distance flights in a short period. There is only a small select group that owns so many pigeons that can participate in all marathons. Added to this is the abnormally large amount of attention that these types of flights receive in the press. Long distance pigeons are not special pigeons at all. They can cover long distances while being flown on all sides on flights of up to 500 km. Long distance flights are tours in my opinion. It is impressive that they can bridge great distances and that particularly appeals to the layman. It is spectacular that there are pigeons that successfully complete those distances with the greatest of ease. But whether a long distance pigeon represents more than a speed pigeon must be determined by each individual. If a competition were to be held in athletics over 200 meters in which only the specialists and marathon runners were allowed to participate the sprinters would have already finished while the marathon runners had just left the starting blocks. In the pigeon sport most pigeons are still on the short flights. The winners deliver a real power explosion which I like. I enjoy races where the pigeons are all home within a few minutes. I can imagine that others think very differently about this and that is why it is great that everyone can make their own choice which flights are preferred. Why much more attention is paid to marathons worldwide is a mystery to me whether it has to be the commercial value. In my view it is absurd that such crazy amounts are paid for such pigeons sometimes even more than a million. Whether this makes the buyers any wiser is unknown to me but the sellers certainly do. Last Sunday the pigeons were basketed for the international monster race from Barcelona where they will be released on Friday. The same goes for the race from Dax.

I have no pigeons with on both marathon flights, I am looking forward to the first young pigeons flight. Ten days ago my wife once again took the youngsters away for a training flight of 30 km. It turned out to be one with a disastrous course that I have written before. I regretted that they had been released although with my approval. I could have punched myself in the head I was so sorry. In retrospect I have no regrets at all. I'm sure they learned a lot. They had to do their best to get home and luckily they all succeeded. Last Saturday we were supposed to have the first race but bad weather conditions prevented the midweek training for the umpteenth time and as a result Saturday's flight became a training flight. My pigeons came formidable, within 4 minutes I had 25 of the 34. Now let's see if it is indeed true that they have learned a lot from the difficult training. The condition is great and yet I was terrified that morning. Two of them stayed outside after the morning training and then I get the nerves. When the training time is over I show myself by standing next to the sputnik. The pigeons know that it is dinner time and storm in but not this morning. Two stayed outside so they had no food. Why am I so scared? When pigeons train so formidably and come home so great from a training flight it means they are in super shape. If two stay outside it's a sign to me that coli is coming. That doesn't have to be the case and I'll be happy if they behave again tomorrow as they have behave for months. The last middle distance race is on the program for the old birds. In the preliminary championship standings I am in 5th place and with a good result I can move up to three. I would be very satisfied with that because I only race with 24 pigeons and they don't participate every week. Saturday I'll put 18 that I hope they won't let the boss down.

Sunday 27 June our pigeons were released in Roosendaal (110 km). Originally they were ready in France on Saturday 26 June for a 400 km race. Unfortunately the weather was such that they could not be released that day. It was decided to drive back to Quievrain (234 km) but they couldn't get out there on Sunday morning either. The site said they would come even closer and be unloaded 110 km away. First they would be cared and at 9.45am they were on their way home. Fine weather and because of the south wind the fastest would be home within 5 quarters of an hour. All but one were there within an hour and forty-five minutes. When I came to the loft 2 hours later to pick up the clock a hen was dead in her breeding loft. She was in a puddle of water/urine but she was home on time and is even in the results. Of course I was disappointed at the death of the pigeon. A day later I rolled her in a newspaper and put it in the trash. During the week the conversations started because several fanciers had a pigeon that died shortly after returning home. After hearing all those lamentations you start thinking about the care. My reasoning is that the pigeons were not taken care of before the release. If that were the case the pigeons would not go down to drink after half an hour or three quarters. A fancier told that he got a pigeon at home that immediately went to the drinking trough to drink. She stood with her head in the drinking trough and when the fancier grabbed her to put her in the breeding loft she fell over and died instantly. It is a pity that the fanciers who had a dead pigeon did not send it in for research which I did not do either. I once had a dead pigeon a day after returning home. But now in the week after the flight in question we heard several stories about pigeons that died in the loft. It was also striking that renowned pigeons were left behind. They were not even able to bridge the short distance and died on the field of honor. I called Hans van der Sluis but he also had to guess the cause of death. He needs a dead pigeon for examination and unfortunately there was not one available in the week after the flight. It is and remains a strange situation. A little more control wouldn't hurt.

It was an exciting sports weekend. Drama, joy, sadness and tension it couldn't be better. Drama started with the postponement of the race from France. Bad weather for the umpteenth time. The pigeons were brought closer but there too the weather was of that nature that they were brought even closer and could be released on Sunday at a distance of just over 100 km. Two days and three nights in the basket for such a crappy flight. The annoying thing was that a striking number of pigeons were home late or not on the same day. I myself experienced the necessary misery on Friday when my wife released the youngsters at a distance of more than 30 km. The weather was not ideal and during the day it started to rain. The pigeons were released at half past nine and at 13:00 pm I had 1. At 15:00 pm12 and in the evening 24 of the 37. The next day came spread over the whole day 9 more so 4 more to go. Today I picked up one so in the end the damage is not too bad. When I got home my best cock of this year was walking in front of the loft. He had stayed behind from that short flight and I was able to pick him up so deadly tired he was. He had lost a lot of weight but I am overjoyed that he is back. For the time being he has enough time to recuperate because the last middle distance race on July 10th he can stay at home. The Dutch weather also has an influence on the flights for our youngsters. Next Saturday we would start with the official competitions for the youngsters but due to the bad weather these have been postponed for a week. Never before had the flights been postponed so many times after 10 weeks of play. After all this disappointment there was a sporting highlight for the Dutch cycling fans. In the 2nd stage of the 109th Tour de France all-rounder Matthieu van de Poel took the yellow jersey. An absolute low point was the lost football match during the European Championship against the Czech Republic which eliminated the Dutch. The national coach Frank de Boer announced that he will stop immediately. Not so strange in the football world. One moment they put the crown on your head and a little later they saw the chair legs from under you. An absolute highlight was the victory of Dutch racing driver Max Verstappen at the Red Bull Ring in Austria extending his lead in the world championship standings. The final phase of the European Football Championship has now been reached. England continues and Germany is home. Belgium continues and the ex-champion France is home. Another low point was the massive crash in stage 2 of the Tour. A lady stood on the course with a large cardboard sign to greet her grandparents. A little later through her fault about thirty riders were on the street. The woman has since been arrested. You will have it on your conscience.

This grueling marathon race has grown into the world's most appealing competition in which pigeons from different countries participate. If my pigeons have to stay in the basket for two days and three nights because the race has been postponed due to bad weather I am in all states. I know nobody can do anything about that, that's force majeure. I often think of the pigeons that participate in Barcelona. They go into the basket on Sunday and are (in good weather) still released on Friday and then have to cover at least 1100 km. I don’t like those kinds of races but have a lot of respect for all those pigeons that successfully finish this race and of course a deep hat off to the winner.

Just like last year I am now very satisfied with the behavior of my youngsters. Last year I enthusiastically told anyone who would listen how well my youngsters doing and how high my expectations were. That was immediately apparent on the first race. Marco and I almost had the first 25 pigeons in the results. But upon returning homeI had already noticed that something was not right. The result was great but the next day there was one pigeon dead in the loft. The other pigeons no longer had a real appetite and that same week the coli infection broke out. Drinking a lot, little appetite and vomiting. Thanks to a coli cure from dr. van der Sluijs and by feeding little they recovered quickly. I had to skip a flight and then the pigeons behaved again in such a way that I thought they were good enough to participate again. The spectacle had disappeared with me but Marco continued to perform top. Two weeks later, some of my youngsters started to suffer from smallpox and then the performance was over. Too bad because I was convinced that no one would beat me. Fortunately the same kind of pigeons continued to do great with Marco and this year they did it again as a yearling so that he became champion sprint by a margin. After last week's bad training flight my pigeons train considerably less. Tuesday morning I released them for the first time, they did not fly for more than 20 minutes. In the evening it was slightly better. This morning it was old-fashioned again and they continued to train continuously for over an hour so confidence is back. On Friday 34 are going and Marco has 45 who also meet all expectations. Now let's see if we got it right. I'll keep you posted and hopefully you all share our enthusiasm. Good luck!

Wijdewormer June 23 There were several flights on the program so it is high season. First of all Bordeaux near the French Pyrenees (900 km for me). I had no pigeons with on this monster race. Friday afternoon at 3 o'clock the 11.492 pigeons of the 1382 participants went home. The weather was beautiful and this time of year it is not completely dark in the middle of the night. Because the pigeons were only released halfway through the afternoon they were not really tired in the evening so the expectation was that they would continue flying which was right! The winning pigeon arrived at a distance of 874 km at 00.12 am and made a speed of 2762 meters. This is because there is a neutralization time on such flights. The competition is stopped at night because it is assumed that the pigeons usually spend the night somewhere. Not this time and then you get those incredibly high speeds. Pigeons arrived all night and at 9.20 am the competition could be closed when the 2057 prize pigeons (1:4) were home. In addition to this marathon flight there was also a one-day flight from Montlucon. Here 539 participants collected 4506 pigeons that were released at 9.45 am. The winner arrived at a distance of 600 km at 18.11 and made a winning speed of 1176 meters. In the department I play in a one-day long distance flight from Vierzon was also on the program. My son Marco and I did not participate in this either. Fortunately because it became an agony. The pigeons were released on Saturday at 10 am and they still had to be clocked on Sunday because there were not enough pigeons at home. The race was won by father and son Verkerk who had 124. They had to wait 1 hour and 5 minutes for their second pigeon and then you know what a flight this has become. There were 632 fanciers who entered 7956 pigeons. There was also a middle distance race, for me 282 km, but again due to the bad weather the race had to be postponed one day so that they came home on Sunday and a lot of people weren't happy about that. It was "Father's Day" in the Netherlands last Sunday. A real family day and then the pigeons are a disturbing factor. Anyway, released on Sunday at 9.45 am it turned out to be an easy and fast race. The winning speed was 1683 meters and in our club where 376 pigeons participated it was over within 11 minutes. Father Bert and son Marco clocked like this:1-2-5-6-7-9-11-12-14.

How to proceed is a question that cannot be easily answered. Many lofts are in disorder. Couples that are broken, nest positions are lost. The latecomers often come home completely devastated and need at least 2 weeks to regain their strength. Some look as if nothing is wrong but beware of the content and not the packaging which means that there is nothing to see on the outside but inside they may have had a hefty smack. Next weekend another 400 km middle distance flight is scheduled and the youngsters are basketed for the first time for a training flight. The week after things get serious and the youngsters also go into battle. It is a pity that it is too cold and rainy in our country for the time of year. They call it Dutch weather, so it's not surprising that they flock to the sunny south during the holiday period.

That is part of every sport and a good sportsman knows how to overcome most disappointments. It remains very difficult and those who want to win have no choice they have to keep their eyes on the future. This week it happened again! I have heard nothing but lamentations. It makes fanciers doubt whether or not to continue if such a blow comes over it especially if good pigeons have not returned. I know some who have thrown in the towel and continue only with their youngsters. I wouldn't do that I would pick up the thread again and continue racing with those pigeons that were home on time. In two weeks we think different because we still have pigeons to participate in the competitions. No, never give up, show character this is what a real sportsman looks like. Consider going to work, not just give all pigeons back immediately. View everything calmly every day. Take enough time to observe the pigeons. Do what is strictly necessary and if you do not know what is wrong consult the vet. My opinion is that the fancier himself can see from his pigeons that something is not right, we see the behavior every day. The pigeon doctor is offered a few pigeons in a basket to examine them. He always discovers something and that is usually cancer. My experience is that every pigeon is a little bit infected with the cancer but that it has no consequences for good performance. Many fanciers reach for a medicine too quickly or try to prevent certain infections or diseases. In my view they are poisoners who do not belong to the group of better players. The best players are those who don't make the vet rich. Many fanciers search too much behind it. They know everything about pedigrees but cannot judge a pigeon themselves. Most think too quickly that they have a loft with good pigeons. Pick out the 5 best and see what's left then dare to select. First remove the pigeon and only then look at the pedigree. Sure there will be perform better.

Wijdewormer June 9. I've just come out of the garden. Today I spent a large part of the day on the stretcher in the sun and that is clearly visible. It was a real summer day and the hens showed that too because they didn't feel like training for an hour in a row in the hot sun. Not bad we are only at the beginning of the week and they only came home on Sunday because the weather was too bad on Saturday to unload. In that regard the weather gods have not been kind to us so far. Fortunately things look a lot better for the coming period. Despite the bad weather the flights are going well. Everyone can now play the game they like according to the flight program. The international competitions have also started and the sprint races are already over in our country. In the ZCC, the area where my son Marco and I play, Marco is the big champion. The first place designated was also for him and as a father I am very proud of that. I have also stood on the highest step of the podium several times and then it is great that now my son keeps the name Braspenning high in the pigeon sport. I did the same years ago when my father was still playing which has been 42 years since he passed away.

Most of us do our very best every year to finish with the champions because then you belong. Don't forget that finishing with the champions is only possible for few fanciers. Fortunately there is more to enjoy the games are the most important. In our country there are 30 to 35 of these annually in which the program players participate. This all takes place from April to September. Everything we do for our pigeons is dedicated to the competitions and that is not only the period from April to September but the entire calendar year. When the games are over the care will continue. Many fanciers go wrong there. That we let the reins loose a little is not wrong, I know plenty who only come back to life when the competitions start that’s what I call winter champions. They have the upper hand all winter, know exactly what to do to play well. The bad thing is that they are never in the results or I might have to start from scratch. Let's stick to the ones that do play well on a regular basis and there are quite a lot. They have it in their fingers they are the professionals. For them the saying “if you play well you don't know how it is and if you don't play well you don't know how it is” doesn’t count they know. That is not to say that they never have to deal with setbacks. There are usually some flights that are underperformed but in many cases this has to do with atmospheric disturbances. Those are flights when we say “now it's real pigeon weather”. Yes, for us, sitting back in the lazy garden chair in the sun with a cold drink. But often the pigeons stay away longer with a slow race course and many wrong pigeons in front. To become a champion you don't have to do anything but take care of your pigeons perfectly so that they make good results.

For years everyone was able to keep up with the youngsters one better than the other. Overall it was a fun game for everyone. But specialists have also come to the young pigeon game. What used to be a nice touch is now just as important as the game with the old pigeons. Everything is tried to get the youngsters in top shape but the most important part is regularity. Those who can do that have a big advantage over the competition. I am still darkening my pigeons, in the evening at seven thirty the curtains close and the next morning at eight thirty they open again. At 9 o'clock they can go outside and at 10 o'clock it is dinner time. Until then they fly continuously for an hour and are sometimes away for half an hour. It's great to see them rush in when they see me. As long as my pigeons are outside they don't see me only when it's dinner time do I stand next to the sputnik. I hardly have to whistle or shout they know that they get food and that is the most important thing for every animal they do everything for it and that includes performing well. I spend quite a lot of time on feeding which I can do because I have very few pigeons. Few pigeons means less work and that is very attractive for men my age. As I have written before I don't release my old pigeons in the morning. For years that was my regular habit and if I couldn't because of bad weather conditions I didn't feel good about it. I often spoke to fanciers who said that they never release their pigeons in the morning, I did not dare that because I assumed that it would affect the flight performance. Now it turns out I'm wrong. I've never been a late sleeper but as I get older I find it more difficult to get up early. I always did that with pleasure because I wanted to play well with the pigeons. Now I don't get up early anymore I only go to the pigeons at half past eight I feel good about it and the pigeons too. So what more could you want? Play well! Let me have no complaints about that either. BEAUTIFUL CLOSING
Last weekend we had the last sprint race. Marco had to keep his leading position and I had to do everything I could to finish in the top five in the general classification, it was a great finish. The victory for me to start with 1-5-7, Marco started with 3 and 4. In the final score for the sprint championship Marco 1 and Bert 5 and that's what we do it all for. The great thing about this flight was that Marco's second pigeon and my first arriving pigeon are brother and sister. Their parents are in our breeding loft and are allowed to stay together next year.

Wijdewormer 2 June 2021. Pigeon fanciers never stop talking about their hobby. That shows how much fun the more than 800.000 fanciers worldwide enjoy their hobby, most of whom live in China. I was there once and I couldn't believe my eyes. You do not think it possible in what simple way pigeons are kept there. It was striking that it is a real family sport there. No matter how simple the people live they still know to find a place to place a pigeon loft or something that looks like it. It is well known that the Chinese like to take a gamble and in their country the pigeon sport is extremely suitable for that. Don't think that all Chinese fanciers gamble capital on their pigeons. That is only for the very greatest of them and in the land of the rising sun there are quite a few, I assume that this is the case in all countries. In my view it is a great pity that the difference between the professional players and, let's call it the amateurs, becomes so big with all the consequences that entails. If we look at the sales sites most pigeons go to China. I recently learned that there are even more than 400.000 fanciers. If half of them buy a pigeon every year and we see what is being paid for it that is big business. Unfortunately there is a lot of fuss about it in the press and that is precisely the publicity that we as a pigeon sport are not waiting for because it deters starters. We will therefore have to approach the publicity to win souls in a different way. There are plenty of fun and even spectacular events within our sport that can be turned into an interesting story for various hobby magazines and other widely read magazines that are published weekly. Just look in the supermarkets to see what a variety of magazines are for sale. Perhaps it is a good thing that the NPO consults with publishers of daily newspapers. Hopefully our board will convince the newspaper magnates that articles about our sport are often read by family members, neighbors, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. They regularly ask why there are no reports about pigeon sport in the newspapers. Nice job for the press officer of the NPO!

Since the advent of electronics the pigeon sport has been one of the most talked-about sports that can be practiced at home. Because it is a sports experience that cannot be played outside on the computer this animal-friendly hobby is extremely suitable for young people. We pigeon people know how the pigeon sport works and think we know everything about it, we enjoy it 365 days a year. Unfortunately it has failed to bring this to the attention of the layman. More pigeon magazines came and most of them have already disappeared cause of member decline. The aging population has played an important role for years. Just like the pigeon magazines we regularly lost board members. Usually board members who did not see the importance of the pigeon sport but more the importance of themselves. Fortunately the board positions could be filled every time unfortunately not always with the expected success. The best plans were put on the table. Far too many working groups were formulated. For each part of the game a group of wise people was appointed but it came from little to nothing. Large goats were shot in the organization that cost shovels of money and the shrinking group of members may to make up the shortfalls again.

We call that modern pigeon sport. The life ring that they wear all their live is her registration number which is stored in the computer. In addition the electronic ring has been added that can be removed after the pigeon's sporting career (for example when the pigeon goes to the breeding loft) and can be used for another pigeon. The electronic ring has replaced the old-fashioned traditional rubber ring. Emptying the manual pigeon clocks that existed for years was quite a job. After that the result of the race had to be calculated manually as well. For a large interplay with more than 5000 pigeons it took a week before the job was done, now the pigeon clocks itself. The flight data is in the computer and it is only a matter of automatically entering the times from the clock into the computer. A national calculation office has stored the data needed for each fancier to make a result in record time. What we first had to wait a week for can now be viewed the same evening on the site of the calculation office. There are already clock systems where the clocked pigeon is automatically passed on to the central calculation office. It probably won't be long before we no longer have to go to the room to empty the clocks but we can do it from home. The release times come through on the mobile. The first arriving pigeons can be read on the phone as soon as they have been clocked. By means of the GPS ring that the pigeon has on it is possible to follow the pigeon on its flight home, it is unimaginable. All these things make the pigeon sport more and more attractive especially for the young people among us who play with electronics like we used to do with marbles. These innovations must be made known to the layman with which we can arouse interest especially if we are going to publish this in weekly magazines. With big headlines like; pigeon from Brussels to Groningen faster than the super-fast car of the Minister of Finance. With a spectacular photo of a pigeon and a young fancier there are enough striking headlines so that whoever reads or sees this is guaranteed read the whole story. You as an fancier have known this whole story for quite some time. It is my intention that we all help in our own way to enthuse others for the pigeon sport. The final word now belongs to the written press.

Wijdewormer May 26 2021. After 2 weeks with a lot of rain and low temperatures the Dutch fanciers were eagerly looking forward to the first weekend with two flights on the program. Again the rain was the big bummer in the first instance. No pigeon sport on Saturdays which meant that the pigeons had to stay in the baskets one more night. Saturday there was plenty to enjoy other sports but we fanciers had to wait until Sunday. Fortunately our pigeons were on their way home before nine o'clock on Sunday morning. Even now they had to deal with rain on the way again but the south/southwest wind caused high speeds of around 110 km per hour so that it was still a nice first day of Pentecost. My preference is for matches with one night basket. I think a pigeon should be in its loft or in the air but not extra-long in a basket, I have been thinking that way all my life. I always see images of pigeons fighting. Then the rooting to get to the drinking gutter or after two nights in the basket pick up the food in the carrier where 25 pigeons deposit their excrement. And we scratch or scrape at home to keep everything as clean as possible. I have never worried about who my pigeons are basketed with but with two nights in the basket I always think about the chance that they will get infected. I am very supportive of animal welfare and know that I really don't have to worry about it. I always think of the pigeons that participate in Barcelona. They are in the basket for a whole week and then also have to fly a thousand kilometers home so what am I actually talking about. Also on Sunday both flights went very well. Neither of us had participated in that of more than 500 km. The other 240 km was a great success for Marco. I myself played 50% prize (11 out of 22) but unfortunately there was no early one. Unfortunately I have seen other much better years. I believe that the age of the boss plays an important role. Marco did very well with the same kind of pigeons. Against 537 pigeons he started with 8-9-10 and with one flight to go he strengthens his lead for the sprint championship.

For the fans of Formula 1 there was a lot to enjoy with the GP of Monaco. The Dutch went completely crazy because of the beautiful victory of Max Verstappen, who therefore leads the world championship which has never happened before! In Barcelona Spain dark clouds gather above the head of the Dutch trainer Ronald Koeman. If Barcelona does not become champion, you have to fear for your future as a trainer. Completely new is the appointment of Marianne van Leeuwen (60). She is the first female boss of professional football of the KNVB. The Giro - Tour of Italy starts in the last week and what a week. Mainly tough mountain stages with the exciting closing time trial in Milan on Sunday. There was great disappointment for the Dutch public who attended the Euro Song Contest that was organized by our country. Our delegate had to be the 23rd participant and only gained 11 points making 23rd place the highest possible for him. In the end Italy narrowly beat France (I thought it was the best, but who am I).

Every spring we have to deal with an outbreak of the contagious bird flu that was detected last week in the south of the Netherlands on a turkey farm. All 16.000 animals have now been culled. In the same environment an infection has also been found on a poultry farm with 60.000 laying hens. Unfortunately the chickens suffered the same fate as the turkeys. Furthermore a transport ban has been introduced for eggs, manure and poultry. Fortunately our pigeons fall under the heading of birds and are therefore not poultry which means no danger for the pigeon sport.


In my long pigeon career I have already bred a pigeon with a deviation many times. I once had a pigeon that was blue on one side and scratch on the other. I also bred a pigeon with curled feathers and it was by no means close inbreeding. Twice I bred a pigeon with 12 flight feathers on one side and 11 on the other, it was not related to each other. This year I bred a very pale pigeon from a blue cock and a dark checker hen a kind of mis color also called an Isabel. Now that she is starting to molt she seems to be pale while there is no red/pale in her whole family. By the way I hate red, pale, black, white or very colorful pigeons. Because I have never bred such a mis color my grandson took a picture of her. It is a well-built hen. Last year her mother flew 1st against 2219 pigeons as a youngster, her father is a grandson of the Europa Boy 1st against 16.222 pigeons and the fastest of 150.000 pigeons. Again a good example of "if it is in it it will come out too".

Wijdewormer 19 May 2021. Pigeon racing is a summer sport. This means that the competitions are held under good conditions and that is precisely what we are not in charge of. Sometimes there are those weather conditions that the release authorized people get gray hair. Everyone can unload when the weather is nice which is very simple. Unfortunately we have had to deal with very changeable weather in the last two weeks. Heavy showers and low-hanging clouds are not immediately ideal conditions for our pigeons. If the pigeons are released after lengthy consultation there is nothing more that can be done. All that remains is to hope that the pigeons will find out through the bad weather and if possible with not too many stragglers. How such a flight goes there are always winners and losers. Often surprising winners, a lot of wrong pigeons in front and a long race course with the necessary laggards. Fortunately most of them got through the next day. I haven't lost one myself but as beautiful as the season started for me the last two flights were so bad. I can't really say bad because the price percentages were over 50% unfortunately there was no real early pigeon. It was exactly the same with son Marco only he thought his pigeons were not good enough for the last flight so he kept them home. Cleverly viewed because this weekend we also have the fourth sprint race in addition to the first one-day long distance flight and that is the game that suits us best. In our teamwork Marco is in the lead and I am fifth. Marco has to keep his lead and I still have to accelerate a bit to reach a podium place.

Every year there are some flights that have a surprising course due to weather influences what gives many fanciers an opportunity to talk about. Then you will hear comments as; how can they release the pigeons in this weather or the release committee has no understanding of it, it is too cold or too hot, there was a thunderstorm in the air and then you ask for problems. They always know how to find an excuse for their own failure. You do not hear the men who clock a very early pigeon or make a nice result. Outsiders who clock an early pigeon on such flights experience a dream weekend. It is striking that good players perform poorly on such flights. Why? If I knew I would say but unfortunately I do not have to answer. Is it a coincidence or do they have their pigeons too keen? Speed pigeons in top form want to go home with all their violence. In good conditions they deliver an explosion every week and if the conditions are not right those drift frogs have to deal with stress which in turn causes thirst. In short such pigeons get completely upset while other pigeons remain calm and fly around the showers while those fierce rascals want to go straight through and often come home completely flown. Please note in real pigeon weather those speed maniacs come flying out of a bow like an arrow and follow each other in rapid succession. Great to see even breathtaking especially the very early ones that land on the valve unexpectedly. In the past those same pigeons flew straight in through the open window you held your heart so fast they came running that you thought they would crash against the back wall of the breeding loft. Then quickly go inside to remove the rubber ring from the leg and deposit it in the clock. The electronics have improved a lot but in the time of the rubber rings it was much more exciting. The pigeons were carefully handled by the owner when they returned home. Some did not, they caught a pigeon with both hands while it was still flying through the loft. They regretted that the following week when the pigeon hesitated for a long time before going inside. We no longer suffer from that with the electronic clock.

Do not wait too long but go out as soon as possible. Pigeons that train well at home and leave for about twenty minutes are suitable for driving. Long distances are not necessary it is mainly to familiarize them with the basket and take them in different directions, start on time. Waiting up to two weeks for official flights to start can become problematic. Who guarantees us that the weather will be good for going out every day, the sooner the better! Years ago when I was still driving a car myself I always release them immediately. Of course I tried to release them basket by basket or in small groups several times. Once I was so crazy to let them go one by one, I was sometimes freeing pigeons for two hours but I never benefited from that. So everything at once is fine. As soon as the races begin we no longer drive the pigeons or it must have been a very tough flight so they don't like to train at home. Then they go into the basket on Wednesday for a training flight of 40 km loosening up the muscles. I don't know if it helps but I do have a good feeling about it and you have to have that on every flight. If there is even less performance you have to be able to say to yourself that you have done everything you can. It is a pity that 80% chance of rain is predicted for the coming weekend. I am not eager to participate especially not in the French race of 500 km for which the pigeons are already basketed on Thursday evening. My preference is for flights with one night basket then you can check the weather at the last minute. It is now May 19 then it is usually beautiful spring weather. In a month it will be summer and we still haven't had pigeon weather. So wait and see, the pigeons look satisfactory in any case.

Wijdewormer May 12 There was a lot to experience in the field of sports last weekend. In Turin the Giro (cycling round of Italy) started for the 104th time with a time trial. The finish of this, one of the three most beautiful stage races, will be in Milan in three weeks. In Spain it has not yet been decided who will win the national football title. In England yes, there Manchester City became champion on Tuesday without playing because fellow townsman Manchester United lost to Leicester. Ajax became champion in the Netherlands last week. The team from Amsterdam played against earth enemy number 1 Feijenoord this Sunday and here too Ajax was (again) the strongest. The KNVB has decided that the last games of the season will still be played without an audience which is also the case with us by basketing. The club buildings remain hermetically closed turned out after the press conference that our minister Rutte held on Tuesday evening. The catering terraces are now open from 6 am to 8 pm. The amusement parks, zoos, swimming pools and gyms may also reopen. Unfortunately the number of corona infections in the Netherlands remains high but hospital admissions are fortunately less. Whether that is sufficient for the relaxation that may take effect on 1 July? We have no choice but to stick to the protocols and then we will see at the end of June what is possible again on the way back to normal.

While the rain was pouring down in North Holland on Saturday I received a message that to my great surprise the pigeons had been released at 2.15 pm. I had already assumed that the release would be postponed for a day so that the pigeons would come home on Sunday, Mother's Day, but not! What on earth was supposed to become of this flight. When I heard at 4.45 pm that the pigeons from South Holland made 2200 meters (132 km per hour) from another release point I couldn't believe my ears. It turned out to be true and afterwards the fastest pigeons from Noord-Holland also achieved that speed while in Wijdewormer there were still low-hanging clouds from which it rained heavily. Later it turned out that it was dry and clear on the North Sea coast while I took shelter with my friend under the umbrella in the pouring rain while waiting for my first pigeon. It started to get a bit dry and suddenly a pigeon fell at 5.15 pm. That could be a very early one my friend said. The speed of my pigeon was nowhere near 2200 meters but you never know with such heavy rain. When the pigeon was reported the whole world turned out to be in front of me and after 3 weeks of super results it was now three times nothing. My son Marco, who played the stars of heaven for three weeks, was even 3 minutes behind me. We ended up with the very last. For us it turned out to be a very bad and disappointing flight (20 minutes after the fastest) with a slow course while on the west side of our flying area they received the pigeons as if they had been released around the corner of the door. That evening I missed 2 of the 24 but luckily those two were also home the next morning. Yet it appears that a lot of pigeons have stayed behind including several that performed the first flights top this year. Actually it was not the weather to release OUR pigeons but that was reasoned afterwards and then they say here “afterwards you look a cow in the ass”. A chance for the champion title in the middle distance is immediately lost with this result.

In the time that I practiced cycling I never thought for a second what exactly it meant to organize a cycling race. Later when I became manager and even chairman I could sometimes get annoyed by the riders who thought it was the most normal thing in the world to earn final prizes and premiums. Do you think those men thought about where that money and everything else that goes into it all came from which makes sense when you are involved in sports. The same counts for the pigeon sport. All fanciers know the racing program, know when to bring the pigeons to the club and read the next day on the site at what time the pigeons have been or will be released. Hardly anyone thinks about how all this works. The same counts for transport. In the first place the organization of the collection of pigeons throughout the province. This is not possible with the container because various club rooms are virtually inaccessible with such a large truck. So a pick-up service with schedule must be made. The pigeons go to the assembly point where all the pigeons have to be transferred to the large wagons, something like that has to be organized. On the day of release the release officers are already gathering information about the flight line at an early stage. Then the decision whether or not to release. All pigeon fanciers jump in the air when it is known that the pigeons are out. But oh woe if during the day it turns out that they were unloaded too early or too late. Then you should hear them, then in one fell swoop nothing is right from the organization. It is not surprising at all to think about it all together. There is a lot to do to keep the pigeon sport on the right track and that is largely done by volunteers who are available week in week out. Often these are also the members who do not immediately deliver top performances, they are real club people. The second middle distance flight this weekend. The weather forecast looks reasonable, northwest wind but a 70% chance of rain. Fortunately it is not yet Saturday and a lot can change with regard to the weather. Our fate is again in the hands of the release committee on the coming Saturday in consultation with the con voyeur of our pigeons on their way to the release point.

Wijdewormer, May 5, 2021. Today it is 76 years ago that the Netherlands was liberated with our pigeon as a symbol of peace. Because of Covid-19 no major festivities the liberation was mainly celebrated digitally this time. Yesterday was Remembrance Day. Everyone was again confronted with the terrible images from the Second World War, you wonder what the world has learned from it. For the football fans of Ajax it was a big party on Sunday because the team from Amsterdam became national champions for the 35th time. The Dutch pigeon fanciers got their money's worth the day before. The third sprint flight went well in all 11 departments but the competition duration was not the same everywhere. The Zeeland pigeons in the extreme southwest of our country had to pull hard, it took 40 minutes before all the prize pigeons were home. More than 150 km further in North Holland the battle was watched within 15 minutes and in the far north of our country the competition lasted 30 minutes. Beautiful weather all along the flight line. Sun everywhere but much too cold for the time of year. The first middle distance flight is on the program on Saturday. On Thursday evening the pigeons are already basketed for a race over 350 km. It is now really serious and the good weather is also coming. Unfortunately the atmosphere in the clubs is still lacking and that is what most fanciers miss very much. The chat during the club evenings is an important social part of our sport. Fanciers are eagerly looking forward to the new relaxations. Who knows the canteens of the sports clubs reopen and are fans welcome to encourage all athletes again. At the moment the street scene in the Netherlands looks familiar again. The shops are open again and the terraces of the catering companies are open every afternoon from 12 noon to 6 pm. We are heading in the right direction even though the contamination numbers are still quite high.

Are you satisfied too? I certainly do. The preparation for the breeding must have been good in any case I did my very best for that. As most of you know I have a breeding loft with my son and father is the lucky one that may take care of them. Not a problem as long as I feel good and unfortunately that is not always the case. That aging happens one day at a time but it goes unnoticed very quickly. Coincidentally, while clearing the cupboard with everything about the pigeon sport, I found a folder with results from 1953 that is no less than 68 years ago. I was 16 years old at the time and still played with the youth so I do not appear in those results. When reading the results it turned out that not one of the participants is still alive while I knew and experienced all those people. What was even more striking the speed of the pigeons. In the majority of the results the winning speeds did not exceed 1200 meters. I can still remember very well that the fanciers said to each other during a slow flight; the fastest reaches at least 1000 meters or 60 km per hour. That doesn't happen anymore nowadays. The competition duration was then considerably longer and what to think of the number of pigeons that were played with? Most fanciers played with 4 to 12 pigeons, I could not discover one that had more than 20 with. In the results of this week I saw various fanciers with more than 80 pigeons, one of them took the crown with 257 pigeons in competition who had to wait 5 minutes for his second pigeon. Probably several pigeons kept flying around because once the second pigeon was clocked it was raining pigeons. I experienced the time when there were various associations with more than 50 members. In the fifties most associations had around 10 members. Only in 1960 did the pigeon sport grow enormously one after another club was founded and when the computer was introduced the fanciers kept more and more pigeons so much that there was disagreement about it. It was no longer a fair battle, fanciers s were discouraged because the number of mega lofts grew quickly. Later still more “bread players” arrived, they turned their hobby into their profession. In the winter months there was a hall sale every weekend that fanciers went to en masse. Those many auctions opened the eyes of those who saw “online” opportunities. In this way the whole world came into contact with the pigeon sport and the consequence of this is that nowadays it is difficult for the common man to buy well-known pigeons. Big money has taken possession of the once simple pigeon sport. Millions are involved every year in the sport which is getting fewer and fewer practitioners especially in the well-known pigeon countries. All this brings me to the question; what will the breeding results be of all those pigeons that have changed owners for capital, once research had to be done. I think it will turn out that the value of a pigeon is still what a madman gives for it. Large amounts do not guarantee the breeding of usable pigeons. More bad pigeons than good pigeons are still bred worldwide. They are often the same ones that pay astronomical amounts and still do not perform excessively well. It is now always the same who receive gigantic amounts for their pigeons. In that respect you should switch to the extreme long distance. Once a top result and your meal is bought.

Read the pigeon newspapers, read the results, look at the championship positions, they are almost always the same names. These are usually not the men who spent tons to get good pigeons. It is the enthusiasts who have mastered it. They see everything a little earlier, make fewer mistakes and are fully committed. They only do what is exactly necessary and that does not come from a bottle but because they have very good pigeons. They are enthusiasts who do everything for it, which means that they put in a lot of free time, do everything at fixed times. They dare to select pigeons that do not comply with the flights, even if they still have such a formidable pedigree. They demand performance from their pigeons and that is allowed if you do everything for it. I regularly speak to enthusiasts who perform poorly year after year. They are pigeon keepers, they enjoy taking care of their pigeons and if they play an early prize, they are satisfied. There are also those who would like to and they say they do everything they can and yet it doesn't work, I sometimes say; I think you are doing everything wrong. I don't know what to do to perform so badly. It will always be that way, you have winners and extras in every sport.

Wijdewormer, April 28, 2021. Yesterday the Netherlands celebrated the birthday of our King Willem Alexander. A beautiful sun-drenched day but not a real party due to the corona pandemic which is a shame because it is always a very festive day with music, parades and free markets. It is one of the nicest days of the year but not now. All catering establishments were still closed, as were the shops, theaters and amusement parks. In short people have to enjoy themselves and that is still not easy. One and a half meters apart, no more than two visitors a day, the only festive thing is that today the curfew is lifted and the terraces open from 12 to 6 pm, it feels like we are on the right track. The strict covid-19 protocol still applies to the pigeon sport, which is not fun but the races can therefore continue as usual. The first two flights are now over. Cold and north wind prove to be excellent ingredients for these sprint races. An excellent course with speeds around 75 to 80 km per hour and the prizes were earned within 15 minutes. It indicates that our pigeons can tolerate the low temperatures well.

It is impossible to please everyone as appears every winter when determining the flight program. One wants to start earlier, the other prefers a later start. The sprint players want more of these races, others would prefer to see the late races be canceled altogether arguing that the pigeons are molting too far. The men of the one-day long distance would like to have one more flight and the fans of the game with the youngsters think that they should start earlier and 8 flights is more than enough for them. Nothing new at all that I am telling you, that is how it was 50 years ago and it still takes far too much time during the meeting. There are endless discussions while 50 years ago we had many, many more members and there were many more experts than now. I often think; people stop it, it has been like this for 100 years and who cares where the pigeons come flying home from. It is all about the healthy sporting tension and sometimes you are in the wrong corner and the next time you are on the first teat. It wouldn't be good if always the same be for or disadvantage. In addition, the wind always has a major influence on sprint competitions that are currently in progress. The shorter the distance the greater the influence of the wind.

For years I let my pigeons train at home twice a day. I was in all states when I could only let them go once a day or not at all due to rain or fog. I even let them go at the end of the afternoon on the day of basketing. Now I never let them go on Friday, a day of rest seems better to me. Since last week I have abandoned my faith. I have decided no longer release my old pigeons in the morning. Why? My age plays the most important role in this. I don't get out of bed that early anymore, 8 am is a good time for me. Fifteen minutes later I go to the youngsters to remove the darkening and fifteen minutes later they go out. Then the old pigeons are taken care of and the young pigeon loft is cleaned. At 10 o'clock the youngsters are fed, they have been outside for an hour and a half. By the way they are starting to fly well and because I have added a second group of youngsters they want to land in the loft sooner. That is the annoying thing about adding young pigeons. Experience has taught me that because of this the second round also starts flying around earlier. They are darkened until the end of June. From now on the old pigeons are released only once a day, the hens at 4 o'clock and the cocks at 5 o'clock. The youngsters are allowed out for the second time at 6 am and are taken care at 7 am. The curtains are closed at half past seven. The breeding pigeons have now been separated and depending on the racing results our 5 best breeding couples are paired again. Their youngsters are then offered for sale after the racing season.

For the time being the servant has surpassed the master. Son Marco got them great in the first two flights. I can't grumble either but he is absolutely out of category at the moment but the season is still long. For our kind of players it is important that the pigeons are good from the start. If you have to catch up at the start that does not feel good. I don't care about the saying runners are dead runners. As a sprint / middle distance player you have to be there right from the first flights. The long distance players can fly their pigeons in the races up to 500 km that is not possible for us fierce rascals. Not so bad because all the sprint / middle distance players are after all seriously busy with the pigeons much earlier. Ours have already flown in well when the long distance players are still asleep. In any case father and son Braspenning are very satisfied with the start of the 2021 season. Together we play almost 90% prize in the first two flights. Marco has used a total of 67 pigeons on both flights, 56 of which are winning prizes. I had 46 with in and 40 of them flew prize. With such results pigeon sport is a really nice hobby.

Wijdewormer, April 20, 2021. It is Tuesday afternoon and just returned from my daily bike ride. A quick drink and then the hens go out because it is now 4 o'clock. They are allowed to train for an hour, at 5 o'clock they come back in because then it's dinner time. When the ladies start their meal the cocks are allowed to do their thing for an hour. I only clean the lofts once a day in this summery weather. The manure is mainly in the 12 breeding lofts which is a sign that the males are relaxing for a large part of the day. The same applies to the ladies. They sit on shelves, 4 one above the other with a narrow partition wall in between them so that they cannot see each other. That is also done to promote peace. Exercising twice a day for an hour in a row and also resting a lot is a healthy basis to bring the condition to a higher level. Beautiful little dung balls and a number of small down feathers every day is a sign that health is well. By training at home you can see from the high and fast flying pigeons whether the condition is okay. Pigeons have to like to train themselves if a flag has to be used to keep the pigeons in the air the shape is not yet as it should be. But how they should be is often not so easy to discover. Often the pigeons are a bit too heavy or there is something wrong with their health. After this story it has now become 5 o'clock so take a break to take care of the ladies and give the cocks the opportunity to do their training work. There will be another press conference in two hours. Hopefully our Prime Minister will announce a number of relaxation that the entire Dutch population is eagerly looking forward to. So at the stroke of 7 o'clock the whole of the Netherlands is in front of the TV.

The press conference is over, it was not disappointing but it was not easy either. The curfew has been lifted, the shops may open again and the cafes of the catering industry may open from 12:00 to 18:00 for the time being. Only 2 private visitors may be received per day one by one and with that we have to do it for the time being. Corona for a year a country locked up for a year as with all of us. At last there is some speed in the vaccination. The nice weather is coming so people want to go outside. I myself was vaccinated twice and had no problems at all. I can now go for a beer with a clear conscience I just don't know with whom. Many of my acquaintances have not yet had an injection and a pleasant visit to the pub is also not an option for me because until now only the terrace is open in the afternoon. It will be great if all shops and catering establishments open as before the people, especially young people, really need that very badly. That also applies to us pigeon fanciers. The season has started. I haven't been to the clubroom yet, no one is allowed in and the bar is closed. So wait outside, hand in pigeons, wait for the clock and then go home nothing to do.

It was a complete surprise that the racing season started according to the schedule in the first weekend of April. Everyone had assumed that, just like last year, the start would be postponed for a month. In addition also the weather conditions were not of that kind that you were eager to go out with the pigeons. I did not participate in the first training flight, I thought it was much too cold. My son did and that's why I go and watch the arrival with him. It was 8 degrees Celsius and there was a cold chilly northeasterly wind and then it is no fun at all to wait for pigeons. Contrary to expectations the pigeons turned out great. A week later the first official flight was canceled due to expected snow, hail and rain, plus far too low temperatures. Against my principle my pigeons have been away twice with temperatures that are far too low and once even with severe weather. It seemed necessary to me to do that, you still have the idea that you have done the necessary preparation. Suppose you hadn't gone away and you were clock too late I would blame myself. I did not have high expectations. In other years I had been away with my pigeons much more. Then you have a good feeling and that is not the case this year partly because of the Corona. The whole week before the first flight I have observed the pigeons extra to see how their behavior was in the loft and in the air. Good impression but not completely satisfied. Actually, I thought they felt too weak, I think there was too little tension on them. Today I took a few in hand and now I was satisfied. It may also be because we have had higher temperatures for a number of days with sun every day. It is then wonderful in the lofts, I could go to sleep in the straw with the youngsters.

We flew from Roosendaal at the Dutch/Belgian border, distance +/- 110 KM. Marco had entered 32 of which 29 won a prize. He starts with 1-7-8-17-18-21-22 against 2579 pigeons. I myself had a perfect result: 22 and all 22 in the result 1:4. Less spectacular I start with 25-27-30 but 100% prize! The pigeon that Marco got in front won the first twice last year as a youngster! His mother went directly to the breeding loft as a youngster she never raced herself. It was such an intelligent creature that I said; this one goes directly to the breeding loft. She is a granddaughter of Olympic Big Leo, Olympiad pigeon in Poznan (Poland) in 2010. And now on to the next showdown.

Wijdewormer April 7 2021. It was still exciting whether or not it would take place. Many fanciers had no confidence in it. In the first place because the corona infections remained on the high side and also the weather forecasts were such that it was much too cold for the pigeons. Still it went on many jumped for joy others took a very conservative attitude. Despite the fact that it was only a training flight there were still many pigeons at the start. The North Holland pigeons were released in two groups one at 9 a.m. the other fifteen minutes later. It was striking that there were many pigeons in the first group that made a considerably higher speed than the fastest of group 2 so you can see that releases, even if only with a difference of 15 minutes, can have a completely different course. The speeds were not high due to the strong northwest wind but the course of the flight was certainly good. I myself did not bring any pigeons. Marco did and he took 10 of the first 25 against 514 pigeons. After such a training flight you go with confidence to the first match. I don't have that feeling yet. I have not taken the pigeons away enough and at the moment that is not possible at all. One moment the sun is shining and a little later heavy winter hail or snow showers no weather to train the pigeons. Coming Saturday it really gets serious but I really don't know how I'm going to do it yet. On the program is a race of 110 km expected temperature 8 degrees with a cold northerly wind. I will try to drive with the pigeons a few times this week and if that does not work I will give 12. Only at the last moment I check whether that will be cocks or hens.

I had assumed that the start would be postponed for a few weeks partly due to the corona that has changed our lives little by little. The annoying thing is that our life is getting very boring there is little or nothing to do. I spend most of my time watching sports on TV. For me as a cycling enthusiast there is a lot to enjoy and I also like to watch football especially Ajax or English football. Yesterday I heard that the public will be allowed to go to the stadiums again at the end of April. When the terraces open again we will get back to the level we were used to. Only now we notice what a luxurious life we had for years. After a year of suffering I really long for the living pattern of before 2020. Now we still have to apply the corona regulations in and around our pigeon club. If that now also expires soon we will be completely where we want to be. The club evenings during the deployment of the pigeons are evenings I live towards for years and still do. It is annoying that we keep getting older and do not realize that we are changing as a result. I still want to excel with my pigeons but the real motivation is increasingly lacking. You can't leave anything to chance to win but yes if you sometimes forget something… Fortunately that's okay because you don't know. But oh woe if it comes to your mind at the end of the week then you are not really comfortable waiting for the arrival of the pigeons.

Nowadays we are obliged to notify by Tuesday evening at the latest how many pigeons we are going to use. We have to specify separately how many widowers, how many nest cocks and how many hens. Great for those who have to prepare the baskets. I have difficulty with that myself. On Tuesday evening I cannot say how many pigeons I want to enter. Of course I am busy all week preparing the pigeons for the race but still Friday evening when I go to get the pigeons I definitely know which ones will go and especially which five will be on top of the list of participants that is an old-fashioned system. Now it is the case that many fanciers give everything along and that week after week. I think that with this system the pigeon hardly counts anymore. There used to be a man in my club who didn't care. He always said; they have wings to fly, so good weather or not, fly! That goes a bit too far for me. I have been working with my pigeons for a whole year and then I do not want to ruin them in one go I would like to enjoy them for a whole season especially now that I have so few, with 12 pairs of racing pigeons you cannot have too much setback especially if you want to compete for the championships.

I have to drop another youngster and then I am done breeding for myself. I have ringed 37 of which I have already lost one. Caught by the bird of prey that has been eating it in the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor came to bring me the ring and asked if it was mine. I hadn't missed a youngster yet but that ring was indeed mine. You know how it goes, usually it is one of a promising couple which was the case in this. Of our 20 breeding couples I have numbered the five best in my opinion from 1 to 5. This youngster came from couple 2. From that couple we already have 3 first prize winners and a champion pigeon. Of course I don't know whether this would also be a topper but it is always a shame if you lose a pigeon especially if it has good parents plus 2 good brothers and sisters. Unfortunately the bird of prey problem is also becoming a bigger problem. Fortunately the necessary attention is paid to this in our country. The birds of prey are protected which is a good thing in itself. But due to the ever-growing population the pigeon sport has really suffered so much that fanciers stop with their hobby.

Wijdewormer, March 31, 2021. It is almost unbelievable. The whole world has completely lost its way because of Covid-19 but in the Netherlands the pigeon sport will officially start on April 10 who would have dared to dream this? A year of corona surrounded by all kinds of nasty forced measures and what progress has we made with it. Everything is still locked, people are no longer pulling it and the infections are only increasing. Vaccination in our country is very slow. The only relaxation is that the curfew starts on March 31 at 10 p.m. which offers some perspective for the sports clubs. This also makes it possible that we can start playing with the pigeons again. There will have to be basketed earlier so that everyone is home before 10 pm. I do not know if I can say that I am happy that it is starting again because for the time being we will hardly speak to each other. Only a few members are allowed in the room at a distance of one and a half meters and the catering area remains closed. According to the protocol we can hand over the baskets and as soon as the pigeons are in the big baskets we get the clock and baskets back and we can go home. This is how it goes the same way a day later when we come with the clock. Not cozy together, no celebration of the winner. Fortunately pigeon sport is a sport that you practice at home so nothing changes there but we just have to miss club life for the time being. Big question is; how long will it take for now?

All winter there was nothing to do in the field of pigeon sport while in other years we could go from one event to another every weekend. Nevertheless despite this lack we ended up in the spring and then many pigeon fanciers become increasingly nervous as the tension increases. Every fancier wonders whether the pigeons have been brought to the start of the season in the right way. After all it was not possible that we would start on the scheduled time. We followed the reports of the corona infections from all over the world and they did not look hopeful. That is why compliments to all those committees that have worked to ensure that the pigeon sport does not suffer from the corona virus. Belgium and France are prepared to issue unloading permits of course with the necessary regulations. Whether Germany will do that is not yet known to me. The east of the Netherlands has planned to hold their first flights from Germany. Saturday April 10 is the day. A week earlier there is a training flight and after that things really get serious. For many years I have been an ardent but also a fanatic pigeon fancier I like to race with pigeons even after more than 70 years. But to say now that I am completely ready is not true. In other years I have been much further with the preparation. Normally at this time of year my youngsters flew around the loft for a long time. Now they come out and do no more than fly a bit off the flap on the loft and back again. Incidentally I like to look at that. I now have a little more than thirty and I will have to do with that. In my strong years I never had more than 30 with which I ended in the top-3 for several years. Marco has more than 50 racing pigeons but he has the first round of our joint breeding loft. Today I took the youngsters away from the cocks so that cocks and hens are now gone widowhood. Today they are also driven about ten kilometers for the first time and that's how I try to do that every day until 3 days before the first race. At the moment it is really summery weather with temperatures of around 20 degrees. Unfortunately for next Saturday only 8 degrees has been predicted and I think that is too cold for myself and also for the pigeons. My opinion is that you can only hold competitions at a minimum of 13 and a maximum of 30 degrees. I also know all too well that pigeons can do much more than we think. Maybe I love my animals I want to enjoy them for a whole year and that is not possible in extreme temperatures.

Opinions differ on this too. Daylight saving time started on 20 March. My pigeons had been on summer time for a number of weeks so nothing changes for them only the boss has to get used to it. If I were in charge there would be no daylight saving time. Don't understand the benefits of that time change either. I do see that the leaves are coming back on the trees, that the snowdrops have already been in bloom, that everything is growing and blooming again and that makes me happy I love the beautiful summer weather. I used to be hard to turn off the ice now I don't dare it anymore. I hate the cold and thoroughly enjoy the mild spring weather. We live in the countryside and it is now even more enjoyable. In the winter it is nowhere nice but in the summer we have a double advantage here in the countryside. Enjoy the training pigeons in the garden while you sniff the spring I can keep that up for a very long time.

That will also change because we have changed associations. Very unfortunate because I started as a youth member at that club in 1948 and I would have liked to end there. Unfortunately things turned out differently. I could no longer agree with the way in which the pennies were managed and certainly not with the way in which the annual financial report was presented to the members. Over the past three years there hasn't even been a cash check and that I can't stand. The fun was gone and that is why I moved to another club together with Marco. That club is a bit further away and because I am no longer allowed to drive a car I am dependent on my wife and Marco. Fortunately I know most of the members there so I know for sure that I will soon be used to the new club. It seems to me to be a very nice club, especially when we are released from the corona measures. I am also very curious what I can tell all readers about the course of the first matches.

Wijdewormer, March 25, 2021. On March 13, the NPO Members' Council approved the proposal that the Netherlands would organize this largest pigeon festival. The conditions for participation have been announced by the FCI so all over the world the fanciers can make their plans to have their pigeons perform in such a way that they are eligible for participation. It will take a while before it is that far but I already want to wish everyone the best of luck to become an Olympiad participant because within our sport participation in an Olympiad is also the highest possible. I am already looking forward to meeting many international friends there. Furthermore it was announced during the digital members' council that the health declaration prescribed by the EU is no longer applicable. Broadly speaking it boiled down to the fact that three weeks before they participate in a flight racing pigeons have to be quarantined for three weeks. Here it was clearly visible that this was a regulation drawn up by a layman. Fortunately the pigeon transport remains the same. As far as the start of the new season is concerned not everything is definitively known yet but according to planning the Belgians would start in the weekend of March 20 but unfortunately not. What is new is that the results will also show the (intermediate) positions of the loft performances on a weekly basis. Then there was a heated discussion about cargo and flying pigeons during the Members' Council. In the Netherlands it is mandatory that every pigeon that takes part in the competition or in a training flight has to go over the basketing antenna. This makes it immediately visible whether the pigeon is registered in the name of the participant. What is new is that the fancier is free to determine how many pigeons he will participate in the competition. For example; someone comes with 30 pigeons and 20 of them participate in the competition, which is possible, but the other pigeons also go over the antenna. As long as I play with pigeons it was the most normal thing in the world that all pigeons that were used also took part in the competition. Nowadays with all those different competitions all with their own conditions fanciers try to figure it out in order to achieve the best possible result for themselves. Well, why should we do it easy when it can also difficult?

Many Dutch fanciers were surprised last week with a new edition of the Dutch Pigeon Organ. Once the only real Dutch racing pigeon magazine that was read weekly by thousands of Dutch fanciers. Unfortunately that newspaper disappeared completely from the scene and a few years ago it reappeared in digital form that represented little to nothing. It was a great surprise that suddenly this magazine rolled into the mailbox that will be published once a quarter for free. Old sections are revived but not by the writers of yesteryear such as the expert Arie van de Hoek or the famous Belgian Jacq. Tournier. The magazine immediately presented itself as the official magazine of the NPO but this appears to be an empty slogan. The NPO board responded immediately with the announcement that this is definitely not the case so the tone has already been set. Nobody wants such a quarterly magazine, the existing weekly magazine is more than enough for the Netherlands.

Unfortunately not much good came out. Everything remains as it was with a few exceptions. The curfew will go to 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. this week and Prime Minister Rutte could not put it into words. It would mainly have been done on the advice of the mayors. Due to the rising contamination figures it has been advised to spend the May holiday in own country. There was also no clear answer to the questions why vaccination is so slow in our country. We pigeon fanciers and of course the many other interested parties would have liked to hear that the catering industry and theaters would reopen. No, for the time being it will remain unchanged for another 3 weeks. Because the curfew starts an hour later it offers some perspective for our pigeon sport. The racing pigeons have to be in the baskets by half past nine so the participants and especially the workers are home in time. It won't get any cozier for the time being but it is certainly better than no game at all. By the way I don't have a good feeling about the latter. Next Thursday evening the national NPO board will announce the latest news. I will be happy if we can start mid-April.

Marco is ready for battle. His youngsters come outside and make their first rounds around the loft. Because they are darkened they are already busy with the neck molt. His old pigeons are separated and are darkened 12 hours a day to stop molting. The youngsters are allowed out in the morning and the old pigeons only fly in the evening. There is more work to be done for me. Most youngsters are still with the parents in the breeding loft or with the racing pigeons. This weekend the racing hens all go to their loft where they stay all summer and some have their youngsters with them for a few more days. All racing cocks still have a youngster to take care of which will move to the young pigeon loft in the course of next week. My old pigeons are also darkened for 12 hours a day until the competition season starts. From next week the youngsters are allowed to go outside from 10 am. They can then walk in and out because flying is not there yet. My youngsters are darkened for 13 hours a day from mid-April to the end of June from 7:30 pm to 8:30 the next morning. During the Easter days the training of the old pigeons is started which for me are mainly yearlings. They are not paired for a second time. They are therefore on widowhood from Easter and both the cocks and hens are raced weekly as soon as the season starts. Provided that……??? It would be nice that after a year of corona we would once again get healthy competition tension in our bodies which will certainly do us good.

Wijdewormer 17 March 2021. Just like in other countries everything in the Netherlands is currently dominated by the elections which makes me crazy. It's really madness. As many as 37 political parties have signed up to seize power. They all have something in their program to improve life in the Netherlands, a commendable endeavor that I have been consciously experiencing for 65 years. There is always an item that requires extra attention, this time care and the environment lead the wish lists. The corona ghost still wanders around all those campaigns. The number of infections keeps on going. The vaccination had started well and now there is suddenly a hitch because the AstraZeneca vaccine would show dangerous side effects, so stop! And now what, how do we proceed because corona is not giving up the fight for the time being. I started this column with “overpopulation” because we are at the end of the breeding season and then many fanciers of various couples want to breed a few extra youngsters but that is precisely where the danger lies. In case of overpopulation a disease always breaks out. In nature no or almost no vaccination is possible which means that the weak have to suffer from the strong. That is also the case with humanity. I certainly do not want to compare people with animals but our globe is full and therefore I think we will always have to deal with new diseases all the time. A cocktail shot will have to be developed with which we may have to be vaccinated every year so that we are protected against those contagious diseases. What a relief it will be for all of us that the elections and the Covid-19 pandemic with all its variants is over. I am so longing back to life before 2020. At the moment I am getting a little more gloomy every day. It's not going to give up hope for the time being, so head on and try to make every day a good day.

The new season is about to happen. There is still no certainty and we have many questions directors want clarity. Fortunately in 2020 we have gained sufficient experience on how to act in times of corona, the protocols are known. There are no questions about transport which will be reviewed in October. Everyone wants to know when the official starting shot will be fired. I really long for it because at my age I cannot make a long-term planning every year that I can still play is a bonus. Of course the plans for this year are ready. The racing pigeons now all have youngsters. If one young has hatched it stays with the cock and one of two goes with the hen to the young pigeon loft which will happen next week. In principle the racing pigeons are on widowhood from that moment. The racing pigeons now go twice each day off and as soon as the youngsters no longer need their parents only the cocks are released twice a day and the hens only in the afternoon from half past three to five. Once the youngsters are flying around well they only go outside in the afternoon from 6 am to 7 pm and with that training method I try to successfully participate in the competitions. That way it has always gone to full satisfaction so why not this year. Before the races starts the pigeons are taken away at least five times no further than 35 km and all released at the same time. During the season the pigeons are not driven except for the late tour. Those 5 flights are at the end of the season and then I think it is necessary to keep the pigeons on going because the big molt then presents itself. You know once the aerodynamics have disappeared it’s also done winning early prizes.

On Saturday 13 March the dots were digitally put on the “I”. I cannot yet say a sensible word about the decisions. I was not at home that day so I had to miss the instant digital meeting. One of these days I can look back and in my next column I will report on the most important decisions. Another meeting will follow shortly in which the board will be completed for the umpteenth time. Usually that is not long-term but who knows? Usually the NPO meeting is the end of the past season and the starting shot for the new showdown. The winter season was also very boring just like the competition season. In the winter months no shows, no champion ceremony, and if there was a ceremony it was improvised. Hall auctions will soon no longer exist and that is a fantastic change for the fanciers who keep pigeons for profit. The atmosphere of a full house with interested pigeon parents will probably never return. When you see what reach a digital sale has that's huge and the amounts offered surpass everything. When you see that you think that the pigeon sport represents a lot. Most of us are concerned about winning one or more championships for which they receive a nice shiny plastic cup at the end of the season financial value zero point zero. The sporting value is only important for the fancier. The professionals are not short of anything. They cash in several times a year thanks to the bastard people. Those people come every week with their basket so the professionals can write that they have a champion pigeon again against many pigeons. Wonderful but where would they be if the masses soon realized that the pigeon sport is no longer so nice and cozy anymore. Times change and pigeon sport too.

Wijdewormer, March 10, 2021. The season is approaching and everything is now focused on that. Everywhere the breeding is largely ready and in various lofts the racing pigeons have been separated for some time. Everything is focused on the matches that will start in the Netherlands in April. Most of them start immediately in widowhood others first race one or two more flights with a nest. Many fanciers race total widowhood with cocks and hens. But there are more and more fanciers who prefer the widowhood game with only hens. In that respect pigeon sport has changed enormously. In my early years, early fifties, most fanciers had one loft in which young and old lived together. Everyone raced the pigeons on a nest all year round. There were real artists because it is not easy to keep pigeons well in their feathers for a whole year. Little or nothing was known about darken and widowhood. In addition nobody had the opportunity and the financial means to build a large loft and well if you don't know any better pigeon sport in that form is also quite fun. In those years it was mainly a hobby there was some gambling and that was certainly not about large amounts. They thought it was a top achievement to play the first with the top of the list in front that man had an eye on it. In those years there was also played for the “king pool” which was actually the highest you could achieve. The stake was 50 cents you could only put one in front and the person who took it first could go home with the putty. That was not a large amount but the winner could buy a bag of food for it and that made the hobby a little cheaper. I can still remember that the first thing that was looked at was who had won the royal pool. That happened on Sunday evening when the handwritten result hung in the village cafe in front of the window and many fanciers came to it. Everyone is of course very curious about how they played but also about the results of the competition. In those years it was a familiar sight that almost all fanciers went to the classroom by bicycle with one basket on the luggage carrier under the carrier strap, one on the handlebars and the clock in the other hand and then he also had to hold the handlebars. It happened more than once that a fancier lay on the street with his baskets and clock which I also had once. You are able to go home but in the end you decide to go to the club anyway. Fortunately, because it turned out to be an unforgettable super result at the end.

As a child we knew exactly where to play football in the street. Our street was about 400 meters long and only three people had a car so enough space to play football or other games on the street every day. Now there is no room on any street to play outside. And people just complain that the children no longer play in the street nowadays. Simply impossible and that is why they are now sitting behind the computer every day gaming and more gaming. Young people are not interested in animals because they have not grown up with them. If you used to have a friend of yours with a rabbit or a dog you wanted something like that. A pet was part of it and the pigeons also belonged to it. In my street alone there were 12 boys who had pigeons and our pigeon club had a youth department with more than 40 members. Most pigeon clubs now don't even have 40 members. I don't want to say that it was all better in the past but it was different and much more fun and, above all, more interest in each other. Every day we came together to see how the pigeons were doing. Nowadays we hardly get together anymore. It has all become much more professional and nobody is waiting for a loft visit because they are terrified of some contamination. No, the fun is completely finished in that respect. Nevertheless I still enjoy my pigeons enormously especially now that my youngsters can almost away with their parents. The young pigeons loft is equipped for the new generation and as far as I am concerned the game can begin.

I think I had prepared well for the breeding. Have a manure test done, throat smear everything was fine. The pigeons came a little later with eggs but I have an explanation for that and then it is also clear why some more eggs were unfertilized. There was nothing wrong with the first round. The eggs from the second round were laid exactly in that particular week that it almost froze your ears off your head. As an experienced fancier you think that nature ensures nothing can go wrong with the first egg. But …… by temperatures of minus 12-15 degrees there is a great risk that the first egg will not be kept warm enough. With that icy cold the pigeons are not so busy with reproduction so it took a few days longer before the eggs were laid. At night with severe frost and without heating in the loft you run the risk of eggs freezing or at least becoming too cold which I had to deal with especially with the racing pigeons. They were coupled in such a way that the second round of the breeders could be pushed below them so bad luck! There are enough for me so I don't despair. Everything else looks hopeful. The youngsters are growing up well, nice dry manure around the saucer, no squeaky youngsters and this week the first ones intended for me will leave the parents. At least where one youngster is located it stays with the cock and where there are two one goes with the hen to the young pigeon loft. There is a thick pack of straw there and they will stays there until the flights of the summer begin. From this week the pigeons come out twice a day. In the morning from half past eight to half past nine and in the afternoon from 4 to 5 o'clock and that will be as soon as the end of March summertime starts from 5 to 6 o'clock. As soon as the youngsters start flying around they go outside from 9 till 10 and from 6 till 7 hours. Everything now happens every day at exactly the same time

Wijdewormer 17 February 2021. The skates can be put away again and the garden chairs can go outside, I have never experienced before. Last week –15 degrees and for this weekend +15 degrees is predicted which is a difference of 30 degrees. No Elfstedentocht, gone skating fun. It was short-lived and now on to spring to a better life! As of today the judge has ruled that the curfew must be lifted immediately and the film was rolled back the same day. As a trial a few theaters are being opened for a maximum of 500 spectators. Football matches again with public and more relaxation will probably be announced today or tomorrow. There is plenty of testing for corona unfortunately the infections are still not over. Fortunately the vaccination is getting better and better it will be my turn on 3 March. Let's not think that it will be all over the place again in the foreseeable future because the economic explosion is yet to come. Covid19 has created a trail of misery that we are not getting rid of yet but there is not much we can do but remain optimistic. The next important step will be that the shops and the catering industry can reopen. Once that is the case there are few valid reasons left for keeping other doors closed. We will soon have 1 year of Corona behind us. Still how long?

When I drove out of the yard fourteen days ago to go for a bike ride Jan drove past on his scooter. He immediately squeezed the brakes to have a chat. Jan and I have known each other from an early age. He was an avid short-track skater managed to win many competitions and later became a popular pub owner. Very soon we were talking about the times gone by. Jan was also a real cycling supporter who knew many names of riders from the time when I cycled myself. Once he organized a reunion for old cyclists and skaters in his cafe. At the end of our conversation he asked if I still had pigeons. I'll never read you again, he said. That's right I said in winter there are no competitions for pigeons, he knew nothing about pigeon sport. He was right that he never read anything in the newspaper about pigeon racing again. For years on Tuesday the newspaper was full of results from all pigeon clubs in North Holland. The newspaper sent a stack of stamped postcards to all the secretaries on which to fill in the results. In this way the pigeon sport came to the attention of many people. Family, neighbors, colleagues, friends, relations, everyone read the pigeon results. I was regularly approached hey Bras I read you again! I knew pigeon fanciers who went home on Tuesday at noon to read the results in the newspaper and then immediately knew how the competition had performed. At that time it took a whole week before the results were known, everything was still manual. The calculator of the ZCC lived near me and occasionally I went to help him on Fridays to collect the sheets of the results and staple them together. The whole family was busy then because on Saturday delegates from each association came to collect the results. The results were stenciled on wood-containing paper and blue ink was used which resulted in the whole family being covered in blue ink at the end of the evening. It was a hell of a job for the mathematician and his wife and their daughter which they occupied all weekend and all evenings. At that time there were a maximum of 3000 pigeons in the battle. Of these 800 were published and all those names had to be typed on a stencil first. The good man received a compensation of 2 cents per pigeon (with 2500 pigeons 50 guilders that is now 24 euros). Who oh who would still want to do such a job. When the man suggested a 1 cent increase I thought World War III was breaking out. What a luxury that everything is now done digitally. Unfortunately there is now nothing more about pigeon sport in the newspaper. Pigeon sport is no longer interesting for any newspaper due to too few members.

A lot of snow was expected so I decided to do some shopping for my pigeons that same day. There used to be several shops near me nowadays I have to drive 20 km first. I am no longer allowed to drive so I am dependent. This time I went with my grandson. Due to a road closure we ended up somewhere I had never been before. Even the tom-tom got dizzy. Finally arrived at the pigeon sport center it turned out that several fanciers had thought the same as me we could hardly get in. All with mouth caps, so many are unrecognizable. After we had loaded the car I stood in line behind Dick. I hadn't seen him for years and was not sure whether it was him or not. I patted him on the shoulder and he looked at me, shrugged and looked straight back. I pushed him in the back and asked if he didn't remember me and he shrugged again. I took off my face mask and took my cap in my hand said Zaandam and the good man shook no. If you consider that most say when I med them after a long time; you haven't changed a bit. Dick's coin would not fall. When I started to tell an ancient story a smile came to his face. What the hell he said and hugged me. How bad that I no longer recognize you and then the stories really started. He said that he no longer played with pigeons. He still had pigeons but only for fun and that while he used to be one of the big guns. Since he had moved it was no longer possible to play well with the pigeons and therefore he stopped racing. I definitely can't stand my loss I always want to win or have a good result, but every week a twist around my ears that makes me grumpy. Everything comes to an end said Dick and when he trudged out of the shop with 5 kilos of pigeon food in hand I saw that he was no longer so stable on his legs. Indeed, everything comes to an end also Covid19

Wijdewormer, February 10, 2021. A lot of snow and severe frost have put the whole of the Netherlands under the spell of skating this week. Temperatures of minus 15 degrees Celsius make the hearts beat faster especially among skating enthusiasts of long tours and marathon competitions. The most famous tour and competition tour is the Elfstedentocht through the province of Friesland over a distance of 200 km. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic everyone has to adhere to the strict regulations but it will be difficult to keep the skating-crazy Netherlands in check. The government is under pressure from all directions to let go this longest skating race in the world. It is up to the audience whether or not the “tour of tours” may continue. The last trip, which was held 25 years ago, had 30.000 participants and 500.000 spectators which is quite a lot to keep them at a distance of one and a half meters. If all those ardent skating fans promised that they would follow the game at home in front of the TV there is a small chance that this great skating party could continue. The tension rises to unprecedented heights, will it go or will it not continue!

For our concepts a lot of snow fell in our country last weekend. The whole of the Netherlands is white at the moment and that will certainly remain that way for about ten days and that is a cross the bill of all fanciers who cannot leave their winter youngsters outside. Those who do not breed in winter and still put the pigeons together last week are also a bit unlucky and that includes me. At the end of this week my racing pigeons have to come with eggs for the first time but then temperatures of -15 are predicted at night. It is desirable that the pigeons keep the first egg in particular sufficiently warm. You would say nature does take care of that but we fanciers ourselves cause the problem by putting pigeons together to raise youngsters completely against nature. There is not a single bird in the Netherlands that already needs to build a nest. I have no heating in my loft at all, in that respect I am still of the old school. We used to say; if it freezes outside it also freeze in your loft. I still think that way, I don't want to make greenhouse plants from my pigeons. I will not place them in an open aviary with such low temperatures. The windows will remain closed and the sun that is shining now will make it a bit comfortable. At the moment the lights are on until 8 in the evening in all departments. I remove the drinking troughs everywhere so that I don't have to start the next morning to get rid of ice which saves me a lot of extra work. The youngsters at the breeders are all ringed and look great despite the cold. Two couples already laid their first egg of the second round yesterday and that is faster than I expected because it will take about a week before my racing pigeons will lay their first egg. It is still the intention that I put as many eggs from the breeders under my racing pigeons as possible. According to my calculation there will be enough youngsters ready to be weaned in the first week of March. When I have 30 I am satisfied. Marco wants some more because he has big plans and Dad will do his best to beat him a few times. Nice, and it motivates both of us.

I read that the obligation to keep up has been lifted in Belgium so that the pigeons can go outside again. That is a good report because there are many fanciers in that country who practice winter breeding and it is very reassuring that especially the youngsters can explore the area. In the Netherlands that prohibition was not there and now I read in the newspaper today that at a distance of 5 km from me all poultry at a petting zoo was culled this weekend. The disease started in the peacocks. One got bird flu symptoms and within a few days most of them died. A veterinarian diagnosed bird flu and therefore all poultry had to be culled. For all volunteers a nasty activity to catch the animals and gassed on site. It is not yet known what the consequences will be. If it stays with this one case the measures may well be better. But oh woe if there's another outbreak in the neighborhood. It is a good thing that for the time being we cannot leave the pigeons outside because of the snow so the risk of infection is small. Still annoying to read something like this two months before the racing season starts (if so). There is also still the corona virus and we all know how this virus spread all over the world has on our health and all sports.

It was very surprising to many Dutch fanciers that the more or less expelled NPO chairman Maurice van der Kruk was awarded the honorary membership and the “golden pin” during his last meeting as chairman. Given his track record the current board does not consider this appropriate. In addition the former NPO directors appeared not to be entitled to award this award. The non-cooperation of Maurice van der Kruk in the investigation of the pension provision for ex NPO employees will also have contributed to this. The consequences of the incorrect management of the entire pension file will cost the NPO 300.000 euros. It has already been announced that the ring price will be increased by 10 cents from 2022. The money has to come somewhere so here too the members are the victims.

Wijdewormer, 3 February 2021. When I started riding my first club competitions on my second-hand racing bike at the end of 1953 I was immediately taught “never look back”. You have nothing to do with what happened behind you I have never forgotten that. In my further life I have also understood that looking ahead is much more important. As you get older you tend to romanticize the times of the past it was all much better. As you get older you discover that looking back in time is almost pointless. At the end of March my cycling club, of which I have been a member for 67 years, will exist for 100 years, great to experience. When the club existed 75 years I was chairman. It became a great sporting event and a reunion was also held for old members, fantastic all those old cycling stories. It was striking that after so many years almost all old riders still knew exactly what mistakes they had made in certain races so that they missed a good classification or even a victory. For example looking back in a full sprint, they have learned a lot from mistakes like that. Also do not look next to you that can be paralyzing. Just for you watch the finish line. There the prizes are divided and you have to press your front wheel over the line first. Now that the club has existed for 100 years I am already looking forward to the reunion. In my enthusiasm I have already written a wonderful story about how I ended up in cycling. It was a disappointment when I heard that my story was way too long and that it was not even sure whether there was an anniversary book would come. For me it is almost unimaginable because the club and the sport have played such a big and important role in my life that includes an anniversary book. Unfortunately it turns out that today's members who are engaged in their sport every day are not at all interested in the past of the club which is more for old men. Cycling, and not only cycling, has changed so much that young athletes much prefer to look ahead. Nice if a book with old stories comes out but no more than that. There is more interest in innovations or in good training schedules and the right nutrition which I can imagine. When I cycled I did not wonder how the organization had managed to organize a fair race for the umpteenth year. How the crush barriers were put in place I did not think about it and that whole series of premiums were ridden I thought that was the most normal thing in the world, right? Until you end up in the organization yourself. Only then do you know what work has to be done to run a cycling race.

That too can no longer be compared with the past. It is nice to be able to read something about that now and then but nothing more than that. The pigeon sport has certainly not stood still even though some people think so. What is very unfortunate is the rapid decline in the number of members and with it the ever smaller competitions. In the 1980s much more should have been invested in this. Back then only attention was paid to the youth that was the future and now it appears that this was just a waste of money. Pigeon sport is not for the youth. They first have to play sports themselves and after their active sport it is important to know that there is a fantastic hobby at home in the form of pigeon sport. A competition sport with race pigeons that you have to train yourself and take care of in such a way that they are in the right condition so that they can participate in a competition successfully. The electronics ensure that you can follow the entire race progress and that the result of the race is known when the last prize pigeon has arrived. That is interesting especially for today's youth who were raised with electronics. I think the pigeon magazines still look back too much to the past. We have to get rid of that old-fashioned dusty image. I still read stories about achievements that I also read twenty years ago. Perhaps they want to disguise the fact that they can no longer keep up. It is simply the case that the older you get, with all your experience and years of strong playing, you cannot keep up with the absolute top. We should not lose sight of the fact that as you get older your age is becoming your biggest competitor. Just look at the tribute photos of the big group. There are no members wearing shorts yet but the number of members wearing a cap is decreasing. It is predominantly the fifties to sixties who rule our sport and that is how it should be! Pigeon sport can continue to be practiced until old age, only the commitment to keep playing with the best is becoming less and less even though many think not and that includes me.

In order to continue to enjoy the hobby there is nothing for the elderly but to make it as easy as possible for yourself. Keeping fewer pigeons means a better overview, less work and less costs. That does not mean that the fun of the game diminishes, you can still regularly make good results with good price percentages with a small number of pigeons. It's not just about winning a competition, that's for one person every week. There is so much other beauty to do with it. Especially the breeding of useful pigeons from couples that you have put together yourself. Winning an early prize with a pigeon that you yourself were almost sure would do this time. An unexpected arrival of a pigeon scares you and that is usually a very early one too. Getting a good turn around your ears once is also part of the sport. A setback should motivate you to go all out again so that the following weekend will be another time when you go home with the victory flowers. Continue to enjoy and ensure that we stay healthy so that we can say with pride; pigeon sport, great hobby!

Wijdewormer, January 27, 2021. At this time of the year most of us are fully engaged in breeding and preparing for the racing season. I cannot yet say that our youngsters are growing well because they hatched only a few days ago. The pigeons of which we laid the first eggs under the feeder pigeons some couples laid their first egg yesterday. The racing pigeons are coupled on 5 February so that if everything is right many eggs from the second round of the breeding pigeons can be placed under my racing pigeons, in that respect everything is arranged for the further breeding season. After that only youngsters are bred that have already been ordered (that is possible until the end of February) and a number of them still need to be bred for those who have purchased a voucher that we donated. As said before the first round is for son Marco and the second round for myself so far everything is clear, now it is about when we can start the matches. If only something was known about the start of the new season there would be something to live towards. I am not reassured about that especially after all the riots that have taken place against the corona policy. As a result everything can be slowed down considerably. Vaccination is also much too slow (certainly in the Netherlands). After 11 months of the Coved-19 pandemic people, especially the young, can no longer be controlled. Every day, despite the increasingly strict measures, we are still confronted with thousands of infections and that makes no one happy. The curfew has certainly not yet contributed to the reduction of infections at least not as it is now with all those groups of young people who are only out to cause destruction instead of holding a demonstration against the current corona policy. It is a pity that things get so out of hand, there is too much understanding for the young people while hundreds of companies have been closed for a long time and are now even being looted. This is not demonstrating but provoking and that is nicely expressed. With such a way of doing things could it possibly take much longer before our (old) lifestyle is back and the street scene is back to normal. It will be wonderful again when we see pigeon fanciers return to the club with their basket of pigeons in the days before the weekend. That sports can be watched again with loudly cheering supporters present. Let us hope that the introduced speed law against rioters has results so that all people can stand up for the fight against the dreaded corona virus.

I have been talking about the corona virus for weeks and every time think I don’t anymore. Unfortunately I keep being confronted with it every day in any way. Our whole life is under the spell of various viruses so we cannot ignore them. I would much rather write every week about a loft visit that I did with a friend or a strong playing fancier, there is always something to learn from a loft visit. Especially in this period where youngsters are now everywhere in the dish and where fanciers proudly talk about their new generation of pigeons that are shining in the nest. This morning I had a telephone conversation with a fancier who had just started to take his winter youngsters away from the parents. He said he had never bred so beautifully. When I asked him how many he had bred he couldn't tell. I already have too many he said and that will be the case in many lofts. Most of us have way too many pigeons every year especially breeders. The good man I had on the phone said that he has 40 breeding couples. He is absolutely not commercial, all the pigeons he breeds are in principle for himself. If he breeds two rounds from his breeders, after all you have breeding pigeons for that, despite a little setback you only have 130 youngsters and when I see what space the man has it cannot be that he plays strong. He plays his prize and that says it all. So it must be a pure hobby to keep so many pigeons. I absolutely cannot stand that.

I like an overview. I like to sit with my pigeons, observe them so that I know the rags of each pigeon. In this way you also build a relationship of trust with your pigeons and you can immediately see when the flight condition presents itself. For me being together with my pigeons is an important part of my hobby. I have always want to fight with very few pigeons and achieve good results against the big guns among us. I often heard the moaning of fanciers who thought it was no style if they had to compete every week against the men with mega numbers. It didn't matter to me especially in my prime. Week in week I played against at least 15.000 pigeons and whether there were 200 from Jan or 300 from Piet I didn't even look at it. In any case I always wanted to have a pigeon on the first page of the result and every week I did my best to achieve the victory. That was certainly possible a few times a year but not every week. That wouldn't be good for the sport it has to be exciting. Nowadays, now that we are with far fewer fanciers and have considerably less pigeons in competition, the large numbers do have an influence on the course of the competition. Previously the wind had an important influence, now the migration of the pigeons is determined by the areas where most pigeons are used. Typical of the pigeon sport is that there is always something to complain about. Then it is the wind, then the location, the large numbers, the too early or late release, inversion, the place where the basket is in the car. Then we have not yet talked about winning a competition with a generous lead. Unfortunately this is never discussed with appreciation. It usually passes; that is not possible or the pigeon has escaped, the fancier uses something, even the word fraud has been heard one dares to call it. In that respect you better finish second and be beaten with minimal difference. It remains a fascinating hobby for me even now that I belong to the vulnerable group of elderly people in this corona era.

Wijdewormer, January 20, 2021. A third of winter 20/21 is behind us and whether it is cold, warm, wet or dry weather, the corona virus is far from being won. Even stricter measures may have to be applied, those responsible have almost no choice. It is becoming increasingly difficult to control young and old. After more than nine months of pandemic with all kinds of variants little light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. People are getting fed up, there is a need for relaxation but there is little progress either. Fortunately we fanciers have the opportunity to relax at home with the care of the pigeons, there is plenty of work to be done in many lofts. There is or will be paired and in many lofts the winter youngsters are born and now have their fixed foot rings. For the breeding pigeons it is now also hard work to keep the heads of the young stuff well filled. Some fanciers therefore give full throttle during this period so that the pigeons can eat what they want throughout the day all to stimulate a good growth of the new champions. Others do this by feeding at least three times a day, a system that I also use myself. That way there is no mess with food and that could help to prevent a mouse infestation. Mice are major culprits when it comes to transmitting various diseases. The weather conditions for winter breeding are quite favorable. It is very humid because we have a lot of rain and still. Now there have been a number of nights with light frost and that certainly does not hurt. There were still options to bathe the pigeons. When the sun shines I immediately give a bath and then the sun ensures that the floor of the racing loft dries up quickly. The breeding pigeons bathe in the aviary and it is not so bad there if the soil remains moist for a little longer. Although I don't want to make greenhouse plants from my pigeons I close the windows of the breeding loft at the end of the afternoon. Many others don't and talk about oxygen treatment or Spartan training. Nice idea but nothing but is nothing. I have never seen a top athlete suffer unnecessarily cold to build up hardness or to get in a better condition there are other methods for that. Our breeding pigeons are now brooding for 12 days so in a week the first eggs will hatch. Last Saturday we checked the eggs together. A couple turned out to have laid only one egg, one couple with an unfertilized egg and a couple with two unfertilized eggs. The eggs of 6 couples were placed under reserve couples or racing pigeons of Marco. Now let's wait and see if the eggs all hatch on time. My racing pigeons are coupled at the beginning of February with the intention that a number of eggs from the second round of the breeders can be placed underneath. That way Marco and I will have enough youngsters to start at the end of March If only we had a little certainty. I still don't have much confidence in the start of the new season. I would like to know how far the NPO has progressed with the permission for the transport of our racing pigeons. That could become a hot topic.

Local residents and the KBDB have serious objections about the plans for the construction of 85 km of high-voltage pylons and the associated wiring across the full width of Belgium. The Dutch, German and Belgian pigeons that have to go home from the well-known release point Quiévrain would still fly together in large groups as they approach the area with the new masts and so there are several examples of which the consequences are incalculable. In the coming months an independent agency will prepare a study report on the effect in the environment. The study is mainly about bird migration.

This was ensured by an American pigeon that would have been left behind from a race in October and eventually ended up in Australia after a journey of 13.000 km on Boxing Day. Due to the risk of contamination the pigeon Joe, named after Joe Biden, had to be killed. That couldn’t and was not allowed. In the end the ring turned out to be "fake" it could not be traced. It turned out to be nothing more than a scam in the commercial world of the racing pigeon sport.

The well-known auction house Pipa regularly sells pigeons from its own breeding stable. A few days ago a sale of 8 pigeons bred by them ended which an average sum of 36.225 euros per pigeon. The most expensive went for 160.000 euros making it the most expensive youngster ever sold online. The parents are none other than the Golden Prince and New Kim who recently was also sold online as the world's most expensive hen of all time. Still nice if you cash 290.000 euros for youngsters with only a nice pedigree.

That same afternoon my grandson emailed a photo of my pigeon loft in winter splendor. The photo was taken from the adjacent golf course. Upstairs is the flying area for the old pigeons, below that the breeding pigeons are housed. At the rear of the loft are three compartments for youngsters. That was the case but the last two years I have been keeping fewer pigeons given my age. The back is now completely empty, the front left are the youngsters, in the middle 12 widowers and right 12 widow hens. Our house is a former old farm. The cows used to be under the gabled roof on the ground floor now it is our living room. The farmer and his wife lived in the house at the front of the stable with five children. Inside everything has been completely renovated and we living there for almost 30 years to full satisfaction. So then you know that too.

Wijdewormer January 13 2021. A new year feels like a new start. We assume that everything will improve especially if you have an optimistic character. Vaccination is in full swing in all countries and we are confident that we will win the battle against Covid-19. Particularly due to the stricter measures the number of infections must decrease faster. To be honest I think that the results are too far behind given the numbers. Then there is also the English version which puts extra pressure on all measures. Tonight our Prime Minister will give another press conference but it is already known that the Lock Down will be extended until February 9 and the introduction of a curfew is not expected to be forthcoming. For all sports we have to wait and see which possibilities arise. Professional football continues with or without an audience. However there is still something more than just professional football and because this column is intended for racing pigeon fanciers who participate in competitions with their pigeons in the summer months I would like to elaborate on that. In the countries around us preparations for the new season are in full swing as far as possible. The first youngsters from the winter breeding were ringed at the beginning of January. Many fanciers find it important that their young pigeons are about four months old when the old pigeons start their competition season at the beginning of April. Others are satisfied when their young can be weaned in early April which will be four months old when their flights begin. The bottom line is that everything that happens in the pigeon loft is dominated by the competition season. Unfortunately we are still living in uncertain times at the moment.

the time has now also come for the associations to go through the organization within the club again. We must assume that the competition season will start at the beginning of April. Gathering together in the club room is still out of the question. Fortunately there are options via telephone, mail, app or even via live stream. For the elderly among us that is still a bit of a struggle. The big question is will we still get to competitive sports this year? Permission is granted to all countries to transport the pigeons. We Dutch make use of unloading points in our own country, Belgium, France, Spain and Germany. How does the government view the transport of racing pigeons for the entertainment of their owners. Why take a risk? I assume we will still not be rid of the infections in April and May. Fortunately we know what to do when basketing the pigeons and everything that has to do with it. I am aware that the Covid-19 section of the NPO has already started working again to make good international agreements.

Within our national organization the NPO quite a lot has gone wrong in recent years. By not paying any attention to doping control the Netherlands would not be allowed to participate in the Olympiad in Romania in 2022 according to the regulations of the FCI. The Netherlands probably played the pathetic boy and therefore received permission to participate. Actually strange that an international organization like the FCI has changed tack so quickly. According to our new national chairman Ben Geerink Compuclub computing agency has worked hard on the “provisional” final scores for 2019/2020 for participation in the Olympiad and despite the fact that it is a provisional final score Mr. President congratulates the possible participants. Then there is another tricky point. The pension provision for employees of the NPO has been neglected since 2016 it now appears. This shortcoming has been thoroughly investigated with the final conclusion being a disappointing end result. By transferring 300.00 euros to the insurance company everything regarding pensions is arranged again. That is easier said than done because where do you get such an enormous amount from. The financial report of the treasurer who left not so long ago does not look too rosy either. Some hidden costs may well emerge. The next problem that now arises is that the NPO currently does not have a secretary and with a chairman who has also been elected only recently we can feel a little sorry for our almost entire new board thanks to their predecessors. The Netherlands is a leading country when it comes to pigeon sport, administratively it has been the same for many years as in our pigeon loft they fly in and out.

New is the name of the long distance flights that will be held from 2021. Each flight is given an appealing name. By holding Grand Prix races, the Netherlands must be put on the map again. According to our chairman, we have 15,000 ambassadors available for this. Will he mean the number of members because this is very enthusiastic. If we look at the participation in all long distance flights, that number is very low, we do not exceed 15%. Who knows, the new naming convention will lead to greater participation, especially if every flight is sponsored.

It takes too long. The fanciers have no certainty about whether or not our competitions will go ahead. Everyone works towards and everything is said with that. It is all so uncertain and let's face it there is nothing more important than good health. The experts also do not yet know everything about the virus and its variant. Risks may not be taken under any circumstances and despite the fact that we fanciers do not want to see it there are much more important things than pigeon sport. I cannot imagine that little or nothing will come of it in 2021. Our national meeting will take place on 13 March and hopefully we will know a little more.

Wijdewormer January 6, 2021. The first week of all good intentions is over and we can already start wondering what is left of the good intentions. It is an uncertain period in which we live. When I asked my granddaughter what her good intentions were she answered; grandpa I want to fall in love. That is wonderful 17 years old and then think that you are left. You don't know her and not because she's my granddaughter she's just a very beautiful girl only she doesn't know herself like so many at that age she doesn't like herself. I've already prepared her for the worst by saying; this is going to be your year, the boys will soon be crowding at the door just to get a glimpse of you and that even though you look stupid and your hair never looks nice. Due to corona I was not allowed to hug her because it is one to eat. Speaking of cuddling, in the breeding loft it is a big cuddle party. Not a single fight, all madly in love and a number of hens too fast with eggs. In five days I will know which can away because they were actually laid too quickly and may not be fertilized. To strengthen the breeding team Marco bought a great performance pigeon at the last minute. He could therefore be coupled almost simultaneously with the other breeders, of course against our best breeding pigeon which was our best racing pigeon before. Two proven clappers against each other where you can expect a few things. If only we had a little certainty. Unfortunately, things are not quite right. The hen is completely ready for it. When I enter the loft she is the only one who comes to me with a tail staring. The cock does nothing even now that they have an entire loft to themselves. She's in love and he's a fool so far. In the meantime they are both locked up in their breeding loft again. He doesn't like it at all and wants to get out with all his violence while she is calling in the breeding bowl. The upside-down world I am already starting to get a closer look at him. So far the new addition only makes me doubt. Locked up If you are with a nice female then the heat must still splash. I already have no faith in the youngsters he will produce. Hopefully I will think differently about that in the course of the year. In any case there are several couples that I really like to watch and in which I have every confidence. Maybe I'm wrong but from the start that husband and wife get together they must be madly in love with each other, then you are curious about what they will produce. For now it is the way it is. We do not let our breeding season be spoiled by the behavior of a new cock that should be an asset to us and maybe it is. For the time being it is a matter of waiting.

The vaccination has started, not only for us, but also for the pigeons. What will the reactions be like and what are the long-term reactions. For the time being it is still coffee grounds. Some countries have relaxed the measures, others have tightened them. Coming week, January 19, the next steps will be announced in our country. Will we continue with the Lock down, will shops and restaurants remain closed or ……? Wait and wait again. The number of infections is declining which is finally a positive sound. How is the pigeon sport viewed worldwide. Is it possible that we can start in the first week of April, new measures will be taken, it is still uncertain. Time just keeps on running. The first youngsters have been ringed in various lofts and at the end of this month the lofts for youngsters will be filled again and a month later we see the youngsters of 2021 fluttering around the lofts. If everything goes as it should we will start again with the old pigeons six weeks later. We become all a year older it goes one day at a time but it goes very quickly. A day is nothing, a week is not and a year, despite Covid 19, is also over before you know. It is important that we quickly know where we stand. Health is the most important thing but if you are old and you still have some mobility you would like clarity. In any case I don't feel like taking care of another loft of pigeons while I may not even be able to play a full year. Then I clean them up or at least I clean up so many that there are still a few that I enjoy taking care of and maybe help others with some valuable fry. To be able to play well in your game the boss and pigeons must be healthy and motivated. Nobody wants setbacks especially if you belong to the elderly group. Nowadays this is even called the vulnerable group.

In mid-January a conversation about bird flu and race pigeons takes place in Belgium. When bird flu is detected measures are taken to prevent spread as much as possible. The poultry sector is of significant economic value. It has recently been shown that pigeons cannot transmit this disease to poultry. That is why the KBDB wants clarity for the pigeon sport. In times of avian flu it does not appear to be necessary that the obligation to loft duty also applies to racing pigeons. Of course we are curious about what will be decided.

It was the youthful Nikolaas Gyselbrecht who sold a pigeon via the internet 20 years ago. That was immediately the birth of Pipa, a new phenomenon with which you could reach the entire pigeon world. How cozy all those room auctions were the reach was only small. The brothers Nikolaas and Thomas plus father Carlo Gyselbrecht changed that. A change of which they had not yet estimated that it would become the world's largest pigeon brokerage every year with a turnover of millions. Every pigeon fancier know nowadays what Pipa has brought about in the commercial pigeon world. Something of which herself might not have dared to dream of. Therefore a lot of respect for this Pipa sales organization with representatives in almost all countries of the world
Wijdewormer, December 30, 2020. Tomorrow we celebrate New Year's Eve, for many people a year to soon forget. Unfortunately there are many of us who will never forget this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused too much suffering and completely disrupted many people. Life as we were used to it is no longer there. We cannot find our feet, we are searching. Everyone hopes to get back in, let's call it the old situation as soon as possible. In many countries vaccinations are now taking place, the Netherlands is waiting until January 8, WHY? In any case, let's hope that the right decisions have been made and that we are on the right track, on the way to what we want whatever that may be. One more night's sleep and it is 2021. Traditionally people all over the world wish each other all the best. Wonderful, but when I see what comes of it every year that is very little. Poverty, famine, refugees, natural disasters, war, infant mortality, new viruses, environmental change we can't close our eyes to it, I hope our world leaders don't either. Whatever the situation let's try to enter 2021 positively and that positive starts with ourselves.

A new year means a new start for a new period. The old year with all its pros and cons has ended and everyone is going to start over with great motivation and hibernation is behind us. Come on people soon we will all be vaccinated what should stop us. When I was still actively involved in sports January 1 was a new barrier that had to be overcome. Training schedules were adhered to ensure correct race condition on time. In my time as a cyclist the cycling classic the Ronde van Noord-Holland was the first important cycling race in our country. A very tough course over the narrow polder roads where it felt like you always had the wind against you. This race was organized by my own club (it is the first and oldest classic in the Netherlands) which started in March and then you immediately got 225 km for you. Of course a good preparation had to be preceded and because it was a course of my own club a good result also had to be achieved. I have always done the same with my pigeons. The preparation for the breeding and racing season were my first priority. Just as I wanted to perform well for my cycling club and of course in the first instance for myself I now expect that from my pigeons. I must admit that within the pigeon sport optimal preparation was better for me when I was fifty years old than now that I am eighty years old. I am still motivated but physically and conditionally I have had to give up a few things. We all think we don't change much, neither do you but just look at your wedding photo.

Due to the bad weather conditions plus the fact that I am no longer allowed to drive a car I have not yet spoken to a single fancier who already has youngsters. I used to be aware of everything but in recent years I have increasingly relied on my own territory. The weather is too bad to make a daily bike ride so I have been messing around in and around the loft for quite some time. I enjoy cycling and when I can't I use the exercise bike in my office. Together with Marco we made the breeding loft cleaner than clean. Finally with the burner through and yesterday, December 29 a day later than planned, we put our 20 breeding couples together in the afternoon and we each put a lot of work into it because new breeders have joined and older breeders have had to make way for talented racing pigeons who are now allowed to show their skills in the breeding loft. Before the pigeons were allocated their place in the breeding lofts we subjected all pigeons to a strict inspection again. The cocks had a good weight, the hens were a bit on the heavy side and therefore felt less tense. The cause is probably the lightening so that the hormone action started a little earlier. This morning I already found the first egg. A pity because three first prize winners have already emerged from that couple. However, the year is still a long time and we have some spare couples so that we can put eggs from the breeders under them. Today they get their breeding dish and this morning I gave them all a small bowl of drinking water with a bit of food and grit. This afternoon the regular couples can go loose in the loft plus two new couples. Our breeding loft is divided into two sections separated by a sliding door. The aviary is also in two parts and if everything is properly paired the dividing in the aviary will disappear and the sliding door will open again. So far I am very satisfied.

The first round of youngsters from the breeding pigeons goes to Marco. He will also pair his racing pigeons in a few weeks because he also wants some youngsters from the best ones and because he does not want the differences in age to be too great. The second round of the breeders stays with me. I will pair my racing pigeons in such a way that I can lay the necessary eggs from the second round of the breeders underneath. This year I have 12 pairs of yearlings to play with. I am so very satisfied with my youngsters of 2020 that I have every confidence to be able to perform well on the flights up to 450 km. They have proven it with Marco, he has performed formidably. For me it also went super, few pigeons lost, smallpox (own fault, not vaccinated) and coli, but nevertheless a few fantastic results. We both have a great team of yearlings ready and despite the fact that I have been participating in the sport for a long time I am also very curious how it will go this year. We will first deal with the breeding. I wish everyone the very best with a lot of fun and the necessary successes within our great sport.

Wijdewormer, the last week of December 2020. The first young have hatched, a new life for a hopefully new year without corona perils. May the vaccinations help us on our way to our old familiar lifestyle that we have been used to for many years. After all the year 2020 was three times nothing, a lot of misery and sorrow. Really a year to forget very quickly although that is easier said than done. The Lock Down will be over in the Netherlands on 19 January 2021 or at least that is the intention. A little more effort and then we know where we stand. Can we pick up the thread again, can we make holiday plans, are we going to have an exciting and sporty pigeon year. We can all do a lot about that and let's do it! Closing the year with cozy festive Christmas days will be different from what we are used to. The New Year's Eve without fireworks and in small groups but with the traditional doughnuts can be quite fun but I will be happy when those days are over. I am not in the whore mood like other years, I feel like a pigeon that is not allowed to fly its daily laps. It is my duty to keep up I cannot think of anything else for this bizarre period.

Then the breeding pigeons are coupled which has already happened when you see this leaf. The holidays are behind us and it was during those days that I was always busy with my pigeons. Have I put the right cock against the right hen on paper? How quickly will it go that all pigeons know in which breeding loft they belong, how can I prevent fights? The cocks have known which breeding box belongs to them for quite some time. It is mainly the older breeding hens who have been forced to change their breeding loft and who constantly fly to their old breeding loft. Those old ladies can keep it up for a stubbornly long time. The first week I will spend a lot of time in the breeding loft to prevent things like that. I've had that I got so angry that I wanted to bang them through the wall. Once I made a mistake. It was an old hen that was well used to her new breeding box. She had only been brooding for a few days when she found it necessary to visit her old tank. There also happened to be fresh eggs from a new couple that I expected a lot from. The old breeding lady didn't pay much attention to this and kept fighting until the eggs were broken next to the saucer. Of course I was not present so when I came into the loft the damage was already done. She was a proud winner in the empty incubator. I was so angry that I gave her a big hit with the dustpan, she flew out of the cage and when she walked on the floor I was already sorry. I saw it, her wing hung with it, a day later and a week later too. She was unable to fly properly. When the racing season was over it turned out that one of her youngsters had won the first prize twice and the nest mate even became third champion pigeon. I kept the old breeding pigeon for another year. She got a breeding box in the bottom row so she could jump into her breeding box quite easily. I got rid of her halfway through the year because I definitely don't want to have pigeons with a handicap in my loft. Since that time I have sometimes thrown a pigeon that had flown wrong from the breeding loft but in such a way that it did not hurt itself. You always have to think about those kinds of things when you start pairing again. The only right thing to do is to keep calm at all times. There are some who can get the blood from under your nails and I prefer them much more than pigeons with little character.

That was not the case yesterday. Beautiful sunny weather and a temperature of 9 degrees Celsius is not winter weather at this time of the year. I let the pigeons bathe in three lofts and soon they were drying in the sun. I myself sat on my chair watching and because it was so good in the loft I was even nodding off from sleep. The young racing hens that are separated have not had a bath today, they will be next tomorrow. That was a great opportunity for me to take them all in hand again, it was really enjoyable all finished with the molt and as soft as velvet. Really all built to my liking, well-closed coccyx and feel like a ball of wool. Dry eyes and snow-white nose tips. Nice warm clean legs and not a feather wrong. In the racing season you dream of them looking so fantastic. Due to the fairly mild weather the appetite for food in the breeding pigeons is less which is partly because they are lightened. I have set the timers from 8 to 8 hours. So 12 hours of light in the breeding lofts. Especially in the hens you can see that the artificial light certainly works on the sex drive. As soon as I step into the loft some of them comes dragging towards me. It is a good thing that my grandchildren do not see how grandpa is working with his pigeons they might think that I am demented. I think everything is still functioning well with this old man. Well, everything?

Wijdewormer December 16 2020. It was no thunder in a clear sky we Dutch saw it coming. Despite clear agreements the contamination figures continued to rise alarmingly so that our government could do nothing but declare a total lock down of at least 5 weeks with immediate effect. Very disappointing just before Christmas, luckily most people show understanding. Hopefully the Christmas wish 2021 corona free will come true for all people. The behavior of the people and the vaccination will certainly contribute to this.

After nine months of corona you start to notice that people are more than fed up. Regulations have been or will be announced, now a total lockdown and who knows there may also be a curfew. People are no longer able to cope with their spare time, nowhere they can go. Sports matches at the weekend are great relaxation after a week of hard work. Now we have to rely on TV and radio, people want to go outside but do not know where to go. Everything is closed, even for a sanitary stop there is nowhere to go. We really have to be careful not to give up. There is certainly still room for relaxation by filling in a part of the evening with board games in a domestic circle, just as before. I can still remember very well that after dinner at our house the pans and plates were pushed aside and the “don't annoy you” game came on the table. After washing the dishes manually with a few family members the radio was listened to. A lamp hung above the dining table and that was it. We had never heard of no twilight lamps, no candles and television. We sat in a group around the radio listening to an exciting radio play. Or we all sang along the songs that came into the living rooms via the radio. Hardly anyone had a car. Everything happened on foot or by bicycle and everyone had to go to work on Saturdays as well. That was normal life, during the week there was almost no relaxation and everyone went to bed on time because everyone had to get up on time. Some had to walk an hour to work. You therefore sometimes wonder whether people have the right to complain. Of course we are have been used to a luxurious lifestyle for many years and you no longer want to lose something that you have acquired. That is why it is so important that we stick to the agreements and who knows as of January 19 it may be possible that the corona agreements made can be relaxed again. We are largely in control. The coming weeks will be a period that we will never forget, by the way we will never forget the whole year 2020 after all the misery and sorrow. What 2021 will bring us is for now a bit of coffee. Trust and a positive attitude take us further than just radiating dissatisfaction. Enough about it because our pigeon hobby continues. I wanted to say just continue unfortunately it is not. Older fanciers in particular need a boost to get to the 2021 season. In the Netherlands the national flight program is known which will start in the second weekend of April. Not everyone has already been vaccinated then so the risk of infection has not yet disappeared. The one and a half meters distance, no large groups of people together will continue for a while. We will probably have to forget the cozy club evenings for a while. Pigeon sport in an adapted form can just as well give the necessary satisfaction and pigeon sport is mainly a sport that you experience at home.

Since the end of November the pigeons have been put together in many lofts for winter breeding. In other lofts the mating period applies between Christmas and New Year. There are also fanciers who can show some patience which include the marathon players. Everyone is looking forward with interest to how Covid-19 will develop. Can we play with pigeons or not? At some point you have to start pairing because otherwise the youngsters are not old enough to compete in the flights to do. For many years I lived up to January 1. Then you could pick up the rings in the club and that was sometimes very necessary because there were always pigeons that laid eggs earlier so that their youngsters could be ringed with some rooting on 1 January. I have no idea how things are going now. I can still very well remember that under no circumstances did our ring administrator hand out the fixed foot rings before January 1 and that to the disappointment of various fanciers who were therefore unable to ring their youngsters. There must be a limit somewhere but whether we should be that difficult? The rings arrive at the associations in the last week of the year then to avoid disappointment you can also hand them out in the last week of the year. Rules are rules, rules are also there to deviate from, at least that's my opinion.

Our breeding loft has been enriched with 6 new residents. Three cocks and a hen come from my racing loft and an existing couple from the racing loft of son Marco. One cock has played first three times. One cock became the ZCC 5th champion pigeon in the middle distance in our combination and the other ended in the same combination as 2nd champion pigeon in the sprint races. The hen, a beautiful, robust blue-white pen, won an average of 10x per season. Because of this addition we have to say goodbye to some valuable older breeders who come into online sale at GPS in mid-January. Definitely worth taking a look there.

The reporting about the prevailing bird flu virus appears to be incorrect. Prominent virologists worldwide have confirmed that the chance of pigeons transmitting the bird flu virus to poultry is nihil. The current circulating virus caused by migratory birds is harmless to humans. That must be very reassuring for us pigeon fanciers. Despite the bizarre year 2020 it remains for me to wish you a happy, beautiful and pleasant Christmas.

Wijdewormer November 25 2020. Next week it is Sant Nicholas. The long-standing children's party that has been discredited for a few years because of its servant. From my childhood it has been a good habit that in mid-November Saint Nicholas and his entourage come ashore somewhere in our country by steamboat from Spain and are sung by thousands of children. That same evening the children are allowed to put their shoe by the stove and they sang all kinds of songs in the hope that the next morning there will be a present. The story is that the servants go from roof to roof to enter through the chimney to put something in the shoes of the sweet children. The next morning the children get out of bed early to see if the good Saint has arranged for a present in the shoe. The party has been devalued enormously and although it is no longer allowed to talk about black Piet it remains a very exciting party for the children where every child hopes that his/her wish will come true. While I am writing this I am reminded of our Chinese sport friend who recently bought a hen for 1.6 million and more than a year earlier this same gentleman bought a cock for 1.2 million. That will of course be a couple from which the necessary good youngsters will be born. Will that man, like all Dutch children, hope that his wish will come true? Will it become a golden breeding couple or …….? For the time being he has the most expensive couple in the world but whether it will also be the best couple in the world? Even I and probably many thousands of fanciers are very curious what kind of pigeons are born from that. We are talking about a couple of pigeons for which almost 3 million euros have been paid. There is also a chance that the man has bought both pigeons as a “gadget”. Well, if you can spend that much for a few pigeons it may not even be that important whether or not they come out good youngsters. For such people having such a couple is perhaps more important than they can say; I have the most expensive pair of pigeons of the whole world. Still I hope we hear about it someday. Everything is for sale except happiness which you have to enforce yourself.

This means that the preparations have already been completed. Manure research has been done, vaccination against paramixo and paratyphoid, timers on to ensure that the loft is light for 14 hours and that the pigeons are not too heavy. Then they can be put together on November 26 so that the first eggs are laid with Saint Nicolas and the first youngsters in the dish during Christmas. As of January 1 the first new champions can be ringed so that at the end of January quite a few lofts will be filled with winter youngsters from 2021, it all goes that fast. Most couples are formed on paper which is always a fun activity. Now the time has come that the couples are in their breeding lofts with a nest bowl with a nest mat in it and in a few days the cocks will start to hunt. Some cocks are so fierce that their females barely have time to eat. That is why I am going to feed them into their breeding loft after about five days. As soon as the first eggs are there I throw a handful of nesting material into the loft every day. Always a nice sight when you see the cocks build their nest. Some make it a towering nest and others don't bring a straw to their nest. I don't know if it has anything to do with quality because I never took notes on them. Still, I like to see that pigeons build a nest instead of empty breeding bowls, it is as if those pigeons are not really enjoying themselves. Are they in love with each other because there it goes a little bit. Soon they will be put on widowhood. The competitions will then start and the motivation must be present to fly home as soon as possible because the boss will be working on that for a whole year. It is far from being that far but time often flies. After 4 months the breeding season is already largely over and we are at the start of the 2021 racing season. How will that be? Hopefully the vaccine against Corona will work so that we return to our old familiar life pattern with another beautiful sporty and above all a super healthy year for all of us.

The association years are closed at this time of the year. There are meetings, new plans are launched and we look back at what the association season has brought us. Just like the champions honors the meeting will also be different. It is still not allowed to do this in the classrooms. It must be done in writing or via live stream. This week my cycling club is holding its annual meeting and Saturday morning the general members meeting of the NPO can be followed via live stream. There is a very extensive agenda and I wonder if it can be completed in a day. It is mainly about 2021 and a number of new board members have to be elected. I will include the most important decisions in my next column.
No winter breeding I am no longer fanatic enough for that. Our breeders meet between Christmas and New Year. They will be vaccinated this week and will be illuminated from December 12th. The loft is painted on the outside, everything looks fine again. The breeding lofts are disinfected with the burner and the pigeons are still treated with the traditional yellow treatment. The pigeons will not notice it, but Christmas 2020 will be completely different.

Wijdewormer November 18 2020. The rumors have been going on for a long time. Gaston van de Wouwer was going to sell all his pigeons and that turned out to be no gossip. Gaston, made famous by his pigeon "De Kaasboer", has indeed sold all his 445 pigeons online in the weekend of 15/16 November. It will not have gone unnoticed to most readers that this has become an insane sale. I would also like to mention this. With an average of almost 21.000 euros per pigeon this became world news. The most expensive of the sale was a 2-year-old hen that brought in the sweet sum of 1.6 million euros. The total amount came to more than 9.550 million euros. Never and never has so much money been offered for a total sale so that the owner became a millionaire in one fell swoop. He is not the first in Belgium and certainly not the last but whether so much money will ever be offered remains a big question mark for the time being. The most expensive pigeons except one went to China. The Dutch Combination Wakker also bought a gold nugget for which he paid 124.000 euros.

There was a time when only a handful of Belgians had a world name. The best known were undoubtedly the Gebr. Janssen from Arendonk even though their fellow countrymen thought otherwise. Jealousy among the commercial boys already existed then. In those years pigeon sport was a village game a great pastime for working people. Money was played but those amounts were not that great. Yet there were fanciers who could pay for a large part their pigeon hobby with the money they earned. An elderly fancier once said to me; Bert if you break even in a whole year you played very well. He was right because by far most of them have to bring money. Commerce began to play an increasingly important role in the last years of the last century. The mega lofts have been added and all kinds of organizations even our NPO came up with all kinds of competitions. There is no sport where so many champions are honored every year it really makes no sense. It is high time that the winners of the competitions are honored and only the champion and not the second or sixth champion or appointed small long distance youngsters. One is one and the rest lost. CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE NOT IMPORTANT
At least not for commerce. There are fanciers who play their entire loft empty to receive a trophy in the autumn. They belong to the champions, have beaten their neighbors and are sometimes honored several times in front of their sports friends after the season. That is what they are on their knees for all year round. They are the real hobbyists and there are many of them. However, it gets a little less every year. Aging continues to play an important role in maintaining the number of active members. In that respect the pigeon sport is not going in the right direction. Certainly not in pigeon countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands where for years 150.000 fanciers competed with each other every week. That will never come back which does not mean that we will no longer enjoy the sport. For us older fanciers it does seem strange that so few pigeons participate. That is of course easy to explain. Fewer members means less pigeons. The money game is as good as disappeared. Fortunately there are countries where the pigeon sport is flourishing. China in particular is by far the largest pigeon country in the world with more than 450.000 fanciers. There is played for a lot of money which is not surprising because we know the Chinese as real gamblers. The Chinese, like all fanciers, are always looking for better. Belgium in particular is a very interesting country for China and the Belgians themselves have taken care of that. Belgium organizes a large number of national flights every year plus they have divided their country into 5 national zones. This means that there will be a national winner but also 5 national zone winners, five times second, five times third and so on. Each time the result starts with “national” and that appeals to everyone including the Chinese. In the Netherlands there are more and more fanciers who have their results with, for example, 2nd NPO Orleans against 450 pigeons which can be a club result. It is precisely those three letters NPO that make it appear that it is a national or in any case an important competition. It's a bit of crowdsourcing. In other countries it is believed that NPO is an extra value. The same applies to Belgium. There it starts with for example 1st NAT Bourges, zone 3 against 1600 pigeons. Such a zone winner yields more than a pigeon that plays the first against 5000 pigeons if it does not include NAT. Let us not forget that in both countries ALL competitions are held according to the regulations of the KBDB and NPO and that gives absolutely no added value in any result.

The catering industry will remain hermetically closed for the time being and there is still an entry ban on the sports fields. In the coming weekends we will have to look for entertainment at the TV. Therefore don't worry with that nasty rainy weather that we now have in the Netherlands it is wonderful to follow all kinds of sports from the living room in the easy chair. The sporting highlights of this weekend were the first world title in MotoGP of Valencia won by 23-year-old Spaniard Joan Mir. Then there was the world record of 26-year-old Amsterdam swimmer Kira Toussaint who swam a time of 26.50 seconds on the 50 meter backstroke in Budapest and that had never been achieved before. It couldn't go wrong in the Formula 1 races during the GP of Turkey. The 35-year-old Lewis Hamilton became world champion for the 7th time and can call himself the most successful driver of all time.

In Belgium there is an obligation to keep pigeons inside so do not let go of pigeons. Bird flu is also prevalent in the Netherlands but there is still no prohibition to let the pigeons fly at home.

Wijdewormer November 11 2020. Today is Sint Maarten. As soon as dusk falls the children come outside usually with a self-made lantern and then sing along the doors in groups to pick up a snack. A beautiful sight all those lanterns and a great children's party for many years. This year will be different. It is advised to celebrate this party at home in connection with corona. It is a pity so much is already changing and it is precisely these kinds of parties that the children live long in advance. The “eleventh of the eleventh” is also the start of the carnival season. At the beginning of 2021 little or nothing will probably come of it safety first! Covid-19 is increasingly affecting our daily life. Not only Corona especially the people themselves are to blame. As difficult as it is we will have to adhere to strict regulations. Yet there is a bit of hope in the distance. In our country the number of people who have tested positively is declining daily and this may well contribute to the fact that various measures will soon be relaxed which would be a great step in the right direction. There is also shocking news from the pigeon front. We have only just recovered from the shock when a pigeon was sold online in Belgium for more than a million euros last year. Amazing, the pigeon sport became world news in all respects but it can be even crazier. There is currently a sale on which a bid of more than 1 million 320 thousand euros has already been made. This means that the old record has already disappeared from the books and the sale will take another week. Where is the end or is this the beginning of the end of the pigeon sport?

I recently read a report that three dead water birds had been found in the east of our country and that just a few dead geese and swans fell from the sky near Schiphol Airport. Last week 215.000 chickens were also culled at two poultry farms. Yes, you read that correctly 215.000 chickens are killed and then the newspaper says a day later that there is no vaccine against bird flu (avian influenza). For the poultry industry there is now a ban on housing. The animals must therefore stay indoors so that they cannot be infected by wild birds such as ducks, geese, pigeons and migratory birds. For us pigeon fanciers such a message is just something that we cannot access. Lay people also read these kinds of messages and you know how it goes. Pigeon fancier’s neighbors feel directly threatened because people can also be infected. The disease presents the same symptoms as the regular flu and is usually mild. The obligation to house poultry and our pigeons do not come under poultry but under the group of birds and there is no prohibition on this. The pigeons are allowed to fly outside freely but it was a bit of a shock at first. CHAMPIONS ARE KNOWN
Sunday afternoon the champions of the ZCC would be honored in our club room. That will not happen and you know the reasons. The final results of the 2020 season can be read in all pigeon magazines and via various sites from various countries and we will have to do it this year. Of festive celebrations will be this year certainly out of the question. The balance can also be drawn up within cycling. The Vuelta (the tour of Spain) ended on Sunday and the international cycling season ended. It was the season of improvisations. Many games in a short period and it was the season of up-and-coming young talent. In the meantime cyclocross has started and no public is welcome there either. Skating Land Netherlands held its national championships last week and here too young talent emerged among the ladies. A 20 and 21 year old took gold and silver on the two sprint distances. The big surprise for the men was that the Dutchman Sven Kramer, long-distance world champion for many years, was unable to achieve a podium place. Incidentally a desolate tournament, without an audience there is little atmosphere.

The last few days it has been beautiful autumn weather that people and animals could fully enjoy. It was clear to see from the almost exhausted pigeons that they enjoyed flying around the loft. The final selection is almost over, it is known which ones can stay. Now it is about which ones come into the racing loft and which ones will serve as foster pigeons. Recently we received all the results of the racing pigeons and they have now been transferred to the pedigrees. This completes our overview and the juggling with the pedigree cards can begin. Who is paired with whom? That counts also for the racing pigeons because we certainly want to have a few youngsters from the better ones. It is also known which pigeons will go to the breeding loft and now we also know which older pigeons will leave the breeding loft, they will be online sold in January. We want to keep our breeding loft “young”, there is no room for older pigeons before 2015. It is a pity, but it has worked like this for many years and with success.

Traditionally our breeding pigeons are paired between Christmas and New Year, which is not real winter breeding because then the pigeons would already come together in the last week of November. The advantage is that with the use of foster pigeons you will have 6 youngsters from your best couples ready on time that can participate in the flying program for youngsters. Of course it also has to do with the space you have available which most of us do not have. That is not a direct disadvantage but certainly not an advantage. It is attractive that you breed more than two youngsters per year from your better breeders. I advise everyone to only breed several youngsters from the better pigeons. By breeding from all the pigeons you certainly have a chance to just get a very good one and that from pigeons that you never expected. By only breeding from the best you still have a greater chance of scoring a large number of usable pigeons with even a high chance of a very good one. I don't dare to guarantee that but who does?

Wijdewormer November 4, 2020. Our prime minister held his umpteenth press conference last night. Unfortunately there is still no relaxation of the corona measures taken. New is that only 2 people are allowed on the street together, urgent advice not to travel, theaters, catering establishments, canteens of sports clubs, amusement parks and cinemas will remain or will be immediately locked. It is determined per region whether even stricter measures will come into effect in the near future. So for us pigeon fanciers this year no club shows, no champion honors and no national manifestations, in other words the pigeon sport is also closed for the time being.

The pigeon sport has always fascinated me I wanted to know all about it. I have read tons of books about this, some even several times. I was particularly interested in the development of the modern homing pigeon. Great to know that the pigeon was used as a means of communication that today's youth can no longer imagine. A simple homing pigeon that was used for many years to convey important and confidential messages. The armies of various avenues kept pigeons in mobile lofts from which they could send pigeons to their home port to convey important information. Soldiers took them to the front in baskets that they carried on their backs and there are even pigeons that have earned an honorable decoration. In England there is still a war museum where photos and important stuffed homing pigeons with a military decoration can be seen. The world trade in coffee, tea, spices and tobacco also made grateful use of those pigeons. At the time this was the fastest way to transfer the last quoted prices. Because pigeons could bridge great distances they became more and more interesting for conveying all kinds of messages. That in turn gave others the idea to start holding competitions. It became a sport for the elite of the population. Especially after the First World War more and more people came who not only kept pigeons for consumption but especially for the competition element. In the thirties, during the great crisis, keeping pigeons also became a nice form of leisure time at home for the ordinary workman. Unfortunately the Second World War was almost the death knell for the pigeon sport. Towards the end of the war the German occupier came up with a regulation that all pigeons had to be killed. First a list had to be made on which all ring numbers of the pigeons were noted. This was necessary in order to obtain feed coupons on which one could purchase a certain amount of feed. At the same time it was a nice check how many pigeons were kept per fancier. The leg with the ring had to be handed in for every killed pigeon which was quite a lot. You had to say goodbye to your hobby from one day to the next. Various fanciers did not kill all their pigeons but at the risk of their own lives they kept some of their precious pigeons in a shelter. These pigeons no longer had a ring on their right leg. Their back toe was amputated and this allowed the ring to slide off the leg. That ring was handed in with the leg of a dead pigeon. In this way, for example, 12 of the 24 pigeons could be kept. A year after the war I got my first pigeons, there were two without a rear toe. It turned out that a lot of pigeons were still alive and from England the Dutch fanciers were helped with the necessary pigeons. A beautiful and sporty gesture!

From 1946 on daily life got back on track. There was more work and as a result the spending pattern increased. A lot also happened in the field of sports. Various sports clubs were established at a fairly rapid pace including pigeon clubs. It was not so difficult when a pigeon loft was placed somewhere in a garden. After all many had rabbits or chickens again, so why not pigeons? The number of fanciers
grew quite quickly, the club game remained, but there were also opportunities to play against each other with several clubs. Now we even play against each other nationally and internationally. You had to wait a long time for a result but we didn't know any better. Now you get it straight home and the same evening you can read all the results on the computer from all over the country. The racing programs were more and more extensive, the number of members continued to increase, the pigeon sport became more and more professional, it couldn't be better. Unfortunately the new building held back the growth of the pigeon sport. People who had bought a new house or moved into a new rental house were not always happy when the neighbor placed a pigeon loft in the garden. This meant that children usually did not get permission from their parents to keep pigeons. Still popularly said that the only thing pigeons do is defecate on the laundry. All those laymen needed to know how professional our sport is. There too lies a mistake of the then directors there is no lack of members so that no attention was paid to the recruitment of new members. Another problem for the pigeon sport was that there were more and more sports clubs and every village got a sports hall, so there were many more opportunities for the youth to do something other than football. Now it is too late, whatever we do or think of there really are no new youth members. In my early years pigeons were something special. We had 30 youth members, now most pigeon clubs don't even have 30 members. A great pity because I enjoy my pigeons every day and now it is even exercise therapy for me so that I keep my body condition up to date. When I was done with active sports myself I became a passionate and very fanatic pigeon fancier. I put on it like a goat on the oat box, left nothing to chance and wanted to be the best. You may wonder which is the best. Like any sportsman I just wanted to win and preferably every week. I also wanted to participate in one, two or even three sprint or middle distance flights every week. For years now I have recognized that such a thing is not feasible. With just a flight in a weekend you have the chance that everyone will participate on a weekly basis. Due to the specialization and the large number of flights the spectacular is over. Almost no participants and no large numbers of pigeons in a competition, something like that no longer appeals to the imagination. For years I traveled across the country as a certified judge. A wonderful time in which the participant still valued the assessment of the judge is his neatly ironed white coat. It's all over, there is no more interest in club shows and there is now much more talk about the administration of medicines and nutritional supplements. Let us not forget the many, often nonsensical auctions. Great for commerce but all in all the death knell for our sport.

Wijdewormer, October 21, 2020. Let's get straight to the point right away. An absolute low point was the announcement in the weekly newsletter of our national organization the NPO about quarantine for our racing pigeons. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) indicates that from April 21, 2021, the racing pigeons must first be quarantined for three weeks and that at least 48 hours before the race a veterinarian from the NVWA will perform a check, after which he will issue a health certificate. The carrier must be able to show this certificate if he takes Dutch carrier pigeons to another European country to unload the pigeons there. Suppose this insane measure continues then this is a direct threat to the pigeon sport. Fortunately it is not that far yet. A committee has now been appointed to challenge this measure at the Ministry and the FCI will intervene internationally. During the nasty Covid-19 period in which we have been in for six months many measures have already been announced that have most likely been devised by lay people and therefore cause unrest among the population. Fortunately it is still far from the level of April 2021 and the only thing we can do as fanciers is to remain calm and have faith in the appointed committee.

I still can't get used to large sports events kindly ask fans to stay at home. No thousands of spectators in the stadiums, no audience on the side at the major international cycling races. As a result the atmosphere is lacking but I am glad that I can follow a lot of sports via TV because there is a lot to enjoy. This is how the Giro enters its final week. A very tough week with three mountain stages and a time trial. As a cycling fanatic I am happy with the good starting position of the Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman who has to make up for 15 seconds to take the red leader's jersey. He is clearly the favorite but then you are not sure of the final victory. The Tour of Flanders was held for the 104th time in Belgium last weekend. The whole of cycling-loving Belgium is totally turned upside down that day because it is the course of the races that usually attracts many thousands of spectators but not this time. It was perhaps the most exciting in 104 years in terms of the phenomenal final sprint. In the final the two strongest riders of the moment took the lead. Due to a nasty crash world champion Julian Alaphilippe had to drop out and Wout van Aert and Mathieu van de Poel could compete to see who was going to win this heavy cycling classic over 243 km. The two were close to a fiercely chasing group of pursuers. Van der Poel started the sprint, Van Aart came next to him everyone was on the edge of their seat, it was so exciting. When crossing the finish line it was not entirely clear to the public and riders who had won this breathtaking sprint. With a difference of two belt thicknesses the Dutch all-rounder Mathieu van der Poel became the glorious winner. Also in the women the victory went to the Dutch Chantal Blaak who crossed the line solo. Both can call themselves the lion and lioness of Flanders for a year.

Together with my son we are busy determining which pigeons will populate the breeding loft next winter. In any case there are six couples that remain unchanged, we have to say goodbye to eight because of their age. That means that there are also eight newcomers. In this way we try to keep our breeding loft “young”. Among the newcomers there are three of 3 years old (all three first prize winners), 2 of two years old who both became champion pigeons this year and a young hen who became winner in the department with also 4th provincial against 9900 pigeons. We are also looking for a couple. We have a few candidates, but we don't know who it will be yet. Last year we had a similar situation and decided to choose a young hen only at the last moment. Her parents were sold because of their age. There is already a cock of them in the breeding loft and I saw something special in this young hen. Her pupils are in the corner of the eye which by people would mean that a person is squinting. I like to see that in a pigeon. She did have 6 prizes but nothing special. She stood out because she was always tight, always nice on weight, silky soft plumes, short rear wing, well-built and a bit on the small side. Her father is the nest brother of top hen Lady Bolt out of the Super couple Blue Jeroen x sister Fortezza. Her dam is Cleopatra with 4x1e. She is a granddaughter of my Olympic Big Leo (Olympiad pigeon Poland) x Petit Blue (sister of Schanulleke best one-day long distance pigeon in the Netherlands and also Olympiad pigeon Poland. Here is a good example of a hen that only raced as a youngster and has nothing special but she has a golden pedigree which makes it possible that she still produces good offspring. Her son was our best with two victories and three more top rankings. This year unfortunately we only have one youngster of hers. Next season she will be allowed with the same cock show her breeding skills again, she can at least now raise 4 youngsters. However, that says nothing. The 4 youngsters that we are now going to breed from her may not be able to do anything. If only we had one that will do the same as that one of 2020. Nevertheless it is extremely important that you have pigeons in the breeding loft that have also performed top themselves because by only breeding from the really good ones the chances of scoring a good is considerably larger. I once had my Felle (3rd Ace cock in the Netherlands). With 4 different hens he gave 6 first prize winners against more than 5000 pigeons. Of those 6 there were two that produced some good youngsters. The other 4 failed of which 2 were sold at the age of 4. Two years later I got a call from England asking if I had any more of that kind. You will understand why that question was asked. Growing good youngsters also has to do with putting the right cock against the right hen and you have to hope that the right seed will follow the right path. You see it always takes a dose of luck to get good.

Wijdewormer, 28 October 2020. The clock went back one hour on Sunday night at 3:00 am in many countries. That means light one hour earlier in the morning and dark one hour earlier in the afternoon. We are now in the short sometimes chilly and rainy autumn days with a lot of wind. Some find these pleasant days, I don't like it at all. Certainly not now that we are in a second wave of Covid-19 and the end is still not in sight. All countries have now been colored which means that you should not travel unnecessarily. We know all about it and that is clearly visible in the behavior of the people. In our country the number of infections is still increasing every day with all its consequences. No, it is not fun at the moment especially the youth is rebelling. It looks like the measures are getting tougher. But we have to keep going and we can only do that if we stick to the rules, if not it could be a very long history. Within the pigeon sport we have already noticed this a bit by the strange measure that has been announced for 2021. Behind the scenes a lot of hard work is being done to change this by a specially formed committee. We have to ask ourselves which idiot came up with the April 2021 quarantine measure, really a measure that is impossible to implement and could be deadly to our sport. Now that winter has started the time of care is also changing in many lofts. For me it was 9 am and 6 am from mid-September. Without light it is no longer possible. I try to take care of the pigeons without artificial light for as long as possible. The short days also apply to them. Various fanciers will soon switch to feed the pigeons only once a day. This cannot hurt but I will wait until the molting is at least 90% over, but I prefer twice a day. Also twice a day candy seed supplemented with linseed. All my pigeons are currently receiving the para-coli cure from Dr. Van der Sluis. Do not be afraid to give that in this riding season, it has absolutely no negative consequences for the molt.

Someone who wants to achieve good performances during the season always knows how to think of something to improve his loft. A real fanatic sportsman is always looking for better, that also applies to the smallest changes to the loft. Pigeon sport is often about seconds and every improvement to the loft can contribute to that. There are also fanciers who let go of the reins as soon as the flights are over. That is possible and allowed but only opening the door of the loft in the morning and in the evening to throw in a handful of food is the worst habit. Believe me such fanciers exist. The grit and red stone tank is forgotten to clean, the water tank is refilled and not cleaned. Cleaning the lofts is now done no more than once a week and that causes problems. Let's not forget that a season lasts an entire calendar year. It is no problem that the pigeons come outside less. As long as I have pigeons I release them every day. One day the cocks, the other day the hens. Of course it must be good weather so that I can leave them out in the morning. In this period I will not start after noon. They should be startled by something and when they drift they sometimes fly so far away that they won't be back before dark. Now that I have separated the racing pigeons I stay with the hens for fifteen minutes in the morning and with the cocks in the afternoon. I really enjoy them because you see them getting more beautiful every day. By putting the loft in the spotlight again we ensure that our neighbors can also enjoy looking at a neat looking pigeon loft. Nowadays I don't go to loft visits that much anymore. In the past I did especially visiting hard playing fanciers. Do you know what always struck me? Everything was neatly taken care of by those men both in and outside the loft. On request I also went to look at lesser gods, there it was almost always a mess. When you came to those men was almost always the first sentence; sorry but I haven't had time to clean up today. I could see they probably didn't have time in the days before either. Another thing that annoys me is that at the start of the new season club members arrive with baskets that still contain all the junk from the previous season. This is absolutely not the case with hard playing fanciers. Once I had to take care of the pigeons of a club member because he went on a winter sports holiday. His pigeons were all brooding because he insisted on having winter youngsters. When I came into the loft the first day, my heart sank in my shoes. There was not a single mat in any incubator and not a single straw or a handful of tobacco stems. The first thing you have to ensure is that your pigeons and their young have a comfortable nest. Such a thing is a prerequisite and contributes to a good breeding.

The season has been over for more than a month, no more fans in the garden on Saturday. The silent season has begun. Time for us to watch our favorite sports. Unfortunately no supporters are allowed at all sports events. Everyone has to stay outside the fence or even outside the stadium. Something like that arouses aggression and unfortunately we have to deal with it more and more. Fortunately we have TV and internet and there is a lot to enjoy every weekend when it comes to sports. The highlight in international sport this weekend for me was the victory of the six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the GP of Portugal, a real record race in the Formula 1 circuit. With his 92nd victory the British has definitively surpassed the legendary Michael Schumacher. The low point was the loss of the pink leader's jersey of Dutchman Wilco Kelderman in the Giro which was won on the last day by the new 25-year-old British round star Tao Geoghegan Hart. At national level the Ajax football team once again excelled. They took a new Dutch record by beating their opponent VVV with 0-13. Such a monster victory had never happened before in the Netherlands. Too bad the thousands of fans could not witness this.

Wijdewormer, October 14, 2020. The whole of the Netherlands was glued to the tube at 7 last night. Our prime minister again came up with stricter measures and no one wanted to miss that. Covid-19 is now REALLY getting serious. Of course it had been for a long time but the problem is and was that many people did not keep the agreements. Due to the large increase in the number of infections people are finally starting to see that this pandemic is difficult to combat. None of us have ever experienced anything like this in our entire life and that is why it is so unreal to get. That is why the following stricter measures have been taken in the Netherlands from 14 October. All catering companies and restaurants will close, shopping Sundays expire, amateur sports for athletes over the age of 18 are prohibited, professional football and other large events without an audience, mouth masks are mandatory in public areas, supermarkets are no longer allowed to sell drinks after 8 pm. The measures apply for a period of 4 weeks and the interim score is drawn up after two weeks. We have to do with that in the Netherlands for the time being. Outside the corona measures there were also the necessary lows in the field of sports. Our famous national football team lost to Mexico with bad football and played a draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina. This Wednesday they have to play against Italy which is clearly the favorite. So quite a job for our new national coach Frank de Boer, who once caused furore at Ajax as a player and as a trainer/coach, to qualify for the final tournament in France. Frank de Boer succeeded Ronald Koeman who became an interim trainer at Barcelona. Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal who won Roland Garos for the thirteenth time provided an international sporting highlight. 19-year-old Polish Iga Swiatek who won the women's tournament caused a sensation. For the Dutch Formula 1 fans the 2nd place in the German Eifel was the umpteenth highlight for Max Verstappen. Even better was the victory of the Briton Lewis Hamilton who was on par with the legendary Michael Schumacher. There are few highlights to report about the pigeon sport, our sport is going through a deep valley. As it looks now no pigeon shows this winter, no Olympiad and all national events have been canceled or moved to another date in 2021. Also the large series of champions will have to miss their ceremony, meetings with more than 30 people are prohibited for the time being. The winter months in pigeon land were often called the silent season. It could now be a long, boring winter.

Every year we are startled by it. Usually something like this happens on the weekend when a champions ceremony takes place somewhere in the country, then the perpetrators strike. They know exactly who they will hit on which weekend. They are almost always acquaintances and know exactly where the pigeons are where they come for. In recent weeks pigeons were stolen from two greats in the marathon world. First with Cor de Heijden and then with Jelle Jellema. The police are investigating but experience has taught us that stolen pigeons are transported to another country and then it is difficult to search. Yet it has happened several times that stolen pigeons have been found and it also happens that after a short period of time one suddenly returns to his loft. If you have a tip in one way or another report it to the NPO in Arnhem.

A very difficult subject for many fanciers every year. Pigeon racing is a competitive sport and if you want to keep up with that you will have to throw sentiments overboard. It has a great advantage I say to my friends and acquaintances. If you have a dog, cat or other pet and the time has come to say goodbye to such a family friend there will be a great void in the house. After the selection has taken place in the pigeon loft the fancier still has a loft with pigeons that he likes to see and that softens a lot. Selecting does not mean that you have to get rid of the pigeons yourself, you have to be able to afford to put them in the basket and take them to the poulterer, for example. When I was young I absolutely couldn't. I couldn't tell who had to leave. It was in the time that many fanciers ate their pigeons themselves, this was also the case at our home. I didn't know how many times my father had to ask which ones had to go. That was really necessary because at the end of the season there were far too many pigeons in a far too small loft, but I couldn't! So it happened that one morning I came to my pigeons and saw at a glance that there were fewer. I cried with tears because several pigeons
I didn't want to miss for the world anymore. I saw it already, in the kitchen there was a large pan on an oil set containing 6 pigeons from which pigeon soup was made. In any case, I couldn't get a bite of it down my throat. What I did learn from it is that from that moment on I could tell which pigeons had to be selected and not many years later I enjoyed the delicious pigeon soup just like my relatives. That is how it can go in the life of a then very young pigeon fancier.

Wijdewormer October 7 2020. The low point of this week are the stricter measures that the ministry is pushing down our throat. It looks like our Minister and their medical counselor don't know what to do at the moment. The majority of the population thinks that it is just being mess around. There is now even talk of a curfew which reminds many elderly people of the terrible war years. If that continues we will not see any people on the street from 10 PM. In addition no one can attend a sporting event during the day. Everything is going to take place without an audience and that has great consequences for the survival of many sports clubs. People became aggressive because they can no longer and should not do what has been the most normal thing in the world for years. Covid-19 what does it bring us? The large number of contradictions plays an important role in this one is allowed and the other is not. People no longer understand it seems our leaders are with hands in hair. It is best to stick to the agreements however difficult it may be. The mandatory wearing of masks, wherever it is, is getting closer. After a low point I would also like to talk about a sporty highlight that took place this weekend in international cycling. The Dutch all-rounder Matthieu van de Poel showed what enormous talent he is. Several times national and world champion on mountain bikes and cyclocross. He has now set his sights on the cycling classics and multi-day races. The past weekend he mastered the multi-day BinckBank Tour. By driving a solo of almost 60 km he managed to the finish his ever-diminishing lead
to hold on. One day later another tough classic over 200 km in which he again played the leading role. He was only sixth by winning de sprint from the chasing leading group in which he had to do all the front work alone. Surprises in the national football sport were also there. The famous Ajax lost to a very poor opponent. AZ, second behind Ajax last year, now relinquished a 4-0 lead. They missed a penalty and the final score was 4-4. For a group of fanciers in the pigeon sport the "pie flights" are not going to stop. On Saturday there was no release and the next day they came thundered home by the strong tail wind at a speed of 132 km per hour. Despite the bad weather forecasts quite a lot of pigeons were used as training pigeons. From North and South Holland participate only 41 from 2000 members so it is really nothing. Of these 30 men had their clocks set and of these with a price distribution of 1: 4, 21 were the result. However from these pie flights, , all clocked pigeons are included in the results by our national calculation office, MADNESS AT ITS BEST! As a result you will not receive a result but an arrival list and the participants are proud of that too. Our secretary of the club is such a person, with 27 there were 16 in the result. At first sight a good result but at 1: 4 there are only 3 and then you can immediately throw such a result in the trash.

Cleaning the lofts is really no fun these days. All those feathers that you have to clean up every day and if you have swept them in a pile and a pigeon flies on you can start all over again. That many feathers is a good sign, all feathers have to come out and you can contribute to that as fancier. Now that in most lofts the pigeons are no longer regularly outside they use less energy and can therefore become too heavy. Too heavy pigeons molt badly! A bath twice a week and fresh grit every day contribute to a perfect molting. All year round my pigeons get the same mixture and during this molting period I give them a teaspoon of candy seed every afternoon that I have supplemented with 10% linseed. Oil seeds are important for silky soft plumage. If all goes well the pigeons that are not allowed to hibernate are selected. It makes sense to keep a few spare pigeons, the winter is still long and you never know what will happen. In this molting period it is not useful to judge the pigeons on their physique. Molting pigeons usually feel a bit weak. If you do rate them, make a note and check after 4 weeks what they look like. Often very large differences and that is why it is important that you have got rid of pigeons that have not been satisfied before the big molting starts because they will also look perfect again in 4 weeks and then it will be all the more difficult to say goodbye to them.

That's where performance matters most. In the past my racing pigeons had to play at least 50% prize with a ratio of 1: 5. Now it is the case that all results are made in our country with a price ratio of 1: 4. As a result nowadays we keep pigeons that did not appear in the results at a price ratio of 1: 5. As a result, we have relaxed the measures for wintering somewhat. It has been a long time since I was a big proponent of making 1:10 results only then will everyone's colony become stronger. It never happened yes it did in my own loft so I had weekends that I played 100% prize. I have never played with many pigeons because then it is very difficult to play 100% prize. For years I had 16 widowers and at the end of the year I had to get rid of pigeons that had won 10 prizes, no not 1:10 but 1: 5. The physique and also the color have always played an important role for me. In the 75 years that I have pigeons I have always done my best to breed good and well-built pigeons. I know fanciers who don't look at that and still play hard. The question is whether they also play strong that way for years. It is often the case that there are three well-performing pigeons in a loft and if they participate for a few years the performance decreases so that there will be a year that you no longer read those men. Do not forget to also breed a number of youngsters from your better racing pigeons. Just look how many good youngsters are born from two yearlings every year. You cannot learn to perform well from a book because it don’t exist. That is why you have to try everything yourself and that is precisely why the pigeon sport remains so extremely interesting.

Wijdewormer September 30, 2020. That was a bit of a shock on Monday evening when our prime minister announced a number of stricter measures regarding Covid-19 with an additional press conference. It seemed to be going in the right direction in our country, unfortunately it turns out not to be the case. After the many tests that are carried out every day the number of infections appears to be flying up so that stricter measures are necessary. People are getting fed up with corona spit after six months, everyone wants to return to what we were used to for years. Fortunately the measures were initially relaxed a bit and now suddenly that is over. Sports events can still take place but without an audience and that is precisely the relaxation we need. Catering companies must close at 10 am and sports canteens remain closed. Face masks are becoming more and more mandatory and working from home is the new norm. The big question is whether the second wave can be broken with these stricter measures. There is increasing opposition to our government from the public. As far as our pigeon sport is concerned we can be happy that the season is over for us but there are still several countries where the competition sport is still in full swing. We Dutch can now fully focus on the many sporting highlights that are coming. All without an audience so we have to rely on TV. Last weekend the absolute sporting highlight was the two world titles that the Dutch Anna van der Breggen won on the road and in the time trial during the World Cycling Championships in Imola (Italy). An absolute low point is the “pie flights”, nowadays called autumn classics. That requires some explanation.

There used to be a few pigeon fanciers in the far north of our country who couldn't get enough of it after the season had ended. They continued to organize so-called pie flights until the end of October. You can guess what the prizes to be won were. The flights were a kind of fairground attraction which in itself is nothing against.
Until a few smart guys came who started using the results for national championships and participation in the Olympiad. The number of participants and also the number of pigeons increased more and more, it became a popular event. The game spilled over to the west of our country. What was meant to be a little fun became a commercial event for a number of participants. Those results were used to make publicity. You could excel on those flights because quite a lot of pigeons went and very few were clocked. Most of the participants used those flights as a training flight and did not even have a clock set. This allowed others to finish many pigeons. The NPO has now intervened and announced that these pie flights do not count for anything so that it remains a nice treat for mutual play. There is so much talk about animal welfare, you may wonder whether playing with old and young pigeons at this time of the year is not too much to ask of the pigeons, it stops once. As far as I am concerned they can forbid this kind of nonsense in the interest of our pigeons.

I have opened the sliding doors of my 6 departments so that the enormous amount of springs can blow into the corridor. Every morning, armed with a vacuum cleaner, I first vacuum the feathers in the hallway because there are quite a few. There are pigeons that are unrecognizable from one day to the next because they have dropped so many feathers simultaneously. Every day I count the number of tail feathers and flight feathers. I don't know exactly why I do that, maybe it is a bit of a measure of how the molting process goes. I even keep track of which day I counted the most large feathers I just see it as a pleasant deviation. There are now pigeons that, because they are molting so heavily, do not feel the need to go outside. It is currently beautiful autumn weather so those who want to go outside can go outside. As far as the racing pigeons are concerned the selection has been made on paper. This week, together with my son Marco, I will see which breeding pairs remain the same and which ones are changed. First the breeders from 2015 and older are examined, who have or have not complied this year. We want to keep our breeding loft young because our opinion is that there are also no children born in a retirement home. We always prefer the youth in the racing and breeding loft. Of course we look at which youngsters have performed well according to our standards, only the parents of the very best youngsters are allowed to stay together. As an old fancier I like to watch the build of a pigeon. The breeders are all well-built. They don't have to be beauties but you do need to have a pigeon in your hand and not a starling. Our breeding pigeons have already passed the selection several times so that we have every confidence which does not mean that they will also produce good youngsters. You can let them mate freely but that is not our system. We choose to put together the couples ourselves and that is a very nice activity in the winter time. It must be the case that as soon as you have arranged everything for the breeding you think that they are all top couples. Even though I will have pigeons for 75 years next year I have never had a loft with only good pigeons. Who knows, maybe that will finally succeed in 2021 because I myself will keep fewer and fewer as a result of which the selection is becoming increasingly strict. As I get older I have to make it easier for myself but that brings another problem into play. I am also becoming more and more sentimental and because of that I have more and more trouble getting rid of pigeons. Long ago I had a good pigeon friend living in my neighborhood. We were both judges and have done many inspections together, he could have been my father given his age. When he turned 70 or 75 I went to see him and of course also looked in the pigeon loft. In the loft that was close to the side of the ditch there were only very old pigeons, you know cocks with those enormous noses. Impressive to look at but they were very old. When I asked him what he intended to do with that, he said he couldn't kill them and actually couldn't part with them. I then arranged it for him and now I am that far myself. Pigeon sport nice hobby!

Wijdewormer September 16, 2020. Yesterday it was Prinsjesdag which marks the start of a new political year. Our King then reads the bill of millions, a lot of political talk that never fascinated me. I really like the ceremonial display. A colorful procession with beautiful carriages and even a golden carriage and eight horses in front. This year was completely different. Everything was very sober because of corona. It was also tropical heat and we Dutch are not set up for that which was clearly noticeable by all the dignitaries who were present on the third Tuesday in September. Fortunately the heat is over again in the second half of this week but it has never been so hot in our country in September. The windows of the pigeon loft open, the curtains closed and the ceiling slides open. While I stood in the loft looking at my lovely pigeons lying on their side the sweat ran off my back. It was so dry in the loft that I felt compelled to go through it with the plant sprayer. Some extra moisture and oxygen will certainly not hurt with this heat. I consciously keep the sun out of the loft because otherwise all the oxygen will be burned out of the loft. Especially at this time when the molting season starts too little oxygen can cause an outbreak of ornithosis (problems with the respiratory tract) and then you are done with winning early prizes. Because we have our last flight on Saturday 19 September I want to do it even more this week to get a good result. If that succeeds you will face the winter with a good feeling. By the way it was a season of hurdles, the corona pandemic has changed a large part of our daily lives. All those protocols that have been devised have not made it any more fun. We have not gotten rid of this for the time being because massive testing now shows that many more people are infected than was the case in the first months. We are getting used to corona which is why many people deal with it too easily. Sports friends it's not a joke, so let's stick to the agreements. I certainly don't look it up despite the fact that the need to go out for a diner or going to the theater is growing. For the time being I still stay in my own yard in the garden close to my wife and the pigeons. I can't think of a better quarantine at the moment.

For me anyway. There are always fanciers who play the tiles of the roof. In my club there is such a man, the last few weeks there is really no size. He plays a very high prize percentage and every week a whole series of very early pigeons. He is in a fierce battle with my son Marco who is also doing well. Our club is currently playing very strongly and that is partly because we have a few very strong players in our association. The other members pull oneself up to them. In general we have always played strong and then you get the situation that the lesser gods are going to change clubs. Usually they go to a club they think they can come along which is in my opinion a totally wrong decision. You better be a member of a strong club, if you have a winning mentality try to keep up with those guys. If you go to a lesser club you will fall asleep even further. The season started well for me. The speed game suits me I finished 5th in the combination of the Zaanstreek and had the second best pigeon in that discipline. It also went well in the middle distance unfortunately a lesser performance and then you have been seen for a champion title. More than a 9th place in the total classification was not possible this year. My best in champion pigeons ended in 7th place. I do not race long distance but I did compete with a pigeon in a race of 620 km and he managed to win generous in the prizes. The youngsters started very promising but a setback due to coli and smallpox resulted in a very disappointing season. Now I race the pigeons in the last 5 sprint races and that is satisfying, unfortunately not a spectacle. I hope I can take care of that next Saturday. I have never had my pigeons vaccinated against smallpox and never had problems with smallpox. So yes this year and I learned that from now on I will have my youngsters vaccinated. After all you are never too old to learn.

I still own very few pigeons and then you cannot lose many. You cannot really compete for the title. You can make some nice results and I did that again this year. Marco was doing a lot better and, just like his father, he also had to deal with a number of setbacks. We have found out that our breeding loft is getting stronger. This year it was mainly the old and young pigeons that were born in the breeding loft that provided the appealing results. You also notice that good pigeons grow old very quickly. After a few good years in the racing loft the best get the chance to show their skills in the breeding loft. But after three years of breeding most of them are 6 or 7 years old and then they actually have to make way for the younger generation. These will soon be very difficult decisions to determine who may or may not stay. After all they are pigeons that have given you the necessary pleasure. As far as losses are concerned it is not too bad. I lost 7 of the 42 and I cleaned 2 of them myself. Marco also has the same number of youngsters left, so plenty of opportunities to apply a strict selection soon. I already know which of the old racing pigeons can stay. There are not many because I am completely obsessed with the beautiful young pigeons that I have kept. We will first have a look at how the last flight is going and I already know that before the big molt is over I know which pigeons will start in 2021. To be on the safe side I keep two spare couples that I can use at least during winter breeding to lay eggs from the better breeding couples.

Wijdewormer, September 9 2020. My season is over, two consecutive disappointments were two too many. I had no big plans for 2020. I wanted to keep playing my game with considerably fewer pigeons. You should not set the performance bar too high and you will have to make a good plan in advance. Unfortunately plans can fall apart and if so you have to have the character not to throw in the towel too soon. A good sportsman never gives up. That is how I have always thought and acted until you reach an age that you, without you immediately noticing it, become little by little less fanatic. The alertness decreases and the laziness increases. The older you get the more sentimental. Getting rid of pigeons was never a problem now I get more and more trouble with it. Yet I absolutely do not want to take care of so many pigeons anymore because it is not going as I was used to for years. To participate in the absolute top you must have a large number of especially good pigeons and the boss himself must also be in excellent condition then nothing is too much. Cleaning the lofts twice a day was a pleasant activity now I am increasingly dreading it. Lugging bags of feed in or lugging bags of manure out, it is going to break me up more and more and yet I want to continue with the pigeon sport. Only at a different level so that I can enjoy my pigeons for as long as possible. Participating in a big league for the championships is perhaps a bit too ambitious and I don't intend to. The point now is to stay ahead of the big boys several times a year. I managed to do that this year and if this old man feels like he is now he should be able to do that a few times in 2021. It will not depend on the quality of my pigeons but it will depend on the efforts of the boss. Suppose 2021 ends in such a way that I am satisfied then I am sure that I will sign up for another year. I certainly do not want to look ahead much further because just like the 2020 season it will end once.

The Covid-19 contamination has brought about the necessary changes within our society. We no longer give hands or hug each other. Keeping a distance of five feet is a rule but it not work. The number of infections increased but fortunately that is not the case with hospital admissions. Working at home is becoming normal and partly because of this everything is changing. A lot of people don't feel good about it we are being lived too much. This must, that must, that is not allowed, mouth masks, no masks. Fortunately sports have started again so a large group of people are distracted again. For the time being on the sports fields just like in the theaters little or almost no audience but it is a start. As an avid cycling enthusiast I have been enjoying the many cycling races for quite some time and there are many more to come. Currently the entire cycling world is focused on the Tour de France. The battle for the yellow jersey has started in full force. As a Dutchman you naturally hope that our fellow countrymen play a significant role in this. Unfortunately after a week of Tour it is not looking very good. However that does not mean that I do not enjoy this greatest cycling spectacle in the whole world. Next month Italy and then Spain, plenty of time to look because the pigeons require less attention. Fortunately for many the football competition has also started and there are plenty of options for the older among us to be able to follow many sports via TV. Let's hope that in a not too long time the supporters will again be allowed to go to the stadiums in large numbers because sports matches with an audience provide more spectacle and that's what it's all about.

Is it true that to perform well you only need good pigeons? Is it about quality or is there something else involved? Is the fancier important or does the wind have to blow from the right angle, does the location play an important role, perhaps the migration of the pigeons or ....... This week I took a look at how the competition was going in the three western provinces of our country. Zeeland is the southernmost province and borders the pigeon country Belgium. There they raced +/- 370 km from Fontenay released at 9.30 am. 2701 pigeons at the start winning speed 1256 meters per minute. The 10th pigeon in the result makes 1215 meters. Then we go to the most northern province which is Noord-Holland. There the pigeons came from Pont St. Max. +/- 370 km. Released at 9.30 am 3791 pigeons in competition winning speed 1365 meters and the 10th makes 1340 meters. The province of South Holland is located between Zeeland and North Holland, their pigeons also came from Pont St. Max +/- 330 km. Released at 9.45 am don't freak out here 19.142 pigeons at the start. Winning speed 1417 meters the 10th makes 1411 meters. What does it stand out? All three provinces fly almost an equal distance. Zeeland was released a little further south, the other two provinces flew from the same release point and were released with a difference of 15 minutes. For all three the wind was blowing from the same angle. The comparison is not entirely fair because they have not all been released in the same place at the same time. Each province / department therefore had its own competition. With their gigantic number of pigeons South Holland was more likely to maintain the speed longer. Perhaps the number of fanciers with a large number of pigeons also plays an important role. I counted 5 fanciers with more than 150 pigeons in competition. The fam. Van de Merwe entered 180/140 prizes; de Bruijn 162/117; Verkerk 225/133; Comb. Lin 155/93; Roman-Klein 150/86. There is not much you can say about that other than that they performed excellently. All five won a lot more than 50% prize and then you play in champion style. What was certainly so striking is that in the first 200 prize pigeons all fanciers were represented who played at least 50% prize. Noord-Holland played from the same release point and their winning pigeon made a speed that was 50 meters per minute lower and hardly anyone won a 50% prize. More than 200 pigeons were faster than the first North Holland pigeon. Zeeland with a smaller number of pigeons in competition made a winning speed that was more than 100 meters per minute lower than that of Noord-Holland. All 4786 South Holland prize pigeons were faster than the winning pigeon in Zeeland. It must be said that Zeeland was unloaded at a release point 40 km to the south. Will there be the huge difference? In Zeeland they do not fly with crows there are plenty of very strong playing fanciers. In all three provinces the early prizes were won on the front flight. The law of large numbers plays a very important role in all respects. Conclusion; a competition is only fair if all pigeons are released from the same release point at the same time and then location and wind still play an important role. Actually national play is pointless except for commerce.

I went to see the arrive of the pigeons by my son last Saturday because I didn't bring any pigeons myself. Let him clock the fastest of the entire Zaan region. Isn't that nice to experience as a father and even better to be able to tell you.

Wijdewormer September 2 2020. Before I started feeding my youngsters last night I first listened to the Prime Minister's press conference. Not much news but important. Fortunately the corona virus is increasingly being halted in our country. The 1.5 meter distance will most likely be maintained until next year or a good vaccine will have to be made more quickly. According to the Minister of Health hard work is being done on this and the first developments look positive. Whether we will ever get rid of this virus remains a big question mark. Fortunately the government in the Netherlands is very positive so let we keep on that. As far as pigeon racing is concerned we are approaching the end of the improvised 2020 season, a season that we will not soon forget. As far as I am concerned I will not soon forget the results of this disappointing season. It has not delivered what I expected from it which is certainly also due to my advanced age and my increasingly poor eyesight. I am fanatical but still different from when I was in my fifties. At that age you are at your strongest as a pigeon fancier. The older you get the easier you become. I think that is not entirely the case with me, in my opinion I am still a fanatic speed player and managed to finish in the top five of the ZCC this year with a pigeon file of 10 couples. Because the care of many pigeons is no longer good for me it becomes more difficult every year to participate for the championships. Making choices is then important. Keep even less pigeons or only participate when the weather is good. Perhaps the game with only young pigeons is also a good solution. You then only have to take care of the pigeons for a number of months and then you have to do it fanatically for 3 months at most. Only the two or three very best youngsters get a place in the breeding loft at the end of the season and the rest can go so that you do not have to take care of pigeons in the winter months. I do have the breeding pigeons from me and my son Marco so I am not completely unemployed. I can even focus all my attention on the breeding pigeons and in principle I can sit all day with them. No, not when it is freezing or icy cold, then everything goes at an accelerated pace so that I can quickly return to the warm stove. At the moment I'm not sure what to do. Get rid of all old and racing pigeons or keep 10 couples of mainly young pigeons from 2020. It is and remains a quick decision and it will give me some sleepless nights. It's such a damn fun hobby otherwise I wouldn't have been able to keep it up since 1946 and still enjoy it every day.

I already said it. 2020 was certainly not my strongest season which is also not possible with so few pigeons. You can make some great results but to achieve that every week you need more. I maintain that the law of large numbers will always play a very important role in this. There are fewer and fewer fanciers the sport is aging. However, more and more big fanciers are also coming. Men who use 200-300 pigeons a week with the greatest of ease. That really does not make the other club members happy and we already have so many clubs in the Netherlands with about 10 playing members. Actually most clubs are not much more. In my club we still have 18-20 active members and there is not a single big one, with a maximum of 50 pigeons it will stop. Last year there was a lot to do in the Netherlands about the number of pigeons that you can give per flight. A fair game committee was even set up for this. I do not know whether that committee has now been dissolved, however I will not hear about it anymore. For the sport it seems better to me that a maximum number of pigeons is set per fancier with which to participate in a flight. My disappointment this year was the result of my youngsters. Several times I have not hidden my enthusiasm. In all the years that I have pigeons my youngsters were of exceptional class and condition this year. I was almost certain that no one would beat me but when it really mattered the bad luck devil came around the corner. On the first flight a very good result and the same day I saw that it was wrong. The coli bacteria made my pigeons very sick. The coli treatment ensured that the pigeons could come along again after two weeks of rest. The third flight a very early pigeon but a bad result. The fourth flight was canceled due to the tropical heat. For the fifth flight with a distance of almost 400 km I found the condition insufficient and decided not to participate. I gave them on a flight of 100 km and that turned out to be a big fiasco. Both my old and young pigeons performed far below par. I've never experienced anything like this, so something must be wrong, but what. Would the coli contamination not be completely gone? Maybe airways or the yellow. Looks like they had to be okay because they trained that It was a delight to see. On Monday I looked at all the pigeons and found smallpox / diphtheria in the mouth of 6 youngsters. That is 100% certainly the cause of the failure of all my pigeons. The 6 infected pigeons are in a separate loft and the others who apparently have no smallpox will not participate in the competitions. They can be infected without showing anything about them. I do not take any risks and certainly do not want to infect the pigeons of my club members. Question is; how do my pigeons get smallpox? I don't know if there are more members with smallpox in the club, it is still too early for that. I have not heard anyone about it and that is often a problem with your sports friends. They do tell you that their wife is ill but they usually say nothing about their pigeons.

Wijdewormer August 26 2020. After the third weekend in September the pigeon sport in the Netherlands is over and the incomplete NPO board can start preparations for 2021. Are we then rid of the corona measures or do we still have to take Covid-19 into account? As the situation is developing now things are moving in that direction or an adequate vaccine must be developed within a short period of time. Measures are currently being tightened up again, travel advice to various countries is being expanded more and more. A situation I cannot get used to but there is no other choice so we will have to comply with the regulations. Face masks, I don't want to think about it, I stay at home and am in the fortunate situation that I have my pigeon hobby that provides the necessary distraction every day. I look forward with interest to 1 September when the ministry will come up with new measures. May the major sporting events be held with an audience. It is to be hoped because people are almost impossible to control. At the moment it is true that in our country no party with more than 6 people can be held at home, can it get any crazier?

Last weekend there was a flight for young pigeons for us and also the first late tour in which old and young pigeons participate. Son Marco is doing great with the youngsters. He is currently leading the rankings for the young pigeons championship. I myself had expected much more from my youngsters. The bad luck devil throws a lot of spanner in the works for me. That is why I doubt whether I will still participate with the youngsters. I probably play a large part of my old and young pigeons in the late tour. By the way, they start to molt and then it is usually done with winning early prizes. All hope is now pinned on the old pigeons which have been brooding for a week now. Last week I had three more in the top-10 all three were hunting cocks. Now everything is quietly brooding so I also have a loft less to clean and I no longer have to let go of the hens at 7 am. The old pigeons are all left at the same time at 8 am. One cannot stay on the nest so I take the hens from the nest every morning and at 5 o'clock in the afternoon I do that with the cocks. They have to train for an hour twice a day or at least the loft remains closed for them for an hour. Together with the racing pigeons I also put 6 of our better breeding couples together again with the intention of selling their youngsters and to keep the eggs and small youngsters of the racing pigeons warm. The first late tour was also a great success for our club. Against 1300 pigeons we take 26 of the first thirty. Marco wins 1 and 2 for the youngsters and father and son start with 1-2-4-5-7-8-10. The marathon flights are over. The coming weekend the old pigeons Chateauroux will fly 665 km, young pigeons 387 km and the late race 155 km, so plenty of opportunities to play.

I like to view the results of other departments. I am looking for striking performances or other things such as the number of pigeons with which some fanciers come to the start. What strikes me most is the enormous number of small associations, so small that you cannot even call it an association. Clubs with less than 10 members it is bursting with it. It is high time that many clubs got together especially if they want to keep costs under control. In those small associations there are even members with very well-known names who participate with enormous numbers of pigeons. Father and son Verkerk won the prize at the first late tour in South Holland. They competed in a club with 14 participants with, do not freak out, 377 pigeons of which they clocked 48 in 44 seconds. Of the 14 members 7 did not play a prize. You will only be a member of such a club and play with about 20 pigeons and get a beating every week, then pigeon sport really does not seem like a nice hobby to me. In that same club with 6 fanciers in the young birds race plays also Willem de Bruijn, he came with 160 youngsters the other 5 with in total 248,

come on such is not normal for a fait competition. The last national marathon flight from Bergerac with 2368 participants who brought 25.321 pigeons to the start. H. Zwiers played the first at a distance of 955 km. He starts with his 1st nominated and takes 21 of the 42 pigeons in the result. Arjan Beens a well-known long distance player wins 2 and 3 with 46 of the 78 in the prizes. Furthermore a good result for Griffioen who had 4 with them and takes 4 in the result. That is 100% prize and those are real top performances. In Limburg Jan van de Pasch and daughter played play 31 of the 35 pigeons in the result and that against 1380 pigeons. Their result starts like this; 1-2-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 -11-12-15-17-18-24-25, in a word fantastic! For most of us such a thing is only possible in our dreams. Fortunately there is also a lot to enjoy in the pigeon sport in other ways. The unexpected return of our pigeons at high speed is a huge experience every week.

Wijdewormer August 19 2020. The Cortona epidemic has hit hard. This virus has caused a lot of suffering and grief worldwide. Especially the elderly among us belong to the most vulnerable group. Caution is still required, things are certainly going in the right direction in the Netherlands and therefore there is a good chance that people will not comply with the regulations and agreements sufficiently. We cannot imagine that we again to face such a devastating outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide. Precisely because we are pigeon fanciers, unfortunately mostly older people, caution is advised. We have no choice but to stick to protocol. I have to say that works well especially in the club where I am a member. Corona has brought about a totally changed pigeon sport. There are several competitions every week, sometimes a bit too much of a good thing. Yet I still have the feeling that it still has to start but when I consult the flight program I see that it will be over in 5 weeks. This week the last 5 sprint flights for old and young pigeons start and there are still a few flights to be completed especially for the youngsters. In the third week of September everything is over and we have to wait and see what 2021 will bring us. Another year older and how long can we older people keep that up? Yet I am already busy with next year. Am I going to participate again with old pigeons or am I only going to play with young pigeons? My pigeon hobby still means a lot to me, unfortunately club life no longer appeals to me. It has only been a few years since I started attending Friday night. That was “my” club night. Nice talking about our hobby, placing a card a beer and a snack, unfortunately it is no longer for me. This is partly because the number of members has dropped alarmingly and to a large extent the Corona regulations have created an anti-atmosphere. The one and a half meters distance, with or without masks, many fanciers go home as soon as their pigeons are in the shipping basket and that is because the cozy atmosphere is not there at all this year. Club life has taken a hit and when 2021 becomes like this again it could well become that many fanciers throw in the towel. Despite everything let's try to stay positive. Our hobby is too interesting to stop. Certainly if, like me, you have been participating every week for 73 years, unfortunately it will come to the point that our body indicates that we MUST stop. I don't really want to think about that yet because last week especially the youngsters came back great, but that I have to slow down is as certain as one plus two.

I announced from the start that I would become champion with the youngsters. Not a bravado statement, but a statement based mainly on the behavior of my youngsters during the first months of their birth year. Unfortunately, things don't always go the way you want them to. Immediately bad luck on the first flight, my youngsters came home sick. I saw it immediately, I was afraid of the coli bacteria and I did a coli cure from Dr. Van der Sluis in the drinking water. All pigeons at home and the second flight I could not participate. They had to be completely recovered first. Fortunately the third flight was a very early pigeon, but unfortunately the others failed to a large extent. The fourth flight was canceled due to the scorching heat. Yes, and then it will be difficult to make up for the backlog. The fifth flight yielded a great result. Father Bert clocked the fastest in our team the ZCC (7th provincial against 9935 pigeons) and son Marco was flagged third. He is currently in the lead for the championship. For the coming weekend the pigeons have to be basketed on Thursday evening to participate in a 315 km race on Saturday. Our pigeons look great so that a good result can be expected in normal flying weather. Last week we both lost two so that I can now start exactly 40. Furthermore the late tour starts that same day, as it looks now I mainly put old pigeons there. If everything is correct the hens will lay their first egg on Wednesday and if that is the case they can come along on Friday evening. If that is not the case I put a number of youngsters on this first sprint flight of the after season.

There are various methods to motivate youngsters extra. I myself am a proponent of doing everything accurately to the minute. In this way young pigeons become a kind of robots their lives are determined by me. Because of my strict care they sense exactly when it is time to exercise, when they get food, what day they get fresh vegetables, when they can bathe and they know they get something extra after every feeding. That extra is candy seed supplemented with various seeds and nutritional supplements. From Wednesday evening to Friday morning they all get a good handful of peanuts and on the day of basketing they get some candy seed at 3 o'clock, I think they know that they will be basketed that evening. I talk a lot to my pigeons, don't ask any questions because I don't get an answer anyway. I always move in “slow motion” through the lofts and I am always dressed the same. That way I have a good relationship with my pigeons, most of them I can grab with one hand plus they like to fight with my hand. If you have shy pigeons it is not the pigeons but the boss. Achieving good or bad performances is also largely up to the boss. It is not always in the quality but in the way the boss treats his winged friends.

Wijdewormer, August 12 2020. I have already written it several times our national organization NPO is like a pigeon loft they fly in and they fly out. It was only a few months ago that the Dutch racing pigeon keepers applauded for a new complete 9-member board. Unfortunately it was only for a short time because last week 4 board members thanked for the honor. They stopped immediately and it is not until the end of November that attempts were made to complete the team again. We have to guess for the time being the reason for the immediate departure. It may well be that part of the board has worked in a devious way towards the departure of the four directors. I can't think of anything else at the moment. Fortunately everything has been arranged for this season. The racing program is known and that is the most important for the active fanciers. Despite everything being taken care of unexpected situations can occur that require changes to be made almost immediately, and however you do that everyone never agrees. Such an unexpected situation are the tropical temperatures at the moment. It has been 32 to 36 degrees for days in a row and in certain places it is even warmer, no Dutchman can handle it! That is why it was decided to cancel all flights last weekend and it is again doubtful about the following weekend. Only on Sunday do we return to summer values for our concepts. We then drop back to 23 degrees but before that we first have to deal with the necessary thunderstorms that can be accompanied by heavy rain. Monday 17/8 the training flights for the late tour start and 6 weeks later the season is already over. Never before have I experienced such a changeable season, but also never experienced such an epidemic as Covid-19. Horrible what this virus has caused worldwide and if I listen to the messages carefully we are far from finished.

I long for it. The tremendous heat of the last days prevents me from getting out of my easy chair, I can't stand it. Cleaning the lofts, I don't want to think about it but I don't do it the way I'm used to. Due to the drought it is also not so important to clean the lofts every day. I like clean lofts, the pigeons show better and I can really enjoy that. This weekend the marathon players will again have a calf-biter of a thousand kilometers on the program. Not for me, but respect for the pigeons that successfully cover such distances. However, we must not forget that if there are enough prize pigeons at home 75% is still on the way. Unfortunately many pigeons have remained behind and due to the enormous drought it is not easy for them to find water. It is therefore swarming with strange pigeons. This week I received two from England, a Belgian and 6 Dutch pigeons. I take care of them as if they were my own pigeons and as soon as the temperatures are just above 20 degrees I will release them 5 kilometers from my house in the hope that they will find their way back to their boss. I no longer register pigeons or it must be a pigeon from my area. The reason for this is the unsportsmanlike reactions of the owners. There are those who dare to say; kill him it's no use anymore. Then I say; if you want to kill him come to the Wijdewormer then you can do it yourself. No, I was healed of that and so you see again that the good have to suffer under the bad.

Every weekend I check the site of our national calculation office for the results of our 11 departments. This time I took department 11 which had a race from Bergerac and that is more than 1100 kilometers for this most northerly department. The pigeons were released on Friday 7 August at 10 am. On Saturday 13 of 399 were at home. The race was won by Herman Brinkman from the village of Tuk. He clocked his pigeon on Saturday afternoon at 3.11 pm. The second place was also for this famous long distance player who was clocked 2 hours and 7 minutes later. The competition closed on Sunday at 3.48 pm and a third (133 pigeons - 1: 3) of the 399 participating pigeons was at home. I don't know what you think of it, but for me these are not competitions but hats off to those who managed to finish in the top of the results.

For those who can't get enough of it the season in the Netherlands ends with the late season. Those are 6 speed races in which old and young pigeons participate. As a speed player I love this games. I then play the old pigeons on the nest. From the weekend of August 8 I left the old pigeons together for 3 days. I want to race them again on double widowhood next weekend and the week later on the nest with hopefully two eggs in it. The last weekend I kept them together for a few days, I do to help the egg formation start. They will lay the first egg just after the coming weekend (I assume that) and then at the end of that week they will be basketed at a nest position of two days. I think it is a bit of a party for the pigeons after so long sitting still when they are allowed to be together every day. In winter they had youngsters and now after so many months they have eggs and youngsters again. That must be a treat for them and the owner thinks that they are therefore extra motivated to get back to the nest as soon as possible.

Well before the flights for youngsters started I told my son Marco that it would be for the competition difficult to keep me from the first place, everything indicated excellent fitness. The first flight was a success, also for Marco because he took first place and Dad was right behind it. My pigeons came home that flight with coli. I saw it immediately and that same day the coli cure was in the water. The pigeons recovered fairly quickly and after a week of rest they were able to return. They looked fine, but it's not just about the packaging, it's also about the content, which, as it turned out, wasn't great yet. No flights last weekend due to the tropical heat and the weather situation for the coming weekend is certainly not optimal. Sunday looks better. I don't know yet what will happen but my youngsters are great.

Wijdewormer, August 5, 2020. Flights of more than 1000 km are not spend on me but I follow some of them with great interest. I myself should not think about letting my pigeons participate in often very heavy races. I don't have suitable pigeons for it either. I once participated in national St. Vincent in my younger years. I had 2 with it and both were in the results. In my view it was not that much because I clocked them on Wednesday and the competition was closed on Thursday and there were not even enough pigeons at home. Despite the fact that my two pigeons had not performed top I never forget that I played 100% of one of the most famous marathon races in the Netherlands. I think that this year the competition will probably be closed again until Thursday. If so we must not forget that 75% are still on the way. For a large number of the 14.589 participating pigeons this marathon race was much too tough. Therefore a lot of respect for the fanciers and their pigeons who have successfully completed this tough job at least. Friday July 31 at 8.50 am the mob went on the way to the 6 participating countries. It was a beautiful sight how quickly different pigeon fanciers come to the wagons getting the necessary eggs from the marathon pigeons out of the shipping baskets. The international result was not issued because there are not enough pigeons at home. The speed is internationally known and the national winners are also known. The fast pigeon of this most appealing marathon flight is from the German fancier Alin Karscu from Rastatt. This pigeon was able to bridge the overnight race of 1005 km at a spectacular speed of 1104 meters per minute. In the Netherlands the national victory went to the famous long distance player Jelle Jellema from Nijverdal, distance 1293 km, meter speed 857. In Belgium the national victory went to Luc Odeurs from Ordingen. His pigeon flew the 1153 km at a speed of 811 meters per minute. Mark Gilbert had met 684 meters the fastest in England. The first French pigeon made 674 meters and is owned by Toine Sonia from Driscourt, distance 939 km. Very disappointing that some of the French pigeons have withdrawn from the competition. The reason for this is that during a check in France 11 dead French pigeons were found in a shipping basket. The cause of death of which is not yet known. Let's hope that many pigeons still fulfill because what should be a spectacular marathon race is for now a race with a disastrous course.

That day was flown all over the Netherlands. Each department had its own competitions for the old and young pigeons. Especially on the west side of our country we had very low-hanging clouds and if there is not a blue piece of sky here and there it certainly becomes problematic for the youngsters. The competitions for the old pigeons could be closed within fifteen minutes. Then you’ll see what experience means. The youngsters are only a few flights away and until Saturday everything went smoothly. Not all pigeons are at home in most lofts. It was striking that many strange pigeons landed in the lofts of the fanciers, they were all looking for water. I strongly suspect that the young inexperienced youngsters have not had enough opportunity to drink. Many of them are not yet used to that and youngsters who are thirsty and cannot drink get stress. Stress causes disorientation and they often fly in the wrong direction. I miss three more myself while I haven't lost a pigeon all season. My son Marco also misses three of which one has entered my loft. Marco lives 800 meters away from me. I delivered the pigeon to him on Monday and on Tuesday she was with me again. I released another strange pigeon from the northern Friesland 30 km from my loft and when I got home she was already in my loft again. I myself start to teach my pigeons at 10-20-30-40 km and such a strange pigeon that has only come in to me once you bring it to 30 km and she is with me again. Marco's pigeon has flown with Marco as long as she is in the world, then comes in to me once and refuses to stay with Marco. If you think you know something about pigeons, you just don't know. It is said; if you perform well you don't know why, and if you don't perform well you don't know.

Tropical temperatures are an exception in the Netherlands. For the weekend of August 8 the forecast is that it will be 32 to 35 degrees and we and our pigeons are not used to that. In addition the wind is northeast which is exactly upside down (so headwind) and then so sweltering and bone-dry, that becomes an agony because the wind drives them to the North Sea coast. When they drink the salty sea water it looks very bleak for them. The NPO examines the best solution behind the scenes. Whether or not to continue the competitions? On Wednesday before 12 noon it will be decided which distance the old pigeons will fly. It is already known that it will be basketting on Friday evening. So due to the heat only (fortunately) only 1 night basket. On Friday before 10 am, it will be announced what will happen to the youngsters. Our pigeons are performing very well for the time being. Marco is in the lead, I had to skip a flight due to the coli infection and then you are eliminated for a championship, you will never make up this delay. Last weekend Marco played 1-6 and I played 5-7-8-9. A club member became 2-3-4 and he mainly flies with the kind of us. Marco started 2nd with the old pigeons and I finished 3rd, all in all a good weekend for father and son.

Wijdewormer, 29 July 2020. Due to the bad weather conditions our old pigeons in Pontoise (420 km) were only released at 10:00. When the pigeons were on their way home the sky became more and more cloudy and an hour before the first pigeons came home the rain poured down from the sky. The wind was blowing from the southwest which means that the pigeons had the wind from behind. The wind was not blowing very hard in our area and given the bad weather a maximum of 90 km per hour or 4.5 hours of flying was assumed so that the first arrivals were expected at half past two. Because the first pigeons arrived a few minutes before two o'clock several fanciers were surprised. Fortunately nowadays we have electronic clock so that many pigeons came home without the boss waiting. Unfortunately there were also some who still had the loft closed so that the pigeon had to wait for their boss. Many fanciers do not have good thoughts about this flight. I was also more or less surprised. We were in the garden with a group when suddenly a pigeon dived from a great height at exactly 2 o'clock. It could still be a youngster of the morning race but judging by the behavior it had to be an old pigeon. He was knocked half a meter by a member of my club. That was also the case in the morning when my first youngster also took second place. All in all this week also a result that I can look back on with satisfaction.

After the coli outbreak my youngsters were not outside for a whole week so that they could not participate in the second race. After that they trained around the loft twice an day throughout the week. They looked so good that I thought it safe to enter them on the third race. When I picked them up on Friday night to take them to the club they disappointed me a bit. They felt weak when they looked so good on the surface. They still suffer more from the coli infection than we think. Of the 44 one has not returned. After such high expectations this was the second turnoff, first the coli outbreak and a bad result two weeks later. If my first arriving pigeon had gone straight in I would have been first by far but now she lost at least three minutes. She just kept flying around and once she landed on the flap she was shocked and went back into the air. That is really something for a fanatic pigeon fancier to have a heart attack. Then 6 pigeons came at the same time but that was 10 minutes later which is downright bad. This week we are going back to work with the intention of giving the whole club a sporting beating. Both the old and the youngsters go to the same release point and are simultaneously released for a race over 190 km.

The pigeons were already basket on Sunday 26 July for the international race from Barcelona. Internationally this is the most important flight of the year. Especially the Netherlands and Belgium are present with large numbers of pigeons. Whoever wins Barcelona has gained eternal fame. The pigeons are scheduled for Friday July 31 unloaded at 1 pm. They may then spend the night somewhere with the intention of returning home as early as possible the next morning. There are pigeons that fly at night because it is not completely dark at this time of the year. Especially with not too high temperatures and the wind on the tail it happens that pigeons arrive in the Netherlands in the early morning. Often the rear flight then has the advantage. It can even happen that with a strong southeast wind the French pigeons manage to reach their loft that same day.

At the control of the French pigeons in Chereng a basket was discovered containing 11 dead French pigeons. The cause is not yet known exactly but it is thought of poisoned drinking water. In any case the French Association has withdrawn most French pigeons from the competition. The pigeons from the eastern part of France are participating they have been checked at a different location. Very unfortunate for the competition and for the French participants whose pigeons were prepared for this monster flight and it still had for some sort of darker reason had to pay with death.

Belgium takes the crown with 6179 pigeons, the Netherlands follows with 4480 pigeons, France 2580, UK 281 and Luxembourg closes the row with 43 pigeons. The total participation is 14.589 pigeons, in 2019 there were 16.051. The number of French pigeons withdrawn from the competition is currently unknown. Of course we are curious who will write this marathon race to his name. It is expected that Belgium and the Netherlands will be very successful. There is respect for the English pigeons who have to bridge a considerable distance over the sea. The Irish pigeons have an even harder time because they have to cross the Irish sea after they have flown over the channel. So plenty of excitement in the weekend of August 1

Last week was in the Netherlands National St. Vincent flown, for years the most important marathon flight in our country. This time there were 12.255 pigeons at the start. The race was won at a speed of 1343 meters per minute by W. Gielen from Breda in the south of the Netherlands. He had 10 of which 7 won prize. The second pigeon in the result flew more than 100 meters per minute slower. Friday July 31 the Belgian pigeons are released for their national competition with a participation of 6066 pigeons.

Wijdewormer, July 15 2020
From the moment that the breeding and racing pigeons were together to start the breeding season everything went by itself. No fights, all couples had one or two eggs in the nest within 14 days. Only 2 eggs unfertilized and one egg with a dent in it. The first round of the breeding pigeons grew up beautifully and were for son Marco. The second round went to Dad and they also looked great. Son Marco had a fairly harmless outbreak of the coli bacteria in March, no problem by me. From the beginning it was enjoyment for me every day. My youngsters trained super. An hour twice a day and when I called them she rolled in over each other. I don't remember a year that I enjoyed my youngsters so much. Several times I said to my wife and Marco; I hope it turns out fine. They did it so well that it even scared me a bit. Scared in the sense of if they don't fail. Last week on the last training flight I clocked 24 within a minute and with Marco it was exactly the same. Later in the day we heard that quite a few pigeons had been left, ours were all at home. I had not lost one yet, but Marco handed in three during his own drop-off. Last weekend we started with 92 youngsters, 45 from me and 47 from Marco. The expectations were very high because our pigeons looked like golden roosters. They were released on Saturday morning at 7.45 am for a race of 110 km. I got two at the same time and had not seen a pigeon yet so I thought to myself "that could be two very early". That was correct, but Marco had two that were even faster. However, I noticed something about my pigeons, they did not really rush but flew to the loft and were not in a hurry to enter. Some remained and sat down and pecked. Everything went through me, I realized that something was wrong and immediately thought of the coli infection. Sure enough, it really hit the spot. I had 21 out of 45 in the prizes, they were all home and that same evening I already saw some pigeons throw up. That day I gave them a little bit of food and immediately put the coli cure in the drinking water. The next day one of my favorite youngsters was dead in a corner of the loft. A beautiful shale cock that I expected a lot from because he always came to my first three pigeons during the training flights. On Sunday I could clearly see that more than half were sick and now the disaster is complete on Tuesday. No appetite, sitting together, drinking a lot and very dirty manure. Really no fun to go to your loft and to think that I went whistling to my pigeons every morning and afternoon for months. I had incredible fun and now it is horrible, I have never been so disappointed. As soon as I have finished writing this article I will give the pigeons some small food and refill the drinking trough with the coli cure. The pigeons will not be released for the time being and next Saturday I will not be able to participate in the second official flight very unfortunate. Now it is about staying calm, taking good care of the pigeons and trying to keep them eating by providing a small portion of food three times a day. This afternoon I do all the youngsters in one of my vacant departments. I will then clean their loft very well and then work the entire loft with the burner because no bacteria or vermin can withstand the burner. I hope that after three days I can see that there is some improvement. I know from experience that as soon as the pigeons get better the appetite increases. They will regain their strength and after five days of rest I will release them. How it can be from one day to the next!

A few years ago it was accepted by majority vote in my association that the youngsters are divided into as many baskets for each race as possible. That was then assumed because we had transport baskets whose flaps burst open when unloaded. It also happened that the valves of some baskets remained closed so the pigeons could not get out. Especially on short flights that can be a big disadvantage if your pigeons happened to be all in that basket. So sharing as much as possible was not wrong. However there is a difference between dividing and dividing. Not everyone is the same with their pigeons. There are very serious fanciers and there are also those who see it all as a treat and are therefore not so concerned with the health of their animals. I have always been a Pietje exactly and still. This first flight for youngsters my pigeons were divided into 12 different baskets and I was not happy with that. Why my youngsters are now sick is nothing to do with it. Maybe it was already a bit under. I could not notice because even on the day of basketing they trained formidably so my expectations were very high. I did make a good result and have all pigeons back but for now I can no longer participate. Besides the distribution is no longer necessary because we have a different discharge system, no valve can be stuck anymore.

How would Marco pigeons perform this first flight? They showed to be in great shape. At his loft was also more or less a problem on Saturday. He went on holiday to the south of France with his family a week before the first official flight. Father Bert took care of the pigeons every morning and a friend of his did that the end of the afternoon. So we were curious about the performance and they were great. In our association went as follows: Marco 1-2-5-6-10 and 14 in the first 20. I started with 2-3-7. Mine are now seriously ill from the e-coli infection and Marco's are all right even though they were spread over several baskets. So next Saturday we have a race again and tension but mine will stay at home.

I looked at who in the Netherlands were the stars of last weekend. In Zeeland (1) Gebr. Dekker with 2-3-4-6-7 against 3224 pigeons; East Brabant (3) M. van Erp against 5600 pigeons: 1-2-3-5-6-7-8. In South Holland (5) the van der Merwe family made a crushing result against 17.629 pigeons. Peter started with 1-2-5-8-10, Naomi 3-4-7-9 and Gwen 6-11-12-13. In North Holland (6) another victory for father & son Kat they are really “out of category” this year. They start with 1 and 2 against 6300 pigeons. In the Eastern Netherlands (10) the Comb. Van Rooij against 7300 pigeons: 4-5-6-9-11. The Comb. Vredeveld-Leemhuis speak for themselves by starting against 8100 pigeons with 1-3-11-13 with 43 of the 59 in the results and their first signed first. In a word formidable.

Wijdewormer, July 8 2020. You notice from the people that the relaxation concerning the Corona epidemic is a welcome surprise for many. From mid-March, life was no longer as it was. Everything suddenly became very different, people also changed and partly because no sports event was allowed to go on people became isolated. All kinds of emergency measures were taken. It was three grim months that we will not soon forget. The great suffering has left its mark. The economy, the forced layoffs, the necessary financial aid to keep companies going and it is annoying to have to conclude that we are not yet out of worry but…. we are going in the right direction. Daily life as we were used to is slowly getting going again and when I look at the pigeon sport it is now high season. The pigeon mill is running at full speed again. The canteens in the club buildings are open again but the one and a half meter distance will still be maintained and the basketing protocol will probably have to be maintained for the rest of the season. In any case there is pigeon sport every weekend. In Belgium the first two national competitions were already flown last week, one from Limoges and the other from Chateauroux. Two classic release points for those who love the one-day long distance races. In the Netherlands there is only a national competition but in Belgium they trade in it. I myself am not a long distance fan so I think it is a pity that the series of Belgian long distance races skews the picture with the Netherlands. It is as if the Netherlands has no national winners and Belgium does. In Belgium it is soon a national or semi-national flight. For the Honor or for commercial purposes you can fill in yourself.

Today we had the first and also the last training flight with our entire department. Our department consists of 5 sections and the pigeons were released per section today. Next Saturday all North Holland pigeons will be released at the same time. The distance they have to travel is an average of 110 km, so it will be very exciting because the whole crowd will arrive for a large part at the same time so getting in quickly is a prerequisite. It concerns tenths of a second and the competition is closed in a few minutes. The wind will be northwest (obliquely) on Saturday which is favorable for me. Furthermore dry weather and a temperature of 20-22 degrees. Great pigeon weather also for the old pigeons from Pont St. Max France they have 400 km ahead. The training flight for the youngsters last Saturday was a flight of less than 60 km. The weather conditions were fine, they were released at 9.45 am and after 40 minutes of flying a whole cloud of pigeons hung above my loft. In one minute 24 of 45 invaded. Actually too beautiful or too easy, they will have learned little from it. However it gives confidence for next Saturday then it matters and if you get them as today you live with a clear conscience towards the first real showdown.

That is actually nothing special it is usually the same that has something to cry about. It is never good with these men or it is not good. If it does not go well it is always someone else's fault and that is the mistake that most fanciers make. Always look for it yourself. Give your eyes good every day and observe everything you can observe, you will learn an incredible amount. You can see from the pigeons how things are going. Pigeons that are tight, have chalk-white noses and dry eyes are all right. If there is no feather wrong, it is even better. Also take a look at the breast meat which should be flaky and have a nice pink color. Feel equally at the legs, if they feel warm it is fine with your pigeons. The pigeons like to train around the loft and when they land they should not sit still like statues no they should be lively and they certainly are not if they are too heavy. Young pigeons are easily given too much food. I have written before that a great champion once said to me; write with big letters POISON on your feed silo because you give oh so soon too much of it, he is still right. There are various types of food, one is heavier than the other. Most young pigeon flights are under 450 km so they really do not need very heavy food. I have been choosing a versatile type of food for at least 40 years. The greater the diversity the better I like it. Feeding is a serious matter for me, as it were I hand out the food bit by bit I really take time for that. With this way of feeding I have achieved great successes but also made bad results. However I do not deviate from my system because on average I am more than satisfied with the results that my pigeons have achieved in the past 50 years. A common mistake is if the results are disappointing to deviate from your feed and care system especially if good results are often obtained. If the results are disappointing from the start of the season action must be taken. It is good advice not to play for a doctor yourself but rather consult an expert specialized pigeon doctor. Be careful with pigeons that are late a few times while they performed well before. They fail something and there is a good chance that they will be left behind.

This occurs in almost all lofts. I have seen that in other lofts it was striking that those men completely darkened their lofts, you could not see anything. Darkening does not mean that it really has to be completely dark. Dim is sufficient and with a little good will you should even be able to read the newspaper in the loft. As in previous years until the first weekend of July I darkened the youngsters. I do that to prevent the pen molt and I have good experience with it I even think that I keep out the coli bacteria. When I took a critical look at my youngsters this week I was surprised to see a youngster who had already thrown five pens. That pigeon had been away for two days and therefore probably started the molt and just continued. There are several that already have a new pen and have remained stationary afterwards. Whatever the case we will start on Saturday with a full wing or not they have to come along.

Wijdewormer, June 17. I had already predicted; on the first official flight of this season no early classification and unfortunately that came true. Northeast winds were forecast throughout the week. That changed on Friday to south and finally the pigeons went on the way on Saturday at 8:00 am with a calm to moderate southeast wind. The release took place in the world famous Belgian release place Quievrain, for me more than 240 km. The weather was beautiful, not too warm, blue sky, white clouds but then the sneaky southeast wind. As long as I play with pigeons, and that has been for a long time, I have not seen anything else that southeast wind causes losses and often despite the high speeds a long competition duration with surprising arrivals. This is partly because our department chose the flight direction for the southwest line years ago. Due to the southeast wind our pigeons fly over the North Sea in record time and that can have unpleasant consequences. Because most of the pigeons in our department live on the west side the migration of the pigeons is predominantly on that side. So clearly the law of the largest numbers applies here! This was clearly visible on the first flight. We eastern fanciers were completely played away. Due to the high speed, not as high as many people had previously thought, the differences in arrival times were not so great. Our competition duration was 20 minutes this time and that has sometimes been different in a SE wind. We old rotten know only too well that SO wind is often fatal especially for youngsters, massive losses! We never get used to that and yet we always fall for it because the game is so much fun.

For example this week I watched the South Holland competition where 37.800 pigeons were at the start. The SE wind ensured that the fastest pigeons fell on the shortest distance on the North Sea coast. The competition duration was 31 minutes which means that there are 9500 pigeons at home. It also means that there are still 26.000 on the way and a large number were missing on Saturday evening. That was also the case in our department. However there is a difference in the pigeons' pull with SE wind. In early spring it is crystal clear on the coast, the further we go in the year the more chance of sea vapor making the migration more inland. So it happened that as an east-living fancier in the second half of the season I clocked the fastest three times within four weeks with southeast wind. Reason? Top condition and …… on the coast there was very poor visibility due to the cooling warm seawater. As a pigeon fancier you can sometimes have luck on your side. For me the competitions with north west wind are the most favorable to get nice results. However, it would not be good if there was always north west wind. The more different weather types the more different winners and that is important for our sport. Nobody is waiting for flights with a disastrous course but then you see names at the top of the results that you would never read otherwise. So best sports friends never complain or grumble when you get a good clap around your ears. Then remember that people are very happy that day because they had an early pigeon in the clock. You undoubtedly know the expression; different weather, different winners!"

Wonderful feeling that our pigeons fly their races again every week. However, it is still very laborious to get the pigeons in the baskets. Only three workers are allowed in the room and especially now at the beginning of the season they get a lot of pigeons through their hands. A job that is very time consuming due to the Cocid-19 protocol. The other members have to wait outside and go home immediately after his or her pigeons are in the basket. The fun is not there yet and I wonder if it will come back this year. We can do a lot about this ourselves by mainly complying with the regulations and helping where possible. The competitions with youngsters will also start soon. There are still a lot of them and hopefully it will stay that way. Currently all fanciers are busy training their new champions themselves. They dream of a good season especially when their youngsters behave in such a way that they are confident. Unfortunately I have also spoken to several fanciers where it does not go as they would like to see. I got a phone call from the far north whose pigeons don't want to fly at all. They have to be chased out of the loft and that already says a lot, then there is certainly something wrong. When the flap of the young pigeon loft opens they should all be out within seconds and if you want to check them a little later, you should not see a pigeon again. If they come back above the loft after half an hour, you know that it is all right. As soon as the pigeons are out, I will immediately see how the manure is doing. At a glance I look at all the seats and when I see all beautiful little dung balls with a single feather on it, I fall to my knees and start whistling clean the loft. Unfortunately this is not the case everywhere. The coli bacteria also strikes again, often in lofts where darkening has stopped. They are often the same lofts. The cause is that the colony is not strong enough to produce antibodies. Is this due to carelessness, is hygiene one of the causes or is it perhaps messing too much with antibiotics? Can you get rid of coli annually by strict selection? It is still puzzling. I myself keep in mind that by observing the pigeons closely a lot of misery can be prevented. Immediate responsible action is a prerequisite, not wait until tomorrow but tackle the problem a la minute. That is why it is good that we can distinguish which disease is involved. By that I don't mean that we are going to be playing too much of a doctor ourselves. But being able to quickly see that something is wrong must be a characteristic of every fancier. Knowing when or not to go to the pigeon doctor immediately. All that medicine use has not made it any better. A few years ago it was normal for us to conduct manure research with the entire association. We did that twice a year. The first time well before the season started with the old pigeons and the second time before we started with the youngsters. The vet's results were posted on the bulletin board so that everyone could see who was or was not okay. After all we also tell each other when housemates are sick why not say anything about the pigeons. Due to the manure research there was plenty of time to administer medicines so that we started with the whole club with healthy pigeons at the beginning of the season. The fanciers were much more serious about their pigeons due to the compulsory manure test. Manure research is not a saving measure but remains a snapshot at all times and that is always better than doing nothing at all.

Wiide Wormer, June 2. It is 9 pm on Tuesday evening, ex-chairman Maurice van der Kruk has just closed his last meeting as chairman of the NPO. The main point of this hour-long meeting was the board election. The 3 new daily directors were voted in writing and of the 23 votes cast there were at least 21 for the candidates nominated by a selection committee each time. Before the vote took place the strong decline of members and the significantly fewer rings ordered were discussed. The National Manifestation had not become what was expected of it and the transparency within the board, committees and members' council was hard to find. In short, there is a lot of work for the new directors who, according to the new chairman Ben Weerink, are buzzing with energy. They will certainly be the first to start tackling last year's unrealized points. Furthermore, there were of course questions about the 2020 flight program or what could continue. Unfortunately, nothing concrete could be said about that. However, it was announced that the Covid-19 committee will meet on 3 June to determine to what extent a (national) flight program can still be realized. After that lift a fairly small group, due to Corona, the glass and left everything as it was for the time being. In any case the Dutch Pigeon Holders Organization has a complete nine-person board. We are going to experience it….

In my view they are right. Plenty of training flights are currently being organized in the Netherlands. Distance can be determined by each department. The south of the Netherlands has the problem that they have to enter Belgium immediately and so far no Dutch pigeons can be released there. The Belgians themselves may not go further than 25 km while the Netherlands may enter neighboring Germany and the Netherlands may even drive the pigeon transport trucks through Belgium to France to release pigeons there. Belgium sees the pigeon wagons as a transport and whether it contains cardboard boxes, wooden boxes or pigeons does not matter. You can imagine that fanciers from pigeon country number one be extremely disappointment in the Belgian government. Consultations are currently underway to get the Belgian pigeon sport started as soon as possible. Given the control of the Corona virus this may very quickly be possible. In that respect our neighboring countries are far from aligned.

Official competition flights are still not allowed in the Netherlands.
Every week there are training flights from which an arrival list is made. The basketing is done according to the corona rules, three workers in the room and the rest must be outside. As long as we keep this beautiful weather that is no problem but showers are expected for the coming weekend and then the fanciers can wait in their car or go home immediately. I understand that it is not yet running smoothly at various associations. As a result people are ready too late and the collection car has to wait too long so that they arrives too late at the meeting point. If we are a few weeks later everything will run smoothly again. It takes some getting used to and hopefully we have started the battle for the championship points and the pool money. The southern Dutch fanciers unloaded last week in the northern French town of Niergnies. We were in Roosendaal for the second time, for me 109 km, and this week the pigeons are also going there. An arrival list is made of all these flights so it is a normal course for everyone. It is not about anything but it is mutual battle. The media pays attention to it and that is important for our sport. We can use some extra positive reporting. It is doubtful whether new members will be added as a result. In the circle of acquaintances of all fanciers it is in any case also talked about again and only then you notice how many people there are who read the pigeon messages.

Now that every department in the Netherlands, we have 11, can determine its own flight direction on the training flights there is also no crossing of convoys. The extreme north still flies within the borders of the southeast, that is a straight line to Groningen and Friesland. The eastern divisions do this from Germany. The south held a flight from Germany (east line) but that was not a success. The pigeons seem to remember very well from which direction they have been trained. West Netherlands keeps the southwest line so that the pigeons do not suffer from pigeons that have to move to another direction. Especially on the speed flights this can influence the flight development. The longer the distances become the less trouble the pigeons have of each other. At national releases where thousands of pigeons go into the air at once, they have enough time to navigate in the right direction given the distance. We have also flown from England in the past which was not a success. Yes for the winners, otherwise it was only but surprising arrival times. The smart pigeons did not directly cross the North Sea from England. They flew to the narrowest part which is the canal, then landed near Calais and then had to find their way from northwestern France to the west, middle and east of the Netherlands. Fair flights like that didn't last long.

As it looks now our young pigeon program will start in the first weekend of July. That would still make up for all fanciers of this severely disabled season. If the government insists that pigeon racing belongs to major events we will be able to start on 1 September at the earliest. You shouldn't think about that! Many fanciers are currently hopeful that the program for the youngsters can be completed normally and that is very good for the motivation of the fanciers who are currently doubting whether they will continue. After all in the Netherlands 70% of the members are above 70 years and perhaps 80% above 60. That age category is eager to play with their pigeons every week. Most are too old to choose another hobby and a season that we are now in is reason for many to throw in the towel which also applies to me. In addition there are fanciers in the south of the Netherlands who have to deal with the great mortality of their youngsters. If that happens to me then ... .. I don't know yet. A good pigeon friend of mine called this week to say that he had released 115 young pigeons 20 km away. That same evening he still lost 85. The characteristic of the whole story is that he has collected more than 20 youngsters in the village where he released his youngsters. A fancier even had four and now his counter is over 80 which means 30 in one fell swoop. Fortunately he is still quite young, for a pigeon fancier then, and you can still absorb such blows somewhat. Fortunately pigeon fanciers are very positive. Every week they come faithfully with their basket of pigeons whether they have performed well or not, they come. Certainly that the pigeon hobby is something special otherwise people of my age cannot play with pigeons every week for 50 years in a row or even longer. I still enjoy it and not just a little bit.

Wijde Wormer, May 27. Last week finally a training flight where the pigeons went into the baskets according to the corona protocol and that was very different from what we were used to for many years. Anyway, if you want something you will have to add water to the wine. We can be happy that we can train our pigeons at club and even department level. It turned out to be a very easy flight with speeds of around 100 km per hour. There were several fanciers who you could see that they have been doing very well for a while. The training competition in my area ended within a few minutes. I saw that there was an fancier in South Holland who clocked 72 in exactly one and a half minutes. He had 194 with it and his distance was only 60 km. You will only have two or three of those men in your club and you will run away running. To clock 72 in such a short time you may have 20 entry holes otherwise it will not work. It is actually not nice that such a mega player takes on to men who have about twenty with, have a loft of no more than 5 meters with two sputniks where at most 3 or 4 pigeons can enter. I had to think back to the time that we had to remove the rubber ring from the leg every week and if you happened to get five pigeons at the same time you definitely needed two minutes to get them and clock them. In which time it was all better does not matter, also then there were men who rolled up the whole competition and they still are. I find much worse those men who have a pigeon auction several times a year that yield huge amounts because they have occasionally made a very good result on a marathon flight. Thousands of euros bring in those animals. In my view these are all yearlings who have served as a feeder pigeon and then leave. Otherwise I would have no reason to throw out yearlings at this time of year if it were due to the corona pandemic. Let's stick to our sport. Many people are eager to start and the real sports boys are now completely uninterested in auctions and certainly not in auctions where the ordinary man is not involved. The fanciers who are really involved in the sport are currently full. In most lofts the breeding pigeons are already separated and the racing pigeons are now in widowhood everywhere. They are well trained so that especially the yearlings know why this game is about. It would be great if we can cross swords again soon.

If only the animal has a name. Luckily the pigeons can be trained again unfortunately no competition. That is why we do not have results now but an arrival lists. So there is a battle for the fanciers which is very important because then every fancier knows how it is with his colony. The results (arrival lists) are made and published at the NPO's national audit office so that there is still a mutual showdown. Even the Dutch carrier pigeon magazine “Het Spoor der Kampioenen” will report weekly on all these training flights. In by far most clubs are according to the new protocol preparations made for the 2020 season last week when that may start. There was a competition again and therefore plenty of discussion about everything that had to do with the flight.

Washing hands, disinfecting, three people in the room who do the work, everyone else stays outside. The canteen and toilets also remained closed. Yes, that is what the Dutch pigeon sport looks like at the moment. We must adhere to all that is prescribed. Not fun! When the pigeons were in the baskets you could go home after first chatting outside (at a distance of a meter and a half away) but when it started to get chilly later in the evening most of them went home. That is not fun but that is also part of it at the moment. It was well organized in our club that may be said. According to our secretary, the board would even have received a compliment from the overarching board. It is a pity that he was so strongly against that a result (arrival list) of this first training flight would be made in our club. That was not allowed and if there was a result it could not be used for publicity because it would damage the pigeon sport. When I visited the site of the Compuclub on Sunday evening (our national accounting office) there were I don't know how many results to read So we are not yet competing for the various titles that can be obtained every year but there is sport and that is what we all want. However, if we have to wait until September 1 before we really start go to battle again we have had some battle even though it was completely different than we have been used to for years. That's just the way it is!

My pigeons have now been away six times, today it was the seventh time and Thursday the eighth. They will join the club for the first time on Friday and we will be able to see where we are currently on Saturday. I am not yet completely satisfied with my hens. They do not eat their fill, they are all madly in love which is because I let them with their cock every time they are trained. Because I train them very regularly they want to go to the cock loft every time I open the sliding door. Like all my other pigeons they get the same food. Maybe that is a bit too heavy for widow hens. They will also have to perform soon and they cannot do that on dry bread. It is a hassle, after every feeding there is still food in the bowl which I have to remove. It is a bit puzzling. They do not eat well in my eyes, actually insufficient and yet they feel too heavy plus that there is no real tension. The cocks are doing fine. Then about my youngsters. You know that I have been playing with pigeons for more than 70 years but I cannot remember a season when my youngsters train so formidably at home. From the moment they started training I saw at them that they wanted to fly and within a few weeks they trained a full hour twice a day without problems. They also leave for half an hour twice a day. I've never experienced that before. Now let's see that we manage to keep this rhythm until they really have to work. Would you believe that I'm starting to get a little nervous because I think when they do they have already shot their gunpowder. That a 83-year-old man can still get nervous. The pigeon sport has a lot of beautiful sides and how wonderful that kind of tension!

Wijdewormer, May 19. The TV speech of our Prime Minister Rutte has just ended. New relaxations concerning Coved-19 would be announced. The whole of the Netherlands was therefore glued to the television. We are going in the right direction as of 1 June we will take another big step forward. I will not tire you with everything that will soon be possible again but for us pigeon fanciers it is important that we can start again, although with hands full of measures. Whether that will get used to? We have to. Last night our club building was approved Corona. This means that our members can bask in a responsible manner. Washing and disinfecting hands are important conditions. As for the pigeons we are allowed to basket the club this Friday May 22 for a training flight of 100 km. The following week we fly the same distance and then it matters and we get serious again. We will see what our further flight program will look like this week. Today our members had to report how many cocks and hens they participate on Friday. Based on this information a timetable is drawn up so that not all members come at the same time. There may only be three officials in the clubhouse, the other members must wait outside until it is their turn. Which means; hand over your basket and wait until the pigeons are in the shipping boxes, tackle the clock and then go home because the catering part of the club may not be open yet. So it is pigeon sport like no one has ever experienced before. In mid-June our government will come up with other (relaxed) measures and hopefully we will be one step closer to the living habits before 15 March.

We in the province of North Holland can hold domestic flights for the time being. We have the ability to hold flights up to 250 km. This does not apply to our sports friends in the southern Netherlands of Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. They are close to the German and Belgian borders and it is not yet known when these countries allow foreign convoys. The North and East of the Netherlands can easily hold their matches from Germany. Everything depends on what is and is not allowed in our neighboring countries. The Northern Netherlands had a first flight from Germany last weekend and it went perfectly at speeds of around 100 km per hour. In other words the pigeon sport has started again and now we can see if we can knit some nice things. It looks like we will continue until mid-October provided the Corona virus remains under control. It is therefore important that we can, and above all continue to stick to the agreements made in the long term.

Precisely with the fantastic weather that we currently have in the Netherlands we pigeon fanciers are eager for impatience especially now that there’s announced our sport may start. Our pigeons have now been away 5 times, furthest distance 35 km. On Ascension Day they go into the basket again and then Friday for a joint training flight with all club members. I haven't lost pigeons yet but I do have one that was already three times late. Everyone else fell into the loft at the same time but he didn't. It is a yearling cock that has broken its ninth pen from its left wing. I doubt whether that is the reason for the late arrival. He gets a chance a few more times but if it doesn't improve, he will stay at home. He has a promising hen in my opinion. She is a daughter of Blue Jeara who won the first prize five times. In a next paragraph I will describe her and her family in more detail. It is a family that makes us extra happy when it comes to good performance. They can do some!

If you were in the happy possession of four such absolute top pigeons you would certainly be a very big champion. Wouldn't that be the case with all top players? If all those champions that we look up to throw away their best four pigeons then little of their glamor would remain. The point is that you have them in the loft and know how to handle them responsibly. You should not be reckless with such pigeons that give the boss a happy weekend every week. Of course it is nice that they tap early every time, it is also important to look a little further than your nose is long. You can build a whole champion loft with such pigeons. Luck is always involved. By observe the pigeons a lot and view their performance from an early age you will quickly discover that such pigeons, even though they are mediocre in many respects, can be of great breeding value in some other way. So do not start breeding when they are four or five years old. With such pigeons, which also have a valuable pedigree, you should immediately breed youngsters as a yearling. See how we went with “Blue Jeara”. It soon became clear that our super pair had produced yet another good youngster. Like her sisters she was a little on the small side, felt like a ball of cotton wool, silky smooth and very thoughtful. Everything matched her typical feminine appearance and she was also blue and that is a color that we like to see in our loft. Her grandfather comes from the very best breeding couple of Willem de Bruijn (Kleine Blauwe x Ganieda). He became the 4th Best cock in the Netherlands in 2008 and was paired against Blue Favori from Olympic Zeus, best cock in the Netherlands in 2002. Blue Jeara's father is Blue Jeroen who gave a dozen top pigeons together with “Zus Fortezza”. Sister Fortezza is daughter Sprint Koppel, parents of 12 first prize winners, 2x 1st teletext. Blue Jeara finished 10x in the first ten of which 5x1st and that were against average 1600 pigeons all rankings in the top-20. She became champion pigeon over all flights due to her excellent performance. She has only been able to show her sports skills for a few years and she has now emerged as a great breeding mother. Four of her children have already played a first one, isn't it a picture? This year will with Marco and me 6 of her children participate in the races for old pigeons and 5 for the youngsters. I will keep you informed. In connection with Coved-19 there is not much pigeon news to report yet, this time a short story about Blue Jeara. Next time an overview of the training flight that hopefully heralds a beautiful and sporty season. Let's not forget the most important thing; Stay healthy!

Wijdewormer May 13 2020. In the Netherlands we are allowed a little more every week. Many fanciers after two months of house arrest very longing for the start of the racing season after the relaxation of important measures that had to be taken because of the global corona pandemic. Fortunately the doctors and virologists are gaining ground which gives us more opportunity to resume the life we are used to step by step. It is clear to see that it is doing people well. But please don't get too excited as we are not yet where we want to be. Our one and a half meter society will certainly pose the necessary problems. But sports friends we remain positive and stick to the agreements made as much as possible. New agreements have also been made for our sport and when I see how we should use those agreements it is a different pigeon sport than I was used to for many years. In the first instance it will certainly be at the expense of fun and that is part of our hobby. As of May 1 we can train our pigeons again and also in an association it is now allowed however only with the intention to train the pigeons. The pigeons can / may be clocked but no results may be made, so no competitions in the early days. If we do fight each other soon we will have to adhere to a prescribed protocol that we have never experienced before, something that makes me rather sad than happy. For the sake of clarity an information film has been made of the new way of basketing. The first impression is that it is very time consuming, it is mainly about washing hands and disinfecting baskets and clocks. Furthermore, very impersonal, away the pleasant contacts in the clubroom which, like the house arrest, is almost impossible to maintain. But if we want something there is currently no other choice. What I do find an advantage is that the administration of every fancier must be in order. Vaccination and loft list hand in. Pigeons that do not appear there cannot be flown are therefore not entered in the computer/clock and the pigeons must be registered in the name of the fancier. Currently each of the 12 departments is working hard on a different flight program. The starting date is not yet officially known, it may be necessary to divert to Germany with regard to the flight program because Belgium and France have not yet given permission to release pigeons there. Today I heard that the Germans have now been allowed to release their pigeons in France. Then the transport. Depending on the start date there will probably be quite a few flights or double flights which means a lot of pigeons. Do we still have so many transport options to transport all those pigeons or do we also hold competitions during the week or perhaps on Saturday and Sunday? A lot still needs to be arranged. Then the big question; may or may we not use our club room as we have always been used to. This becomes almost impossible due to the 1.5 meter measure. The video clearly shows that everyone has to wait outside and is called up when it is their turn. Only then you can hand over the basket and you have to stay outside yourself. Yes, even when it rains, you are told to sit in your car. Nice for me who has ridden all his life and now that I am in my eighties I have to do everything by bike because of my bad eyes. Those are those little problems. There are people who want to pick up my pigeons, such as my son, beautiful, but it is that part of the fun in the club on the eve of the flight. You know fanciers among themselves with many strong stories.

Looking back at years past that was a fun social activity. Just a whole group of fanciers by bike to Amsterdam which is about 12 km for us. We went no further hardly anyone had a car. Now many people drive so much that is almost no longer normal. There are those who go as far as 150 km (like their car is running on water) while 40 km is more than enough. Anyway, everyone is free to do whatever they want. It does indicate that the fanciers looking forward to it especially because of the beautiful weather we have had in recent weeks. Today my clock was prepared for the coming season and this afternoon I turned it on so that after the pigeons had returned from their training hour I could see that everything was fine. The youngsters still have to be imported, they were vaccinated last week. That list is also ready so as soon as our man from the association has time to introduce the youngsters again he can start immediately. Last week I also covered all my baskets with a layer of newspapers, straw on top and stole tobacco on top to prevent the straw from sliding. Then injected everything against lice and other scum. All breeding trays are clean and stored because the 2020 breeding season is already over with us so the season can start.

The old pigeons that are separated are no longer darkened. They are released twice a day which also happened to the youngsters. My hens could eat a little better, they are more in love than they eat. Because they are allowed to gather all day once a week I have not yet found eggs and are therefore better paired. I am not waiting for horny hens because that spoils the game and we still have to start. Because the ladies do not eat well enough they also train less but perhaps there is something more going on. I would have them examined last week because I took the youngsters to Dr. Van der Sluis had to. That was canceled at the last minute because he came to me as always. Marco's youngsters are also vaccinated with me so examination was not possible we're going to see him tomorrow night. We take some pigeons for a throat swab and some fertilizer. Furthermore we take condition mix home plus any medicines if something comes out of the study. The cocks behave well and the youngsters show great shape. Training a full hour twice a day is really no problem for them. When it is feeding time I show myself. I do not have to whistle they all fall on the loft at the same time. A number immediately falls on the fallboard of the sputnik which is not very large so a number fall next to it. You get scared with so much violence they all want to go in at once. Only Sunday morning was a little different. Some had still some problems that morning from the injection they had had the day before, but now everything is top again it is really enjoying. Can you imagine that I am eagerly awaiting the start of their racing program with youngsters in this condition? If everything is correct that will be the first weekend of July, we will see.

Wijdewormer May 5. Today we celebrate 75 years of liberation and I have experienced them all. The first time I was 8 years old and a year later I got my first pigeons. Never have I been without pigeons for a day and never before have I experienced a worldwide virus infection that caused everything to be paralyzed or locked, just give it a name. Much has been said and written about how all this could have happened and we still notice the consequences every day. In the Netherlands we are going in the right direction when the number of infections gets a little less every day. Not only does that sound positive, it is. Fortunately we can do a little more every day and we were allowed quite a bit in our country compared to other countries. I dare not say whether it will all go back to the way it was but it can and should be a little less. For the time being we will be compelled to keep the precepts and the better we do that all together the closer we come back to the life we so long for. More and more shops are allowed to open making it more fun on the street and so we go step by step towards a changed society and that need not be less than we were used to. We are probably too spoiled and it is quite difficult to take a step back. We are also moving in the right direction regarding to pigeon sport. In Belgium and the Netherlands we can train the pigeons again and that gives confidence for the second half of this year. I think it is that we can start the first speed flights the first or second weekend of June. It is hoped that it is well thought out how the continuation of the modified flight program will be. I have already read several protocols and with a mix of these there will almost certainly be something that we can (almost) all be satisfied with. If only we start soon after all the suffering that Covid-19 has brought. That is probably the greatest wish of all pigeon fanciers.

I am currently optimistic and that is because I think we will start the games in June. Maybe I am wrong and then there is still nothing to worry about. I have stopped darkening the old pigeons, with the youngsters I just continue until the end of June, everything happened now on time. The cocks and hens fly 45 minutes every morning and each one hour in the afternoon. The youngsters also go out twice a day. Wednesday is the bath day and on Tuesday cocks and hens are allowed all day together. In the meantime I also started training the old pigeons. I still have patience with the youngsters, I think they are still a bit too young. They left every morning but now that I release them twice a day they no longer do that I think because of the change. I assume that after a week they will pick up the thread and pull away every morning. All pigeons are doing to my liking. Tomorrow the youngsters will be vaccinated against paramixo. I go with Marco to Dr. Van der Sluis. Usually he comes to me but the roles have turned because of the corona crisis. I will then immediately take medicines home if an illness breaks out this year so I can intervene immediately. Together we have 100 youngsters, Marco has 55 and I have 45. In June we have 100 youngsters in the race. We are each other's competitor every week because Marco plays at his loft and I play at mine. The difference in distance between our lofts is about 800 meters, Marco has the shortest distance. I was with him yesterday to view the youngsters. They are 3-4 weeks older than mine and you can clearly see that. They are further through the molt and therefore look more mature. Several youngsters already have those beautiful shiny necks while mine are bare. At the beginning of July mine look perfect too I'm sure and then see who's strongest. I am increasingly looking forward to the official start.

It is well known that I prefer light blue pigeons. In 1970 I had a year with only blue youngsters I called them the blue train. Some of them had the beginning of a third band in addition to their two blue bands on the wing something I like to see. Why? I ones had a year two nest sisters that looked like this. Of one I always thought that it was a cock but that turned out not to be the case. They were a bit (too) small pigeons but at the races they hung on each other's tail. It wasn't always my first two it was only once. They did win prizes from all 7 flights, became 1st and 2nd pigeon champion and if one was there the other was right behind it. The hen performed best and as a yearling the cock did fine. At that time I only raced with cocks on widowhood and the hens came back into action on the late race. The hen I named Bianca named after my only daughter, once again became champion pigeon. Last month my daughter turned 50, no party because of the corona, I had to think about those two. A nice story but 50 years ago. Where has the time gone? Now I have all blue again with two such pigeons as 50 years ago. Also a bit on the small side and maybe there is a cock again, who knows. Their mother is also a little one but did finish 5 times first, the father managed to be flagged first three times. It cannot therefore depend on the pedigree. We all know that good come from good, but we all know that they don't automatically give good but from two toppers you are always more likely than from two so-called soup chickens I think you agree with me. Now we just have to wait and see what our Prime Minister has to say on Monday 11 May about the relaxation of measures regarding the corona virus. I trust that he will not disappoint us.

Wijdewormer April 28. Two months ago there was no problem at all in pigeon land. In China an infection with the corona virus which was far from my bed show was the first thoughts in the Netherlands. That was true but no one realized that this contagious and life-threatening virus would conquer the whole world in a short time. That is how far we are now and we all have to deal with the terrible consequences. The most unsympathetic measures that are taken out of necessity so that our whole life is now completely upside down. We are aware of the consequences and know the figures. Fortunately the measures are being relaxed in several countries. No major events until September 1 and probably until next year says enough how serious this pandemic still is. All sports will be stopped until that date. Also within my cycling club, the card and pigeon club, all activities have been canceled or prohibited. How to keep it one and a half meters apart? No more shoppers, theaters, museums, catering companies everything is closed. If this remains the case life will become very boring, but solutions are diligently sought because no one can handle this. A miracle must happen if we are to accelerate this impasse. Take courage, take good care of yourself is always said but that easier said than done. And to think that we have already had three flights in a row with ideal pigeon weather here in the Netherlands, unfortunately it should not be. Despite this enormous worldwide setback the pigeon fanciers still have the courage. They really want to go out with their pigeons all this with the intention of being well prepared to come to the start. If the start will only take place in September we can speak of a failed season, then on to next year. However, it is not that far but if we cannot start in the first weekend of June our hearts sinks. This weekend I was again very shocked by the announcement that corona contamination has broken out at two mink farms where there are more than 20.000 minks. Recently it was said that animals could not get this infection but they were probably infected by their caretakers. Wherever the cause lies it is not good for sports where animals are processed, including the pigeon sport. This announcement was a huge letdown for me. Especially because I think our pigeon sport may be the victim of this and June is very close

In this time it is fun to read how well-known and less known fanciers are busy with their pigeons while nothing is known about the start of the racing season. I myself have switched to the irregular release of my racing pigeons. I let them out at times that suit me. I keep to the feeding times because regular care ensures a good condition and that is quite different from a sublime flight condition. I darken all racing pigeons 13 hours a day. The inspection takes place in the morning. I then look at the amount of down feathers, unfortunately I also find a single quill pen but the manure is beautiful in this dry weather, all small balls. As soon as I open the curtains the pigeons wake up and I see them stretching. When I start feeding them half an hour later they are not really tight while their behavior is fine. But as soon as I look half an hour after they have eaten they are lively, are tight and several cocks know that I want to fight with them. Not all of them benefit from that, some crawl into a corner of the breeding loft and a few even fly out of their box witch I hate. They are shy but that is because I gave them too little attention from an early age because you can make pigeons as tame as you want you can even do a circus number if you want. In any case in this corona time we can read the most diverse methods in which you can take care of pigeons all with the intention that we will hopefully perform well with them this year. Today is Tuesday and then the old cocks and hens can be together all day. This time an exception I only left them together this afternoon and they can therefore stay together overnight. Tomorrow morning all together outside and then the ladies go back to their own department.

In the country many well-meaning fanciers are thinking about what the pigeon sport will look like in the “one and a half meter society”. However resourceful they are me as an old fancier am used to a fixed protocol. I hope something like this can count on understanding because I have for the past 70 years basketed the pigeons, read clocks and everything else that was seen as normal with the pigeon sport. How it should go is still unthinkable for everyone but if you want to play with pigeons we will have to adapt the rules that are prescribed by each country. In Belgium fanciers can individually train their pigeons. Not in groups and no pigeons from different lofts in a car. It is further advised not to go further than 25 km from home. This relaxation has to do with animal welfare. It is a training for the pigeons to prevent them from losing their orientation ability not to improve the flying condition. So in Belgium they are a small step on the right track. But after what I saw on TV this evening in response to frequently asked questions by the people I unfortunately have to assume that the pigeon sport has almost no chance this year. There is currently no vaccine for people but there may sooner be the use of an already existing drug. But that too has to be tested first and it takes months. If we are allowed to play with the pigeons it will change enormously socially. In the club room the bar facility may not be used, that space is closed or off limits. The fanciers must wait outside with their pigeons until they are picked up by a designated employee in order to be registered for participation in the flight. Having a nice drink in the room with everyone and talking about our hobby will probably not be possible this year. Despite everything I would like to end with; make sure you stay healthy, take care of yourself and others.

Wijdewormer, April 21 2020. Frankly after the press conference that our Prime Minister held I was not really happy. With me millions of TV viewers will have hoped that the measures taken in connection with the corona virus would be relaxed today. This is partly true as schools for primary education will reopen on May 11 with the necessary adjustments. Secondary education has to wait until June 1. Fortunately the youth can also start their sports training again. There was a huge damper for the football fans. No professional football will be played until 1 September. This also applies to larger national events such as the Four Days Marches, a walking event in which 10 thousands of walkers participate. No pop concerts, no big and famous cycling races, in short we are not there yet. No visit to grandma and grandpa, no cozy group formation with neighbors or acquaintances. Terraces remain closed, one and a half meters apart something I probably will never get used to. We are increasingly moving in the right direction so that gives us hope to see what our prime minister has to say in the third week of May. Children up to the age of 18 are almost not susceptible to the corona virus. For anyone who is older it would be great that a vaccine is developed in the short term that will get normal life back in motion. With everything else that has to do with this pandemic I don't want to tire you. You read that in the newspaper every day and you see it on the TV. After 5 weeks of house arrest I am really fed up and I will certainly not be the only one. Nevertheless I remain hopeful about our pigeon sport. With some adjustments it should not be too difficult to put our pigeons in the room in baskets in a responsible manner. Various solutions are possible for the other activities. Who knows June 1 is a date to live with a good feeling. Or is that too optimistic?

In previous years it was certainly no pigeon weather in early April and now that we are in the middle of the corona pandemic we have the most beautiful weather in the world. No wonder that pigeon loving Netherlands is eager to start the racing season. Unfortunately 2020 will be a completely different pigeon season. That may not apply to all countries because the flight period in other countries does not start and end at the same time. It would already be very important for the pigeon sport if we could once again talk about pigeons in the room knowing for sure that there is a great need for it. We want to tell each other how we are doing with our pigeons, how beautifully we have bred and how fantastic our old pigeons look. Mine are darkened for 13 hours and come off once a day. The youngsters are also in the twilight for 13 hours. The breeding pigeons are separated they have done their best. They will not be paired again this year and that is actually not so much fun for them. They were paired between Christmas and New Year and four months later they were separated again. What a life! Fortunately they have a spacious loft with a spacious aviary. My youngsters are doing great, flying fast and long, eating well but not listening yet because I am not busy with that yet. As of May 1 I will teach them that they will get food after an hour of training, by keeping them short for a few days they will realize that very quickly. It is a pity that we cannot go out with the pigeons. I don't make a problem of it myself. I assume that we will get on time when we start and then there will really be some time to bring the pigeons away a few times. I don't want to think about the fact that we're not going to compete this year. If that were the case our sport could cost a lot of members and we already have so few.

Nothing is more annoying than not knowing where you stand. Little is expected from the corner of our national government. There is currently no complete board. We have a chairman who does not leave while he is voted out. There are also three directors from the old board. It is said that there are sufficient (skilled) candidates to form a full board. I wonder if an emergency plan is being worked on. In the corridors I have heard that behind the scenes some well-meaning members are working on it. Officially nothing is known including whether or not there is a complete board, only then you can hit nails with heads. Then you can work on a national plan that will take effect from June, July or August, later I think it makes no sense at all. Probably the fun will be over by many fanciers if it is not possible to start until August. I don't like it much anymore because I have no idea what the possibilities are. I even feel that our well-intentioned directors also lack the insight to put something on paper. Doesn't matter but tell us that we are sure, for example, there is no pigeon sport before 1 July. Now it is just guessing, hoping and waiting, something like that cannot be sustained.

Every day I spend quite some time with the youngsters. I like to observe them, take them in hand and look at the ring numbers list. That way I already know about several youngsters from which couple they come. I didn't need a list like that before, I knew them from the moment they were weaned. By doing so, you almost automatically get some favorites. I make one of them annotation on the ring number list just to see if the boss still has a little look at it. By giving your eyes a bit longer you can also see that there are sometimes youngsters who behave a bit strange. For example I can be very annoyed with a young pigeon who walks back and forth on the food bowl like a fool while the others are eating and he or she keeps running so that the sucker falls short. At first I let him eat something out of my hand until I got bored with that too. The ring number is noted which means that the pigeon must come from a good home to be allowed to hibernate. Then there are two, not directly related to each other, who only eat small seeds. They peck like crazy but that doesn't fill their crop. Their numbers have also been marked with a cross. Then there is one that I still have to chase out of the loft. When he walks out through the sputnik and I turn around she is already inside. She probably escaped the bird of prey. At one point I came out and I saw that my pigeons were flying so high as a dot. They did not dare to land and when they were finally on the roof they wanted to go in because it was getting dark there was one that flew up several times and as soon as he walked onto the fall board it was as if there was power on it she was so scared. I didn't write that number down because I didn't know which one it was. It is probably that the pigeon who does not want to go out yet but I am not sure. As for the others it is a pleasure to watch. As soon as I open the sputnik they are out in no time and when I come out a little later I do not see them anymore. They do not stay away because they have not been flying around for so long but the ten minutes that they are out of sight tells me enough about health and that is the most important thing to play well with young pigeons if only it were so far. We agree that we will comply with the measures the sooner we will meet in the club room.

Wijdewormer, April 14 2020. This is the beginning of a well-known Dutch song about our much sung capital. That I did not lie a word of it, I discovered yesterday (Easter Monday). My wife got the bright idea to drive through Amsterdam for an hour. Finally something different, because you do not stay on top of being in the house all the time. Do not think that we do not comply with the regulations, certainly we do, but just as a small trip does you good even if there is no catering opportunity open to have a drink on a cozy terrace. From our house it is a fifteen minute drive to the center. Usually there is no getting through but now that we are in the middle of the Corona crisis it was terribly quiet in this large metropolis. Almost no traffic it was even a bit frightenedly quiet. I have never seen Amsterdam like this before and you only see how beautiful the Amsterdam canals with all their beautiful different canal houses are. In other times you have to have eyes on your neck so to speak. I was reminded of the much sang Jordan. This is a very old neighborhood in the center of the city where it used to be all poverty and it is precisely there that almost a few hundred pigeon fanciers lived house to house who had their loft on the roof or in the house in the attic. Now there is not one anymore.

With a large number of associations and more than 1200 members Amsterdam formed its own department. The clubs were located throughout the city, each region had its own pigeon club. I went to many clubs in the winter months to judge the annual club shows which was always very nice. At the end of the winter season the Amsterdam champions show followed for many years in “Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky” on the Dam behind the resistance monument. Director Staal was also an avid carrier pigeon and was one of the better players in the city. For a number of years I judged the honor class in “Kras” as the hotel was popularly called, which included the pigeons of the great champion of the past season. Amsterdam became busier and busier, in particular making the many clubs that were located on the “canals” almost inaccessible, plus that there was no parking space left. The pigeon sport disappeared from the city and with it a large part of the fanciers. I can safely say that our sport in the big city has dropped to an absolute low. The same applies to the whole of the Netherlands where we have gone back from 80.000 members to +/- 14.000 members of which 8000 are probably still participating in competitions.

That is currently the big question but it is not the most important question. A large number of Corona patients die every day worldwide and new patients are admitted to hospitals every day. Hence a lot of respect for everyone who works many hours under high voltage every day to keep everything running smoothly. We citizens must cooperate in this by adhering to the imposed rules of the game and the longer the contamination lasts the harder it becomes for all of us. There is no other choice than to stick to the rules. So questions like when the racing season will start again it is better to be left out. If necessary we should forget the games this year but I don't want to think about that. That would be a huge damper for all pigeon fanciers especially for many elderly among us. When I look at myself I don't have much of a future with regard to sport. Next year I'm 84 years old and there are very few of those who participate every week. We are also dependent on what our neighboring countries will decide. In Belgium where pigeon racing is almost the national sport many fanciers are eager to start. Even there still applies that even the individual training of pigeons is strictly prohibited. And I would rightly say public health is paramount in every way. It is a great pity that there are no other sports because many of us need that. Relaxation is a great medicine against any disease but it must be possible and responsible. For the time being we must wait until April 28 in the Netherlands before new or other measures will be announced. Every day we are kept informed about all kinds of things that have to do with the corona contamination and luckily there are more and more positive messages. However if you ask me we are not there yet. If the current measures are relaxed somewhat people will probably think about it a little easier with all the associated risks. Security is paramount!

Let's be happy that we have our hobby at home, staying in the pigeon loft creates distraction. Because many of us are very old they no longer participate in the labor process and therefore have the opportunity to pay extra attention to the pigeons. However the immediate environment and family must then be free from the corona virus. But even if the virus does occur in your circle of acquaintances distraction is very important. I see a hobby at home as an important advantage. I now spend much more time on my pigeons. I think it is not better for the pigeons but for myself. Sometimes I just sit between the pigeons for half an hour, every now and then I grab one in my hands which is not wrong especially for the youngsters. They become familiar with the boss and I would rather see that than they all fly away from their seats when I enter the loft. In the season I only come to the racing pigeons at set times. I have the breeders as a distraction but they are now separated so there is not much fun to do there. Before the corona contamination was there we were hit with the weather conditions. It was ideal for breeding and many fanciers with me are very satisfied with the breeding results. It is as if my youngsters are smoother than in other years. I did not start breeding early and now (mid-April) the youngsters fly that it is a sweet treat. The sputnik opens every morning at 10:30 and I close it a few hours later. When the hens leave at four o'clock almost all the youngsters are inside. As of May 1 everything happens at set times and that is already the case with the old pigeons. I still assume that we will get some flights in the middle of this year. For the long distance and marathon players I see it gloomy. There is so little preparation time left for them and if we do not get to the competitions this year we will soon have to deal with the selection. What do you do with all those youngsters of which you know nothing. It will just depend on the pedigree, I assume that everyone breeds from pigeons in which he has full confidence. However if they have not learned anything in their birth year there is a high risk that you will lose them as a yearling especially on flights with a difficult course. That would be a pity especially because I am as big as a monkey on my beautiful group of youngsters. I had imagined 2020 very differently but I assume that this is the case with many. We continue to be brave and follow the rules. Until next week.

Wijdewormer April 8 2020. Now that the pigeon sport is on the back burner my thoughts go back to the past. I was reminded of the world famous Gebr. Janssen from Schoolstraat number 6 in the Belgian border village of Arendonk. It was 1952 when for the first time in my life I took with two older fanciers to the little guys as they were popularly called. I don't know what it feels like to have an audience with the king but I think this felt much more exciting. I only knew the stories about their father who was first a canary breeder and about the brothers by name, not to mention mother Janssen and daughter Bertha. Although I was only 15 years old I thought how is it possible that such nice simple people are so well known by their pigeons. Not many years later they were even world famous. I was not used to much, yes I had clocked the accelerated provincial pigeon on the first best flight in 1951 when I was 13 years old. I still know exactly how it went. I was a member of a club that played on Saturday because that club was the only one with a youth section. There were so many youth members then that many pigeon club would be jealous of nowadays. The pigeon sport was in bloom, one club after another was founded. It went so well that there were even clubs that had a member stop because their room was too small. At that time there was not so much talked about known fanciers or pigeon breeds. The first visit to the Janssen brothers has not lasted an hour but the impression I got there has stayed with me all my life. I was crazy about their beautiful light scratches and light blue and then those silver-gray eyes, to never forget! I had and should have had such pigeons and they got there. More than 50 years I mainly played the Janssen pigeons very strongly in the short distance and long distance. After that the Janssen story was over. In 2000 Louiske passed away. He was not the best pigeon connoisseur he was more about the finances. In the early nineties I brought in my last Janssen pigeon, a three-year-old for which I had to pay a lot. I was very happy with it. The story is not yet complete. At a certain moment I wanted to show the pigeon to a friend but I couldn't find her anywhere she had escaped. She had seen an opportunity to move from her breeding loft to a section where a number of young pigeons stayed. My wife probably chased her out of the loft. Every morning she released that group of youngsters and I had told her that not a single pigeon should stay in the loft. When she heard my story she said that a pigeon did not want to leave, I chased her of the loft she said. You can imagine that there was a bit of panic. It was late autumn, short days, could she find her way from Wijdewormer (120 km) to Arendonk? They had flown out there in the Schoolstraat and when I called Louiske he had the same thoughts as me, she might have been lost. That same week Louiske called me back to tell me that the pigeon was back. Party in the Braspenning house and two days later she was back in mine breeding loft. Unfortunately I have not bred a real topper from her but two daughters of her did. Nice story or not? After that the direct Janssens became too expensive for me. This was partly due to the craziness that was mentioned on pedigree by others (especially commercially minded fanciers). Later through the professional sales sites the internet took it a step further and ensured that the pigeon sport of today has become MADNESS AT ITS BEST in a word. The whole pigeon world was crazy about the super-fast Janssen breed and now twenty years after Louiske's death it is no longer talked about. It can go that fast in the big human world. Several times I was in Arendonk and usually I went home with only one or no pigeon. It was a miracle if you could buy several at once. I owe a lot to their excellent pigeons and just like them my lofts also contain mostly light scratches, light blue and a single shale. That is definitely an important part of my hobby for me. The only thing that still gives us the world famous Gebr. Janssen recalls the almost identically recreated living room in the museum of the Natural company in the Belgian village of Brecht. Most fanciers disagree about my predilection for color, they only talk about first prize winners and the color is unimportant. They just have right when they have won more first prizes in their careers than I have. Nowadays it is only about the pedigree with a beautiful photo and an even better story. They are all good because they come from the best racers and breeders. You just had to know what kind of junk is being dumped from the so-called best breeders and kites on the market. Which madman now sells his best pigeons or it should be a total sale.

I didn't want to start my weekly column with the Corona virus. The whole world is infected with it, there is no worse at the moment. All countries have taken their measures and everyone, with the exception of none, must abide by them. We will very cautiously gain ground but according to the specialist doctors we are not there yet. Caution is still required and let's stick to the rules. You can expect the pigeon season to be overcome this year with obstacles. Perhaps it would be even better to decide in early June whether or not pigeons can and should be flown in 2020. I don't feel good about it. Because there is so much attached to it that I leave it to others to put all the pros and cons on paper. Stay at home and that also applies to your pigeons.

There was no winter this year at least bot in the Netherlands. It was very long autumn weather and now it is only a few days spring and see the heat record has already broken today April 8. It has never been as warm in the center of our country as it is today. Cause? Hole in the ozone layer, CO2 emissions, environment, climate change, fill it in. For us ordinary people who do not delve too deeply into what could be possible it is fully enjoy especially if you are lucky to have a garden. It is completely different with all those families with young children who are more or less under house arrest and have to stay in their apartment with the entire family. It is not fun at all. Fortunately we pigeon fanciers have the necessary distraction by taking care of our pigeons. It is simply wonderful to stay in the pigeon loft for a while regardless of everything that is going on in this world. Daydream about any results that the pigeons may achieve this year. I myself currently enjoy my youngsters that have only been outside for a week. They look like to get through a ring I enjoy to the fullest. Other years I was regularly in the loft with friends bragging about the beautiful youngsters, oh what a wonderful hobby it is. I do wonder if the world will look like it did before the corona crisis. I have my doubts there about what might be because I am an elderly man of 82 and then you do not have much future. I wish you and yours good health and continue to think positively in everything you experience no matter how difficult that may be.

Wijdewormer, March 25, 2020 beautiful spring weather, yes. However, there is much more going on and who could have imagined that two weeks ago. The corona contamination. Some made it a bit laughable, others immediately saw the seriousness of it. Increasingly stringent measures are announced worldwide every day. Our prime minister and our king spoke to the whole people via TV and then it really is serious. Those speeches were much appreciated, it did people very well. The government also provides almost daily information on how best to combat this rapidly spreading contamination. That should succeed if we all participate in this and if we all meet the agreements made. More I can and won’t say about it, I willingly leave that to the experts and we must have complete confidence in that. Furthermore we will have to support each other as much as possible in every respect. Do not just nod yes but also do!

The messages in all types of media do not make it more fun. Every moment of the day we are extensively informed about the situation in all countries. It doesn't stop, so I wonder if we don't scare people more and more. It is a very serious matter, that we all know, but it would be very soothing if something positive were reported. Even if only a little bit, it gives people a little confidence again. Despite the many nasty messages I think we are on the right track again. We should probably not count too much on April, which is the date that is provisionally seen as a possible turning point. A lot of organizations and also companies are very concerned. Because of the corona contamination our whole life has changed completely. Large sport events are canceled which means that millions of people have to miss all kinds of small and especially very large sport events which are just so important for the necessary relaxation on the weekends. However, it is also about the small sport events where spectators are almost never present but which are greatly enjoyed by the athlete himself. This relaxation is urgently needed to function well during the working week. When we look at our great hobby, the pigeon sport, it is especially a lot of fun and distraction for a large group of elderly people. I must honestly confess that I am especially happy now that my hobby is keeping racing pigeons. Last year I planned to quit, I'm glad I didn't.

Autumn lasted very long this year, we have not had winter and spring has started with a lot of sun. However, in the Netherlands we currently suffer a lot from a vicious cold east wind so that the wind chill feels like it is freezing. From the wind you notice that the sun already has a lot of power and in the loft it is so wonderful that the boss has already fallen asleep on his chair several times. The newly weaned youngsters were on my shoulders, on my cap and in my food bucket. All youngsters are now weaned and every now and then I have to keep one with his head in the water which is quite easy to see when I have to. Those who are squinting or blinking are thirsty and do not yet know exactly where the drinking bowl is and then the boss has to step in by holding them with their cup in the drinking bowl. You can almost immediately see that they are improving. Furthermore, they have full boxes all day. So they can eat when they want, the disadvantage is that they mess a lot with the food. That is why I stop feeding with a full bowl of food after two weeks. I prefer feeding at fixed times. I once discovered that in the Amsterdam zoo. A beautiful zoo where many wild animals live in captivity. They are also taken care of at set times and you have to see how active they get by then and even though they live in captivity they look nice and sleek and shiny a sign that their physical condition is okay. That is also how I see it with the pigeons. They already know that when I enter the loft fresh food is thrown into the boxes. Check them out if they are allegedly on ration. It's the same song every year. When it is feeding time I stand outside next to the sputnik and even though they fly so high, as soon as they see me they dive like comets in the loft and are inside within seconds. If they don't something is going on. That is not so much fun but it is nice to know that something is not right because then you have to intervene. Eating and flying appetite are very important measures that indicate the condition of the pigeons.

The racing pigeons are ready for battle, they have been separated since Wednesday. My racing pigeons are in the “upper loft”. A department for the 11 hens, one for the 11 cocks and a larger department with 43 youngsters. The other three departments are empty and that was also the intention. Less work and who knows, just as much fun. Our 20 pairs of breeding pigeons are sitting downstairs and as you know the first round went to Marco and recently the same group has joined me. The breeding went very well, apparently all beautiful youngsters. None that did not come up well and if they stay healthy they can all participate in the competitions. Well or less well built they can all show their skills. The breeding pigeons are now working on their last job and then they are separated, then cocks and hens can each run in an open aviary of 3.5 x 2.5 meters. Only the roof is closed, they can enter at night.

The big question for many fanciers we will be competing this year. Normally it is true that at this time of the year the speed players are eager to start, that is not possible. In that respect, we will have to wait quietly for all developments regarding the corona virus. There is no sensible answer yet. Tonight at half past six in the Netherlands we will receive the very latest news about the state of affairs and any new agreements. If we could start the first flights in June would that be a very surprising and very favorable sign because that would mean that we are on the right track. I can add a little supplement to this article before it goes to the printer. We are waiting for the speech by our Prime Minister. This meant that, in general, little changes except for the people who behave antisocial. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in a hefty fine. Those who do not want to hear should feel.

The infection with the Corona virus started in China. Everyone thought that is far from my bed. Many ordinary citizens thought it would not go so fast. The media provided a lot of information but nevertheless we all shrugged a bit. Washing hands many times a day, well if that's all it will be fine. However the reporting became increasingly concrete causing a kind of hamster panic break out. The supermarkets were looted. Carts were loaded with toilet paper, bread, long-life milk, paste and so on. However, we do not solve the Corona contamination with that. All kinds of emergency measures were announced. Unfortunately it is not the same in every country. The Netherlands has been largely locked up for a few days. Hospitality, museums, restaurants, canteens of sports clubs, everything is and will remain closed until April 6. The pigeon season also does not continue until further notice. Well, there are worse things to think of than the temporary ban on pigeon racing. The big question is how people will react if the bans are extended a few more times a few months. You don't have to think about all the consequences and yet you have to. It is a very serious matter when we had to smile a bit about it two weeks ago. It is desirable that a vaccine is developed quickly so that normal life can start again in the foreseeable future. Let's not think about it too easily and stick to the agreements made.

Actually unimaginable, no entertainment for millions of people around the world. Then you must agree that we are in a terrible period. Our health is at stake. No family visits, no shaking hands, the nightlife is completely stopped, we will have to entertain at home. Unfortunately that has not fully penetrated by many, especially the youth is still going on. But how long, the weekends will change completely and daily life will not be as it was for the time being. We pigeon fanciers were busy preparing for the new season a week ago. The Belgians are said to have already started the speed races for old pigeons. First the weather throw soot in the food and now the worldwide Corona infection. I am currently not very positive about our pigeon sport. The start may be longer than we think. Nevertheless, I will continue to prepare for the time being. The 2020 season will certainly be different from the way we were used to. That is not to say that it is therefore less fun.

That could indeed become quite a big problem. Because everything is locked, including the export of pigeons, all those name pigeons with beautiful pedigrees will get the same value as the pigeons from Jan with the cap. Names of pigeons written upwards will not matter that much anymore. The Asian fanciers who still buy the vast majority of European pigeons will keep their hands on the money if they know in advance that it is not known when they will be sent their bought pigeons at ridiculously high amounts. The pigeon brokers and breeding stations will soon be stocked with lofts of pigeons that cannot or should not be sent and if there is no more income they will have to fire staff. In short all the troubles are not yet completely clear. The mass breeders among us who hold a few sales a year will, like many companies, be forced to lock things up. You can see how quickly something can change. Who of the mass players who practice the pigeon sport commercially will ever have thought of this, nobody right? They are all fully breeding again to strike immediately after the racing season. “It may be wrong” Brederode once said.

This week I was on a loft visit with my son Marco, he has the first round from our joint breeding loft. I had only seen them once since they left me. They now fly and look perfect. Nice sight, a couple of 50 youngsters. Some are already molting in the neck and this weekend he will start darkening. His old pigeons will come with eggs at the end of this week, all with the intention that they will be in widowhood before the original start date. Marco has 18 pairs of racing pigeons with which he will play double widowhood. However, it is now known that the start of the season will be moved to a later date. We will start bringing the pigeons away from 25 March. I hope Marco will take mine too. I have 11 couples, mostly annuals. This weekend March 21/22 my 40 youngsters are leaving the parents. Their loft is super clean, disinfected, processed with the burner and on the floor is a thick layer of pea straw. Two drinking bowls are about a meter and a half apart, a bowl with grit that is refreshed every day. The first two weeks only fresh water and then from time to time "something" goes into the water. I have no secrets, it is interspersed with garlic, yellow cure and condition mix from Dr. Van der Sluis, then again a two-day course against ornithosis. I start darkening in mid-April and continue until the end of June. For me, the eclipse runs from half past eight in the evening until half past eight the next morning.

Of course the mild winter weather has had a positive effect on early breeding. The early youngsters for Marco were shining in the nests, producing nice solid manure probably because I fed them three times a day. I did the same with the youngsters who are meant for me. Furthermore they got everything I thought would be good for them, mineral mix, fresh vegetables, grit, garlic, brewer's yeast and vitamin mineral. Every now and then I take a young pigeon in my hands during cleaning, they feel the way we all like to see it. Even though they are still quite young you already have a pigeon in your hands if you know what I mean. I'm proud of it. The vast majority is light blue, no bold blue I don't like that. Has nothing to do with quality but with my hobby. I also have more white pens than in other years. I don't want to have that whole motley. The breeders are now almost all on the third round of eggs and after that it is over so end of the breeding season. Let's hope that we can all get back to normal life in the near future because it is now very boring on the street. That should work if we keep to the agreements because good health is still the most important thing for all of us.

That sounds nice anyway. The word spring alone makes for a better feeling because the beautiful spring weather is coming. Unfortunately there was no sign of that yesterday. But this morning the sun was shining and we had not seen it for a long time. What a luxury and then to think that the real spring does not start until March 21 and fourteen days after we will start. The latter is difficult to imagine. Yes in the loft it is noticeable that we are on our way to a hopefully beautiful fight under good conditions. The weather does not always have to be nice. Sometimes it is for the exciting pretty good they have to root to get home on time. The good results must be made naturally. That does not mean that there are just beautiful or easy flights as long as they are not flights with a disastrous course. During the selection we all did our best to keep pigeons that have met the test of criticism. Nothing is so bad then losing your with great care chosen pigeons. That something like this will happen to some fanciers is almost certain. You must also be able to handle setbacks in sport and we fanciers can certainly do that. Setbacks belong by every sport similarly with ours. However a good sportsman does not let himself be knocked out of the field and knows how to deal with this. Do not think that you are the only one who sometimes gets a hefty twist. It is very important that the pigeons have gone through the winter without any problems because of the good care of the boss which can be seen in the breeding results. Eggs laid nicely on time, little or no unfertilized eggs, youngsters that hatch from their eggs simultaneously, nice dry manure around the dishes, no squeaky youngsters. These are situations that indicate that the condition of the pigeons is good. Consider the compulsory vaccination (s), a final manure check can certainly not hurt. Now something can be done about it, you will be late in two weeks. You then essentially complete a round and try to make it up again. There are those who succeed but most have to let go. In that respect it is just like a cycling race and you know that in a cycling race no one is waiting and that is also the case in the pigeon sport.

For many fanciers spring month is the month in which matters are tackled even more seriously compared to the competition season, including me. From March 1 all my pigeons sit on summertime that start at the end of this month. The clock then moves forward one hour. As a result the days become longer which means that those who still work can also release their pigeons in the evening. This way everyone is on the timetable that is used during the season. My racing pigeons that are still sitting with newly ringed youngsters now only go out at 8 o'clock in good weather (9 o'clock summer time). If they are separated in April the hens will not come out in the morning, the cocks are allowed out at 8 am and 5 am. If the young pigeons are weaned later they may be out from 9 to 12. As soon as they start fluttering in April they go outside at 9 o'clock in the morning and are fed at 10 o'clock. In the afternoon the hens fly from a quarter to four to five, the cocks from 5 to 6 and the young from 6 to 7. Only at the end of April do the hens also go outside in the morning and are allowed to train for half an hour from 7.30. The boss will also have to get used to all of that because he himself is still in winter time. If the weather is good in the afternoon I will cycle as much as possible every day for an hour and a half and then I see youngsters fly in pairs with various fanciers while mine are all still in the dish which will be weaned at the end of this month. I was not supposed to take that many but in the meantime there are 40 again. Everything is going so well. Every day I go to the pigeons with pleasure and to think that I was planning to stop last year. I was not feeling well at the time but now I feel much better. The years do start to count. The drive is no longer the way it was for years. But I still have angry plans so hopefully I will provide some surprises.

The crowds showed that many fanciers are really looking forward to it again. Although the weather was fine during the early breeding many fanciers were interested in the large selection of young pigeons. Very good business was done and many sellers was sold out on Saturday. The more than 250 exhibitors were also more than satisfied. Of course the organization had given ample attention to the corona virus. You regularly came across the sign washing hands. More than 7000 paying visitors had passed the checkout of this very successful spring fair last weekend. Whether or not it has something to do with it I cannot determine but in the night from Saturday to Sunday 12 of their 14 breeding pigeons were stolen from father and son Murk from IJsselstein (NL). By making a hole in the mesh from the entrance door to the breeding aviary the perpetrators managed to gain access. Really typical that something like this often happens when a big event is held in the pigeon field. Let's hope the perpetrators get caught in the neck. We also have the NPO meeting on 14 March with the most important points being the election of the board. It appears that an entirely new board will be elected with the resignation of the current chairman under point 7.2. Also under point 8.1 the vote on whether or not to organize the racing pigeon Olympiad in the Netherlands. If it does not go ahead it seems to me an international downfall for the NPO and a huge loss of face for Chairman Van der Kruk (also a member of the FCI board) because they had definitively taken on the organization. You can also be premature. Regardless of how it ends in April we are all empty-handed at the start for a new, hopefully sporty and exciting showdown.

The Dutch Weather is a completely upset. For weeks with fairly stormy winds and heavy rain showers the temperatures are fairly mild for the time of year. Storm Chiara and Dennis have made a name for themselves and today there is another strong wind. All in all a pretty good period for the winter breeders but now it's coming. Some winter breeders sit with hands in the hair because from the end of January the earliest youngsters had to go outside. I beg so the wind is a big breaker. Almost no fancier dares to leave his young pigeons outside and in the meantime it’s the end of February. Maybe it sounds worse. I know enough fanciers who release their young pigeons when they have thrown the first pen but that is not my system. We have to take risk. The youngsters can sometimes blow through the gust of the loft which does not mean that you immediately lose everything. I live in the polder and have only rest around the loft. At the moment I don't have any youngsters that have to go outside. Mine have just crawled from the egg so I have until the end of March. If it’s then better weather we have to wait. There have been years when quite a lot of snow fell at the end of March but that was an exception in the Netherlands. Unfortunately we now have more and more to do with air climate change and we and our pigeons have to deal with. Today it is a sunny day a strong wind is blowing again. However another (fierce) storm is coming. That is predicted for Saturday March 14 namely then the postponed general meeting of the NPO is being held. If you ask me much too late. Two weeks after our new racing season starts and then it is hard to imagine that the severely disabled NPO board has required everything to the last detail. It would be a good thing that there would be more information from behind that board table to the followers. In fact fanciers now nothing yet about changes. Probably little will be changed because there’s no time for it. Rest in the room is currently the most important thing. The still amps 7000 flying lofts now want to know how 2020 season will look like. The race program is largely known. For us the race season is started, we are there all year round busy with. The majority is not so concerned with the national organization and only want to play with pigeons. It’s now about capable managers who see that their members keep pigeons to participate in competitions. That is their hobby and that is why they are associated with the NPO. Unfortunately the NPO didn’t bake much of it.
Various managers have resigned and there is a chairman who simply does not want to leave while he has been asked several times to make his position available. It leaves him cold, he pretends that nothing is wrong while pigeons loving Netherland really want to get rid of him. Then he also loses his face and his jobs at the FCI and he was just so proud of that. It is now quiet before the storm. It is even anxiously quiet and in the corridors people wonder if everything is arranged on time. The confidence in chairman Maurice van de Kruk who likes to hear himself talk is completely gone although he still does not realize that.

Amsterdam was once an independent department with more than 1200 members on a small number of square kilometers. Especially in the much sung Jordaan it was crawling of fanciers. That is why the letter sent this week was a complete surprise. Amsterdam was no longer an independent department for quite some time and went further through pigeon life as District Amsterdam with considerably fewer members. Now the message came through that the district of Amsterdam has also been discontinued. The reason given was the ever-decreasing number of members, too little participation in events and the annual festive championships. Really incredible. I have experienced the big parties in Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and in the Hilton hotel, unforgettable evenings! For several years I have been able to judge the pigeons at countless clubs and I also keep good memories of the annual departmental exhibition with their class of honor. And so the Dutch pigeon sport loses an icon again. A pity and a pity.

I have never been in favor of it because this type of competition has nothing to do with the pigeon sport that we know in the Netherlands for 100 years. Taking care of your pigeons yourself and participating in flights is a real hobby at home. From the time that the pigeon sport gained worldwide fame smart people arose who saw it as commercial. There are simply a lot of gambling people in this world. The one loft races were gaining more ground worldwide. Large amounts of money could be won by our standards and that made several fanciers think. Many got an aversion to this gambling game with pigeons because the participation costs are much too high for the average fancier. Another much more important point in my opinion is the pigeons themselves. They are put together in large numbers which is extra difficult to keep them healthy. Releasing many pigeons at the same time from the loft makes absolutely no sense because those pigeons don't really train. They do not move away and therefore remain as stupid as the horse of our Lord and that was a donkey. In other words a lot of pigeons are lost as a result. In addition we may ask ourselves what the condition of the pigeons must be to make them eligible for participation. At home we determine ourselves which pigeons can and cannot participate and we do our best to get them to the start with extra motivation. How does that work in the money races? Do they all fly off the shelf or may they also have a litter. I still don't have a good feeling about it. It is not allowed in the Netherlands. That does not say everything. For some fanciers races like this are a solution. Not long ago I had contact with a fancier from Hawaii by email. Pigeon racing is almost impossible there. That man had a loft of breeding pigeons whose youngsters were released in the "one loft races". That was that man's big hobby. A few days ago I received the very comprehensive overview of the One Million Dollar Race in South Africa, very professional for sure. For the 24th time the 600 km race was held on 1 February. At 6:05 am the remaining 1548 pigeons from 34 different countries were released at a temperature of 19 degrees Celsius. The pigeons had the wind on their heads and during the day the temperature rose to 32 degrees. The largest international participation came from Germany 403; USA 228; VK 100; Belgium 46 and the Netherlands 59. Our South African sports friends had deployed 284. The pigeons were expected that day at 4 o'clock in the afternoon which meant 10 hours of flying at a speed of 60 km per hour. That calculation was incorrect. We had to wait until 6.32 pm for a Slovenian pigeon to report at a speed of 802 meters per minute. The pigeon thus earned 300.000 US dollars for his boss. Later the winning pigeon was sold for 118.000 dollars. If you read something like that many people get the jitters to take a chance. At 7:48 PM an American pigeon arrived for $ 150.000 and at 7:27 PM a Dutch pigeon arrived that collected $ 100.000. Then it became quiet. The fourth pigeon had to wait until 5.58 a.m. on Sunday morning and number 5 arrived at 6.49 a.m. On Sunday evening 447 were home and Monday evening at 7 p.m. that number had grown to 590. So after three days of the race there were a thousand (two thirds) young pigeons en route and that is precisely the reason for my aversion to the one loft races.

By that I do not mean the cards for bridge or another card game but about the pedigree cards of our pigeons. I spend a lot of time on it in the quiet winter months after the pigeons have been selected. All this with the intention of putting together breeding couples from which I expect good results. It is a fun activity because you can read the necessary information about parents and grandparents from every breeding pigeon. You can see at a glance whether the pigeon is a cross product or whether it comes from lines or inbreeding. For me this is important information when forming the new couples. You also have immediate global information about the performance of the entire family especially if you work on it. Try to capture as many important notes as possible such as the quality of the feathers, physique, size, sturdy and well-closed coccyx. Very useful because in practice it appears that you forget more than you think. By putting couples together on the basis of the pedigree cards you are in any case careful. If after a lot of shifting I come to a definitive link I usually feel satisfied. In my mind I see the pigeons in front of me and even after so many years of pigeon sport I am still so naive that I think they are all sublime couples. For me they are especially after all the preliminary work I have done. However, it does not mean that the breeding results of the couples are sublime. We are all pigeon fanciers enough to know that such a thing is impossible. But……. if you manage to breed an "extra" once you know that a pigeon that taps three or maybe four times very early in its birth year gives that enormous sense of satisfaction especially because you yourself have determined the parents. I also like to talk about usable pigeons. Pigeons do not necessarily have to be winners, you also need pigeons to make a nice result. Just winning a first prize with 50 pigeons doesn't tell me that much. I prefer to go for a result such as 1-5-6-8-9 etc. with the same number of pigeons. That is what I work for every day and luckily for me many times in my long career I succeeded. That is especially nice because I have never flown with a large number of pigeons. Until three years ago I had a maximum of 24 couples to fly and the same number of breeders. The latter was very much but the demand for my pigeons was very high for me. Now that I am an old man and have only played 12 pairs of pigeons in the last two years the results are less spectacular. In the corridors I sometimes hear "Bras is old and doesn't have the good ones anymore". That's right, I am indeed old and without you noticing it change you a little every day. You become a bit easier, it doesn't have to be that way anymore, you become more sentimental and less driven in. In short it all becomes too much. This year I have not (yet) succeeded in completely giving up my pigeons. In 2020 I would only play with young pigeons. But if from the end of March until the beginning of July I only have to care for young pigeons then I might as well keep a dozen couples of racing pigeons so that I have a game every week from April. So the men are not completely rid of me yet. In addition I care about our 20 joint breeding couples that are housed with me so enough work.

They really came up beautifully and at the end of this week 32 go to son Marco. A score of 80% (32 out of 40) is definitely good for this time of the year. It is a shame about the two, in our eyes, important couples had unfertilized eggs in the first round and now happily sit on their newly born youngsters for a few days. The cocks are already hunting hard and the youngsters from those eggs are for me. So from the end of March I also have my team of youngsters. In addition, there are also a few that I breed from the racing pigeons that have just been together for a week. A little too late because the breeding pigeons already have eggs from the second round. We will see how it goes, 35 youngsters are more than enough for me. Dr. van der Sluis will soon be coming to vaccinate against paramixo as soon as the breeding and racing pigeons are brooding again. Also the young pigeons that are now sitting with Marco get then a shot. Now we have to wait and see what the quality of the youngsters is like. Breeding a loft full of youngsters is not that difficult. In that respect they are just like mice, you have in no time a loft full of what is not intended. It's not about quantity but about quality. There are in our country so-called eye inspectors and even fortune-tellers who tells everywhere they go the best stories about pigeons that can win a club competition or even perform so well that he gets a teletext mention. I must say that those men do ensure a pleasant pigeon evening. They sometimes have a good story but in my eyes it is still a story or even a fairy tale that they are tell people. They also breed a loft full of youngsters every year. If they knew so well they would have had enough of two breeding couples. No, it is and remains very difficult to breed a topper every year and that is not even possible with most. Recently I read in a column written by a very good fancier that he had a special pigeon 20 years ago. It was not only a winner during the competitions but also as a breeder he was worth his weight in gold. The pigeon would certainly have produced a dozen national ace pigeons. In itself incredible but absolutely true. The man is not only a great champion, he is also a fan of a very large number of pigeons. There are a good number of foster pigeons which are therefore not raced with. He only has it to hatch eggs from his top pigeons and to raise them further. That is one of the reasons that he has bred several top pigeons from his champion pigeons. He did say that from 2000 onwards a total of 207 were bred so only 5% really top. Can you see how difficult it is to breed a few good ones from very good pigeons apart from the fact how many fanciers in the world can realize such a breeding method? Every year he breeds around 300 pigeons for himself and then to think that someone in the southwest of the Netherlands wants to start with 1000 youngsters. Very spectacular but not a good thing for the pigeon sport. Within the NPO there is a "fair game" working group that came up with four proposals at the last meeting to establish the maximum number of participating pigeons that can be used per fancier. It remained at point 4 and that meant; leave everything as it is. Which means that everyone can use as many pigeons on every flight as they want. Pigeon sport has never been a fair game and therefore it never be.

We notice more and more that the climate is changing. As far as we know there has never been such a severe storm in the Netherlands as Sunday February 10, even the name Ciara was given to it. We are really used to wind rain and high water. This time it was extreme and therefore the population was warned with code orange. That meant very turbulent weather with strong gusts of wind up to 140 km per hour and very heavy rain showers. Well, we knew that. As a precaution 140 flights were canceled at Schiphol Airport. There were no trains on certain routes. Trees went round and all sports events were canceled for the entire Sunday even the Dutch Championship against wind in cycling could not take place. Furthermore a lot of damage to houses and buildings which means that the insurance companies must certainly work overtime. Sunday's damage is estimated at 150 million and even on Monday the storm had not disappeared. Beastly weather is predicted for the coming weekend. This powerful storm is called Dennis. Due to such turbulent weather you also extend such situations to the upcoming racing season. After all we are pigeon fanciers and our hobby has a lot, if not everything, to do with weather conditions.

The pigeon sport is changing. Not only individual commerce plays a very important role in maintaining the membership but climate change also plays an important role. The real Dutch winters no longer exist. It is becoming an exception that natural ice can be skated for several weeks in the months of December to February. It looks like the once famous eleven cities tour with a distance of 200 km over the frozen Frisian waters will never be ridden again. This year in the Netherlands even the hottest January month ever! It is early February and due to the mild weather conditions, 8 degrees Celsius, the birds are busy making their nests in order. Do you remember the saying "in May all birds lay eggs"? Forget that, the birds don't wait that long anymore. It is much too soft for the time of year. The crocuses, tulips and daffodils fly out of the ground. On the climate change pigeon sport will also be forced to play. I can still remember that during the winter meetings it was almost begged not to start the racing season that early. There were winters that there was still plenty of snow in mid-March and training flights with snow showers along the way also occurred. It is as if the real winters in our country no longer exist. Would that all be over for good? It is as if the seasons are shifting. We are therefore more or less obliged to start our racing season earlier or later. A summer break may have to be introduced. Whatever the case a racing season such as we have been used to for a hundred years will almost certainly have to undergo a change. We will certainly have to be guided by climate change experts and not by the benevolent administrators who cannot see beyond their noses.

Is winter breeding still a necessary evil? It was devised by fanciers who wanted their young to grow up before the fields started to turn green. With this they wanted to prevent the pigeons from moving to the field to look for what they could not find in the loft. The farmers started working with fertilizer to ensure a good harvest. The nasty thing is that fertilizer contains toxic components that kill birds and therefore our pigeons. In the winter months there is little or nothing to find for our pigeons in the field which is why winter breeding was a great invention. Just as important with winter breeding is that you can breed several youngsters from the better pigeons that can participate in the young pigeon program. Not everyone, like many large fanciers, has a number of foster pigeons that hatch the eggs of the breeding pigeons. The pigeon game is still based on the ordinary
Fancier with a stock of no more than 50 old pigeons including a couple of breeding pigeons plus an equal number of young pigeons. By the way, it would be very nice if we all had an equal stock of pigeons. A "fair game" commission such as we have in the Netherlands would then not be necessary. Now that it has been decided in our country that everyone on a flight can still use as many pigeons as he or she wants there is still no question of fair play and it will unfortunately never be. By the way it remains a very nice game. It is a shame that so many fanciers have thrown in the towel in recent years and it doesn't stop there.

If the pigeons are well cared during the winter months and are super healthy for breeding it must now be enjoyed by the new generation. There are lofts where the pigeons are not yet coupled (mainly with the marathon players) where they sometimes only sit together for a week. With those who started between Christmas and New Year the youngsters are now ready and with the winter breeders who have already put the pigeons together at the end of November the youngsters are now coming outside for the first time. We couldn't have done better with regard to weather conditions. To date I have only heard favorable messages about the breeding. Few or no unfertilized eggs is a good sign about the health of the pigeons. Don't wait too long with grafting against paramixo, the sooner the better. Don't wait too long to vaccinate against smallpox and paratyphus and when the pigeons come to eggs for the second time a yellow cure won't hurt either. The point is that you feel good about yourself. You must be able to say to yourself "I did everything to it". Soon when the season is only a few weeks old the first sounds come "it is not possible while I have done everything about it". Maybe everything you've done is wrong. Because it is always the same ones that moan. There are always the same who have a subscription with the vet and there are always the same who play well, year after year. All this has to do with the fancier's will commitment and mentality. We are on our way to the start it goes faster than we think. Make sure that you are well motivated and the results will come almost automatically.

I feel better than last year and that's why I go to the pigeons with more pleasure. I hope it stays that way and then I can make the competition smell another shit. The youngsters from our breeders have now all moved to Marco's loft and he has now ringed the youngsters from his racing pigeons. If they can leave the parents in two weeks he will be ready and will have a young stock of around 50 pigeons. I poor father ☹ have no young ones yet. The breeders are breeding for the second time and my 11 pairs of racing pigeons for the first time. I can submit various eggs from the breeders to the racing pigeons, all of which can only raise a young. If everything goes well I will easily get 35 youngsters and that is more than enough for me. For now everything is going well, father and son are increasingly looking forward to the 2020 racing season. I hope you do too!

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture has acutely announced, February 11, a poultry house obligation (do not let out). This has to do with a bird flu infection in Germany. In 4 weeks it will be reviewed whether the chickens can go outside again. This duty does not (yet) apply to pigeons.

When I awoke yesterday afternoon from my afternoon sleep the impressive commemorative service at the gate of death in Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in southern Poland began on the TV. The Holocaust is commemorated every year on January 27 because on that day in 1945 the Red Army freed Auschwitz. 1.3 million people were detained there during the war years. Of these 1.1 million were horribly murdered in gas chambers, including more than 55.000 Dutch people. I myself was 8 years old when the Netherlands was liberated so I was still a child. Yet my thoughts often go back to that time. Especially if planes come over low or if the sirens roar on the first Monday of the month. As a child I can remember the liberation very well because the people were very excited. They danced on the street, celebrated and everyone was happy I had never seen anything like it before. I had never seen images of what happened there in Auschwitz and other camps. I am now an old man and despite the fact that we have been liberated for 75 years I could not keep it dry on the TV during the service. Auschwitz remains an eternal monument. What took place there during the 5 war years is incomprehensible and cannot be described with a pen. Everyone thinks and says that something like this should never happen again. We all probably agree with that. But if we look at today's world events I wonder what we have all learned from it.

I don't know if it has anything to do with it but as a pigeon fancier I am a bit proud that our pigeon is the peace symbol. Pigeons have made themselves deserving in wartime and are still seen as the messenger of peace during every war commemoration. Keep it that way I would say. In the loft, especially at this time, they are not that peaceful. Especially when it comes to their territory they sometimes fight until they drop. Already in 1946 I got two pigeons for my 9th birthday who had no more behind toe they were amputated. The occupier demanded from each pigeon holder a list with the ring numbers of their pigeons. They wanted to know because the food was becoming scarce and feed vouchers were provided based on the number of pigeons. In retrospect that turned out not to be the real reason. After a while a decree was issued that all pigeons had to be killed and that the leg with each ring had to be returned. That blow came very hard. Some kept their pigeons at the risk of their own lives while others kept them with friends and acquaintances. The situation did not improve and the controls became stricter. Soon it became known among the pigeon farmers that you could easily amputate the rear toe, rub the leg with soft soap and then slide the ring off. That meant they only had to kill half of the pigeons. Shortly after the liberation the pigeons that were still alive were given a close ring. There were not many of them, pigeons were then a rich possession. Halfway through the fifties there was already plenty of racing with pigeons. The number of fanciers grew rapidly and one pigeon club after the other was established. It became a real popular sport with many supporters. The new building threw a spanner in the works. Where new houses were built it was not allowed to just place a pigeon loft in the garden, it was even forbidden. That was the first death blow. Despite that, the pigeon sport flourished and grew. They were golden times with every week of sport fun. The pigeon sport did not stand still, the clocks were improved, the transport became more modern, there were factory lofts that are a jewel in every garden, newspapers paid full attention to the pigeon sport. There were national championships, even a homing pigeon Olympiad and several competitions. Unfortunately they did not lead to more members. In the new decade in particular individual commerce entered the pigeon sport. Who would not even want to win a car with his pigeons. The hobby became professional with all its consequences. Fanciers grew older, stopped investing and certainly not against those stupid amounts. As a result many of them quit the first hour. Certainly due to old age but currently more likely because the prices are rising in every respect. We are certainly in a very difficult period in the Netherlands and Belgium. Dissatisfied fanciers administrators who can no longer do good. As strange as it may sound, within pigeon sport it is no rest and peace, it is war. Please keep the idea that our pigeons are still the peace symbol.

Last Saturday the members council of the NPO met to as far as possible complete the agenda with all kinds of proposals for the coming racing season. The whole event could be followed live stream. It was a long session including a break and suspension, it took 5.5 hours and that is far too long. Traditionally speaking speakers were regularly speaking and I think the rest of the delegates were just thinking; how long will this take? A very important point was the motion of no confidence in the chairman. That is why a day chairman was hired to lead the meeting. Incidentally it was a sleep-inducing show and at the end of the show the current chairman was still sitting behind the board table as if nothing was wrong at all. The voting behavior of the representative of the Noord-Holland department in which I play was striking. He voted differently than had already been decided at our department meeting, as happened once before. The issue of doping was also discussed. A comment was made that doping controls had not been conducted for a very long period of time, while doping controllers were trained within our organization. The chairman of the day unfortunately did not know that our current chairman within the FCI manages the doping portfolio. None of the delegates elaborated on this, also NPO chairman Van de Kruk kept his jaws tight. Why didn't he bring light into this dark matter? A lot of hard work is being done behind the scenes to invite new skilled directors to sit on a new NPO board to be formed. On March 25 everything will have to be arranged or arranged so that the new board can get to work with a new impetus to remove the NPO administratively from the impasse.

The racing pigeons will be coupled this week. I think it is really necessary because I saw a few breeding cocks chasing their hen again. I have calculated everything well to place eggs from the breeding pigeons partly under my racing pigeons. It looks like I'm a little bit late. Is certainly due to the fairly mild weather. A few days with sunshine last week and then it is immediately pleasant in the lofts. The ladies need a partner. They are cuddling and now and then I find an egg. The youngsters with the breeding pigeons are doing very well, I can now see what color they get. Not that it is that important but I just like to see very light blue or light scratches with an even lighter head, also called "ice head". The most important thing is of course the quality but also the construction counts. Beautiful and good is possible but also difficult. I have been working on that as long as I have pigeons. But still the prettiest are not always the best.

Yes you read correctly 40.000 is a lot but that is the number of members we have lost the in the Dutch pigeon sport over the years. I assume that you have all been to a stadium where the same number of people were present. When that sporting event is over and everyone goes home you see that 40.000 people are a large crowd. We now miss a large number of active fanciers in the Netherlands. One of the leading pigeon countries like the Netherlands now only has 14.000. This also includes combinations that consist of two or three members who play from the same location. Also included are the members who no longer have pigeons but who have remained members of their club. According to my estimate we can still speak of 8000 "flying lofts". When we get to the national organization point we will be shocked how many (especially older) fanciers are still interested in our NPO which is shockingly low. The large group wants to play with their pigeons from April to September and for the rest it will be a concern for them how that will be arranged. The older fanciers say "it will take my time". Try to set up an organization for that in which all noses point in the same direction seems something almost impossible to realize. Benevolent members of the board receive so much opposition that administrators step up every once in a while. The number of members is increasing rapidly which is not only due to the aging population. The dissatisfaction and envy is getting bigger and the associations are getting smaller. There is already a proposal on the table that an association must consist of a minimum of 15 members and that basketing may take place in its own room if a minimum of 8 members participate. In my eyes a great decision but I am sure that not everyone agrees with me. In this way we continue to muddle a little the safety of the competition is compromised, the number of participating pigeons in the club is little more. With me in the Zaanstreek there are three club rooms next to each other. Yet people still can't manage to make it into a club. How short-sighted you have to be to stop that certainly because it is only a few members who stop a merger. Organically things are not going well in the Netherlands. The national administration has resigned or has been asked to resign. The board of Noord-Holland has also given up and it is no longer a unity in my own club. Nevertheless the new season in the Netherlands starts on April 12 and that is what many fanciers are eagerly waiting for. However a lot of work still needs to be done for the (new) directors. My fervent wish is that they will succeed.
Also called the Olympic Games of the pigeon sport. Saturday 1 February is the final race over a distance of 525 km. A nice prize of 300.000 US dollars is waiting for the winner. A total of 3632 pigeons from 36 different countries were entered for this race. As I heard of on January 17 1756 participated so there are a lot less. That it will be an exciting race on February 1 is certain.

It has been almost 4 years since 50 well-known pigeons were stolen from the well-known Belgian long distance fancier Frans Bungeneers from Ranst. The names of the three suspects are known but no pigeons from the police officer from Ranst were found during house searches. However other stolen pigeons of Dutch and Belgian descent. Frans had not sufficiently insured his pigeons so he only received 900 euros. He has submitted a claim for damages of 700.000 euros to the court. The court's claim is 2 years in prison plus a fine, the judgment is on 3 February.

In the Netherlands we will start on April 11 with a series of 6 speed flights for the old pigeons followed by 7 middle distance flights, 11 flights for young pigeons and 5 after flights for old and young pigeons. Then it is in the meantime 12 September. The young pigeons start on July 4. The program for the one-day long distance flights consists of 6 flights and the marathon players can choose from 8 races. Every week game for the program players, they can participate in 35 races. What the program looks like in the Ladies League is not yet known. Last year they started this competition with a lot of tame, it was still a bit of scanning. Hopefully the ladies will go full steam ahead this year.

It is known worldwide that in the United Kingdom the second or third weekend of January The Show Of The Year is held in the English seaside town of Blackpool on the Irish Sea. Really the entire resort is that week full of pigeon sport. I was there for several years and it was unforgettable weekends. This year too a crowd of people were on the move. Blackpool is becoming an increasingly international event that attracts many fanciers from a large number of countries. Especially the sales that are held in the many hotels attract a large audience. Again a lot of pigeons changed ownership often against hefty amounts. It is a good thing that there is no survey about the results achieved by the very expensive pigeons and their children. Many pigeon friends would probably fall from their seats in surprise. Blackpool is and remains a great event. Next week it will be the turn of Fugare in Kortrijk, Belgium on 8 and 9 February. It is already the 10th time that this international pigeon fair is held. Many fanciers from the surrounding countries are also attracting visitors there. After that a number of national honors will follow and then yes, it will all start again.

Almost all 36 young are ringed. One has been submitted to another couple so that the couple who no longer have a youngster can start again. Furthermore there is little to say about the new generation. They grow well and that is certainly because I feed the pigeons three times a day. The youngsters then lie all day with a well-filled head. The manure around the dishes looks great. Thursday 30 January my racing pigeons will be coupled so that I can place a part of the second round of the breeders under the racing pigeons. Incidentally I only have 1 young brought up because we, as their young, can be weaned on the eve of the new racing season. As soon as my racing pigeons are on eggs in mid-February, they are immediately vaccinated against paramixo, according to Dr. Van der Sluis can't hurt that. I'm actually a bit late and since this morning also a bit shocked, read….

This morning I read an extensive article about bird flu (paramixo) that is getting closer. The economic interests in the Netherlands are particularly large within the poultry sector. The Netherlands has a little less than 100 million chickens and nineteen slaughterhouses that employ more than 10.000 people. The Minister of Agriculture has been asked for a shed duty (keeping poultry inside). This time the H5N8 virus comes from the Czech Republic and now that more and more cold is coming from Eastern Europe the migratory birds are the possible transmitters through their droppings. People do not want to take any risks and that may therefore also relate to our racing pigeon sport. We have experienced something like this several times. Do not panic, it will not be the case that our new racing season is in danger? Just to be sure, let's light a candle.

When I awoke yesterday afternoon from my afternoon sleep the impressive commemorative service at the gate of death in Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in southern Poland began on the TV. The Holocaust is commemorated every year on January 27 because on that day in 1945 the Red Army freed Auschwitz. 1.3 million people were detained there during the war years. Of these 1.1 million were horribly murdered in gas chambers, including more than 55.000 Dutch people. I myself was 8 years old when the Netherlands was liberated so I was still a child. Yet my thoughts often go back to that time. Especially if planes come over low or if the sirens roar on the first Monday of the month. As a child I can remember the liberation very well because the people were very excited. They danced on the street, celebrated and everyone was happy I had never seen anything like it before. I had never seen images of what happened there in Auschwitz and other camps. I am now an old man and despite the fact that we have been liberated for 75 years I could not keep it dry on the TV during the service. Auschwitz remains an eternal monument. What took place there during the 5 war years is incomprehensible and cannot be described with a pen. Everyone thinks and says that something like this should never happen again. We all probably agree with that. But if we look at today's world events I wonder what we have all learned from it.

I don't know if it has anything to do with it but as a pigeon fancier I am a bit proud that our pigeon is the peace symbol. Pigeons have made themselves deserving in wartime and are still seen as the messenger of peace during every war commemoration. Keep it that way I would say. In the loft, especially at this time, they are not that peaceful. Especially when it comes to their territory they sometimes fight until they drop. Already in 1946 I got two pigeons for my 9th birthday who had no more behind toe they were amputated. The occupier demanded from each pigeon holder a list with the ring numbers of their pigeons. They wanted to know because the food was becoming scarce and feed vouchers were provided based on the number of pigeons. In retrospect that turned out not to be the real reason. After a while a decree was issued that all pigeons had to be killed and that the leg with each ring had to be returned. That blow came very hard. Some kept their pigeons at the risk of their own lives while others kept them with friends and acquaintances. The situation did not improve and the controls became stricter. Soon it became known among the pigeon farmers that you could easily amputate the rear toe, rub the leg with soft soap and then slide the ring off. That meant they only had to kill half of the pigeons. Shortly after the liberation the pigeons that were still alive were given a close ring. There were not many of them, pigeons were then a rich possession. Halfway through the fifties there was already plenty of racing with pigeons. The number of fanciers grew rapidly and one pigeon club after the other was established. It became a real popular sport with many supporters. The new building threw a spanner in the works. Where new houses were built it was not allowed to just place a pigeon loft in the garden, it was even forbidden. That was the first death blow. Despite that, the pigeon sport flourished and grew. They were golden times with every week of sport fun. The pigeon sport did not stand still, the clocks were improved, the transport became more modern, there were factory lofts that are a jewel in every garden, newspapers paid full attention to the pigeon sport. There were national championships, even a homing pigeon Olympiad and several competitions. Unfortunately they did not lead to more members. In the new decade in particular individual commerce entered the pigeon sport. Who would not even want to win a car with his pigeons. The hobby became professional with all its consequences. Fanciers grew older, stopped investing and certainly not against those stupid amounts. As a result many of them quit the first hour. Certainly due to old age but currently more likely because the prices are rising in every respect. We are certainly in a very difficult period in the Netherlands and Belgium. Dissatisfied fanciers administrators who can no longer do good. As strange as it may sound, within pigeon sport it is no rest and peace, it is war. Please keep the idea that our pigeons are still the peace symbol.

Last Saturday the members council of the NPO met to as far as possible complete the agenda with all kinds of proposals for the coming racing season. The whole event could be followed live stream. It was a long session including a break and suspension, it took 5.5 hours and that is far too long. Traditionally speaking speakers were regularly speaking and I think the rest of the delegates were just thinking; how long will this take? A very important point was the motion of no confidence in the chairman. That is why a day chairman was hired to lead the meeting. Incidentally it was a sleep-inducing show and at the end of the show the current chairman was still sitting behind the board table as if nothing was wrong at all. The voting behavior of the representative of the Noord-Holland department in which I play was striking. He voted differently than had already been decided at our department meeting, as happened once before. The issue of doping was also discussed. A comment was made that doping controls had not been conducted for a very long period of time, while doping controllers were trained within our organization. The chairman of the day unfortunately did not know that our current chairman within the FCI manages the doping portfolio. None of the delegates elaborated on this, also NPO chairman Van de Kruk kept his jaws tight. Why didn't he bring light into this dark matter? A lot of hard work is being done behind the scenes to invite new skilled directors to sit on a new NPO board to be formed. On March 25 everything will have to be arranged or arranged so that the new board can get to work with a new impetus to remove the NPO administratively from the impasse.

The racing pigeons will be coupled this week. I think it is really necessary because I saw a few breeding cocks chasing their hen again. I have calculated everything well to place eggs from the breeding pigeons partly under my racing pigeons. It looks like I'm a little bit late. Is certainly due to the fairly mild weather. A few days with sunshine last week and then it is immediately pleasant in the lofts. The ladies need a partner. They are cuddling and now and then I find an egg. The youngsters with the breeding pigeons are doing very well, I can now see what color they get. Not that it is that important but I just like to see very light blue or light scratches with an even lighter head, also called "ice head". The most important thing is of course the quality but also the construction counts. Beautiful and good is possible but also difficult. I have been working on that as long as I have pigeons. But still the prettiest are not always the best.

Stop smoking, eat healthy, exercise more, you know all those good intentions. It is about whether you actually maintain that. Practice has shown many times that when we are six weeks later there is very little left of all those good intentions. Well, that's been going on for years. Everyone should do what he feels most comfortable with. Worse is all the violence in the world. The demolitions of beautiful buildings and especially houses that make many people flee. The uncertainty and corruption make people fearful, no one feels really safe anymore. Now that I am writing this we will be celebrating New Year's Eve in a few hours, enjoying the family together with plenty of food and drink. It is a party and at 12 o'clock we wish each other all the best for 2020. There is hardly any thought of those people who do not have a pleasant evening. Very bizarre, or not. Fortunately many people do what they can to support people who have been driven from their hose and fireplace. This can be done in many ways and it would be good if we would start thinking about it again tomorrow when we start living normal life again and add the deed to the word. Although there is much to wish I am happy that I live in the Netherlands because we are not so bad. Compared to many other countries we lead a luxurious life. So far my New Year's meditations. A healthy, happy, successful and prosperous 2020 for all of you.

Another year has passed. Was that a shame or were you happy that it was over? Everything has to do with the health of the boss, his family and the performance of the pigeons. If that is good, one can fully commit one hundred percent. If that is not the case then you see that by the performance of the pigeons. I experienced that myself last year. In the middle of the summer I went through a bad period. I was not motivated at all and that was due to physical problems. I always went to the pigeons with pleasure but then I could no longer afford it. I was convinced that I would stop pigeon racing. Also all the peripheral phenomena within the organization of our beautiful hobby did not make me happier. As far as the national and regional organization is concerned it is still a mess. Fortunately I feel good again and finally decided to continue with my pigeons. However, it will be different. I'm going to start with only 10 couples to fly. Together with my son Marco we have a joint breeding loft in which 20 couples. Furthermore it is the intention that Marco takes the first round of youngsters and I the next. I will pair my racing pigeons when the youngsters are with the breeders for about 15 days so that a number of eggs from the in our eyes best breeders will lie under my racing pigeons. All breeders are now breeding for the first time. In the meantime I have stopped lighten and the last few days the windows are open during the day so that the pigeons that are not on the nest can fly around nicely. I am not in favor of always keeping the windows open. That has to do with the large free space in front of my breeding loft that faces east and in this time the cold wind comes from there. I definitely do not want to make greenhouse plants from my breeders but for them to breed in the full, often cold east wind it is not necessary for me. I think they get worse rather than better from that. However I did ensure that they all have a well-filled nest, which is nice for the young ones that will hatch later perhaps with temperatures below zero. For them it also applies that they will grow better in a cozy nest than in a bare nest dish filled with a few tobacco stalks.

For us a very pleasant evening in the middle of a large part of the family. With a very nice game and the necessary snacks and drinks it was soon twelve o'clock. Everyone flew around each other to wish each other the best for 2020. Around twelve o'clock the TV went on and whatever channel you watched it was everywhere party with beautiful fireworks, how beautiful it can be. But again this year it was "appearances deceiving" because not much later we were confronted with images of the necessary riots, arson, eye damage and even more of that misery. Even now last year's records were broken again. It gets worse every year. A general ban on fireworks would certainly help to restore peace. When I came to the pigeons that morning (a bit later than normal) the breeders were quietly breeding and the other pigeons were waiting in front of the sliding door because they were hungry. A quick clean here and there, all supplied with fresh water and soon inside to the warm stove awaiting the visit of the children / grandchildren who wish ma/grandma and pa/grandpa a happy new year. We will resume the thread of normal life from January 2. I will then start with the racing pigeons to let go of the day. At 9 o'clock they are all taken care of and if the weather permits a team of pigeons may go outside at 10 o'clock.

The new year has only just begun or I have already seen a letter sent to our national organization on behalf of a number of departments. A sharp letter in which not much of our national government was left. That sets the tone. There is no longer any faith in the current directors. But what next? I am sure there are enough skilled managers in our country. The disadvantage is that most of them are (too) old. Young impetus must come with the support of a number of older experts. Easier said than done. In the meantime, it has been decided to hold an extraordinary members meeting in our department on January 17 in which the agenda for the meeting of January 21 of the national administration (NPO) is discussed. Our departmental board is also under fire because they threaten to stop and then want to continue. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in the near future to have everything arranged for the new season in time. Stop pointing the finger and getting going. I long for the moment that we are all on our way again with the pigeons to the classroom. Most of the time the powder fumes will be lifted and we will focus on the upcoming competitions. I assume that everything will work out and that is only possible if we continue to approach everything positively.

A hobby at home there is no more beautiful. It is a time-consuming hobby and the fancier have made it themselves. Because more and more professionals have come, the social players do not want to be slaughtered every week by the men who have turned our hobby into a profitable company. Sport cannot do without commerce, but that is a different form of commerce than what professional players are involved with. They try to turn every not worth mentioning performance into a commercial story. Understandable, because there are some who in this way have grown from a normal workman to a fortunate citizen with incomes that the managements of large companies cannot match. That is not a good thing to maintain the simple pigeon sport. Where did the time go when fanciers had to arrange everything by bicycle? It was a beautiful street scene when you saw the pigeon fanciers on the bike ride to the room. Basket on the back, one hand on the wheel and in the other hand the clock. The joint training of the pigeons also went by bike, very pleasant with all of them on their way to the release which was never further than 15-20 km. Along the way was talked about the pigeons and once arrived at the release site before the baskets were opened a few more pigeons were first viewed, it was fun trump. And now? Everyone goes their own way, everyone has a car at their disposal. Often there are driven several days a week sometimes to distances of 150 km. Apart from the time it takes something like this cannot be achieved by an ordinary workman. In this way there is little to be gained for working people and for many years retired fanciers. They drop out and although a hobby at home is so much fun it is ultimately about the pigeon game. The difference between fanciers is getting bigger. Then it can be said that it is awarded to them but that is not the case. Why do you think so many fanciers stop? Partly due to commerce. It would be better for our national organization to get the NPO the much needed commercial injections from the business community and certainly from their members who know how to enrich themselves more or less at the expense of socializing players and the large group of volunteers. By the way where is the fair play proposal from 2020 onwards? Did those men fall asleep?

The NPO board, which was operating not so long ago, is unfortunately severely disabled and has been completely lost for quite some time. What should it be in 2020? The belief in the board is declining more and more. Great dissatisfaction in Belgium. In the Netherlands a new board must be elected, currently four directors must arrange the matter. Unsuccessful work in a jungle of proposals that must be accompanied by far too many committees, sectors or working groups. Only from that you get all the jitters. Managers have also left the province of Noord-Holland and others are in danger of stopping. There may be a meeting but the members don't get anything. It's just a mess and then it becomes critical. Expert people MUST now arise who are willing to remove the NPO from the impasse. By drawing up a list of priorities you can start with the most important points that will be realized first otherwise our pigeon game that we all love so much will go to the Philistines. That should absolutely not happen. But yes, where do we get drivers from whom we can say the right man in the right place, it seems like that is impossible. It is true that the NPO board has called itself all the misery within our organization. There are still more than two months to get everything back in the right direction and all those better-informed delegates from the departments must want to cooperate fully with 100%. Only with cooperation can you reach a goal!

Our breeding pigeons were put together on the 16th, no problems this year. No fights and the connection went smoothly. A hen lay already after 6 days. That is a bit fast so we have to wait and see if those eggs are fertilized. After 8 days 5 couples have their first egg and that is probably also due to the mild winter weather for this time of the year. On Christmas Day it looked like spring. No cloud in the sky and plenty of sun. The breeders lay wonderfully in the sun outside in the run. Fantastic for those where the first eggs hatched. Even though things are not going so smoothly within the national organization we pigeon fanciers continue with everything that our hobby has to do with. We are on the way to a new season and probably all on the way to better performance. We are very curious how our breeding will go. We can, as it were, look at the eggs from our new acquisitions. Let us not focus solely on the results of our new acquisitions because our own pigeons, of which we know much if not everything, are much more important. It is hoped that the Dutch who have paid a lot of money for their new acquisition will also be successful. However there are very few Dutch fanciers who have bought very expensive pigeons. I have a surprise for them. Because of my age I have decided to dispose of half of my breeders. They will be sold at the end of January on Before that time 5 January a sale of a round summer youngsters 2019 from the breeders will start on the same sales site. I’m sure that there’s something right and affordable with it for everyone. So take the opportunity to get pigeons to your loft with which I and many others have achieved top results for more than 50 years. It is crazy to say that more than a ton is counted for some young pigeons that have never been in the basket. The value of a pigeon in the Netherlands is still 1 euro, there is no poulter who gives more for it. So how crazy should you be to pay astronomical amounts for pigeons from what most end up with the poulter. Please let's keep it a bit cozy. The funny thing is that often very good breeding results are achieved with two gain pigeons. The quality of a pigeon has nothing to do with the amount that is paid for it and every fancier must ensure the success. Wishing all loyal readers a fantastic 2020 with many highlights within our sport, an optimal health so that everyone can fully enjoy his or her pigeons again. Good luck!

From the end of November to the end of January the exhibition season is running at full speed. The local shows in particular attract a large audience from the immediate surroundings. They are often very pleasant weekends especially because fanciers who do not see or speak to each other all summer have the opportunity to hear each other's "strong" stories and, which is certainly so beautiful, that they are able to admire each other's pigeons whom they a whole year to play against. For the associations such shows are in many cases a nice side effect to give the clubhouse a financial injection. The largest contribution usually comes from the sale of vouchers or pigeons donated by strong players. For visitors it is often attractive to purchase something nice at such a local show for a reasonable amount. In this way many fanciers have succeeded very well with their new addition. I have been a judge for 40 years and have actually traveled all over the country and even been invited outside the border to judge pigeons. I liked to do that mainly because in the early years I usually got very good pigeons in my hands. It was at the time that fanciers were still curious about the judge's judgment. Now they think in the Netherlands that they can decide for themselves. I became a judge because I wanted to know everything about pigeons, at the end I was almost a pigeon myself. In the summer I went to lofts a lot to write reports of fanciers who had a remarkable performance or because they always played well and you have to be with those men to buy something to improve your own colony not by a one-day fly. There are examples of mostly long distance players, and especially the marathon flights, which can get or ask such an enormous amount of money for their pigeons because they have once won a national victory. Anyway, nowadays that is also pigeon sport. I prefer to talk about good pigeons and those are often not the nicest. My goal has always been to breed beautiful and especially very good pigeons. Fortunately I have always succeeded. I specialize in flights up to 500 km and because of my good performance I was even called the "King of sprint". To be honest that is slightly less but I think my collection of pigeons is of such a quality that I don't have to step aside for anyone. Do you want to know what my biggest competitor is? What actually applies to all readers and that is our age. At a certain point you come to an age when the fanatic goes over, you become sentimental. You enjoy your pigeon, you find them all great and you can hardly renounce. If you are that far, even though the quality of the pigeons is still so good, then it is done with weekly leading.

It has been 60 years since a great national champion once said to me; when you get home you have to write in large letters on every bag of pigeon food: POISON.
Because you give oh so quickly too much. He was and still is right. You can do feeding in different ways. You can always give them a full bowl. In the beginning they are much too heavy, later they eat much less and are then well on weight. You can compare it to a child who can eat the cookie jar empty. If you keep hold on for a few days in the long run they shudder of cookies. I see feeding more as art, you have to take the time for it. When I start feeding my pigeons I know exactly how much they all need. I give half the amount at once, on the floor or in the food bowl, it doesn't matter. I give the other part to the floor bit by bit and when one or two starts drinking I stop it. In the morning I give less, they stay a little more active during the day. I always feed at set times, the pigeons become attuned to that and know exactly that if they have trained for an hour it is dinner time. I then stand next to the sputnik and as soon as they see me, even though they are still flying so high, they come without me whistling or stand with the food van rattling directly down. I saw that once in the zoo. Everything is being fed there at set times and half an hour before dinner time you see all the wild animals getting restless, they know the food is coming. Although these animals are in prison they always look perfect because of regular care. Their condition is always good and so is the pigeons. As the flights get longer I feed a little more candy seed and three peanuts every day. The day before the pigeons travel they can eat as much as they want in the afternoon for half an hour. I do the same on Saturday evening when I take the hens away at 7 am. Then all my pigeons, including the youngsters and breeding pigeons, get food almost at the same time. Every Wednesday a bath and a hefty hand full of soup vegetables does them well. In total they receive 35 grams of feed per pigeon every day. The breeding pigeons are fed three times a day when they have young. After every feeding the parents feed their young so that they always have a well-filled head and that is good for growth.

The more often you do something, the easier it goes. Exercising or training ensures good fitness and therefore often good health. My old and young racing pigeons train for an hour twice a day. I live in the polder, I only have a few houses in my immediate area so my pigeons do not have the opportunity to roam with the neighbors to sit down. They fly or they are in my own loft. A pigeon can also sit in another place and that is the basket. So fly, in the loft or in the basket. In the beginning I sometimes have to chase them but they quickly realize that. The loft remains closed during training time. After an hour I show myself and then the pigeons flash inside. The pigeons do not train in fog or heavy rain. The pigeons are currently trapped, they have not been outside since the end of September but 23-12 I have released the cocks again for the first time. There are 10. Yes you read that right, I have made the decision I do not want to have so many pigeons anymore, I have to make too much effort to be able to properly care for a large group. Then a bit less and with 10 cocks and 10 hens I have to be able to come along well every week. Together with my son I own 20 breeding couples, actually too much. The first round goes to my son Marco and the second round is for father Bert. We will therefore both start with 35 youngsters. We start training with the pigeons as early as possible. Before the first flights we have been away several times with the youngsters. The proverb learned young is done old is still in effect. We never go further than 40 km. Pigeons know how to find their way home better than we do. We fanciers can only help them by familiarizing them with the basket and by repeatedly bringing them, often to the same release location, the flight rhythm comes in. We cannot do more with regard to training. During the racing season they only go once, usually on Tuesdays. It is important that the pigeons leave for 15 minutes in the morning. We won't get away with them as long as they don't. We are ready for the battle, at the beginning of January another round of youngsters from our breeders will be sold on GPS. A few weeks later it is the turn of a group of breeders. Then this old man has an overview and he even plans to keep his son and all other competitors behind him. Interested in the Brassen? Check out

December is the nicest and most atmospheric month of the year for many people. Unfortunately that is not the case worldwide. In that regard, even after WW II, the great world leaders still do not understand what peace and freedom means to all people. Money, power, corruption and war, we will never get used to it and yet there will never be an end to it but enough about it. We pigeon friends, however much we would like it, with the best will in the world, cannot change these inhuman conditions. Then we sometimes worry if there is an egg next to the shell !! ?? The world just goes on and on and then it's Christmas. Feast of light, of new life, of peace on earth, festive days in the home and socializing above all. For many, this is a dream or even unimaginable. With us, the first youngsters are in the dish in many lofts during the Christmas season.

We have not yet paired. As you all know my son Marco and I have a joint breeding loft in which 18 excellent couples at least we think so. Together we decided that we would put the breeding pigeons together on 15 December. The first round is for Marco and the next round for father Bert. Our breeding loft consists of a few except proven pigeons. It is already known that a number of usable pigeons have been produced. The older breeding pigeons had to make way for the youth. We have now started preparing for the matching date. The days are now extended until 10 o'clock in the evening, the lamp stays off in the morning. The pigeons now get a bit heavier food, not too much we try to prevent them from becoming too heavy. If the pigeons are too heavy the chance of unfertilized eggs is greater and hens that are too heavy can get laying problems. Furthermore some hemp and linseed is added to the feed. They have had the cures. They like to eat and bathe are all through the molt and I find enough small feathers every day. Our breeding pigeons do not come outside at least they do not fly around the loft. They do have access to a large aviary. At the moment it looks good and if they all have the first egg in the dish 10-12 days after pairing then we have prepared things well. We have to wait a little while, at least we have good hope. Everything is paired on paper and experience has taught me that even on the day of pairing there are still some changes taking place. The point is that both partners accept each other quickly so that all come with eggs almost at the same time.

A breeding loft with 18 breeding couples is a bit much and despite the fact that we have ensured quality in the loft, this season will again show disappointing breeding results. If that is the case there will also be windfalls and that is what it is ultimately about. We both don't like to own a lot of pigeons we have to be able to oversee it. I myself have plenty of room for that matter, I can accommodate 100 youngsters. This year 3 departments will be empty for the first time because I can't take care of so many pigeons anymore. I can now pay full attention to the breeders who are housed with me and I am even looking forward to that. As an avid pigeon man I can sometimes sit with the pigeons for hours. With my racing pigeons I never did that with the youngsters. I also wanted rest in the loft and everything always happened at set times. With breeding pigeons you can be a bit easier plus you can go there at all times of the day. We do not need to discuss eggs under fly or foster pigeons because we would get too many again unnoticed. With both a round of youngsters from the breeders we have plenty of opportunities to test the youngsters. In the past I have almost never left breeding couples the same simple to prevent that I would get too much of the same and if I had ever bred a super then I could always put the parents back together again. My experience is that you almost never breed two supers from the same couple I have tried that several times. One year two youngsters from a couple, one of whom was excellent and the other as a youngster didn't mean much. The following year six youngsters from that couple and all of them a big insufficient. So I don't care which couple gives a very good one if I have a couple that gives a very good one every year you can keep it up with a bit of luck for a long time.

That is the reason why the secretary and the treasurer of the NPO have stopped abruptly and now it is probably the turn of the chairman because he is under considerable fire. It has to do with the failure to comply with agreements made, the failure to send the meeting documents on time which means that decisions with the supporters cannot be made. Too much talk and too little is done. Furthermore it is believed that chairman van der Kruk, who likes to hear himself talk, unnecessarily aspires to international positions that are of little or no use to the Dutch pigeon sport. The organization of the Olympiad that will be held in the Netherlands in 2023 has also raised many questions particularly about the way in which the NPO board wants to get the affair financially closed. The general meeting of members from December 21 has been postponed to January 25 by necessity. The financial situation within the NPO, the flight program and the proposals of the sections that have been created will certainly be discussed. In my opinion our NPO has gradually been over-organized. There are so many people who want to have a finger in the porridge that makes managing not easier. Much must be arranged by the end of January because then it will only be two months before the start of the new racing season.

Traditionally in Blackpool the weekend of 18 and 19 January is the "BHW Show of the year". A formidable pigeon event where I was present for several years as a visitor and also as a judge. The Winter Garden is a unique opportunity to experience everything about the pigeon sport. A show with more than 2000 pigeons, more than 100 different stands, various pigeon sales and on Saturday evening the BHW Gala Evening. The whole of Blackpool is dominated by the racing pigeon sport that weekend. Nowhere else did I see such a big event. I will not be there again this year because of my age the journey and stay are too tiring but I will miss it. Unfortunately it all stops once. For those who are there I hope they will have a very nice weekend.

Especially the Belgians practice winter breeding in large numbers. The Netherlands follows and possibly afterwards the Germans and English. Especially breeding as much as possible from proven pigeons is very important. I still assume that the chance to breed a good pigeon is greater from your very best pigeons. Of course there are also examples that a great pigeon is sometimes born out of less performing pigeons fortunately. We can then speak of a fluke. But to get ahead my preference is definitely to breed from the very best that you own. The very best you have are the pigeons that have recently won several top prizes in their own environment. I consciously say "in their own environment" because then everyone has the same circumstances. A top prize in an ensemble that is more than 75 km away from you is not a fair showdown. I have written about it before. It is possible that today you are the first in the club, winning the teamwork, provincial or even national. Without doubt a top performance especially if you even have several pigeons in the muzzle of the result. It may just be that you with the same pigeons in the club and the combination excel again a week later but that you provincial be completely eliminated. Are the excellent of the week before suddenly no longer good pigeons? Hopefully you know better. The wind largely determines the migration of the pigeons and that can be disastrous. That is why it is not easy to play every week in a large context. That is possible in the club and in the regional combination. During the selection period assume that the performances achieved in your own environment are the most important and make a requirement for your pigeons how well they must have performed in order to be allowed to hibernate. You can set the performance bar as high as you want. I know that there are many countries where we cannot compare pigeon sport with Belgium and the Netherlands. In these two specific pigeon countries many fanciers live close to each other which is often not the case in other countries there is another way to play with pigeons. The speed flights that are most influenced by the wind can hardly be played if the fanciers live too far apart. The longer distances will have a more honest character. Pigeon competitions are most fair when many fanciers live close together. If that is not the case then by breeding a lot and also playing a lot with those pigeons you will have to come to a species with which you can enjoy the pigeon sport in your home country and that is not an easy task.

The start of the breeding season is not the same in all countries. This is mainly due to weather conditions and the start of the racing season. I can still remember when I was still playing with my father with pigeons we usually started breeding around 18 February. We did that with our racing pigeons there was almost no one who owned specific breeding pigeons. Our racing pigeons were therefore also our breeding pigeons. The start of the breeding was planned in such a way that the first youngsters were away from the parents when the racing season started. At that time the vast majority played nest game. Only at the end of the fifties did the widowhood game get off to a good start and that changed the way pigeon racing. Still later the total widowhood got off the ground. The advantage was that you needed fewer pigeons. If you first played with 24 widowers you now had 12 couples enough to start with the same number of pigeons. Even better was the performance of the hens. It was always thought that they could not beat the cocks. That is why in Belgium even today hens are raced separately in a competition. Practice has shown that the ladies often do better than the men and that they also recover faster from strenuous efforts. That is why when I buy a pigeon it is almost always a hen.

I pair my racing pigeons for the second time at such a time that they are brooding for about 8 days a week before the first official flight they all go along. A day later I remove all eggs and another day later the hens go to their loft where they stay all season. That I first remove the eggs and one day later the pigeons from the cocks I do for the hens are quiet because they know that there are no more eggs in the nest. The first official flight they go on widowhood. The evening before I let them together for an hour and the same also happens for the next three flights. Then I leave them together for about 10-20 minutes and with a two-night basket I don't show the hens. I do not darken the pigeons in the spring. That is partly because at the end of the season I do not participate in all long distance races. So I don't have to take the pen molting into account.

If you want to start with several youngsters from certain breeding couples winter breeding is almost mandatory. Another possibility is to keep foster pigeons that hatch the eggs of the breeders and further raise the young. Most fanciers do not have room for that or do not find such a thing necessary. The advantage of winter breeding is that the young pigeons are five months old when their races start in July and that they then have the teething problems behind them. You don't have to darken winter youngsters to keep them in good shape. They molt the small feathers and hold the flight feathers. There are also fanciers who pair the fly and breeding pigeons at the same time. The first eggs from the breeders then go under the racing pigeons so that the breeders can quickly start their second round. For most fanciers that is enough because they do not have that much space. Furthermore breeding is not that difficult. In that respect pigeons are just like mice you have a loft full of them in a short time and that seems to me not the intention. After all it's not about quantity but about quality.

Only the very best is good enough to breed from. Brother x sister or mother x son to each other is too close inbreeding but is sometimes attractive to hold on to. Sometimes you can breed a usable pigeon from such close inbreeding pigeons. To fly with it I like line breeding or crossing. Grandfather to granddaughter, cousin x niece, half-brother x half-sister are links that I have every confidence in. Assuming that the pigeons themselves and preferably also the parents and grandparents have proven that they can play at the head. In most cases the best pigeons come from cross-breed products but from a cross between two totally different well-performing families. The basket will show which of their young are satisfactory or not. I myself do not attach too much value to the performance of young pigeons. Young pigeons must satisfy me when I have them in my hands. Of course I keep a young pigeon that has performed well. My experience is that young pigeons that fly a prize, even though they are not very early prizes, as a yearling are better than young pigeons that even became champion pigeons as a youngster. Pigeon performance can never be predicted in advance but only afterwards. That is why it is never possible to determine in advance what a good breeding couple will be. You know something like this later and in many cases it never becomes a good breeding couple. The person who can determine in advance what a good breeding couple is would have enough for about six young pigeons to become champion. I do know them who claim that they can see from the eyes if pigeons have an extra breeding value. They are fortune tellers that I have never met at a champion's ceremony.

Within the Dutch Carrier Pigeon Organization (NPO) it has not often happened that all 11 affiliated departments agree with each other. The cause of the dissatisfaction lies with the NPO board that would not adhere to agreements made. For the planned general meeting of members of December 21 the documents arrived (again) too late at the departments so that it was not possible to meet with the members in time. The agreements made were confirmed again on 8 September, unfortunately without result. A proposal has now been made to move the meeting to mid-January 2020 provided that the documents are received by the departments on 1 December. In addition there are a number of things that are still unclear so that there are serious doubts among the supporters. The departmental boards wonder whether the NPO is still a professional organization. It has been requested to indicate by 27 November at the latest which meeting dates suit the NPO board. To be continued.

A number of board members already announced this summer that they would stop at the end of the season. In fact they would all stop, but (luckily) a few are left. Now we have to wait and see if there will be new candidates and whether they want to collaborate with those who stay behind. The fewer members that remain the greater the problems become. It is already known that the carrier has raised its prices for 2020 again and those prices were already so high. It would be normal to ask for a price from at least two other carriers. Maybe that has happened but nothing has come out of it yet. It is to be desired that the board will be quickly complete again because a lot has to be arranged before the start of the 2020 season. Much will depend on the general national NPO meeting where the necessary decisions will be taken. Consider the flight program for which the necessary negative comments were made in 2019.

Winter breeding is of great importance for many fanciers. Most of them would like to start with young pigeons that are six months old. Moreover it is assumed that the winter youngsters will have the teething problems when their season starts. Others do it to breed two or three rounds youngsters from their better couples. You won't be bothered by flying breeding pigeons going to the field during this period to pick up anything and everything because there is nothing to be found at this time of the year. I still remember the time when we said to each other; we cannot give them what they get there. When more and more use was made of fertilizer many fanciers changed their minds. Then the field of flying became very dangerous and many fanciers became the victims of poisoned pigeons even resulting in death. I have also experienced it myself. One evening the pigeons (the racing pigeons) stayed away for a very long time. I played with the thought that they might all be able to walk on the field. I called them and I already noticed from certain movements that it didn't look the way I was used to. After most had drunk something the misery started. They puked, tumbled over each other, were struggling on the floor and there was great panic. At that time it was told that you had to squeeze the heads empty and then rinse with milk. There was really no start to it. A number of deaths and fun on the eve of a new season were clearly over. The results were disappointing and I also had to remove a number of youngsters because I did not want to take the risk that they would suffer damage and might not return from the races. I played with 5 young pigeons and one of them was actually too young to give. Still I did it and when I went with the clock to the room the latecomer fell into the loft. The following week I saw him coming home but he did not win a prize. He did not once miss the flights that followed and also the last five natour flights. Even became 5th best young bird in the strong ZCC in which more than 300 fanciers participated every week. Winter breeding has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that shortly after the season you soon find yourself in a loft full of young pigeons and that in May the breeders are completely finished with their work and they are sitting there. If you do not want to disturb the racing pigeons you can look for some entertainment among the resting breeding pigeons but you will soon be bored with it. The advantage is that they are perfect through the molt when they are re-coupled at the end of November. Also there are now more and more breeders who prefer the financial rather than the sporting event and if that is going to work out they will keep more and more pigeons to meet the request. It is doubtful whether the quality will improve. Everything is bred from as long as the cash register is ringing. Then there are nowadays fanciers who make a name for themselves through a striking national achievement. Especially in the long distance a national victory is enough to upgrade an entire loft while that performance was only delivered by 1 pigeon from that loft. Nowadays it is more about name pigeons than about performance.

Never before have so many pigeons been offered for sale. In the first instance they were mainly performance pigeons. Then it was the turn of the so-called breeding pigeons. Young pigeons were not interesting in the beginning and now you only see offers from young pigeons with great grandparents and you can buy everything that has two wings. Great if you are among the group of lucky ones who have made a name for themselves by usually 1 super result or a wonder pigeon. I see various fanciers who have an auction several times a year. Sometimes more than 40 young pigeons that raise more than 2000 euros each. We must not forget the exceptions. Recently another record was broken. A young pigeon for 164.000 euros! How should you see the quality/price ratio of that? Or how crazy do you have to be? Because I have been writing about our pigeon hobby every week for many years I regularly receive emails asking if I want to provide addresses where you can buy good pigeons for an affordable price. You will understand that I will never do that. In most cases it ends in disappointment. That does not mean that the seller is unfair or not sporty, it is more often the buyer's ignorance. I always tell people who buy a pigeon from me; I hope you leave the yard with a happy feeling and that it is a pigeon to your liking. I always show the parents and when I get rid of it it is always out of the breeding loft. Not that they are automatically better but it does indicate that I too have faith in those pigeons and they usually sit there because they have performed well. But…. I say, you go home with the pigeon and I stay here. I can give you all the required information but you will have to do it all yourself. Trust and patience are also a good thing.

The championships are in full swing, every organization is trying to come up with something new. Here in Noord-Holland they are a bit loose in that regard. They mean well but we completely miss our goal. The committee of the Noord-Holland department held the champions day on Saturday which was not so well-chosen because that afternoon the arrival of Sinterklaas was held in a large part of the Netherlands. Whether or not with the black helpers there is a large children's festival every year that many fanciers want to attend with their children or grandchildren. On that champions day the children had been thought of by placing a large bouncy castle. The ladies could go there to make bonbons, floral arrangements or perfume. The fanciers who had a champion pigeon this year were allowed to exhibit it so that the public could marvel at these toppers. The committee thought it would be a good idea to have these pigeons judged by pigeon fortune teller Gert Jan Beute in the presence of the fanciers. A risky piece in itself but the smart Gert Jan is not worried about that, he is wise enough not to underestimate such pigeons. His accompanying talk appeals to many fanciers especially if you have never experienced the man before. Yet he once went astray by saying that a certain cock was a great short distance pigeon. Let that be exactly the champion pigeon of the whole of Noord-Holland in the one-day long distance. Everyone laugh of course. He tried to get out of it to say that long distance pigeons can also fly fast. A day later something like that was invented by the ZCC. In the morning the same inspection. A qualified judge would judge the pigeons on flight value with a corresponding chat and he turned out to be quite wrong. He was really struggling and no meaningful word came out of his mouth. He told about a pigeon with a flat head, about a pigeon with two old pens, a farmer's pigeon, an old-fashioned pigeon with a broad back, pigeons with wide pens what do you do with that kind of stuff? Not once did he say anything about well-muscled, nice fast rear wing, short powerful forearm plus that it would have been nice if he expressed his preference for certain pigeons that he thought could win early prizes. Or something about a good pigeon for the sprint, an excellent marathon pigeon but none of that. In the end there were three prizes to be awarded. A pale pigeon was awarded as the winner. The judge loved this speed pigeon while he came from the loft of the best long distance player in our area who naturally had to laugh heartily about it. Sinterklaas was also visiting who was able to present the prizes of the champions for the 2019 season in a playful manner. Given the public interest two of these consecutive days was probably a bit too much of a good thing.

Kassel is already again behind. In St. Truiden the National Days were held in one of the halls of the local football club last weekend. Again nothing but praise. Coming weekend November 29th and 30th it's the turn of the Netherlands. For the first time in its existence these days are on Friday and Saturday in Nieuwegein. So on Sunday there is nothing to do in the field of pigeon sport. The winter breeders can devote all their attention to the newly assembled breeding pigeons.

All very exciting. The best racing pigeons, newly formed couples, purchased pigeons, they must all ensure that important acquisitions are born. In a little while everything comes back to life in the breeding loft. Whether or not to educate the pigeons in a condition so that they want to accept their new partner without too many difficulties. It is important that the cocks have been on the bin for some time that avoids the unnecessary fights. The first day no breeding bowls. Some cocks chase their hens so fiercely that they stumble over the breeding bowl regularly. Personally I only put the pigeons together when it starts to get dark. Most of the pigeons are paired well the next morning. Where that is not yet the case the placement of the breeding bowl can sometimes help. If it still does not work then put them in a separate empty loft for example the young pigeon loft and you will see that it is done quite smoothly. Especially during winter breeding I have a mat in every breeding bowl with some straw or tobacco stalks over it. The eggs and also the newborn young pigeons must lie in a comfortable nest. I have sometimes been to someone who did winter breeding where there were only clothes pegs and nails in the nest. With such a careless behavior of the boss you do not earn a good breeding. Also in the breeding loft everything should treaded very carefully. A check a few days after the eggs are laid is advisable. If there are too small or deformed eggs they can be removed immediately. If that is the case add a plastic or stone egg. It sometimes happens that they stop breeding when there is only 1 egg in the nest in severe cold. Furthermore that plastic egg is a good support for a newly born young. Keep an eye on the drinking trough in the frost and you know that ace pigeons drink a lot so fresh water twice a day is not a luxury. Before the eggs are laid treat the dishes against vermin. Supplementing the feed with some hemp and linseed is excellent at this time of the year. That the pigeons are ready for breeding now seems normal to me. Where that is not yet the case a round is behind. Putting the pigeons together is just as important as deploying pigeons for an important flight so the condition must be optimal. Extending the days with artificial light is good rather than bad. How many hours you do that is not really important. I do not switch on a light in the morning but in the evening the light stays on until 10 am. We wish you all a good breeding

The racing season is already six weeks behind us and everyone is taking stock. Should new blood be purchased or have their own pigeons performed in such a way that it is not necessary to immediately add a new acquisition. If you have to look for better material it is different than when you are interested in reinforcement. Those who seek reinforcement have plenty of choice through the many sales sites. However, you have to pay attention. The photos of where offered for sale always look equally attractive. However, you must be able to read well what is written about a pigeon. Compiling sales stories is an art in itself. I recommend everyone to visit some of those sites once in a while. It is all top quality, whole zippers performances are listed with each pigeon. Those who can read well will be confronted with hot air every time. In most cases the pigeon that is involved has not achieved anything at all while it is teeming with top prizes on all levels. Often there are no numbers of pigeons and sometimes a pigeon has won five first prizes but if you read well you will soon see that it all relates to the same flight. I can be very annoyed by that. In my opinion this is not correct information especially if there are entire rows of victories that have been achieved by brothers, sisters, father, mother, grandfather and great-grandmother and often there are fencing with places of honor achieved by other fanciers. Where has the time gone that you could go to a room sale every week? Cozy with fanciers among themselves. You could view the pigeons, you could take them in your hand so that you could see what you were buying. Now you have to go for the photo and you even have to pay money if you want to view the pigeons in your hand. If you came to the poulter years ago at this time his aviary was full of slaughter pigeons. Now they are on the internet and are sometimes sold for record amounts and that while the owner does not want to keep them. We are hopefully not so naive that we believe everything that has been fantasized together in order to be able to sell the pigeon for the highest possible amount.

I am fortunate to have experienced the golden years of pigeon sport. From the last weekend in March to mid-September every week game mainly short-distance flights. Mid-distance did not exist, it was added. The pigeon sport consisted only of short and long distance flights. Every week of play all year round and there were also 4 or 5 one-day long distance races in which almost everyone participated. Now it is crawling with such flights and less than 15% of fanciers are participating. On such a flight you only have to put down a good performance once and you can immediately participate in the sales madness. It is just like in the football. A youthful talent who gives a good assist in professional football twice every three weeks immediately receives a weekly wage for which an ordinary pigeon fancier has to work for a year. I read an article about a famous football player who plays in the English premier league. He would earn 290.00 pounds a week and one has built up assets of more than 40 million. In the pigeon sport we also go pretty well in that direction. Last year a pigeon was sold for more than 1 million and there are several fanciers in the Netherlands who have several sales each year with which they earn tons. I wish them and sometimes I am also a bit jealous. But if we look further then our nose we see that this cannot go on. The ordinary fancier who have to go all out to pay for their hobby are increasingly recognizing that they are more or less abused. They come every week faithfully with their basket of pigeons and the commercial bag fillers among us play nicely again until the moment comes when there is nothing to "cash" anymore. That time is fast approaching. Then the big boys can only play against each other and then there will be very few pigeons in the competition so that they are no longer interesting for the men in the land of the rising sun. Our national administration will do well to bring the pigeon game back to the way it has been played for years. With me, partly because of my age, the fun is gone. Even the club game is no longer fun because most clubs no longer have twenty members who still participate every week. This has also changed the atmosphere in the club. A few steps further and we only have to go to the room to bring the pigeons and nothing more. Everything will go via the internet with the risk that older fanciers will drop out more quickly. A pity for our sport because despite the fact that the pigeon sport keeps up with the times there will be no new members. The youngsters (fortunately) have many other opportunities to enjoy themselves.

Last week a three-day cycling event was held on the cycling track of the well-known North Holland cheese town of Alkmaar and I wanted to be there. Cycling remains my favorite sport alongside the pigeons. We were presented with a very entertaining and exciting program. For me it was also a kind of reunion plus that some good riders from my club participated. The best known of the whole stuff was Niki Terpstra. When I was the chairman of the club I saw him coming as an 8-year-old and it soon became apparent that he had talent. This cycling gala was won by him and his teammate by force majeure and do you know what I liked best? His father, whom I had just spoken to shortly after 25 years, was just as enthusiastic raising his hands as when his son won his first victory at the age of 8. Is that nice sport or not? Another club member asserted himself behind the big engines. He was also a total winner and was even European champion staying last year. I did not want to miss this event for free also because my son and grandson accompanied me which made it even more beautiful.

While the old and young racing pigeons are still fully engaged with the pen molting the breeders are as it were waiting to be paired again. Because I now have a breeding loft with my son there is a surplus of valuable breeders for us. How valuable they are they will be able to prove in other lofts in the coming season. Because I will take care of the breeding pigeons we have decided to reduce the number of breeding couples to 18 and that has been a difficult job. We have come out of it anyway. In the first instance there are always a number of pigeons that have to leave the field due to poorer breeding results or age. But then? There are two more breeding boxes available for 2 young cocks and two for 2 young hens. That's how I did it every year and that's how I want to keep doing it. The 4 best racing pigeons and 4 young pigeons go to the breeding loft. That way we keep the breeding loft young. The best results on the flights and in the breeding loft are in most cases achieved by younger pigeons. The cocks that have earned a place in the breeding loft have now chosen their breeding loft that will occur later when the pigeons are coupled with the necessary fights. The breeding loft will be cleaned extra in the coming week, everything must be dust-free again. Especially on the ceiling it is necessary to clean it is full of cobwebs and I like to see that because that is a sign that the ventilation is good. You will not see cobwebs when it’s draft and draft is bad for the condition. Last but not least I go through it again with the burner which is still the best remedy for all kinds of vermin. Two weeks before the pairing date we start to light up to give the pigeons the feeling that it is getting a little spring.

Unfortunately a quiet season no longer exists. The pie flights for fanciers who don't know when to stop are also over. What once started out as a nice thing has become an important conclusion to the active pigeon year. Important flights for those who use the manipulated results to put their performance in the spotlight again. Competitions with a good number of participants but half of whom use these flights as a training flight and therefore do not clock their pigeons. These pigeons get a rubber ring or go over the basket antenna into the basket so that they count what is interesting for those who do clock. Some therefore make very good results because the large group of participants only participate for fun. They are not interested in the result, they do not play for the cakes or other prizes. These fanciers are only busy practicing their pigeons. Some think that they lose fewer pigeons at this time of the year. Others participate because the birds of prey are less active. There are even participants who want to use their performance from these fair flights for possible participation in the Olympiad. Less than 2% of Dutch fanciers participate in this circus. 103 fanciers participated in the last pie-race above the big rivers, 58 of which were in the results. It would be crazy that such results can be used for I know a lot about competitions but enough about this. It must be admitted that the basketing evenings went very well and that is in my eyes the most important argument to join in but for the molting pigeons it is far from ideal. Now the time has come for meetings, all kinds of honors, national events and the start of traditional exhibitions. There are a lot of them probably too many, so there is absolutely no question of a quiet winter season.

It is molt time. In the past fanciers said; the prizes for the following year are earned at this time of the year. I assume you know what this means. A bad molt causes poor performance. So it means that our pigeons now need to be cared for just as carefully as in the high season. The pigeons are having a hard time and some of them are very heavy because quite a lot is happening. When I see how many feathers I have already cleaned up that is unprecedented and we are not there yet certainly not with the old and young racing pigeons. The breeders are almost ready. That is also necessary because in four weeks they will in many lofts put together again. To help the pigeons a little during the molt can't hurt. There are numerous fanciers who put buttermilk in the drinking water during the molt season. I have done that for many years but I have not done that for a long time because I see no difference. Then the cure for various diseases. I have never been in favor during this period. Over the years I too have been dragged along and cure the pigeons against paratyphus in October. Then another vitamin cure, soon the traditional mandatory paramixo injection, then another injection against smallpox and perhaps also against head diseases. Are we doing that right? We used to do nothing when I was still playing with my father. Pigeons that fail something went away because my father was very hard at it. He was right but perhaps there were no adequate medicines then so there was little else to do to get rid of the "weaklings." Not only the pigeons that might have had a problem were gone but also the ones that did not perform well. We regularly ate pigeon soup at home and that is nice too. I don't do that anymore. Nowadays you can buy a nice soup chicken for little and that is easier than slaughtering about five pigeons every week. In the past there were almost no veterinarians, people arranged it themselves. They had a pig, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, and pigeons to eat. In that regard people were less sentimental. Now there is a vet for every animal and you can even take out insurance because it costs quite a lot a visit to the vet. There is even a political "party for the animals". That is not wrong because there are many things that cannot be passed through, which is why it is good that there is control. Back to the pigeons. Do you not think that because of all that fuss with medication we make our pigeons weaker. For every problem there is a powder, pill or drink, the pigeons become greenhouse plants and that is one of the reasons that the losses are increasing. At that way we get away the mordant, the resistance and the character from our pigeons.

We used to talk about farming pigeons. With that was meant strong pigeons. These days the pigeons are much faster. Competitions close earlier because many pigeons manage to achieve higher speeds. We used to say that with strong headwinds the first pigeons would make at least 1000 meters per minute (60 km per hour). Nowadays they fly with the greatest ease with headwind 80 km per hour. We work with modern transport specifically tailored to the transport of our pigeons. Cars equipped with the latest gadgets such as air conditioning, automatic drinking water supply but with aluminum shipping baskets of which sometimes more than 220 with an average of 20 pigeons (is +/- 4500 pigeons) are in a room. Isn't that too much? Maybe wicker baskets were better? How does that work with the transmission of diseases, drinking water temperature, temperature in the moving or stationary car, food in contaminated shipping boxes, loading the car, driving behavior. Most of us do not realize that. The pigeons are on their way and the fanciers are preparing to be in the loft on time the next day to wait for the pigeons. We think it's normal that they all come home undamaged and that not one of them stays behind. The pigeons do not know that they are participating in a competition. They may suffer from stress because their cock/hen or children are waiting at home or because they have had too little or no drink. They certainly don't think about their boss. The fancier does think of his pigeons and an early arrival and that makes him nervous. That is why he is sometimes so strange when the pigeons stay away a little longer than he had calculated. He becomes restless, often has to go to the toilet and if his neighbor gets a pigeon sooner than the nerves roar through his body. It seems that every minute that he has to wait longer for his first pigeon lasts an hour. Pigeon sport remains a wonderful hobby despite everything!

It is increasingly apparent that fanciers are people of tradition. That is because the Dutch pigeon sport consists mainly of gray men. That does not mean that nothing has happened in our sport in 60 years. Certainly, the sport has not stood still. The hot topic is the flight program every year which is something that almost all fanciers are involved with all year round. Again it appears that all proposals submitted by a series of sections become or be referred to the famous trash can. Many hours of endless discussion preceded this. In the Netherlands a section has been created for each part of the game. A section consists of a group fanciers who are committed to , for example the short distance races. Others do that for one-day long distance or the young pigeon game. The reason that sections have been created is due to the specialization. A few years ago that was a hot item. It was advised to keep the pigeon game affordable and then it might be a good solution to specialize in for example the short, middle distance or young pigeon game. As a result that the proponents of those game components started to compile their flight programs. That of course became much too much for the real program players who want to participate in everything. In practice it appears that the majority would like to participate in the entire flight program but that must be feasible. That was how it was 60 years ago and it still is today.

The NPO board consists of directors with little or no managerial experience. In addition the delegates from the 11 different departments of the NPO are more meeting beasts than they are knowledgeable. As a result the NPO board has hired a sports professor to steer everything in the right direction. He has come up with the proposal to work with "sections". It already appears that the members are not waiting for this type of renewal. At the beginning of October there was a meeting where all sections were present except for the young pigeons section which was not a good thing in itself. During that meeting an employee of the pigeon magazine the trail of champions was also present to explain the survey conducted by the magazine. That was just not the intention. The members could have their say and not a representative of the newspaper who is himself a marathon player. For the time being people have to get used to meeting in sections. Proposals such as fair play and the introduction of sectors for the long distance game are referred directly to the trash. The NPO flight program adopted last year appears to be too much for the participants, the volunteers in the club and the pigeons. After a lot of squabbling it can just happen that we go back to the flight program of 60 years ago.

Very coincidentally I was reading this week the Neerlands Postduiven Orgaan of December 1958 which contained the flight program of 1959, so sixty years back. What does my surprise sketch? 6 short distance flights, 6 middle distance, 5 one day long distance, 8 young and 5 natour for old and young pigeons. After the last twenty years of endless discussions we come back to a flight program of 60 years ago when we had many more members and many more managers with a good view of pigeon sport. Once started as an elitist sport/hobby and then turned into a beautiful affordable form of leisure at home for the working man. The pigeon sport grew enormously. One association after the other was established. The simple money game ensured that the quality of the pigeons jumped up and even those who did not participate in the money game did not want to be slaughtered weekly and started with a better or heavier selection method. The Netherlands grew into one of the most popular pigeon countries. As a result there was a market for our pigeons. So much market that there were professional players who saw more in the sale of pigeons than in the performance. More and more advertisements about the sale of pigeons appeared in the pigeon magazines in the Netherlands. The cozy room sales are almost non-existent, everything is digital. There are many fanciers and pigeon brokers who immensely enrich themselves with the once simple hobby. But the fact is that pigeon sport still exists today by the grace of all those gray men who come every week faithfully to the club with their pigeons. It is a shame that commerce is getting the upper hand. Our sport is gradually becoming unaffordable so that only members drop out and no new ones are added. The pigeon sport will soon be an elitist sport where there is only room for the professionals. The ordinary man who has made the pigeon sport great has already dropped out for a long time. It is a shame to say so but the pigeon sport has no future.

Now that the season is over and the pigeons are in full molt it is a good thing to make plans for the following year. In many lofts the breeding pigeons will come together again at the end of next month. It is therefore important to determine which may or may not remain. Breeding pigeons that have performed well but from the moment they have found a place in the breeding loft have not produced any good youngsters will have to make room for new talent. It is a good thing to have faith in the pigeons that have secured a place in the breeding loft but again the performances count for them. They will have to perform through good breeding. Once a great champion told me that you can already speak of a good breeding couple as long as they have produced one good youngster. The most important thing is that we enjoy our hobby and we are already busy pairing our pigeons on paper. Always a wonderful activity for me. For 70 years I think before the breeding season starts that I have all good breeders. Couples who will certainly produce the necessary useful pigeons and every year it turns out that I am wrong. Fortunately I breed a couple of pigeons every year that I can keep up well with on the flights. Unfortunately every year there are a few breeding couples who have not brought what the boss expected of them. That's a good thing otherwise new breeders would never be added. The trick is to achieve good breeding results with fairly young breeding pigeons that have performed well on their flights in their young life. Even though we have made such a strict selection and have thought long and hard about which cock gets which hen there is never certainty and without luck nobody will sail. There is no one who can say in advance what a good breeding couple is. Yet there are figures who say they can. I wonder why they still breed as many young pigeons as you and I do.

From 1946 I was never a day without pigeons. Also during my period that I was active in cycling I had pigeons and that was also the case when I had to do my military service. I did get help from my father then. During a cycling race I occasionally looked up to see if I saw pigeons pulling and everywhere I rode I looked from the corner of my eye to see if I saw a pigeon loft somewhere. Later when I was older and became a father I looked when we were going for a ride with the children to see if I saw a pigeon loft somewhere. My children grew up with it but only my oldest son Marco started pigeons at a later age. He has been flying with the best for many years now. I was unlucky that in the period with school children I had no pigeons at home and therefore often not at home. I was with the pigeons and that is something children will never forget. From experience I know all too well that in many families the sport of father had too much influence on family life. Dad's pigeon hobby often went for the family. Holidays were a problem in almost every pigeon family. A Sunday to the beach, father came later because he first had to wait for his pigeons. I heard even more lamentations after I had written a book about 100 years of pigeon sport in the Zaan region. Many children and grandchildren bought that book because their father or grandfather appeared in it. I spoke to many of those children personally and by far the majority did not have good memories of the pigeons. When the pigeons had to come home father was usually not approachable. Children were not allowed to play in the yard and he was able to go to the neighbors if they dared to hang out the laundry. He would prefer that everyone stay inside if his pigeons were to come and if one came then everyone would have to remain stiff because oh woe the pigeon could just sit outside. I experienced it when I went to see another fancier. Before the pigeons came home I always had a conversation about the pigeons and most of the time I asked what I should do if a pigeon came unexpectedly. Oh nothing special the pigeon is right in, no that's no problem. Suddenly there was one, pats so unexpectedly at once directly on the fall board. The man was startled and shouted "cover". I didn't know what to do and then I just sat down on the floor. The good man who had kept so calm was now in all states. He went in tiger sneak to his loft and while crawling through the garden as a well-trained soldier, the pigeon flew to the ridge from the loft. He whistled as hard as he could and rattled so hard with his feed van so that grains were scattered everywhere in the grass. When the pigeon remained seated like a statue he started to throw a handful of food on the lid, it didn't help. Then he started throwing food in the loft. Those staying at home were fed up with the large amount of food thrown in through the window. After a while the pigeon came in. The fancier had become so nervous that he had to reach for the pigeon several times. The feathers flew through the loft and after some keeper work the pigeon could be stripped of the rubber ring. When I called him in the evening and asked about the result he said that he did not appear in the results and that he had discarded the pigeon the same evening. You will be married to such a pathetic man. So I know many stories. I can write a book about it and I have been planning that for a long time. Who knows, maybe it will happen because I have enough documentation about all those pigeon fanciers who are never nervous when the pigeons of the race have to come home until you are once "live" with those men. I know stories from fanciers who didn't come home to eat. They continued to stare into the air on the stairs of the pigeon loft while the whole family sat at the table. Then the stories about fanciers who were surprised by the arrival of an early pigeon. They ran to the loft to clock the pigeon and then discovered that the clock was still in the house. Or from fanciers who were not nervous but still had to go to the toilet before the pigeons arrived. Suddenly there was a pigeon and father sat on the toilet with his pants on his heels. The whole family shouted that there was a pigeon and often he did not believe it until it turned out that it was really true. With the pants half up, he came stumbling over to clock the pigeon. That is almost all over now everyone has an electronic clock system. With that a chunk of romance has disappeared because the clocking of the rubber ring was the highlight and for that to reach the pigeon must have entered the loft first. That sometimes did not work because the pigeon was caught a little too wild the week before and so now first had a look at the cat from the tree before it went inside. Beautiful stories that are now almost non-existent. For me 70 years of pigeon sport has been an important part of my life. It was a golden period that I enjoy thinking about almost every day. Too bad that our sport is going downhill so fast.

My passionate young pigeons are now in the molt. Unbelievable so many feathers there are on a pigeon. My first daily job is cleaning up the large amount of feathers and every day I just count the number of tails and flight feathers that are in the loft. In that respect the molt goes as it should. You see the pigeons change, they become adults physically, they grow a little bigger and the cocks manifest themselves as real guys. I removed all the nest material a few weeks ago. Breeders and racing pigeons have been separated for some time and the young pigeons are still together. They no longer need to make another litter. That is different with the breeding hens. These are almost done with the molting and different ladies are making love to each other in a corner. I don't make a point of it. I must not think that the racing hens are going to do that. I definitely do not want that because then they do that even when they are in widowhood and then they ruin your entire season. As soon as I see two hens lying together in a sitting area in the winter period or together on the floor I remove one of the two. She first gets the chance to cool down in another loft. After three weeks she is allowed to be with the other hens again and when they start to caress each other again it is over with the fun and one of the ladies is permanently removed. For now I demand rest in the loft and at the end of November the breeders get the opportunity to reproduce again. I will certainly do everything that they are in good condition when the time comes. First a paratyphoid cure this month. I will continue to feed them twice a day. In the morning at half past nine a little bit and at four o'clock they get twenty minutes full. The lamp stays off, the pigeons have to get used to the fact that the days are very short for now. In mid-November I will extend the days by the breeders by turning on the lamp from half past eight until ten in the morning and the same happens from four to eight. That is a great system for the breeding pigeons because I know from experience that there are youngsters everywhere in the dish around Christmas time.

Today, September 23, the astronomical fall begins. The sun is exactly above the equator and the days will be shorter from tomorrow. Sunday September 22 in my birthplace Zaandam, the Dam to Dam run was held for the 35th time. A running and walking event over 10 English miles from the Amsterdam Dam to the Zaandammer Dam with no less than 60.000 participants of which 4000 were no longer allowed on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm to start. The heat ensured that the ambulances drove on and off to pick up the heat-struck participants what has never happened before! Very unfortunate for the organization. It fitted in well with the news that the average temperature on earth has never been this high in the last 5 years. Scientists reported this on the eve of the New York climate summit. Too little attention would be paid worldwide to this climate change. Probably not everyone is convinced what all this change can bring. Fortunately more and more is spoken and written about. Undoubtedly pigeon sport will increasingly have to deal with this. As an old hand in pigeon sport I am convinced that the ever-increasing losses of in particular insufficiently trained or not well-trained pigeons have to do with it. It is not only sick or pigeons of a lesser quality that stay behind. There is more behind the dark clouds or the clear sky than we think. The pigeon sport will have to respond well to this in the coming years. We can talk for hours every winter about flying programs, release places, national championships or the Olympiad, the most important thing for our sport is still the weather conditions and that is not just about rain, strong winds or tropical temperatures. It is mainly the atmospheric disturbances that we cannot perceive as humans but that cause a great deal of nuisance for the pigeons.

To save the pigeon sport and to retain the members we may have to go back to the past when the pigeon sport was no more than a pleasant village game. Everyone was then satisfied with the game in the club where in some cases more than 100 members participated. At the moment there are less than 50 playing in a district or what kind of name we want to give to an ensemble. These days it all has to be bigger with even more flights and that while the members disappear like snow in the sun and the Dutch newspapers are no longer interested in posting pigeon results. In that respect the pigeon sport is almost dead. That more and bigger has been conceived by the pros among us, for them it is big business. Let us not forget that 95% of the members compete for the sporting honor just like before. When I only started with the pigeon sport I could play in the club, in the CC and in the department (provincial). Everyone participated in the club every week and almost everyone participated in the CC and no more than 10% of the members participated in the provincial game. Why so few? Because back then the fanciers realized that this was not a fair game. It was fairer then than now. There were 1500 fanciers in Noord-Holland at the time and the spread was much larger than today. As a result, an early pigeon could be clocked everywhere. Competitions with more than 20.000 pigeons were the most normal thing in the world. Nowadays our professionals with sometimes more than 100 pigeons in the battle make the necessary publicity with a victory against 1200 pigeons, they should be ashamed! They ruin it for many others. Not because they perform better, in most cases that is not even true, but because they come with baskets full of pigeons. There is a lot of work for the volunteers in the club. It is the large numbers of pigeons that discourage members from participating. In many games the first clocked pigeon counts for the championships. That is entirely in favor of the mega lofts. With us there must be clocked for every 10 pigeons in competition one. With a participation of 63 pigeons the fancier must have 7 clocked. Of these the points earned are added together and divided by 6.3, and those points count for the championship. The mega fanciers do not initially play for a championship. They want to take several pigeons on the first page of the result which impress particularly Asian sports friends. In all those years I have been able to sell pigeons because of my strong game. Who would not want or do that? The people who came to me did not do that because I had become champion in certain areas. They came because of my strong game and the many good results that I made with my champion pigeons. I still remember very well that Mr. Louis Massarella from the English breeding stud Louella Pigeon World came to my house for a loft visit. In my breeding loft I handed him one winner after the other in a big context. Full of surprise he said; I have been to many strong racing lofts but I have never seen so many winners and ace pigeons. You can't get a bigger compliment while at the time I played with no more than 16 to 24 widowers. That were the days!

The season is over and most fanciers have peace with it. Some
have been looking forward to the end of this tropical heat-ridden season for weeks and there are also a number that can't get enough. The men who played strong are ready. They see that their pigeons that have caused so much sporting pleasure are due for their well-earned rest. Rest between brackets because after a much overloaded flight program the pigeons start the big molt and that does not happen automatically. Some pigeons are pretty upset about that, we call that molt sick. That requires good care and that is lacking in many lofts. Season is over, then it is also done with care. Feathers in the drinking trough, feathers in the grit trough, feathers everywhere. The molt calls for the necessary hygiene and that is often forgotten. For those who just can't get enough of it a number of years ago the so-called "pie flights" were created in our country. Primarily intended to play against each other with late youngsters. This game has become increasingly professional due to sponsorship which can be seen in the large numbers of old pigeons that are used. There are (according to say) attractive prizes to be won and it means nothing at all. The original fun game has turned into a commercial event. Of these meaningless flights attention is even paid to the site of our national accounting office, it should not get any crazier. I even saw in the first result a participant with a distance of 31 km and also one with a distance of 136 km. You can't let them play against each other and that while the whole of the Netherlands is concerned about "fair play". Eighty fanciers participated in this kind of fairground attractions, 40 of which do not appear in the results and a man from the organization even dares to give it the name "Autumn Classic". It is even claimed that these manipulated results also count towards participation in the Olympiad that will be held in the Netherlands the next time. I have never experienced greater nonsense before.

For the umpteenth time this year I did not bring any pigeons, something I will probably never get used to. My whole life I play along, very often with success but sometimes with serious setbacks that is part of every sport. Not taking part in the races is not due to the pigeons but the boss, it takes me too much trouble. The will is still there but unfortunately it is all too much for me and without 100% effort it will not work. Taking a step back is not easy especially if you are used to playing with the best. I am busy looking for a different solution and that is not as simple as I thought. I will never be without pigeons, that's for sure. I will keep a small number of breeders and continue to take care them as long as it goes myself. Past Saturday was the last flight and I went to see by son Marco. Beautiful pigeon weather, calm southeast wind and veil clouds. We had assumed that they would make 90 km but that estimate turned out to be a little too high. At half past eleven one of them suddenly appeared directly over the roof of the house on the flap. That had to be an early one because he was in such a hurry. Well that was right because in the club it was the earliest and in the ZCC good for a 4th place. A nice closing of the season with the first signed in front and with 14 of 27 in the list is without doubt a great result. It turned out not to be an easy flight because from a distance of 280 km it took 37 minutes before the prizes were earned. It is clear at this time of the year that the molting plays an important role. As soon as the loft is full of small feathers every morning the aerodynamics are over and with that the winning of early prizes is practically impossible. In a week, when all nest positions have been broken, the pigeons will "fall bare" at a record pace. This has been the case with me for some time. The first thing I start with every morning is to clean up the large amount of feathers in the corridor. I consciously leave the sliding doors ajar so that all springs are blown into the corridor. The breeding pigeons that have been separated since the beginning of July are almost through the molt. That was also the intention because at that time there was no question that I would stop the competitive sport and that is now almost certain. The breeding pigeons that are allowed to stay are coupled at the beginning of December, the youngsters go to son Marco and also the second round is for him. The winter youngsters are adult pigeons when their flights begin so that they can be raced in nest and / or in widowhood. I have always been a huge proponent of flying young pigeons that are at least six months old. To keep the flight feathers in place I kept darkening all the young pigeons until the beginning of July and you will have benefit the last and also most beautiful flights. Young pigeons that manage to win early prizes from the races of more than 400 km will be among the better pigeons as a yearling or at least that has been my experience for years. What did shock me this year is the disappointing national participation in the last young pigeon races with the longer distances. Incredibly so little enthusiasm was there. Is it due to the large losses or would it be due to the large number of flights. In my opinion the young pigeon flights must start mid-June and they have deviated from this because it appears that the losses are greatest in June and July. It will but in the 70 years that I have been playing there have been more beautiful competitions than disastrous ones. Nowadays many Dutch fanciers play their youngsters on the last six speed races of the season, there would be fewer lost. I have never heard greater nonsense. In my opinion the young pigeons have far too little experience. There may well be a few heavy ones where they have to go to the extreme to get home. A little Spartan school can certainly do no harm. Then there are also fanciers who think that the old pigeons will take the youngsters home on those flights. When the weather is difficult you will see that the old pigeons are home in no time and that the youngsters stay away much longer. In that regard the pigeon sport is unpredictable and if you think you know it you suddenly get the lid on your nose. Our sport is simply dependent on the weather and when compiling a flight program you can never know in advance when the weather is good or not. Sometimes the beginning of March is so beautiful that everyone is eager to get started. I have also experienced that heavy snow showers fell during the same period. Just like our sport the Dutch weather is unpredictable and we have to deal with that.

Last winter I once again let myself be tempted to attend a department meeting. Of all associations there are often two delegates present of which only one has voting rights, which has to do with the number of members. The most important point was of course the flight program. For the first time they agreed to the flight program proposed by our national association the NPO. It took a lot of time before all the noses were heading in the same direction. Everyone is happy that the season started and ended on the same date throughout the country. People did not easily agree on the release sites. Dissatisfied sounds came from all corners of the season. The program would be too long and too heavy. So next winter, just like 50 years ago, we are going to come up with a new program. Certainly know that next year, after the end of the season, there will be endless discussions if at least there are enough members left because it is going completely the wrong way. I was shocked by the disappointing participation on various flights and especially the last young pigeon flights made me decide to consider how many members still participated in each club. I opted for the South Holland department. A department with many members some with a mega loft. I almost fell off my seat in surprise. There was no association with more than 10 participants, most of them had five or six. My own club only had two participants and if you don't have seven you have to take your pigeons to another club in the area. I've always been used to playing in a club with 40 - 50 members. Always plenty of fun, something that you will not easily manage in a club with fewer than 10 members. That coziness is something that I miss the most.

Three more weeks of pigeon sport and then the 2019 season in the Netherlands is a thing of the past. A season that could not to tie a rope. For the first time a national flight program. It looked promising but unfortunately little or nothing came of it. Yes, many dissatisfied fanciers and major problems for those who were responsible for the releases. You don't have to be jealous of those men for that matter. They have received buckets with comments, rightly or wrongly…. For many fanciers the program was too much of a good thing and that will set the tongues in motion again during the coming winter at the meetings. Our rapidly declining pigeon sport association is more or less over-organized. We are gradually having more board members than regular members. I am thinking of committee members, boards at departmental level, then all those boards of the many playing together and every association also has its board. Our union is bursting at the seams because of the wide variety of committees, platforms, pilots, it makes you dizzy. How does Maurice van de Kruk want to steer this in the right direction? I think that is impossible and that is why there is a good chance that all those good-looking committees will work alongside each other. Almost all people of good will with unfortunately also several figures who are absolutely not capable of their position but who like to hear themselves talk. In Noord-Holland the department directors have already indicated that they will resign at the end of the year. Too pathetic for words but that's how it goes in an amateur sports association.

This will be the hot topic this winter that will have much to do about it. I still remember that under the leadership of former chairman Jip Pancras all flying areas/departments were adjusted. That did not go without a struggle but it went on. It was necessary because the departments were too large in relation to the number of members. What was then hammered out was that the departments and districts had to be maintained in the longitudinal direction as much as possible. The strong western and also eastern wind would have far too great an influence on the course of the competitions if it became latitude flight areas. And see there ... a group of smarties have now figured out that latitude districts, or whatever you want to call it, is the solution for better and fair competitions. Dear pigeon friends, that will again cost members and so we continue to dig deeper and deeper. Of course we will now again have to deal with supporters and opponents. When there was such a hammer on flight areas in the longitudinal direction we still had 40.000 members who had not all fallen on their heads. Guaranteed there were many more experts than now in that group that still consists of 10.000 members, if they are still there?

Within the strongly aging pigeon sport there are many members who love traditions. These are the old-fashioned fanciers who want to participate with their pigeons every week. The club evenings are sacred to them, they don't want to miss the social contacts for the world. They like it when they occasionally make a nice result in their club and feel honored when they receive a cup in the winter. Those people are not trying to become national or Olympic champions at all costs. If they succeed it is a nice bonus but nothing more. They want to play every week and that is only possible if there is a flight program for traditional fanciers consisting of a flight every week. They are not commercially oriented, they do not belong to the permanent group of professional players who put everything in their power to end up with the champions at national or even international level. Because of all those extra competitions a lot of money goes into the pigeon sport. Fine but that is not important for the majority of the members who are still there. They do not come with cart loads of pigeons to play as many prizes as possible. Those scrapers still do not realize that it is they who are the pigeon sport, and in particular the fanciers hugely victimize. This cannot go on for long.

It burst out of it. Each village had its own club. The larger towns had two or more and the large cities such as Amsterdam had 30 associations with a total of 1200 members. There where I live, the Zaanstreek, were 15 pigeon clubs with almost 500 members. In Amsterdam no more 30 fanciers live in the city itself. They all live in rural areas and there are no more than 200 members total. In the Zaanstreek there are still 4 pigeon clubs with perhaps a little more than 100 members and 36 of them participated last week on the fifth young pigeon flight. Despite that the existing clubs just want to continue. Usually it is because of a single very old member who keeps fighting to keep his club within walking distance. Then he can go to the club every week with his basket, very nice. If that is no longer possible it is also no longer possible for members of that kind to play with pigeons and in this way we lose a good number every year. To maintain the pigeon sport you would say; let the existing clubs merge with each other within a certain area. From an organizational point of view that is by far the best solution. The necessary mergers have taken place in recent years unfortunately that has only cost members.

To keep the pigeon sport interesting it might be a good solution to greatly expand the number of flying areas, also known as playing together. So, for example in departments where there are now 5 circles or playing together there can be made 10 of them so you automatically get more winners. You play against fewer pigeons but that is not the most important thing for most. In the pigeon sport it is important that you defeat your best sport friend and that you at least have a pigeon in the clock sooner than your neighbor. That is pigeon sport and that is what it is all about. I know those who say that everyone can sit in front of them as long as I leave my neighbor behind. That is nice or not?

The pigeon year 2019 goes into the books as the year of failures. For the last four flights with young pigeons I had everything in focus. My young pigeons look like to get through a ring. Tight in the feathers, healthy, nice on weight and they feel like they've been pumped up a bit. In addition, most of them have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Some already have a young in the nest, some only sit on eggs for a few days, others a little longer. An almost ideal situation for an extra flame this season. I have done my best to create this situation and then the following happens. There would be a race of nearly 400 km last Saturday for which the pigeons had to be used on Thursday evening. I was completely satisfied and was ready for the fight. But what is my surprise? Because so many young pigeons were left behind most members in my club no longer wanted to participate. As a result they had to move to another club. I was not happy with that and certainly not when I heard that no association in the region could process my Tipes clock system. That's why there was only one thing to do; I had to take the basketing antenna and the atomic clock from my club. I was not in the mood for that either even when some members offered to take my pigeons and the Tipes supplies away. To make matters worse I soon heard the weather forecast and my decision was final; I would not participate. Very terrible weather was predicted for both Saturday and Sunday. The disappointment was great especially because I thought the pigeons looked so perfect. After I had unsubscribed a message came through that there would be raced Friday instead of Saturday. I have never experienced this as long as I have been playing with pigeons. A flight was planned for that same Saturday in which many inexperienced young pigeons would participate. Despite the predicted "animal weather", it would continue on Saturday. End of the song; a beautiful flight on Friday with a disappointing participation. My chance for the championship is gone. On Saturday the pigeons could not get away and was decided that same afternoon to bring the pigeons back to the premises while on Sunday it was excellent weather for the flight to continue. It looks like I will not be able to basket again in my own room for the coming weekend and that is why I am not participating in the races for youngsters. Everything done for nothing but it is my own choice not to participate. The main cause is that I cannot basket in my own club room and I have never experienced that. For me the fun is completely gone. So now I bet my old and young pigeons four times on the last speed races of this season and that is nice again because then I am certainly waiting for the arrival of some forty pigeons and that is still one of the most beautiful parts of our sport, namely the arrival of the pigeons. It will be 27 degrees with east wind and that is less fun.

That is very different from playing hard. I still remember the time when almost no young pigeons were lost. Of course there were also bad flights at the time of which not all pigeons returned but those were exceptions. Nowadays many fanciers breed twice the amount they would normally grow. They all assume that they will lose at least a quarter of their youngsters. Many fanciers would be happy with a quarter because usually there are many more. Even so much that many stop early because otherwise they are afraid not to be able to select strict enough. There is nothing so annoying to keep pigeons in winter that you don't really like. There is nothing so annoying to be forced to keep a collection pigeons that you can’t trust. Nevertheless I still maintain that we can do a lot ourselves to prevent massive losses. It is certainly not only about quality if young pigeons are left behind. Health is the most important thing but there is more to this globe. Because many pigeons are left behind we breed more. That in itself is a very good system. A lot of breeding and flying with it is very important, the basket will tells you more. The mistake is that from everything that has two wings are bred. Breeding from good pigeons gives more chance of usable pigeons. Two toppers do not automatically give toppers even though all those stories do believe that. There is still a bit of craftsmanship involved. Look at the men who always play well. They own a strain of pigeons that they know through and through. Every year they see characteristics of grandparents who have put down a good performance. They have developed their own model pigeon. They know their pigeons from head to toe, just the external characteristics often tell them enough to determine whether or not they will breed from them. It is not always the most beautiful athletes that perform the best. In the sports world there is also a clear difference between sprinters, medium-distance runners and marathon runners. Sprinters are important in cycling, but also climbers, time trialists and all-rounders. Whoever wants to be one of the great champions in the pigeon sport will have to have a loft of pigeons that possesses a variety of capacities and then you are not there yet. You should not be too scared to let the pigeons participate in the flights. With caution you will not get any further and we are certainly not allowed to turn it into greenhouse plants. The boss himself must be in control of the game. So dealing with his pigeons, a well-thought out training system, the method of feeding and what extras he should administer to his pigeons. The method of selection, the loft and, to a lesser extent, the use of all kinds of medicines are just as important.

A very old saying that is also important for young pigeons. I even want to start with the egg, it must be nice in shape and smooth. Is that not the case, they are also from your best pigeons, away with it. Both eggs have to hatch at the same time, a young that hatches a day later can leave, such a pigeon will always be late. Young pigeons have to be full and full all day long, so feeding three times a day is best, even better than "full body" every day. After every feeding the parents start feeding their young at full capacity they do so irregularly. Youngsters who try to stand on their legs early on can leave. They are wrong and will never be a good one. Squeaky youngsters can also leave quickly, they can only squeak when fed and furthermore they have to sleep a lot during the entire growing up period, then they grow best and the boss will look at it with a good feeling. As soon as they can leave the parents, they have to lie tight. Their feathers must shine, nice solid manure around the dish then they will certainly feel good too. It must be a party to wean such a boy. We will continue this next time.

We are probably working on the most difficult season ever in the Netherlands this year. Everything is upset, the weather, the release committee, the managers, the fanciers and even the pigeons. From the start of the season there is something special going on every week. That way the fun gets a bit off. In addition there are also the losses with the youngsters. The pigeons are having a hard time but this week they had it very easy with the wind in their sails, at least you would say that. Unfortunately that turned out not to be the case. With a speed of more than 130 km per hour they came rushing home. The annoying thing is that it is precisely because of this that again a lot of young pigeons flew past their lofts and ended up in the high north of our country or maybe even further. The program for the young pigeons is now running at full speed and unfortunately fanciers are already stopping because otherwise they will no longer have any young pigeons. Despite the high speed the competition was open for more than half an hour. A day later there was another flight where they again had the wind on their tails. There was a less strong wind and yet the pigeons made speeds of almost 110 km per hour. The strange thing is that this flight was open for 7 minutes and the losses were nihil. The program for the old pigeons is over but they can still participate a number of times in the natour where old and young compete against each other.

Originally those flights were created to train the later youngsters. It has been many years since someone came up with the bright idea to include those flights in the overall (general) championship. That caught on so much that enthusiasm of the fanciers was great and the number of participating pigeons became huge. Even today many fanciers are still playing at the cutting edge. In the early years I only played my hens who had served as a widow hen all year round. So at this time of the year they had another nest and the hens that had been sitting still for a long time without a nest turned out to be extremely motivated. Most of the time I played with 16 hens and experienced it several times that they all won prizes. The trick is to keep a good eye on the hens and by playing them in the nest it works nicely. Yet it is true that especially on the last flights the darkened youngsters beat the old ones. The natour is loved by many fanciers in the Netherlands. At the end of September it is over and that is a good thing because then it is almost impossible to stop the big molt and it is high time to give the pigeons rest.

When the last middle distance flights start, you can see the number of participating pigeons run back quickly. This is because many fanciers who no longer have a chance at a championship will focus on the young pigeon game. A game where previously everyone could come along well or to satisfaction. The game with the young pigeons is no longer fun either. The whole bag of tricks opens to show as well as possible. A lot is being demanded of the young pigeons while they have to work in the toughest period of the season. Often very hot and that is not an easy task for not well-trained youngsters. This year and also last year the juniors have a very difficult time. Despite everything, the losses are not that bad for me. Every now and then pigeons come home again. I am happy with that while I actually have no use anymore. Practice is that as soon as you give them again on a race a number stay away. A few weeks ago I picked up a young cock that looked so great that you could immediately play it again. I didn't do that he was able to train for three weeks around the loft. I think it was enough for him for the time being but I lost him again. His father is my best yearling this year and his mother was my best young bird last year. You see, it doesn't say everything either. Still I look forward with interest to the remaining flights. The young pigeons are increasingly forming a pair, are cuddling somewhere in a corner. Others already have eggs and a couple gave birth to the first youngster two days ago. Nice nest positions for the coming races. Performing well with young pigeons does not have everything to do with good nesting positions. Health in particular is of the utmost importance. Furthermore, two young cocks that hate each other can perform incredibly well and also a young pigeon that sees other pigeons caressing from its seat can rush away in such a way that it thunders home at a record pace. By carefully observing the pigeons you can see these kinds of things and that can be important to put the right pigeons at the top of the list of participants.

In the past winter there has been much to do about this in our country, a committee has even been set up for it. A lot has been discussed about it and a long list of all sorts of ideas and proposals has come out are of no use to us. Fair play is simply not possible in the pigeon sport. Of course it was initially only about the large numbers that are used weekly by certain members. I can imagine that such a thing discourages a lot fanciers in advance. There was talked about pros and amateurs, that would also be unfair. I know enough amateurs who play much better than the pros who owe their name to the performance of one of their pigeons. What to think of all those commercial players who think of everything to get in the picture while they are perform far below par. Older aficionados look up to men like that while practice shows that they themselves play considerably better. Those men with big names sell several times a year and always work with youngsters from only their best breeders. The more you write that, the more fanciers will believe that. Because we never had many pigeons at home we soon realized that you should not breed too much from the same (good) couples. You got too much of the same kind and that was why there was a good chance that you would grow too closely. With long-term too narrow inbreeding you often get the most beautiful pigeons, the annoying thing is that the speed is grown out of it. So we broke all breeding couples every year (we only had six). Every year the two best racing pigeons went to our breeding loft where two older breeders had to make room. That way we only had breeding pigeons that had won a first prize at least once and yet it happened several times that our best young pigeon came from the racing pigeons. All the knowledge that we think we have appears to be more luck than wisdom.

In the Netherlands heat records have been broken with some regularity in recent years. For example the past month of July was extremely hot and also the hottest month ever. Where's that going? Fortunately it receives the necessary attention worldwide. The high temperatures are far from ideal for our pigeon sport. We can gradually ask ourselves what influence that has on our sport. Large losses are partly due to these tropical temperatures and you know as well as I do that it makes no one happy. Unfortunately we cannot influence it at all but we will increasingly take it into account. Fewer pigeons are being used, we are becoming more careful so that our pigeons are less able to resist high temperatures. I myself can also not stand it if I have to hand in a few pigeons every week, I never get used to that. At the moment many fanciers have lost so many young pigeons that at the end of the season there is little to be selected so they have to keep pigeons that would otherwise be selected. I would never use such a system, I would rather have a few empty breeding boxes. I absolutely do not want pigeons in my loft that I have no faith in or do not like as a pigeon. Fortunately the worst heat is now out of our country so that we will hopefully get some nice and exciting flights before the season ends on September 13.

The speed flights for the young pigeons are over. They have met well with regard to the race for the championships. We are now going to start on a series of four flights with two nights in the basket, which means that the distances will be somewhat larger. The point now is that the pigeons know where to drink when they are on their way to the release location. If they do not drink it is fatal, in any case the chance of an early arrival is then gone. So it's about them drinking in the baskets. Fanciers who have made work of it don't have to worry. I myself am a bit too easy to do that. The only thing I did years ago to teach them to drink is to place a 70 cm long drinking trough in the cage where they, just like in the shipping baskets, have to put their heads through the bars to drink. Furthermore I assume that when they are in the basket for two nights they are so excited about drinking that they will soon imitate their fellow drinkers. I have never put young pigeons in the basket overnight to teach them to drink. I cannot judge whether I have lost pigeons as a result. It is true that the last flight I got a young hen home who had been drinking for a long time. The pigeons were released at noon so they had to stay in the basket for quite a long time. She had probably not drunk a drop and when she returned home she had lost a lot of weight. Now it was my third pigeon and two weeks before my first and then she sensed that she had not left. Next weekend they will go to 315 km, a nice distance for young pigeons. The following week 350 km and then 400 km. My experience is that youngsters who win early prizes from such distances as yearlings are often among the better ones. For the coming weeks I am confident. Marco has stopped with the youngsters. He didn't have enough time to prepare them properly which meant he had to surrender far too much on a flight. This was followed by a fourteen-day holiday so he decided to race the young pigeons on the after tour. These are six speed flights that will also start this coming weekend in which the old and young pigeons compete. Perhaps it is also an advantage that old and young are released simultaneously so that the young can use the experience that the old pigeons have already gained this season so that losses among the young pigeons will be kept to a minimum. The plans that we both had with the young pigeons fell apart. We will try again with the natour to jointly make some nice chain results. But those thoughts will live with multiple fanciers. In any case we go "full" against it.

The season is nearing its end and that means that in many lofts the big molt appears. Fanciers who have taken this into account have darkened their old pigeons in the spring so that they have only thrown two and maybe three pens at most. As a result, the widowers can simply be raced in widowhood and the widow hens that are not raced will perform great as a nest pigeon with a full wing. Those who start the after-flight with three days of eggs can play the season 6 weeks in a row on that litter. First week three days of eggs, then 10 days, then 17 days or bald youngsters, then youngsters of one week, then two weeks and the last week it is about who still has a good grip on his pigeons. If that is not the case then the aerodynamics are gone and it is over with winning early prizes. This time of year playing with pigeons in the nest has the advantage that as soon as youngsters come into the dish the molting stagnates. The pigeons can also be paired in two groups so that the first group at the end of the season can be used to reduce the youngsters so that the old pigeons hold their feathers and have a better chance of coming home at full speed. I have been playing that game for many years with great success. The pigeons have to get out twice a day including those who are sitting on the nest at that time. They must train for at least half an hour if necessary with the flag. After 45 minutes they can go inside and 15 minutes later they are fed.

We complain that so many pigeons stay away, indeed it is. Possibly due to the fairly good weather conditions I sometimes get a lost son or daughter back in the last two weeks. It is striking that they look good, they have probably been so wise to enter a different loft and have had food and drink there. I also received several telephone calls which I picked up with my wife. However, the best thing is if they come back on their own, there are pigeons that I have lost for several weeks, I like that. Practice has shown that the returned pigeons, after having flown around the house for a few weeks, are left behind after a short training flight. I am convinced that it is not always the quality that young pigeons do not come home. Weather conditions and health play an important role in this. My team of young pigeons grows bigger every week. In each case I have enough to make a strict selection. Whether they are all useful pigeons that will be in my loft this winter, I hope so. However, I have enough experience to know that they are never all good. I also never know for sure what the bad and the good are. We must all have made many mistakes in that regard.

In the Netherlands we are used to strong and sudden weather changes and our sport is often the victim of that. The past weekend was a wise decision to cancel all flights. We fanciers had a free weekend but that was not entirely true. The international flight from Narbonne where 6 cars with a total of 18.094 pigeons were at the start went ahead. Already on Wednesday the pigeons went on a journey and due to the scorching heat with thunderstorms and heavy rain the pigeons could only on Monday morning at 7.15 on their way home. I would like to stand still on the international race from Narbonne. In my eyes no more than a laugher. What the hell suggests such an international competition. The French entered with 5438 pigeons and won all the early prizes. If you see what kind of accommodation the winner lives then I am ashamed to death, what a mess! Fortunately a pigeon does not look at it, it is often satisfied with a cardboard box in which he or she can lie with her buddy. However, you will have a neighbor with a loft that is about to collapse and a garden as if a bomb has been hit. Furthermore the participation was as follows; Netherlands 3835; Belgium 7465; Germany 1160; England 75 and Luxembourg 121. Monday evening at 10 p.m. 1487 of the more than 18.000 pigeons were reported internationally, that is 8%! The newspapers will soon be full of the most beautiful stories about the national and international winners. You will win the first national in England against 75 pigeons. I do not know when it arrived, but I do know that it was not home on the day of release. In the Netherlands, Zeeland fanciers who live in the southwest of our country, came out the best. The fastest Dutch pigeon fell four hours after the first international report at 8.49 pm (963 km) and became 61st internationally which in itself is a top achievement. The first international report took place at 4.52 pm at a distance of 717 km. With the best will in the world I cannot understand what is so great about such an international race. The commercial guys certainly understand that otherwise they would not participate! As far as I am concerned; this type of unfair races soon forgot about the big difference in distances.

Our international board the F.C.I. is busy with the world championship that will be held in Argentina in May 2020. The pigeons that participate in this race are kept in quarantine in Belgium and can/must be delivered in September. There are still 20 places available for interested Dutchmen. The participation fee is 120 euros. Fancy an Argentinian adventure? Jo Vos ?? !! is the man who can show you the way. Whether there are still places available for participants from other countries has not been announced. All in all an unclear report about a World Championship for racing pigeons. By the way, I don't know what to think about a World Championship for racing pigeons. Yes, commerce and nothing more. Well, a festive dinner for the international bobos will no doubt be arranged.

The past week has been tropical in the Netherlands, which is not fun at all for many people. Temperatures of more than 40 degrees do not normally occur in our country. The KNMI weather station has been accurately tracking the highest temperatures since the end of the nineteenth century. 1943 and 1947 had also a number of tropical days, but yes, that is already 70 years ago. It is true that the average temperatures are becoming a little higher and scientist all over the world are working on that. Nature is not doing well and we humans are to blame for that. Nature cannot be regulated, certainly not by humans. For the races with racing pigeons in Europe every year we see that the weather conditions have such an influence that our beautiful and exciting pigeon game is regularly put in danger. Delayed releases, poor visibility in the early morning, heavy showers, tropical temperatures are becoming more frequent. We and certainly our pigeons are not geared to that. Perhaps we are too careful with our pigeons. In the Netherlands we really only have nice weather pigeons. We will certainly have to look for the big losses with young pigeons in that direction. It is not only the high-voltage cables and the birds of prey that cause great losses. I know that many fanciers are very serious about preparing their young pigeons and yet they lose at least a third every year including me!
We already say that a for a few years but whatever we do the losses remain large and that causes disappointed fanciers. Most of us are gray or bald and already quite old and have experienced a few things. It is precisely that aging that makes us more sentimental. We cannot stand to have to surrender too many pigeons a year, plus our national government is pretty busy spoiling our game. There are now so many flights that it is no longer fun. Every week a flight is still the best, everyone will participate. The specialization has certainly not produced any new members in the Netherlands. Worse, it has made many members decide to stop pigeon racing. With a shorter flight program of 5 vitesse flights, 5 middle distance, 5 long distance, 7 young pigeons and 5 natoer sprint races where old and young pigeons compete against each other, everyone will find what they are looking for. That is the game that has been at the base for years. All those marathon flights and too many one-day long distance flights are only interesting for a handful of participants. Today's board members who are retiring too quickly cause unrest in the organization. When existing board members resign, new ones must come and they will usually reinvent the wheel. Well intended but it has not gotten better over the last few years with regard to powerful drivers. We desperately need them, I doubt if they still exist.

You can ask yourself what the purpose of a national competition is. It must be fun to play against each other in a country with all fanciers together. Let us not be mistaken. Playing all of the same release place against each other is not fair anyway so actually not fun either. Yes, for those who achieve good results. Unfortunately the pigeon sport has more losers than winners. The differences in distance are too large even in a small country like the Netherlands. It is generally known that the wind influences the course of short flights. Nationally the wind also has (much) influence on flights of even 750 km or more. On the day of release it is easily predictable in advance on which side of the country the earliest pigeons will arrive. With a northwest wind the first arrivals will be in the southeastern part of our country. With a northeast wind, Zeeland, which lies in the southwest of the Netherlands, will clearly have an advantage. Of course a victory, especially a national victory, is something that many long distance fanciers dream of. You must have luck on your side on that day. This is also the case on all other flights of different distances. The big and most important difference is that we play per department and we have 11 of them in our country. The 11 departments are also divided into different games and the club game comes first. If you are not there early then you can shake it in larger games. Pigeon sport is a very nice game. I have been working on it all my life and I mainly look at the results in my own environment. They are also of the utmost importance to me during the selection period. Pigeons that achieve a victory in their own environment can be completely eliminated in a larger combination and that has almost nothing to do with quality. The wind and therefore the migration of the pigeons determines a good or bad result. If your neighbor picks up well you must pack well. If that is not the case then something is wrong with the health of your pigeons. It is important that you can see for yourself what is not right. If you are not yet that far advanced consult a pigeon friend or visit the vet. Pigeon sport is not that difficult, we make it too difficult ourselves. We look too much behind it, suspect others of secret means or even unfair play. Stay sporty at all times, we can all run fast but not all equally fast. This also applies to the racing performance of our pigeons. If they are healthy they must regularly play a prize. With me the performance of young pigeons does not count. A young pigeon that comes home early every week, even if it has a hump or a crooked breastbone, remains. Fortunately we all have more pigeons in our loft that do not all regularly win prizes. The most important thing for me is the first impression when I take a pigeon in my hands. For yearlings I have set the performance bar at 50%. They must achieve that minimum percentage. If not there will be no room for them in the loft coming winter. If we demand performance we have to take care of the pigeons optimally and also dare to select strictly. Certainly know that you will experience considerably more pleasure with your pigeons. Whether you will also achieve a national victory? Don't count on that, certainly not in the Netherlands where there is only 1 national flight per year.

The Netherlands is divided into 4 sectors, they are usually flights from 500 - 700 km. Here you can clearly see that you cannot all play against each other from the same release location. Sector 1 played from Chateauroux, 1003 fanciers had brought 7494 pigeons. The winner had a distance of 540 km and made a speed of 1350 meters per minute. Sector 2 played from Blois, 688 fanciers had brought 5877 pigeons. The winner had a distance of 549 km and made a speed of 1343 meters per minute. Sector 2 is a combination of South and North Holland. The first North Holland pigeon starts in place 25. Sector 3 and 4 played from Chateaudun. There was a joint participation of 1742 fanciers who had brought 13.568 pigeons. In sector 3 1411 meters (491 km) was enough for the victory. In sector 4, at a distance of 668 km was 1.407 meters enough. That is an "over flight" of 1777 km compared to the shortest distance. The winner of sector 1 would have started in 218th place with his speed in sector 3. Respect for every winner but here we see that pigeon sport is definitely not a fair game. Our national board tries to fool us that we still have 15.000 fanciers in the Netherlands, I think 12.000. Unfortunately, these are NOT 12.000 lofts but members. A total of 3433 members participated in the flights sector. I don't know what you think of that, but assuming 15.000 members, that is just over 20%. With the best will in the world I cannot find that a great participation. You can therefore wonder whether sector flights are worthwhile and the same applies to that one national flight. You can talk about a national or sectoral victory but if only 20% of all members participate, which is a good performance, but let's face it the number of fanciers participating in a national competition unfortunately does not represent that much. I give you to guess what amount Asian fanciers want to pay for such a pigeon.

A lot of tam-tam was made at the start of the new setup for female pigeon fanciers. I understand that there are more attractive prizes to win than the men which is certainly not wrong. What matters to me is the sequel. I hear little or nothing about it and have only once read an article about a flight that was held in Noord-Holland. I couldn't find anything special in it and am already afraid that the women's competition will disappear just as quickly as it came. I hope I am wrong.

I can still remember that in Belgium the national Bourges for young pigeons was really the top of the pigeon sport. Gigantic participation, a competition in which all Belgians really participated. At the then Houben family in Itegem, dozens, perhaps a hundred supporters were waiting for the pigeons. Only when the first pigeons had fallen were the supporters treated to a cold beer, great to see. The pigeon sport was incredibly popular in those years. In the Netherlands too, the villagers in particular took part in the pigeon sport. The newspapers were full of the best stories about the national winners. Also in the Netherlands we have had several years that the fanciers were looking forward to the Derby competition for youngsters from Orleans. There was even talk of the Orleans fever that had burst out. Dozens of gold watches were to win on that flight and you can imagine what it meant if you won a gold watch at that time. If you said that you had won that with the pigeons most people would not believe that. Unfortunately that competition is long gone, it would be too far. Certainly the Dutch pigeon sport owes its good name to this world famous competition for young pigeons with 150.000 youngsters at the start. I had hoped that the race would be restored this year. Unfortunately that will never come back and when it comes back it will never be that spectacular again. There are far too few fanciers and few fanciers also means few pigeons. The fairy tale is over and the once-popular sport has dropped almost to the last step of the sporting ladder. Unfortunately! Perhaps the national race from Bourges on Saturday August 5 brings the pigeon sport in a positive image again.

When I ended up in the pigeon sport, that was a long time ago, the flight program consisted of 6 speed flights. 6 middle distance flights, 5 long distance flights, 6 young pigeon flights and 5 after flights. The old and young pigeons played against each other. The long distance consisted of 4 one-day long distance flights and 1 overnight flight from Bordeaux. With that flight the season for the old pigeons ended. For many fanciers that was a sort of "clean up" flight. Almost all pigeons that had not met were put on Bordeaux and that race was usually won by a speed player, that's how it can go in the pigeon sport. Those who grabbed an early pigeon on that flight were the King too rich. It was of course very special that a pigeon that had performed poorly the entire season now managed to get it off to a successful marathon race. For many fanciers that performance was of great significance, as a result of which the pigeon was usually given a place in the breeding loft. Whether that is a good choice I do not entirely agree or, rather I do not agree at all. Pigeons that conquer a place in the breeding loft must have performed very well or it must be a pigeon purchased (for a lot of money). For me, a breeding loft must consist exclusively of own performance pigeons or what I just said, it must be a purchased pigeon. You expect something from a purchased pigeon so I always put it against my best breeder I had.

What I want to talk about now is the national flying program made by the NPO that, incidentally, came about on the recommendation of the fanciers. I started this column by giving an overview of what the flying program looked like for many years. One flight per weekend and in exceptional cases sometimes 2. I must admit that in my younger years, when I was driven to the bone, I was as fanatical as a young dog. I had to win and would rather have 5 flights in a day than 1. In those years I played with 16 widowers. The hens only competed in the last 5 races of the season. I also had 4 breeding couples that raised 2 rounds and I had 1 young from each of my 16 flying couples so that if everything went well, thirty young pigeons could start. That was pretty much because considerably fewer pigeons were lost from the sixties up to the eighties. A lot has changed in the meantime, not only for me but especially nationwide.

Youth is hardly ever added, they are busy with completely different things. They have so many possibilities that they do not embark on a time-consuming and expensive hobby such as the pigeon sport. The sport is aging, the largest group of fanciers are the pensionados and they are certainly not waiting for all those changes. They want to play their game every week. They have been used to this for many years so we should not change that. Yet that happens. The number of members is declining and that is not only due to the aging population. All kinds of working groups have been formed by the NPO for each type of game. The people who have taken part in it come up with all kinds of novelties for their category, especially more flights. People should have thought that 40 years ago when there were enough members. There were even associations that had a membership stop. Unfortunately the managers at the time did not think of aging, after all it went well and everyone was enthusiastic. Because of the working groups there are far too many flights and after only one year playing the national NPO program there are already many dissatisfied fanciers. I know you don't have to participate in everything, nothing is required. But in the past it was true that everyone participated because it was a racing program that fanciers with a small number of pigeons could play every week. The sport for the common man was affordable, now the prices rise out of the pan. It is no longer fun and that is why more and more fanciers throwing the towel in the ring. The pigeon sport is becoming too professional and commercial. The professionals with their mega lofts taking advantage from all those older fanciers who come to the room every week with their pigeons. They ensure that there are still quite a few pigeons participating in the competitions for the glory of the pros. The same professionals can then compete for the national titles and participation in the Olympiad which is held once every two years. Ridiculous, every Olympiad is once every 4 years. Not in the pigeon sport. There the commercial men can make a lot of money every two years for the pigeons or their youngsters. Fine, but that should not be about the heads of all those old gray males who often achieve a much better prize percentage than all those mass players. Those who can read a result know that. Our national board, the NPO, is contributing to this. They have forgotten what it was like or perhaps they have never experienced how cozy the pigeon sport was. Now a pigeon club consists of an average of ten members. In the golden years there were many associations that had 80 to 100 members and some even more. Then there was a fight within every club. Now it is often the same two or three that make up the service and they dare to advertise with it. They must be ashamed of themselves. No, there is not much fun left. You have to find the pleasure on your own property and that has nothing to do with whether you are a member of a club with 10 or 50 members. Pigeon sport is sport at home and the whole family can enjoy it.

In the Netherlands, the golden years are over. I am very happy that I was able to experience those years. Now we are struggling on a little. The game with the pigeons is still great fun. Every day I enjoy the care to get a good result at the weekend. Just relax in your loft, shake off all worries and be busy with your animals. The time that I wanted to play multiple flights in one day is far behind me. I don't have to think about going to the club several times a week. Friday evening is the nicest evening for me everything else could be done online. Money play is gone, so what does a result say. What matters now are the champion points, there is nothing more. We can forget large numbers of pigeons in competition, that will never come again. It just gets a bit pathetic. This week we had in my club with 22 members 6 participants for the third one-day long distance race and 3 of them did not appear in the results, it really means nothing anymore. In a little while we will no longer know in an affordable way how to take the pigeons to release places of 500 km and beyond. I don't think the NPO board is working on that. They are busy with the organization of the Olympiad to be held in 2021 in the Netherlands. That costs a lot of money while the event is only interesting for the bobos and that can never be the intention of an Olympiad. Still I hope to be there in 2 years, then I have to become 84 years old.

Many wise words have been written over the years. By highly trained fanciers, by strongly playing fanciers by everyone who cares about pigeon sport. There is (fortunately) still no manual for the pigeon sport which describes what you have to do to become and remain a champion. So it comes down to whether an fancier is a type of winner, whether he is very passionate, whether he works systematically and whether he has it in it’s fingers. If you have no aptitude to become a strong playing fancier then it will not work either. Everyone can enjoy the pigeon sport in their own way. However most of us want more. It is a competitive sport and I think everyone wants to participate every week with the intention of achieving good results. 100% effort is needed for this and a good pigeon fancier always has a good loft and good pigeons otherwise it would not be a good fancier. A visit to the loft and a conversation with a crack that has played a leading role for many years can be very enlightening. Good listening and reading makes you a lot wiser. Do not do everything that different players claim, make your own choice about care, type of game, number of pigeons. We can want everything, but it must also be feasible also for the wallet. Certainly within the Dutch and Belgian pigeon sport I know a lot of small fanciers with a simple loft (cozy for the pigeons) and they play price percentages that the mega lofts cannot match. They are all men who make very strict selections. They dare to put away pigeons and only then look at the pedigree. Names are completely unimportant for them. The only thing that counts are the performances and only then does the pedigree play a role. This is not so difficult for men who have been playing in champion style for years. They have been using a fixed care schedule for some time and if they do not do so well it certainly does not depend on that.

My feed supplier stopped. A pity, because I have been coming there for years. There is now a new owner who has drastically changed his range. He has listened (too much) to all stories about food. Our pigeons need food every day and with a very varied mix good results can be achieved on almost all flights. However the fanciers want to have a wide choice. Almost all the same grains are present in all the mixtures. I cannot see whether my pigeons eat all 28 different grains and how much of them they eat. What I mean to say; all the mixes are thought out for commerce and have nothing to do with better performance, breeding or molting. Stick to a versatile mix and the rest is totally unimportant. An old fancier once said to me; write in large letters POISON on your feed bin you oh so soon give too much of it. Then we haven't talked about the prices yet. Look and compare then you soon find out that you often pay way too much. The pigeons need fresh grit every day. No grit, no prizes. To win prizes you definitely do not need all the resources that are used to advertise so much. Keep it simple then you get the furthest. Remember that the pigeon engine runs on fat, linseed, hemp seed and 2 peanuts per pigeon each day ensure a well-filled fuel tank with the necessary reserves. Once I came to a well-known hard-playing fancier. He had 6 or 7 different bags of food. Every day he threw a canister of food out of every bag into a bucket, he shook it well and that was his secret. Laugh or not? With this he threw the expertise of the feed manufacturers overboard, he left the choice to his pigeons and they are expert enough, just like your pigeons.

I often smile when reading reports and advertisements about varieties. They know how to handle this, especially abroad. I read about Hansenne (who died more than 100 years ago). How dare you write about the pure Hansenne breed. Someone asked me what I thought of a pairing Raoul Verstraete x Gaby Vandenabeele, both have no race. They mainly bought the best pigeons in their own environment, bred from them and only keep the best. There is still no one who can tell in advance that cock on that hen will give good results in the assembly line. With lots of breeding and play the basket will tell you which ones are the best. Great breeding couples exist, that is for sure and because of that they also get those beautiful names like Super Couple, Golden breeding couple, Marathon couple and fill it in. Not one of all these couples got their name when they were first put together. Maybe only 2 years later they got such a beautiful name, do you understand what I mean? Afterwards it is always easy to talk. Although breeding couples still have such a nice name and even though they have given a super once, that couple also gives more bad than good pigeons. There come fanciers to me who have ordered young pigeons. There are those who ask me which food I give. If I tell them that I always give the same food to all pigeons throughout the year they also want to take a few bags of food from me. Dear people, that is not the case. I sell pigeons and hope that the buyers have a lot of success with it and that they will return home happy. However, I stay at home and the buyers have to do their best at home to get results. That they are not all good pigeons they buy from me is certain, but who is that the case with? Because you are never sure you have to be a huge optimist to spend many thousands of euros for a young from a couple with a beautiful name. Fortunately we have not all fallen on the back of our heads.

What a horrible spring this year. For the people, but certainly for the pigeons, it was heavy. But then it became June 21 beginning of summer and really true, the Dutch weather changed and how. We don't know where to look because of the tropical heat. At first it was always too cold, too much rain, poor visibility but with a lot of art and racing work the pigeons were released every week. Not always nice competitions but there was not a single reason for grumbling. Finally there is the long-awaited summer weather. However, it can also be too crazy and we knew that last Saturday. The one-day long distance flights were excellent and the same counted for our speed flight of 110 km for the old pigeons. Simultaneously with the old pigeons the youngsters were also released at the same place. It was their first official race and it didn't go so well. East wind with a crystal clear cloudless sky is deadly for inexperienced youngsters. In addition, many young pigeons have actually been too little in the basket for a training flight. Most do not drink and when the pigeons were allowed to go home at 8 o'clock on the way home the temperature also rose quite quickly. Nervous youngsters who are experiencing a massive release for the first time and have not been drinking get stressed. We all certainly know the result of this in the Netherlands and Belgium. That costs feathers we say and this time it came out again. Large numbers of young pigeons are not yet home, where they are is not yet fully known. Two days after the race several pigeons were registered. I myself have lost 10 of the 37 and one I just received a message that he is about 50 km away from me. I'll go get him with Cora tomorrow.

I told everyone who wanted to hear that my young pigeons looked so great. Smooth as an eel, good appetite, trained as it should. Not just laps around the loft, no they are sometimes fifteen minutes completely out of sight. If your young pigeons behave this way too you can sleep peacefully because they are super fine. Unfortunately the coli bacterium came to visit me. I realized it fairly quickly and immediately did coli cure from Dr. Van der Sluijs in the water. I know from experience that the cure is getting on quickly and after a few days I saw them redecorating. A day before the basketing day of the first official competition I was away with it. All back so no problem. Yet I made a huge mistake. Against my custom I gave in young pigeons while I knew that there would be east would with a clear sky. Participated anyway, stupid, stupid and again stupid. So now 10 are gone and I enjoyed my perfect team of youngsters for months. There is nothing sensible to say about pigeons that are gone, I know which breeding couples they come from and nothing more. Though I can tell you that there was not a young pigeon in my loft that you would say; for God's sake what should you do with it. They all got a good enough from me. Don't get me wrong that doesn't mean they were all good. You can read those kind of comments on the internet sales sites. Only youngsters from the best breeders are sold there and it is suggested that they are all good ones. That is why there are still so many fanciers who pay a lot of money for it. It is striking that almost no pigeon is bought on those sites by the Dutch. Would that be the Dutch stinginess or do the Dutch fanciers know all too well that with a sale of 100 young pigeons there is at most a handful of usable and most likely no champion pigeons, it is that difficult to breed good ones.

Last winter there was a lot of talk about fair play in our country. A working group has even been set up by the NPO to find a good solution for unlimited use of large numbers of pigeons. Now that we go to the club room every week with a basket that is no longer discussed. Nothing has changed at all. Because the first young pigeon flight with us went bad to very bad with regard to the many who stayed behind I went to see how the flights in other departments went. Almost exactly the same image. At one point I came across a department in which three big and also good fanciers play. I was shocked because of the mega number of pigeons that these three had used. These men had no fewer than 500 pigeons at the start and that in an association where 13 fanciers participate. In the Netherlands you can give as many pigeons as you want. So there is nothing wrong with the regulations. I have to think of all those small, often older, fanciers who compete with such numbers
to record. I used to say that I didn't care how many pigeons by who is used. I flew with at most 30 youngsters against 15.000 pigeons. I wanted to win and did my very best, you can't do more. Those 15.000 pigeons were used by an average of 1000 fanciers. The spread was much larger than today. In the Zaanse CC where I have been playing all my life were only 46 players last week while 20 years ago just a little 400 participated. If such a small number of participants have a set of those mega lofts then you will be despondent in advance. You can then catch a few pigeons well on time but the big boys run around 20 in front of you. This does not make any mortal happy and I think that something urgently needs to be done about this so that the fun of the game is not taken away in advance. I am convinced that the pigeon sport is digging its own grave in this way and that pit is already quite deep. The atmosphere is lost, the national organization is busy with the Olympiad and with national championships. Do they know that this is only interesting for commerce and not for those 15.000 Dutch fanciers who come faithfully with their pigeons every week. Unfortunately 95% of them play an figurate role so that the other 5% can fill their pockets. Pigeon sport is still a great hobby / sport, no sport can do without commerce. By this I mean sponsors who make it possible for the pigeon sport to continue to exist. That is different from the sale of pigeons, only that select group of commercial fanciers is wiser and not the national organization.

Of course I have experienced all kinds of bad flights in my long career. By bad I do not mean a bad result but bad weather. But I cannot remember that we had such terrible weather in spring. Too bad for our sport because losing too many pigeons makes fanciers drop out. The majority of Dutch pigeon sport consists of older people. But the older you get the more you get attached to your beasts and the harder the losses of pigeons you've been working with all winter and where you have every confidence for a good racing season. We are all working on that. We spend all our free time on it. Costs and effort are spared to optimally take care of our pigeons to bring them into the right condition every week. This year the fanciers are not bothered by the competition but it is mainly the heavy rain showers with poor visibility, thunderstorms and strong winds that are the major spoilers. Almost every week I have to write about it, it even gets annoying to complain about the weather over and over again. We are dealing with it and we will have to take it into account more and more. Unbelievable to read that it has not been so dry in Africa for the last 38 years affecting millions of people are being threatened with famine. If you think about that we have no right to speak.

Fortunately they are there, you don't want to know what kind of misery these men are currently experiencing. The pigeon sport (may we still talk about sport) consists of all individual practitioners who all have an opinion and all want to pull the sheet. There is not one that thinks about the public interest. It is everyone for themselves and that is understandable too. On flights with a disastrous race the club does not lose, it is the members who get the blows. Their hobby is threatened and they don't accept that. As a result, rightly or wrongly, very ugly comments are made to the board and, in particular, to the release committee. I assume that those people are prepared for their task. That is why I always give pigeons (if they are in good condition) because I assume that the baskets are not simply pulled open. It is not like that; weather or no weather out with those pigeons! Sometimes I have the idea that too much risk is being taken. Last weekend National Sint Vincent was held. One of the most famous marathon flights in our country. Minimum distance around a thousand kilometers. Those who have studied the weather maps know that the pigeons have had to deal with heavy rain showers en route. The same was the case in the middle distance so that the flight was open for more than five quarters. You may wonder whether this can all be viewed from the one-day long distance. In the small Netherlands we sometimes have to deal with four different weather types. Marathon or one-day long distance flights almost never have the same weather type on the entire flight line. I don't like those flights and I hardly ever play on them because I think it are risk flights. I have to be able to see what time the pigeons arrive and that is almost impossible to do on those distant flights. In addition I hate to wait a long time for pigeons, I am far too impatient for that.

Setbacks are there to be overcome. But please no setbacks in the racing season. One of the major culprits that many of us are dealing with is an outbreak of young pigeon infection with the e-coli bacteria. There are various methods to prevent an outbreak. In the meantime there is something to be done about it. You often see the outbreak only when it is too late. It starts with sitting outside of some, especially young pigeons. A coli infection with the old pigeons is also possible but fortunately not so often. In any case, I am now one of the victims among the young pigeons who have an outbreak of the e-coli bacteria. Sometimes you have to deal with it if they have been vaccinated against paramixo. I usually put two days in the drinking water a week after the vaccination. It also sometimes happens a few weeks after you stop darkening. I thought I had the leak because I have not had any problems with this nasty contamination for several years. Young pigeons in particular can be very sick of it, have no appetite, drink a lot and it is as if they have lost their wits. Young pigeons that have been infected and have flown in and out the loft many times suddenly find it impossible to find the entrance. I feel sorry for the poor animals and something that is certainly annoying is cleaning the lofts. Dirty green slimy manure that is almost impossible to get rid of your scraper. A sufficient means to prevent further infection is to burn out the loft every day. Do you suffer from this young pigeon problem do not leave the pigeons outside. Feed less than half a diet and cure the coli in the water. You should see them redecorate after three or four days. They are not all sick at the same time and not all at the same time better. My experience is that once they are healed they will not have any adverse effects. It is unbelievable that I am fully in the shit just before the start of the season. Fortunately I see them getting better. They start eating well again, the manure is getting firmer, some are still a bit 'fat' and most of them start training at home. It starts Saturday and the Wednesday before I go away with them again. Friday evening in the basket but not all go yet I think. For both the old and the young there is a flight of 100 km and that suits me very well in this case.

Both for me and for son Marco the start of the season was certainly good. Once a real spectacle and on all further flights always a ranking within the first ten. With Marco the old pigeons are doing very well even though the price percentage could be a little higher. In any case he is among the top three in sprint and middle distance. I myself did not participate last weekend. The pigeons were not in order and then you better give them at least a week's rest. In the standings for the championships I am in 6th place on the short distance and in the middle distance I was even first. Pity! Hopefully the youngsters will be okay in time. This also applies to Marco, because he too was infected with coli a few days after me. He is still young and very passionate for a pigeon man, then you can imagine that he is very sick of it and I am not cheering either. Let's hope for better weather and good results with little or no losses.

The changeable weather in the Netherlands does not make things any easier. The Saturday before Easter I had the feeling that it was autumn. Hard southwest wind with gusts of wind above 120 km per hour. In addition heavy rain showers and hailstones as large as pigeon eggs. It was decided early in the morning to postpone the two flights for a day. Others were more patient. After the afternoon the weather improved and, despite the strong wind, it was still possible to unload. For me postponing the flights on Saturday was a very good decision. But it meant that agreements fell apart because the pigeons had to come home that day. Such decisions do not do the pigeon sport any good. Many women of pigeon fanciers find that terrible and they are right too. The pigeons that were released on Saturday were blown home by the hard wind. It was important to cover the entire route. With such strong gusts of wind a pigeon only has to bump into a branch and the consequences cannot be foreseen. In the Netherlands the speed record was in the name of Coen Kat from Amsterdam until Saturday. His pigeon flew in 1957 from Orleans (550 km) with an average speed of 143.04 km per hour (2384 meters per minute). After 62 years it is broken. A pigeon from the Kamerhuis brothers from Sibculo (NL) flew 2387 meters per minute on Saturday 8 June, or 143.26 Km per hour. To improve a record you must also be lucky. That was the case that day due to the stormy southwest wind. Yet there was only one pigeon faster than that of 1957. For me it also became a record but then a depth record because my pigeons made a bad result. Our flight of 155 km was completed within 4 minutes and I clocked 2 minutes after my son who did very well and then you are halfway through the competition and that is an absolute low point for me. I am a sportsman enough to know that you cannot always win and these kinds of setbacks are also part of it. The point is that you quickly find out why they could not go along with the best on such a fast flight that day.

The disadvantage of amateur sports organizations is that managers do everything on a voluntary basis. They introduce themselves and are elected in writing at a general meeting. I doubt if sufficient information has been obtained in advance about the candidates concerned. Usually they are figures who can stir their mouths nicely as representatives of their association. They are usually well-behaved and that has absolutely nothing to do with expertise. If such people are chosen on the board you are stuck with it. Within the pigeon sport it is more or less a good habit that managers who get a little bit of headache also make their function available again fairly quickly. In that respect very appropriate for our sport, the board is exactly a pigeon loft, they fly in and out. If we look back to the past there were managers who were distinguished for their long-standing commitment to the sport. These days I cannot name one who has been a board member of an umbrella organization for more than 10 years. Our current board has already announced that they will leave at the end of the year. They are still finishing this season and do not make any effort to arrange anything for the 2020 season and there is still so much to do. Their big mistake is that they all work together. Unfortunately, the incompetence also drips off, consultation with other directors is almost impossible for them. It is all too pathetic for words. They are not men with balls and the pigeon organization can use them very well. Especially since the pigeon sport in my eyes is already arranging his own funeral. Decreasing the number of members due to an aging population cannot be helped but your commitment to keeping greyish men up to date as long as possible is a prerequisite. Spending extra time on youth is meaningless to me. The youth no longer plays outside. The youth is inside and I don't know how much time is spent gaming. They don't know how to deal with animals. Scooters, they are interested in and a car can be done as quickly as possible. It is not only the pigeon sport that is on its last legs but many other sports have to do with far too little supply from youth members. A large number of football clubs have now merged in my area. It has not been so long ago that the football clubs had fields too short, now there are far too many. The same is the case with sports halls. There was a huge lack of them, now there are two in each village and most of them are empty. At the moment it is more about gyms. The characterless youth now goes to the gym to build up a little fitness. Is because they are not used to anything. They no longer know what it is to walk or cycle. Father and mother take them everywhere by car. No, it is not going well but luckily that is not entirely true because they still exist the real go-getters who want to achieve something within the sport. I've said it before, real athletes are born, you can't make them. The real fanatic athletes call their leaders several times what time they leave and what they should think about. You have to call the weaklings several times to say that they have to make sure they arrive at the clubhouse on time and they will hear where they have to go. Unfortunately, most have never heard of pigeon sport. The big problem is that especially the national and regional newspapers no longer pay attention to it. In my home environment a weekly door-to-door newspaper appears and they are happy to post a weekly report with a photo of the winner. That way publicity is created. Whether as a result one or two new members are added each year? I think we can forget that. Despite the huge decline in members and therefore also the number of pigeons that participate every week, it remains a nice game that in the Netherlands still some 12.000 fanciers enjoy every week.

It is against all sides. The Dutch weather is not cooperating. We would officially start on Saturday 15 June but luckily the official start was postponed for a week. Many fanciers have not had the opportunity to train their young pigeons themselves. The organization has planned two training flights and they have both been canceled due to bad weather. On Saturday 22 June the young pigeons will start for the first time for a 110 km race to my loft. I hope that I have been away with the youngsters seven times. For the time being the counter is at five. The last time I left was Tuesday June 11. It would be bad weather that day but suddenly he was there, the sun! Waited for an hour and then all the pigeons in the basket and set off for a training flight of 35 km. A large group came together at the same time and then it trickled through all afternoon. In the evening I was lost 4, the next morning another was in the loft and the others are still on their way. It took the pigeons a long time to get home. That was good to see because they were certainly not refreshed that evening. The condition is so important for young pigeons. If something is wrong you will lose them. Their season is often very tough, they have their races in the hottest period of the year. This year not yet but what is not can still come. We can probably use a bit of luck. Good luck!

Nothing really new. We pigeon fanciers have known for a long time that the wind has a great influence on the shorter distances. It is almost always possible to determine in advance in which corner the early pigeons arrive. However, there are exceptions. I am an example myself. Once I won the first prize against many thousands of pigeons with a strong southwest wind. Everyone thought that was logical because I have one of the most easterly lofts in my playing area. Exactly a week later I hit again but now with a strong east wind. This flight was also a super result with 7 pigeons in the first 25 and you can't call that a coincidence. It indicates that our pigeons know better than we do where and at what height they can fly best. Exceptions are also the flight days with beautiful pigeon weather, at least we think so. Still we had to wait very long for the first arriving pigeons, not an easy flight because despite the nice weather and a distance of only 250 km the flight was open for more than half an hour. A few weeks ago it was much too cold for the pigeons and when they arrived it was finished within 7 minutes. The pigeon sport remains a bit unpredictable, therefore very fascinating and often very exciting. The Netherlands is a country with a lot of water, often wind from the westerly direction, no high temperatures and heavy showers regularly. At least it was like that for many years and that is now changing. The environment, the weather and the increasing temperatures are subject to change. Especially last year, many temperature records were broken and a striking amount of wind from the east and when it rained once it really rained. Yesterday, Easter Monday, another heat record was broken, more than 28 degrees. Since measurements have been taken, it has never been so hot during Easter. Our pigeons also have to deal with all these changes. Whether that's a disadvantage, I don't think so. Our pigeons are flying faster and faster. Top speeds of 130 km per hour have still not been broken, although the average speed is considerably higher than 20 years ago. Then we said to each other that with a strong north wind the fastest pigeons would always make 1000 meters per minute (60 km per hour), which we can forget in recent years. With head wind the winning pigeons easily reach 80 km per hour. On the other hand there used to be many more competitions that ended within 5 minutes. The typical thing is that we almost never experience this again.

By reading it well there is much to learn. You can see how Jantje or Pietje has performed, that is nice but you will not get further. Read from which angle the wind blows and see at which angle the fastest pigeons arrived. Read how many pigeons a fancier have brought along and see how many pigeons or rather how much percent prize they play. Also pay attention to which signed people take the lead. The little fanciers are more likely to grab a signed pigeon than the crowd. Grabbing a signed pigeon does not say everything, it must be in the results early. A designated championship used to be very highly regarded. In my eyes it doesn't mean much. A "regular" pigeon is almost always at the top and there are still fanciers who do have a number of regular pigeons and they are hard to beat for a designated championship while it has little or nothing to do with knowledge. As strange as it sounds I am still in favor of the non-designated championship. To achieve that you have to catch an early pigeon every week. In the ZCC where I play it is made a little bit harder. There you must for every ten pigeons clock one. So 13 with it 2 clock. The champion points that the two pigeons have achieved are added and divided by 1.3. If a fancier has 24 with then he must have 3 clocked and those points are divided by 2.4. The person with the most points at the end of the ride may call himself a champion. There are more champions in Belgium than in the Netherlands, but beware of that, it is not in better pigeons but in more game possibilities. We know short distance game, in Belgium they play short distance short and short distance long. They also do this with the middle long distance. The one-day long distance, the young pigeons and then there is also a difference in old pigeons and yearlings plus that previously they also raced separately with hens. From a commercial point of view that is a good system because in Belgium they therefore have many more regional and also national champions. In addition there are considerably more national flights in Belgium than in the Netherlands and it is generally known that a pigeon has added value if the letters NAT (national) can be placed for the performance. By reading the results well you will increasingly find out how relative all those extra terms are. In this way we see that commerce is playing an increasingly important role in our pigeon sport and that is actually a strange matter with a hobby/sport that gets fewer and fewer practitioners and therefore considerably fewer pigeons in the competitions.

It just depends on how you view the pigeon sport. Do you want to enjoy your pigeons or are there dollar signs in your eyes? I am a fan of the old stamp. I can intensely enjoy a beautiful pigeon that also regularly performs well. Others think directly about selling opportunities when achieving good performance. This is not how it works in practice. Only those with 100% commitment, a strict selection and good performance will play a role. That gives a very good feeling. It is a reward for a year to put everything in order to reach the top. Fortunately there are still fanciers who fully enjoy their hobby if they occasionally grab a pigeon at the top of the result. Dealing with pigeons, taking care of them, trying to breed valuable young ones yourself gives satisfaction. Our hobby is dealing with your pigeons for a whole week. At the end of the week the probability calculation for the coming flight and then on the race day the tension can sometimes be cut until the first pigeon arrives. That is often a spectacle that give you goosebumps. Certainly if it concerns a pigeon that you did not suspect he would come home that day first and even very early. Or it is the pigeon that you first expected. That is an experience in itself. From now on we will be working on the flight every week and everything that goes with it. Remember, nothing goes without saying, so if everything goes well the rest will (almost) come naturally. Good luck!

Even though it was just a training flight it is always exciting the first time. The Dutch weather was not satisfactory on Saturday, the visibility remained insufficient and yet they intended to release the pigeons at half past one. Unfortunately, by that time the sky closed completely and the flight was postponed until Sunday. Sunday in the early morning it was foggy especially in the south. As a result people had to wait until half past ten and then the crowd set off. There was a strong cold north-east wind so that the pigeons had to pull it hard this first race. The fastest pigeons were on the west side with winning speeds of well over 80 km per hour. In the Zaanse CC there were 1152 pigeons of which I had 18 of the 24 in the result, son Marco took 20 of the 36. In the club against 374 pigeons we had 20 together in the first 40 starting with a third place . The cock that achieved this was as a youngster 1st pigeon champion and as a yearling he also played a first in a large context. It was a super-fast flight, the 288 prizes were earned in 5 minutes. Despite this easy flight 7 of the 18 fanciers in my club did not win a prize. Fortunately we have an A and a B group in the club which means that a number of members are still in the B-result. After all it is not a good thing that almost half of the members do not play a prize and this time it was certainly not due to the location. The west side was in favor, furthermore early pigeons were clocked throughout the region. So everyone has a chance to get into the results. Next Saturday the first official flight.

This season too, the same names will often take the lead after 5 weeks of play that's how it has been for many years. Fortunately a new star presents itself every year and often it disappears just as quickly as it came. They are also always the same who visit the vet almost weekly, they are always the same who complain. They are always unlucky while trying so hard. You probably know the expression of; I do everything to it and it still doesn't work. I sometimes say; maybe you are doing everything wrong. If you hear what they all give their pigeons for remedies then it cannot go well either. Those who play the worst do a lot more about their pigeons than the men who play strong all the years. The lesser gods make it far too difficult for themselves and think that the champions have secret remedies. No, those men keep it very simple. They dare to throw away pigeons without looking at those complicated pedigrees. I remember the time when it was about the pigeon. Now it has not been important for years, it is now a pedigree that has been printed in 4 colors that is also full of meaningless names and then in the fourth or fifth generation you finally see the pigeon you have heard about before. But what do we do with such a pedigree. There is also someone like that in my club who has pedigrees that go back to Napoleon's days and he knows them all out of his mind too. Maybe that is also a hobby. We also know the fanciers who are always unfavorable. They find fanciers who play with a large number of pigeons unsporting and so on. The most important thing is that you have to be in control of the game with pigeons and that you show 100% commitment. The best is fixed care time which is also nice for your pigeons. Everything at set times brings optimum condition. Don't get too much fuss. Beware of overcrowding especially with the young pigeons. Warm dry lofts are fine, too much sun is dangerous. Close the curtains because too much sun burns oxygen from the loft. The pigeons get nasty noses and breathing problems so that you can no longer play a noteworthy prize. Pigeon sport is really not that difficult, do what is necessary and put your ear to the ears of strong players. The men at the bar often have nothing meaningful to say, but while enjoying a beer they can often tell very strong stories. Remember that they are stories and you don't get along with that or do you still believe in Sinterklaas?

For most of us the breeding season is almost over. The young pigeon lofts are filled and then it is better at this time of the year to add nothing more. I myself have them all of the same age and it is a feast for the eyes to sit there for twenty minutes a day. I enjoy it immensely and I did that even when they were still in the nest. What a beautiful sight all that youngsters was when they were between two and three weeks old. Full heads and they are glistening against you. This year I didn't have a nest with thin or weak manure. The first round a few unfertilized eggs, but not one after that. You can notice that early breeding is certainly not natural. At this time of the year almost everything succeeds and when we have high summer the eggs will even hatch in the pocket of your dust coat.

Also in time when most of us didn't have a car the pigeons were trained several times. We went with a few fanciers on the bike to bring pigeons away. Never far, we went by ferry across the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam West, at most 16 km and that was it. We did that several times and all those times we usually took a cup of coffee on a terrace and soon afterwards another drink followed and then back on the bike, it was a good time. Now we all have our own car and way of training pigeons. I know those who go more than 100 km from home, that is not for me, not now and never been. Now I am not allowed to drive a car anymore, my wife does that and she really does not go further than 35 km, is also more than sufficient. This week I spoke to someone who had bred no less than 25 summer youngsters in the summer of 2018. Why I did not understand and he probably did not. In any case he brought them all with him last week. They had never been in the basket of their short lives and now he also had the misfortune that they had to stay two nights in the basket because of the bad weather. The old pigeons came home everywhere as fighter jets except for the inexperienced pigeons who had a hard time. Probably not drunk in the basket, then they will irrevocably have to deal with stress. The latter is very bad for the orientation ability. They go looking, don't fly in the right direction and you guessed it, twenty out of 25 away. You've been watching that all winter. You have cared for them and in one fell swoop everything is gone. Stupid, stupid, that's all I can say. If you say something about it, they get angry too. There are those who unfortunately never learn!

We are going to start. No apologies such as no time or other excuses, whoever does not have the affairs in order is lagging behind and it is not easy to make up for the delay. Are the pigeons in the right condition? I don't want to talk about an optimal condition yet because the season is still long. Have you been to your pigeon doctor with a few pigeons to have manure tests done? A throat swab and perhaps some contraceptive drugs brought along to intervene immediately if something is not right. I myself always have medication from Dr. Van der Sluis at home against ornithosis and cancer plus condition mix that I do in the drinking water every Wednesday and Thursday. My old pigeons have not been darkened which is why I have already found some flight feathers among the hens. Furthermore, I am not so satisfied with the hens. I should have kept them a little tighter. They fly well but come in too slow. When they see me they fly towards me, walk around as if they want to mate with me. They are too lush if you understand what I mean. So they have been put on ration since otherwise eggs will come in a few weeks and we are not waiting for that. If that happens later in the season I don't mind, I even have good experiences with widow hens that have eggs. I certainly do not encourage it and try to stop it for as long as possible with less fat-rich feed because hens that are going to mate with each other also upset the other hens and that is definitely at the expense of performance.

If you want to be one the first flight immediately then you must have prepared everything to perfection and that is easier said than done. Because I am no longer allowed to drive a car I have to rely on my wife's help. She has been away with the pigeons three times and that is not enough. To bring them farther away, so more than 50 km, is not necessary. The pigeons know much better than we do what the fastest (shortest) way home is. It is about getting used to the basket again and also gaining some flying rhythm. Often in the Netherlands the weather is the big breaker. My plan was to take the pigeons away several times, but rain, fog, low temperatures and cold north wind make sure that we have to adjust the plans many times. Pigeons can do more than we think, but I am in favor of being careful, especially at the start of the season.

No winter youngsters this year. My young pigeons have been outside since a week. I have made a runway for them and it is full of young pigeons every day. I have 35 and they cannot all sit on the sputnik at the same time. Most of them now fly to the roof of the loft. In the morning they get food at ten o'clock, I do because they will soon be allowed to go outside at nine to train for an hour. Now I leave them outside all day and don't look back. Next week Dr. Van der Sluis approached me to vaccinate all youngsters including Marco's against paramixo. A month before the young pigeon season starts (mid-June) I have the manure examined so that I can intervene if something is wrong. I used to panic when some young pigeons flew to the roof of the neighbors. I was able to go up on the roof so scared I was going to lose them. Over the years I have become much easier in that. I now also live freely, few houses in the immediate vicinity, so little can happen. A few years ago I was bothered by the birds of prey that many young pigeons have eaten. Fortunately that was already a few years ago. I no longer see them and it is almost certain that it is because of the many magpies and jackdaws that nest in my immediate surroundings. I am very satisfied with my young pigeons, they are beautifully tight and produce nice dry manure. Today, April 3, I am going to start darkening because I found two pins this morning and that is not the intention, I want to keep my youngsters under good care for as long as possible. At least they can now start molting the small feathers, but they must hold the flight feathers. I darken from a quarter to eight in the evening to a quarter to nine the next morning. Thirteen o'clock twilight/dark and I will keep that up until the end of June. In a week it will be done for them, then they will no longer be allowed outside the whole day. I then switch over to an hour of training twice a day and a few weeks later the flag goes on and they have to train twice an hour in full every day. A few weeks later the flag is no longer needed, they know exactly what is expected of them. In the morning from 9 am to 10 am and in the afternoon from 6 am to 7 pm they go out, then eat after training and 45 minutes later the curtains close.

Then the start of the Dutch season. It is still a training flight, the clocks are being tested and there are some nice prizes to be won in the club. The first clock flight is very important. After all, it is immediately tested whether all basketed pigeons are on the vaccination list and whether the pigeons are in the name of the participant. If that is not the case then the pigeons will not get into the basket and certainly not in the results. Safety is therefore very important. Previously, so-called "in fly pigeons" were allowed. They were then simply put in the basket. The NPO quite rightly put a stop to that. It is now no longer possible to use pigeons that are not registered by name and the organization now also knows that all pigeons used have had the compulsory vaccination against paramixo. Flight pigeons are placed in separate baskets but go into the basket via the antenna so that those pigeons are also checked.

Often we Dutch have to gamble to take the pigeons away in certain weather conditions. Some fanciers dare to take very large risks with all the consequences that that entails. For example, I have already spoken some fanciers who have already suffered some losses. Cause still brought pigeons while the visibility was not good. Others resolved between the showers and then you ask for problems. I even spoke to one who lost 7 in one day, his other pigeons came home throughout the day. I myself had two late comers on the last training flight of 20 km with my best young hen from last year. She flew against something this winter, breaking her breastbone. I always let her go separately so that she could fly around in peace, even if it was only a few minutes. She has been cured for several months but you can clearly see that her breastbone has been broken. She is a beautiful hen who won twice a first prize. I paired her with a young cock who also won a first prize twice in 2018. Of course I have two youngsters. The question now is, will I play her or not. If she can't handle it, it is quite possible that I will already have lost her on Saturday. I certainly give her, I take that risk. If she's home late again I don't know what to do with her. I hate pigeons that fail something. There is actually no place for me for the disabled, not even in the breeding loft.

In my younger years when I was still active in cycling we agreed to make as many kilometers as possible from 1 January. That in preparation for the season that started at the end of March at that time. My club was the organizer of the oldest cycling classic “De Ronde van Noord-Holland” over 225 km and to be able to ride that one-day classic well I wanted to have between two to three thousand kilometers in my legs. This preparation cannot be compared with the current method of care, eating, training, resting and so on. We did our utmost but it didn't really make sense, we just fiddled around. However, the way we train also led to the condition and the Netherlands had many good riders. The same thing happened with the pigeon sport. Everything is more and more scientifically substantiated and pigeons are also the first requirement; make miles. I like to keep the pigeons outside for an hour even in the winter months. Now that we are on the eve of the new season the regularity is used, everything in and around the loft happens at set times. In the meantime I have started bringing the pigeons to a maximum of 40 km. In the coming period the weather forecast looks good so that the pigeons can be taken away several times so they get better and better in their flight rhythm. On Saturday April 6, we have the first and last training flight is in which all members of the club participate. The clocks are then tested and there are some nice prizes to be won. The following week is the official start where especially the speed players live to, to strike on the first the best flight right away.

Because I started breeding later this year the start of the new season looks slightly different. I used to pair my pigeons for a second time. I figured it out that on the last training flight I had eggs for about 6 days. When the pigeons came home that Saturday the nests were empty so that the pigeons knew it was done with breeding. The next morning I brought the hens to their loft. They were less nervous because they knew their eggs were gone. If you don't do that they will hang on the door for the first two days because they want to go back to their breeding loft where the eggs are in the nest. Now they are separated for more than a week and will not meet again. From the first flight they go on widowhood. Because of the training with own car they have been shown several times so that they know how the widowhood game works. What I have noticed is that the pigeons touch down at once on the sputnik of the old pigeon loft. If they come home from a training flight then they touch down on the sputnik of the young pigeon loft. It can be explained somewhat because they are almost all yearlings and so as a youngster they had to enter last year all flights the loft of the youngsters. They have not simply forgotten that. We all know the situation of a pigeon that has sometimes been somewhere else for two years, than being placed in its old loft and flying back into its old breeding loft without any problems. In any case I also leave the sputnik of the young pigeon loft open during the first flights so that they can enter wherever they want. With me they must first enter before they are registered. By most fanciers the antenna is under the flap so that they are registered immediately as soon as they arrive. My own is therefore somewhat disabled. I often tell my friends; then they have to fly a little harder to stay ahead of the competition.

Or is it just a matter of the right amount. There is often something mysterious about food and feed. Both are in any case parts of the pigeon sport that do count. It seems logical to me that every fancier
know that a pigeon that makes many kilometers per race also needs more and heavier feed. Fats are especially important on those flights. On the speed flights of no more than three hours of flying no reserves are called to account for, which means that the pigeons need a less fat-rich feed. The art of feeding lies with the fancier himself. I once gave my pigeons feed of 10 guilders (4.5 euros) per bag of 25 kilos. It was certainly not a nice food. To the surprise of many my pigeons flew every week at the top. I kept them tight until Wednesday morning. In the evening I added a lot of candy seed supplemented with hemp seed. The following morning they received a double portion of food. The same evening they got a full bowl and were allowed to eat what they wanted for half an hour. Friday morning half a ration and in the afternoon a few more hands of candy seed on the floor. They felt like bullets and arrived like rockets on Saturdays. At that time I only played with cocks in widowhood and even had a year in which I played 100% prize for six consecutive weeks. Now I give the most expensive food there is. Nevertheless, I do not make such results as then and that while there are now also far fewer fanciers and therefore fewer pigeons in the race. Everything can change that quickly or is it be because the boss changes? I really can't complain and am certainly satisfied with the results as it has been in recent years. My pigeons look perfect and if I occasionally read the pedigree cards then it should be a good year this year. There is no other way with such pigeons that have several first prize winners in their pedigree! However, there will be more people who feel that way. The most important thing is still good pigeons and a good coach. Everything else is a side issue.

At the KBDB (Belgium) 22.000 transactions have already been processed this year. Why? The renewed sports regulations state that pigeons may only be entered in competitions registered in the name of the participant. In the Netherlands the NPO has decided the same. All pigeons that go into the basket must have over the basket antenna. All pigeons are entered in the clock from the graft list. The proof of ownership has also been checked so that the organization knows that all participating pigeons have received the compulsory vaccination against paramixo. The last three years my son and I have ordered a series of rings for both of us. Because of this I am now obliged to put my pigeons which are now in the name of Marco's in my name which has since happened. According to the new method it is now impossible that a fancier can play with other pigeons.

In that respect not much has changed in the pigeon sport. Everything has to be arranged at the very last moment. For example, there was our club members' meeting last week. The next day the Noord-Holland department met and another day later it was the turn of the members' council with the entire NPO board. If you ask me a little too much of the good especially for directors and delegates. In my club nothing has been arranged yet for the new season, incomprehensible but true. Nevertheless I am convinced that maybe with some improvisation we will start on 13 April. At our department meeting the first hour was only debated about the greatly increased freight rates. No one is really happy with a price increase of 30% especially the elderly among us, and most of them are. At the national meeting it was mainly about the long distance and marathon flights, every year all kinds of changes have to take place there. I can understand that somewhat the annoying thing is that only 15% of Dutch fanciers participate in all those distant flights. I even heard that the province of Limburg did not participate in some flights because they did not get their way. It is true that most votes apply and then it is normal for people to accept that. Organizational problems have arisen between the South and North Holland departments during the winter season, there would no longer be any question of cooperation. Noord-Holland now wants to do a few flights together with the Central Netherlands but North Holland fanciers are not happy about that. The central part of the Netherlands is too eastern and that would give too many advantages for fanciers there because in the Netherlands the wind mainly blows from a south to northwest wind. Here too it is about one-day long distance flights. Another important point was the debate about the minimum number of members that an association should consist of. More than 25 years ago there was even a membership stop at our association with 40 members because our room was not big enough. Now clubs have to be on their knees and pray and beg to get new members. There are currently clubs that only consist of about 6 members and that is not enough for the safety of a competition. Clubs are therefore more or less forced to work together or even to merge, not in itself a bad thing that must be realized by 2021 at the latest. In any case with the new national flight program there are plenty of opportunities for all members to participate in all kinds of flights over a period of six months. At the end of the season, everything can be evaluated so that changes can be made from October to February and not, as it has now largely gone, everything at the last minute. Just talking is not enough, decisions must also be made.

After a few setbacks I have to say that we are extremely satisfied with our breeding results. The youngsters of the first and second round came up nicely. They looked beautiful especially at the age of more than three weeks. Two youngsters in the nest with well-filled heads and nice dry manure next to the dish. They were fed three times a day so that they did not lack food all day and night. My racing hens have been transferred to the young pigeon loft with one of their youngsters and the hens are leaving at the end of next week and will no longer be coupled for a second time. From March 22 the racing pigeons are in widowhood and if the weather permits the cocks are released twice a day and the hens once. From May all pigeons are released twice a day. The hens at 7 o'clock, the widowers at 8 o'clock and the young pigeons at 9 o'clock, the ritual starts from the beginning at 4 o'clock the hens, at 5 o'clock the cocks and at 6 o'clock the young pigeons that will be from mid-April darkened 13 hours a day. The curtains remain open 24 hours a day from the longest day. All pigeons are allowed in the bath every Wednesday. The pigeons are fed every day after training and get fresh water twice a day. There is always something extra in it from Monday to Thursday. Do not imagine too much of that, we do it because we have been doing it for years and have a good feeling about it. Especially if the pigeons perform satisfactorily nothing but nothing is changed.

The young pigeons are currently in the young pigeon loft with their mothers. It is unbelievable how many times some hens feed the young and yet there are always a few hens who no longer look after them or the other young. All the young are lying close together in the straw in a corner. The food and water trough are placed against the layer of straw so that the youngsters quickly understand where they can grab water and food. The first days I keep an eye on them all drinking. Those who do not can be recognized by blinking eyes, that indicate they are thirsty. Youngsters that
not or insufficient food have bad luck because I do not help them. My experience is that young pigeons eat independently much earlier than we think, they really don't die that fast. If the others eat well then those who do not eat will not be that smart and we do not need such pigeons. Everything has to be right and luckily that is currently the case. Soon they will be vaccinated against paramixo what you can do best at the age of four to six weeks, then they will suffer the least. In the not too long time they will use the wings more intensively because pigeons basically hate sitting on the ground. I keep a close eye on which pigeons are first at the top of the seats. They are all of the same age, with a difference of three days at most. I even note the ring numbers of the pigeons that are first at the top and my experience is that they are usually the better ones. So don't think I remember that, write down everything that you think might be important. We forget more than we remember.

The board of the Belgian pigeon sport the KBDB is just like a pigeon loft, they fly in and out. The then elected national government has not survived for a year. A few days ago at the national meeting two more important managers flew out of the KBDB loft. New drivers were already ready so there seems to be intention in the game. In any case not a good thing at the start of the Belgian sports season. Yes, you read that right in Belgium the season has started. At least on paper, the first speed races would be held in the weekend of 10 March. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Rain and strong winds with even gusts of wind of more than 100 km per hour ensured that the Belgian pigeons were given a week's rest. In administrative terms it is just as bad as the weather. The internationally renowned Dutch fancier Jan Hooymans (known for his sadly deceased top pigeon "Harry") will measure his strength at European level on various on loft races. He also tries to conquer the Netherlands by placing an extra loft under the name "Team Hooymans NL" with Christian van de Wetering in Wijk and Aalburg, who has been making furore with pigeons from his boss Jan Hooymans for many years.

In that respect not much has changed in the pigeon sport. Everything has to be arranged at the very last moment. For example, there was our club members' meeting last week. The next day the Noord-Holland department met and another day later it was the turn of the members' council with the entire NPO board. If you ask me a little too much of the good especially for directors and delegates. In my club nothing has been arranged yet for the new season, incomprehensible but true. Nevertheless I am convinced that maybe with some improvisation we will start on 13 April. At our department meeting the first hour was only debated about the greatly increased freight rates. No one is really happy with a price increase of 30% especially the elderly among us, and most of them are. At the national meeting it was mainly about the long distance and marathon flights, every year all kinds of changes have to take place there. I can understand that somewhat the annoying thing is that only 15% of Dutch fanciers participate in all those distant flights. I even heard that the province of Limburg did not participate in some flights because they did not get their way. It is true that most votes apply and then it is normal for people to accept that. Organizational problems have arisen between the South and North Holland departments during the winter season, there would no longer be any question of cooperation. Noord-Holland now wants to do a few flights together with the Central Netherlands but North Holland fanciers are not happy about that. The central part of the Netherlands is too eastern and that would give too many advantages for fanciers there because in the Netherlands the wind mainly blows from a south to northwest wind. Here too it is about one-day long distance flights. Another important point was the debate about the minimum number of members that an association should consist of. More than 25 years ago there was even a membership stop at our association with 40 members because our room was not big enough. Now clubs have to be on their knees and pray and beg to get new members. There are currently clubs that only consist of about 6 members and that is not enough for the safety of a competition. Clubs are therefore more or less forced to work together or even to merge, not in itself a bad thing that must be realized by 2021 at the latest. In any case with the new national flight program there are plenty of opportunities for all members to participate in all kinds of flights over a period of six months. At the end of the season, everything can be evaluated so that changes can be made from October to February and not, as it has now largely gone, everything at the last minute. Just talking is not enough, decisions must also be made.

After a few setbacks I have to say that we are extremely satisfied with our breeding results. The youngsters of the first and second round came up nicely. They looked beautiful especially at the age of more than three weeks. Two youngsters in the nest with well-filled heads and nice dry manure next to the dish. They were fed three times a day so that they did not lack food all day and night. My racing hens have been transferred to the young pigeon loft with one of their youngsters and the hens are leaving at the end of next week and will no longer be coupled for a second time. From March 22 the racing pigeons are in widowhood and if the weather permits the cocks are released twice a day and the hens once. From May all pigeons are released twice a day. The hens at 7 o'clock, the widowers at 8 o'clock and the young pigeons at 9 o'clock, the ritual starts from the beginning at 4 o'clock the hens, at 5 o'clock the cocks and at 6 o'clock the young pigeons that will be from mid-April darkened 13 hours a day. The curtains remain open 24 hours a day from the longest day. All pigeons are allowed in the bath every Wednesday. The pigeons are fed every day after training and get fresh water twice a day. There is always something extra in it from Monday to Thursday. Do not imagine too much of that, we do it because we have been doing it for years and have a good feeling about it. Especially if the pigeons perform satisfactorily nothing but nothing is changed.

The young pigeons are currently in the young pigeon loft with their mothers. It is unbelievable how many times some hens feed the young and yet there are always a few hens who no longer look after them or the other young. All the young are lying close together in the straw in a corner. The food and water trough are placed against the layer of straw so that the youngsters quickly understand where they can grab water and food. The first days I keep an eye on them all drinking. Those who do not can be recognized by blinking eyes, that indicate they are thirsty. Youngsters that
not or insufficient food have bad luck because I do not help them. My experience is that young pigeons eat independently much earlier than we think, they really don't die that fast. If the others eat well then those who do not eat will not be that smart and we do not need such pigeons. Everything has to be right and luckily that is currently the case. Soon they will be vaccinated against paramixo what you can do best at the age of four to six weeks, then they will suffer the least. In the not too long time they will use the wings more intensively because pigeons basically hate sitting on the ground. I keep a close eye on which pigeons are first at the top of the seats. They are all of the same age, with a difference of three days at most. I even note the ring numbers of the pigeons that are first at the top and my experience is that they are usually the better ones. So don't think I remember that, write down everything that you think might be important. We forget more than we remember.

The board of the Belgian pigeon sport the KBDB is just like a pigeon loft, they fly in and out. The then elected national government has not survived for a year. A few days ago at the national meeting two more important managers flew out of the KBDB loft. New drivers were already ready so there seems to be intention in the game. In any case not a good thing at the start of the Belgian sports season. Yes, you read that right in Belgium the season has started. At least on paper, the first speed races would be held in the weekend of 10 March. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Rain and strong winds with even gusts of wind of more than 100 km per hour ensured that the Belgian pigeons were given a week's rest. In administrative terms it is just as bad as the weather. The internationally renowned Dutch fancier Jan Hooymans (known for his sadly deceased top pigeon "Harry") will measure his strength at European level on various on loft races. He also tries to conquer the Netherlands by placing an extra loft under the name "Team Hooymans NL" with Christian van de Wetering in Wijk and Aalburg, who has been making furore with pigeons from his boss Jan Hooymans for many years.

Everything is possible but it is certainly not easy. It is just how you want to experience the pigeon sport. The start is usually wrong but moving. Many fanciers have started with a stray pigeon. Nice to feed such a creature so that she keeps coming back again and again. It would be even more fun to grow a few youngsters yourself, so for the stranger a male or female is sought. To breed a few youngsters little knowledge is needed, the pigeons go their own way. They build a litter and after 17 days of breeding the young come out of their egg. After 4 weeks the pigeons are mature and will explore the area. After some time they will keep flying around the loft for half an hour. That's fun and the whole family lives with it. There is usually one in the family who will then go deeper into the pigeon racing event. Most family members have heard that pigeons come back home from afar. This is of course tried with the parents and their young. One of the family members then occasionally takes the pigeons to school or to work and when they return home the pigeons have also been home for a long time. That is fun and the pigeons are getting further and further away and the whole family is amazed that the pigeons come back again and again. It is great that the pigeons always know the way home and they are thinking about the speed at which they will do so. If there is now so much interest, in many cases is thought to become a member of a pigeon club to participate in the competitions and see if their pigeons come home as quickly as those of the other members. It often turns out that their strangers legion speed is too short. If the ambition remains, it must change and people look for other faster pigeons and that is the beginning of a new family hobby. It would be nice if the whole family stays interested. The practice is often different because after some time pigeon racing does not seem so easy.

From a pure hobby it becomes more and more a sport. It usually appears that participating in the races is the best, the most fun and the most exciting. Care is intensifying so that not all family members remain equally enthusiastic. The others will read more about it, within the family there will be a conversation about the pigeons as if it is the most normal thing in the world. Especially against the competition weekend it is about the probability calculations. On the competition day the whole family is on the lookout and waiting for the arrival of the first pigeons. Because each family member has given up the ring number of his or her favourite pigeon they are all waiting for their winning pigeon. That way there is always a race within the family. The tension can then be cut because it is about who his pigeon is first at home. Then comes the moment that a pigeon emerges from the airspace like a comet. Everyone holds their breath because now she has to go inside. Nowadays the pigeon clocks itself because the electronics have also entered the pigeon sport. On the display of the clock the ring number of the pigeon can be read and at that moment it is known who of the family that day is the winner. In this way many sportsmen started. There are those who continue to see the pigeons as a hobby, there are also those who want to win with all their might, they want to perform better and better. Pigeon sport was in the seventies and eighties in the Netherlands even a general national sport with more than 100,000 members, all with their own supporters. The once popular sport has now changed into top class amateurs, specialists and professionals. There are currently worldwide professional fanciers who have considerably enriched their pigeons through the internet. For the layman unbelievable, especially because for many our sport is an unknown sport and we owe that to ourselves. Pigeon sport is that old man with a cap on, slippers and wrapped in a grey dust coat. It is only old men who still keep pigeons. Unfortunately it goes that way and that is why it would be nice that the "old bite" try to interest their grandchildren for the pigeon sport. Unfortunately practice is completely different. The youth has other interests, they have much more possibilities than when we were young.

I think so and we as older fanciers can do much. When I was young and very passionate I kept my children away from my pigeons. A lot of time and attention went to the pigeons and when other children went to the beach with their parents on Saturday or Sunday those of me stayed home because the pigeons had to come. In their eyes pigeons were definitely not fun. I once wrote a book waiter the racing pigeon sport in my region and I mentioned many names of old and deceased pigeon breeders. Because of the advertising that was made for my book children and grandchildren came to buy the it because their father, grandfather or uncle came in for it. When I asked them what they thought of the pigeon sport I did not get a positive answer. Most people found the hobby of dad terrible. Not only me, others also kept their children away from the pigeons. Understandably that there was such a reaction. The strange thing is that my grandchildren were allowed to come into the pigeon loft and then I realized that we fanatical pigeon fanciers have placed the importance of our hobby above that of the family and now that we have found out it is (almost) too late. However, salvation is still possible.

A lot of fun for today's youth but in reality it's a disaster. What is happening in the electronic age is almost impossible to follow for many elderly people. The youth, even the smallest, have no problem with it, we the elderly are even a bit afraid of the computer. The youth does not move anymore or at least far too little. They have insufficient knowledge about keeping and caring for animals. This is partly due to the fact that animals can no longer be kept at and in many homes. In a following article I would like to describe how my son Marco has become enthusiastic about the pigeon sport and how we now practice the pigeon sport together and how I used to do that with my father. It is and remains a nice hobby at home, even now I am almost 82 years old I still have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I have no grandchildren who are active within the pigeon sport. There are a few who now live on their own and then the time is ripe to give them a few pigeons for their children. Who knows, then they will have the same thing with them as I started this column with. TO BE CONTINUED.

In the weekend of 2 and 3 March the now traditional spring fair will be held in Houten near Utrecht. This will unload the unofficial starting shot for the new flight program established by the NPO which will start in the first weekend of April. This means that a considerable number of folds have to be smoothed out in the month of March. The exhibition itself attracts many foreign visitors every year. The last purchases can be made to get well prepared at the start. A large number of young pigeons will also be offered for sale. The attentive reader has often seen that every year the necessary successes are achieved with a "Dutch pigeon from Houten" purchased at absolute friends prizes. Furthermore, of course, all known suppliers are present in the field of the pigeon sport. A must to visit this fair though it would only be because of the reunion-like character. In Belgium two weeks ago a sort of equal fair was held under the name Fugare and a week later the tribute of the "golden pigeon competition" was organized by the famous Belgian pigeon sport magazine De Duif of Jan and Rik Hermans. To get a podium place there is definitely not a simple task. To score the first three nominations must finish in the top of the results every month and that is not a sinecure, especially for the men who use large numbers of pigeons. As gold winners came on the scene; Sabrina Brugmans, Halen (B) with 7 mentions; B. Martens & Zoon, Elsloo (N) 6 mentions; Comb. Fuchs & Wolf, Hochheim (Ger) and John Crehan (UK)

For a good number of years Dutch and Belgian fanciers have been struggling with great losses during the young pigeon races, and for the same number of years we have written about this life-size problem for us. Yet there are fanciers who know how to get back the big losses in their loft. Losses will always stay there, it's just like falling during a cycling race at the sport but we should not find it "normal". Partly due to the large losses many fanciers have decided to breed from all pigeons. Why not? They have all come through the selection so they are also worth growing from. The only risk we face then is the large number of young pigeons that may have to be accommodated in too small a loft. There must therefore be good ventilation, certainly no draft or moisture because then there will undoubtedly be another problem around the corner and that is overpopulation. For youngsters health is of the utmost importance, in this case more important than quality. With strict control, regular care and training at fixed times, an observant fancier should be able to see daily that the condition is right or wrong. Make sure that the sun does not burn too much oxygen out of the loft so the pigeons do not like to train and there is a chance of an ornithosis outbreak. By observing the pigeons daily you reach more than with shit crabs. I make every year a selection which we will breed because breeding couples who only give good are not that much. Most breeding couples can produce youngsters, but the point is that every year we have enough usable pigeons. Especially in the breeding loft is bred quite regularly from pigeons that have not produced anything special for two years. I absolutely do them away, it's just time and money waste. Of course I like to keep a few couples of youngsters because I have 100% confidence in the parents, even though they are still young or because they have a flat head or a crooked sternum. We must always keep trying, you must dare to take a chance. It is important to breed from pigeons of which we know a lot. Especially from pigeons from a family that have given us useful pigeons for several generations. It is also important to adjust the number of young pigeons to the loft capacity and we will have to learn to live with the fact that there are now considerably more pigeons behind than older fanciers used to be and then also had the advantage that there is also no big population of birds of prey existed.

The breeding is as expected and of course a number of setbacks have been taken into account. This week almost all of the eggs from the second round are coming out. I say almost because unfortunately only two youngsters were born with two major racing couples. A hen had only laid one egg and the other couple had an unfertilized egg. From an old breeding couple already two unfertilized eggs, so we must assume that it is over and out. With another couple a dented egg and when the others come out I'll have already too much to my liking. Marco wants to have something more like his father so that is not a problem. Long ago I wanted to have a lot of youngsters. I had the space and thought it was a beautiful sight when a large couple was training around my loft. I had a friend then, who unfortunately passed away last year, who did fly 300. A beautiful sight, but that was a bit too much for me. Now I have enough in 35 or so. Last year I became champion youngsters. I started with 31 and ended with 28. really a result to be proud of. The annoying thing is that I did have to do some away. So what is more fun, that they stay away from the flight or that you have to do away with a set that is actually worth it to stay, it is always something. Halfway through the week my first youngster can be ringed so that they can get away from the parents in the middle of March. According to our planning everything is ready on time and we can start focusing on the first speed flights that I am a huge fan of.

The first week of March is another deadline to put the last dots on the I. All departments in the loft are completely clean and treated again with the burner. My racing loft consists of six different departments. On the southeast side three for the hens, cocks and youngsters. The other three departments on the northwest side are empty and remain empty. Previously I had the youngsters there. I could pitch three rounds in a separate loft and when they all flew around I opened the sliding doors and usually also left them open during the racing season. Now that I have kept fewer pigeons I have three empty lofts. On the ground floor, underneath the racing loft, the breeders are in a 5 meter loft with 24 breeding boxes. The windows are usually open so that the pigeons can spend the entire day in the indoor aviary that is even 1.50 meters longer than the racing loft. Space enough so and yet I will not keep more pigeons than I have now. At Marco's home there are 18 racing couples and 50 youngsters. With me 12 racing couples, about thirty youngsters and a beautiful collection of breeding pigeons. Many of them are descended from the best Olympiad pigeons from the Netherlands and of course my own old Gebr. Janssen species has now been crossed with the best of the best of Willem de Bruijn that he got by Leo Heremans in 2005.

It is mid-February. In the past my father and I coupled our pigeons on February 18th because then you could release the pigeons when you came home from work. In that respect, a lot has changed. It is now the most normal thing in the world that the pigeons are put together on November 26, not only the breeding pigeons but also the racing pigeons. The phenomenon of darkening and updating did not yet exist. At the start of the racing season we were happy when the pigeons dropped their first pen. It was a general understanding that the form was coming. Everyone was happy when the pigeons started to moult. Now they make every effort to stop the moulting. Logical because a pigeon season runs from the first weekend of April to the third weekend in September. So there is still some demand from the pigeons. Especially the hens now have a hard time. They are played every week in many lofts. They could easily stand there. I really do not know why and have never tried it myself. In the past the cocks were seen as better, now it is exactly the other way around. In Belgium they flew (even now) with cocks, hens and yearlings in separate competitions. That means they all went at the same time, however, separate results were made for those three categories. It was thought that the cocks were stronger than the hens and the yearlings still had to learn a lot so according to the Belgians it was a fair system to make separate results. About honestly, in the Netherlands there is a separate committee that should promote the "fair game" within our national pigeon sport. Whatever happens, fair play never comes. That does not mean that it is all unfair now, certainly not. It will always remain so that none of our pigeons have to cover the same distance. When swimming, running, cycling, each participant completes the same course and they all have the finish as redeeming finish line. Imagine that we are going to cycle and when I am at home you still have 40 km to go, that will be a difficult task. So you should also compare our pigeon game. How we turn it or turn it, it cannot be fairer. Once a few years in the Netherlands a competition was held from the Norwegian Skagen, a long distance flight from the north. This was done to accommodate the northern fanciers. They had the longest distance on every flight from the south and that generated the necessary resistance. Unfortunately, the flight from one of the Scandinavian countries was not successful and therefore has since long since disappeared from the race calendar.

I have my doubts, especially if we continue to hold on to the subject of "fair play". To make it fairer, a separate commission was set up in the Netherlands last year that will work to meet the wishes of the fanciers. Various proposals were submitted throughout the country. These were discussed in the committee and put on paper for the fanciers. I think they better should not have done that. What should fanciers do with the whole jumble of various changes and improvements. Most fanciers really have no interest in that. When I look at myself I think so too; what do I have to do with all those proposals. It would have been better to elucidate some of these well-intentioned proposals and implement them in 2019. In my opinion there is still talk and nothing happens and that while we start the new racing season in six weeks. I occasionally read nice stories from our new enthusiastic chairman Van der Kruk. The man meant it all well but there is little sensible behind the board table. The fanciers want concrete information about the flight program, the collection and sending of the pigeons, the total freight costs and whether in 2019 a maximum number of pigeons can be used per fancier. We want to know that but not everything is published about it. However, I have read that our NPO chairman has been appointed as chairman of the international doping committee within the FCI. What do we have? After all, there is so much right to be set up in our own organization. It would be much nicer that he, in consultation with his committee, told something concrete about "fair play". This count not only for our national administration. In my department is about the racing season, that starts in six weeks, nothing exactly known, how and what will change in 2019 and what the fairer game will look like. As I look at it now there is a lot of talk behind the national board table and that is largely the case. It is high time that there is now clarity, the fanciers want to know where they stand. The compliments about the successes achieved have already been expressed many times. The festivities are as good as over, it is now about further matters. Now we have to hit nails with heads, otherwise I see that the board is under attack. I say the board because unfortunately I do not know one. Only chairman Van der Kruk who is always in the picture, perhaps he is even too much in the picture. There is still a short period to go, time is pressing and to this day we still do not know how it will go. What exactly will change, what will be improved? If you ask me what I expect from it, I can only shrug my shoulders.

No, not with me yet. The first eggs went to Marco and they have all come out except for a few, we have experienced it differently. This breeding season could not be better and also the second round of eggs that lie with me are all but four fertilized. If it continues like this we will have far too many pigeons again and I want so much less. With little pigeons give the competition many times a beating is sporting the best thing that exists. Let's not go too far ahead of things. The youngsters are not big yet, so anything can happen. Fortunately, the days are a bit longer and I feel good about that. I have really seen very much against the winter but that is all improved because we really have not had real winter. I am now motivated to take care of the pigeons optimally. They come off every day, the temperatures rise a little and the coming weekend they even predict 15 degrees. That is already a temperature for us Dutch to sit in the sun for an hour. Also the pigeons feel well, they like to fly and I see every day the necessary down feathers in the loft and that is a sign for me that it is good.

The first month of 2019 is already behind us and still it was not really winter here in the Netherlands. Whether we ever get a real winter the scholars doubt it. The biggest winter event in our country is the world famous eleven cities tour, a skating race over 200 km. Some people think it will never come again. The warming of mother earth is the cause of this. Fortunately a great deal of attention is being paid worldwide to this life-sized problem. Meanwhile, we are in the second week of February, occasionally night frost from -2 to -4 degrees Celsius and that represents very little. However, the past weekend our country was again a world champion richer. During the World Championships in Norway, Matthieu van de Poel became world champion in professional racing and the day before two Dutch ladies finished 2nd and 3rd. In the highest category the Netherlands picked up gold, silver and bronze which does my cycling heart very well. In that same weekend the first youngsters of 2019 was born in my loft. There are not many because most of the eggs have been transferred to the loft of Marco who had to deal with a true baby boom that weekend. The planning to put the second round of eggs from the breeders under my racing pigeons was completely correct so that the eggs of the better breeding pairs, at least that we think, could be placed under my racing pigeons. As far as the weather conditions are concerned, it looks fine for this time of the year. In the coming days the temperature in the Dutch cold frog country will rise to 10 degrees. Actually that is not normal, but for those who do early breeding it is ideal. I have already spoken to several fanciers who are very satisfied with their winter youngsters. I have even seen flocks of youngsters flying around. I do not have to think about having a loft full of young pigeons again. I have been a bit calmer for a couple of months now. However, the loft for the youngsters is already ready to put in forty youngsters and hopefully there will be enough to give the boss a satisfied feeling. For me the first eggs are there from 2 February and on 6 February all 12 flocks were brooding so that my youngsters will be born from 19 February. The coming weekend will see if the eggs are fertilized and then we will determine which eggs come under which flocks. From the third round a number of youngsters are raised, again from the better breeders, who all get a new boss. This week Hans van der Sluis comes to our association to vaccinate the pigeons against paramixo and possibly smallpox and paratyphoid. Both old and young from 2019 can be vaccinated. It is even very good to have youngsters vaccinated at the age of 6 weeks. Our old pigeons are already vaccinated in the second half of December. Our first and second round both at the age of 6 weeks because they have the least problems. What do we pay attention to when the youngsters are away from their parents in the first few days. I always make sure that there is a bed of straw on the bottom for the first two weeks. Usually they crawl close together and are wonderfully lazing in the warm straw. I also experienced that no youngster in the straw were lying while the temperature was around freezing point. I can only guess why they did not. Straw maybe too old, not fresh or too hard, it could be. Maybe too little sun in that spot, but what do you do when the sun stays hidden behind the clouds for a few weeks? A stove or heating plate is not in my loft because I have beautiful bone dry lofts. Of course there is the possibility that the soil is slightly damp, which is because it is rainy weather, or fog or snow. They have to save themselves, I do not want to make greenhouse plants from them under any circumstances. Experience has taught me that even weaned youngsters can easily withstand low temperatures, perhaps better than the enormous tropical heat of the past year.

If all goes well, they look exactly like when they were almost grown up in the nest dish. At that age I can really enjoy the shiny young guys who is lying close to each other with a full head enjoying their first days of life. As soon as they are away from the parents they can retrograde the first few days, they have to get used to the environment that is foreign to them. In addition, they now also have to eat independently without the help of parents and what is so important that they have to find the drinking trough. The first days I place it near the bed of straw and do not put a lid on it. I clean that bin three times a day because they crawl in and sometimes do their needs. I also sprinkle some fresh grit every day in the vicinity of the young stuff. After two weeks the straw is gone, the water and the food bowl are in their usual place and that also applies to the jars with grit and minerals. They are vaccinated around that time. It is then mid-March and hopefully the sun will shine regularly so that they can go outside every day to explore the area. It is therefore time to take all the pigeons in the hand again to view them more critically. Are the plumes well ingrown, feels the pigeon well, you must have a pigeon in your hand and not a starling. We must not forget that they are still babies. If I think they are in good health, they can stay even if they have a small deviation in my eyes. After all it takes a long time before we go out with them and before that time I have already looked at them several times. I only want complete pigeons in my loft and I also happen to have a nice type of pigeon. There are fanciers who do not look at anything. I do so because a pigeon that I do not like to see get no chance to get into the results. With this I certainly do not want to claim that I have the wisdom in lease. Because in all those years that I play pigeons several times I have pigeons in my hands that I would not want in my loft. But when I saw the results of such a pigeon I had to scratch my ears and thought to myself; Bras you also knows the balls.

I have not been there but for years I was a regular visitor and sometimes a participant. The last times I fail, the reason is the age and less and less interest. The latter is because I do not think it is a real sport event anymore. Commerce has also struck this wonderful event. Most visitors are mostly people who want to be seen, the real pigeon fanciers have little to look for. You notice everything that the enthusiasm of joining is sinking to an absolute low point. This is especially the case in the standard class. Internationally, but especially nationally, this sporting event, which is the highly achievable for us, is hardly or not given attention in the press. Is there no one in the NPO who can and wants to take care of the publicity needed for our hobby? As an Olympiad participant you are as proud as a monkey with seven tails but the layman who hardly knows anything about the pigeon sport, let alone from a racing pigeon Olympics, gets no information from the national press. It is also strange that "our" Olympiad is held once every two years while all other Olympiads are once every four years. There are plenty of options for devising game rules so that absolute top pigeons of any age can participate once every four years. Maybe then there is more attention for our Olympiad. Now the pigeons are standing, where everything revolves, just to stand there. The best and most beautiful pigeons in the world can be viewed from very close, actually a pity that the commercial stands still claim the most attention. With which eyes we view the Olympiad it is and remains a great honour to be able to participate.

Fanatic as I am I was curious on Friday morning how the inspection had gone. Would the Netherlands have won? Wherever I looked, there was no result anywhere, not even on foreign sites and not even on Pipa. If you want to know something about pigeon sport Pipa is often the first site to be consulted. Nothing, even now no letter about the Olympiad. Suddenly I discovered the Dutch results that, frankly speaking, were hard for me. The Netherlands, for many years one of the leading pigeon countries, managed to achieve a podium place with 5 of the 44 pigeons. With the yearlings even on the highest step of the honorary pot. Meanwhile the pigeon has been renamed in Olympic Janneke owned by the father / son combination Yong and Jiabin Lin, truly absolute world class. Her mother was previously Olympiad participant in Brussels and so we see that the good still come from the good. By the youngsters, yearlings and the marathon pigeons a 2nd place plus a 3rd place with the youngsters. In a response from NPO chairman Van der Kruk I read that he was extremely satisfied with the excellent result of the Dutch delegation. You can also be too enthusiastic! With the 20 standard pigeons a complete departure and that while we have expert judges and beautiful pigeons in our country. Would it still be true that there is no interest in joining? In the country classification the Netherlands finished in a modest 7th place. I have not been able to read a letter about the international result at the moment. From the Belgians I know that they have no interest in the standard pigeons. I hope that in the short term we will be able to read somewhere about our southern neighbours and also the other participating countries.

It is striking that more (almost) total sales are being held. This week 293 pigeons from the Belgian Team Freddy de Jaeger will be sold via the internet. All pigeons from 2017 and older, that is another number! With a week to go the counter is well above the thousand euros on average. And next year they just join again. There will be more because the sales season will definitely continue until April. In the Netherlands it is currently mainly about the Ladies League. As it looks now there can certainly be talk of a huge success. Now first have to wait and see if the success also continues during the races with the youngsters because then the ladies start. Their pigeons are clearly recognizable by the striking pink chip rings. I wonder how many times a lady is taken on the shoulders after a victory, can pigeon sport still be cosy. The good news comes this time from the FCI. During the congress in Poznan the Netherlands was appointed as the candidate organizer for the Olympiad of 2023. Forty years ago the Netherlands organized the Olympiad in Amsterdam in the halls of the beautiful RAI complex. About 25 years ago the Olympiade was held again in the Netherlands, this time in Utrecht in the halls of the Royal Trade Fair. I can still remember very well that during the gala evening it looked like a complete migration of people. There was not counted on so many public, so chairs and tables had to be brought from all kinds of halls. After all pigeon stories a short article about my favourite cycling sport. In Belgium a young rider is discovered that is predicted to win the Tour de France a number of times. Those kinds of stories are not new to me. In all those years that I have been involved in cycling I have seen several talents come and go. Young boys who managed to win one course after another until they meet the real opponents. Suddenly it was not so easy anymore and the enthusiasm of those guys got considerably less and suddenly they had disappeared from the battlefield. Too bad because there were drivers who won every race with two fingers in the nose. In any case, I continue to follow the predictions of this young talent. Today he was 19 years old and this weekend he makes his debut as a professional at Quickstep. He crushed the competition the previous World Cup for juniors. Despite a fall he drove them in minutes. Remember his name; Remco Evenpoel.

Yesterday a wonderful bike ride, sun but cold. In the evening I felt like I had been on the ice all day. Now it looks completely different, heavy clouds and light snowfall. So the pigeons and I do not come out today. After I had cared the pigeons I armed with my notebook again entered the loft because I had seen yesterday that there were already some hens for the second time laid. Also with my racing pigeons, that have only been together for a week, I already saw an egg. Everything is accurately noted because as soon as they are brooding for a day or five, the necessary eggs have to be laid among other couples. Youngsters are not there yet but that will not last long, the first eggs will come out on February 1st. Our hen who had not laid for two weeks is no longer there. It looked like she was soon to lay, but unfortunately she could not get rid of her egg. We could not help her either and then rescued her from her suffering. Setbacks are part of every hobby but so far we are satisfied. Have seen with one of our older couples that the eggs are not fertilized. It will not have come through the cold because that was not so bad, here the cause is old age and maybe too early in the year paired. Can you imagine that I am not so fond of old stuck breeders? If there are setbacks it is usually with older pigeons.

A little optimist sees that the days are getting longer. This means that in the afternoon there will be a little longer light and that is where we have been waiting as pigeon fancier for quite some time. With the longer of the days more and more life comes in our lofts. Several fanciers have already deposited their first young. Others have not been coupled so long ago and so we are all working on the preparations for 2019. Looking back to 2018 is as good as over. Most champions are honoured and have a few more months to enjoy their achievements. Looking ahead happened already in the first weekend of January when the national days were held in Dortmund. In the meantime Blackpool is once again a thing of the past. For me still the most fun days of the international pigeon sport, what good memories I have of that! My age is causing me to have failed in the last few years. The next weekend is the pigeon Olympiad in Poznan (Poland). In 2011 I was there myself with my Big Leo who was the best young cock in the Netherlands. It was a perfectly organized Olympiad so that everyone can now again confidently look forward to this important international event. The Olympiad the highest achievable in every branch of sport! The best and most beautiful pigeons in the whole world can be admired there. More importantly, you are represented as a pigeon man on behalf of your country because one or perhaps two of your very best pigeons have performed in such a way that they qualify for participation. A great honour and a sincere congratulation worth.

While studying the national flight program 2019and drinking coffee it snows. King winter has turned our polder into a beautiful white landscape. Very nice to see, careful taking some pictures and then quickly back to the warm stove. At half past ten the pigeons have had food and now I go back to the lofts to clean up the stuff for the umpteenth time in my long life. A cold job but you have honour of your work when everything looks neat and tidy again. With these winter temperatures the pigeons look beautiful. A couple does not have any eggs yet. On Saturday the 26th they are together for 14 days and as I watch now they have certainly laid then. We used to say to each other; if you have everything on eggs within 14 days it’s a sign of a very good health, let's just keep it up. On the 17th there really was a true bombardment of eggs. Our plan is now that Thursday 24 January the eggs of the breeders will be transferred to the racing pigeons of Marco. My racing pigeons come together on Wednesday January 23 so that a part of the second round of the breeders can be placed there. In the night still lightly frost but not yet once in the morning the water tanks were frozen. I do not have heating on the loft but I had closed the cranes for certainty which until now was not necessary. Until yesterday I have left the cocks every other day and then the hens are left outside for an hour. Now that everything is white, I keep them in for security until the snow has disappeared and as it looks now it will not take that long. In the night a light frost and during the day more and more chance of a few hours of sun. Before we go put over the eggs we will first hold them piece by piece against the lamp light to see if they are fertilized. Always an exciting activity. If all the eggs are occupied you can sleep on two ears, if that is not the case then you can speak of a problem. The breeding has failed in part and there is no good feeling for the new season. Fortunately there is still time to intervene but ideal it’s not.

Yes, why not? In conversations with other fanciers I sometimes hear contradictions. One does not start because he knows too little of his yearlings. Another says he does because he regularly breeds very useful pigeons from his yearlings. Would it not be the same with yearlings as with breeding pigeons? Maybe with some older breeding pigeons there is more certainty, but with me, who regularly changes the breeding couples, there is no certainty at all. The only certainty we have is that we have breeding pigeons and yearlings that have come through the selection. They are all pigeons that we would like to have in our loft. The yearlings are usually born from the breeders or they are bred from racing pigeons that meet all requirements. Personally, I do not have a problem at all of which couples get the better ones. If it is not that the breeding fails because something is hidden under the pigeons. That can be all kinds of things so that the growth of the youngsters does not go according to wishes. Irregular care, quality of the feed, too little attention to fresh grit, minerals or some extra nutritional supplements, pests, humid lofts or even contamination while the manure looks good. In a good loft with healthy pigeons the breeding is smooth without any problems even though the quality of the pigeons is not quite great. The breeding remains a very important part of our hobby and it is a pleasure to enjoy when the youngsters in the dish are shining at you. Quiet youngsters in the nest, nice dry manure around the dish, well-stocked throats and also the parent pigeons have to look perfect. You can hardly see at the parent that they feed youngsters and hear them beep. An exception is that they can be heard during feeding time because they have appetite for food.

Recently there was something about racing pigeons on TV. If I know that I will definitely look. The pigeon sport has my great interest. It turned out to be a very enthusiastic young fancier, one who calls himself a "pigeon coach" and also aspires a position within the NPO. I immediately have a look at such foreground figures. In the Netherlands and also in Belgium someone who has racing pigeons as a hobby is called a "pigeon fancier", for me still a name to be proud of. Pigeon fancier is a long standing concept and then suddenly figures come to invent the word "pigeon coach". Our image as a pigeon fancier is not too high, but it is a concept. So let's keep it there and just continue to do it. This young fancier also occasionally tries to put something on paper that we have read thousands of times. Fine, but act as nothing performing pigeon fancier as if you have the wisdom in lease. This same mischief, I cannot say anything else, ran like a fool screaming and waving with the Dutch flag in his hands through his garden. It was not really to be seen and many would have wondered; what is this fool doing? We pigeon fanciers know that, he was busy keeping his pigeons in the air. They did not want to train and that is why the flag was needed. That is not so bad if you have no close neighbours. Those neighbours see that behaviour perhaps every day and then you do not immediately build up an intelligent name as a pigeon coach. The nice thing about that movie was that the female reporter asked the wife of this man; how does it feel to be married to such a man?

Of course we are going to 2019 with the best intentions. Fortunately I hear a lot of positive sounds, but we cannot put our head in the sand for the negative sounds in the international pigeon sport. In the first place I was shocked by the news that in a large Belgian ensemble there is a significant decline in participation on their 9 middle long distance flights compared to 2017. Then 25.500 pigeons were still starting, in 2018 there were 9000 less . The decline in the number of participants is alarming. In 2017 another 4500 and in 2018 there were only 3400 which is almost 25% less. Positive or negative, it is just how you look at it, is the message that many rich Chinese, and there are many, little by little Belgium and the Netherlands buy empty when it comes to (good) pigeons from fanciers with a famous name . It is unprecedented how many pigeons move weekly at idiot high prices to the country of the Rising Sun. Technically it is not good for the survival of the high quality pigeons within the two famous pigeon countries which are Belgium and the Netherlands. It is of course very attractive for the commercially minded fanciers who keep each year in the winter period several sales of their, as they say, best breeders or champion pigeons. That candy store is once emptied, appealing fanciers are no longer there. That also applies to the pigeons, because within a few years they will only race in competitions with very few pigeons so that their market value will drop sharply. Our Asian pigeon friends will surely become wise once. Furthermore you read every so often that fanciers with a commercial good name sell totally or almost totally. These are men who can still collect the necessary euros because if the current development continues this way other prominent countries will take over the commercial top positions within the foreseeable future and where we Belgians and Hollanders will have to go on hanging paws to be able to purchase some reasonable pigeons at an affordable price.

Good example does follow well is a well-known saying. Only recently the ladies league in the Netherlands has been accepted. For the ladies 5000 fixed foot rings and the same number of chip rings in the colour pink have been ordered, what a treat. Where is the emancipation and gender neutral in the pigeon sport? However who knows what nice contacts there arise when a pigeon with a pink ring with a male opponent walks into the loft. It is not yet known whether the ladies will receive a separate champion honouring. In any case in the wake of the Netherlands there is now also the opportunity in Belgium to compete against each other as female fanciers. It is to be hoped that the ladies will feel at home in the grey men's world. Certainly know that for the ladies a Netherlands - Belgium title will also be created. In every branch of sport matches between these two countries are always super exciting, so NPO and KBDB think of something nice. Furthermore the KBDB has decided that ALL pigeons participating in competitions are registered in the name of the fanciers. Only the proof of ownership is therefore no longer sufficient. If this is not met the pigeon will be removed from the result and the prize won will be declared forfeited. An exception is made for pigeons that stay in the breeding loft and are NOT played.

Sunday January 13 I once again let myself be tempted to visit a regional pigeon show where there was also the opportunity to wish sports friends still a healthy and successful season. For me it was an old-fashioned friendly pigeon afternoon. We drank a beer and talked to some old people from the trade. As usual the pigeons received little or no attention again. The afternoon was mainly about fun and it was not lacking. In between selling the boards for the rotating wheel I also got a diploma in my hands. A plasticized sheet of paper with an image of a dark pigeon (I do not like that at all) and in large letters the name of the department in which this title was achieved and in very small letters it also stated that I was 2nd champion become with the youngsters. No signature on it from two managers because it is a department without managers. Maybe it is modern or is it still poverty? Among the sportsmen it is known what has to be done in order to achieve a title against more than 150 fanciers. For half a year there is a 100% commitment to this every day and then you get by chance an award in your hands and that’s it. A great example of how it should not be done. It shows how nothing saying the pigeon sport is becoming. Where did the full rooms go during the champion ceremony? The stage was always full of luxury prizes won by the fanciers in the last season and all champions were given their won sports prizes by the chairman. Nowadays a sports prize is a self-assembled piece of paper that one of the well wanted has made on the computer. Poverty trump, I cannot say anything else!

I can say that after a week that the pigeons are paired I am still very satisfied with what happens in the breeding loft. Everything is well connected and also cock and hen know where they live. On Saturday, so 1 week after the pigeons are put together, 2 hens have laid, the day after that 3 hens, another day later 5 and today, 15-1, it is the tenth day and I cannot say how much have laid. However I can say that today the remaining hens will lay because they were all pretty tight on the nest this afternoon. In total we have put 30 couples together including feeding couples. The eggs that we cannot place under the feeding couples go under the racing pigeons of Marco. As it looks now I'm going to assemble my racing pigeons next Monday so that some eggs from the second round of the breeders can be covered. More I cannot say at the moment just that we are both happy and that is enough for the moment.

Pigeon racing is a competitive sport and when it comes to participating in sports the will has to be there to win. Winning does not happen automatically, a lot has to be done. We are currently in the middle of the breeding season which means that we are working to make our colony stronger. All attention has been paid to putting together the breeding couples. This is certainly an interesting activity that requires the necessary professional knowledge. Putting the best pigeons together is in my view the most important thing. Because we can think that we all know about it unfortunately that does not seem to be entirely true. It happens all too often that the better pigeons are born from two pigeons that we did not really expect. It is even more common that out of two pigeons that have performed formidable not a single usable youngster is born. But how often it has already happen that from two yearlings from the racing loft a real whopper I born? We can still select so strict it still gives no assurance for good performance or for a good breeding. Books and newspapers are written with all kinds of methods and ways to perform well. Theories are built up to arrive at a good strain of pigeons. Fortunately, that has succeeded in many lofts. But also more pigeons are born that do not live up to expectations than that real performance pigeons are born. The pigeon sport depends on so many facets that no rope can be tied to it. The happiness factor also plays a very important role in our hobby.

They are there for sale enough, at least they are described but no vendor wants or can guarantee that it is indeed a real good one even though the pigeon comes from such good parents. Another problem is that the pigeons are much too expensive for us Dutch. It is completely irresponsible to spend so much money because there is nothing more to be gained in our country. When I see how many pigeons are sold weekly it appears that only a few of them stay in the Netherlands and that while it is suggested that they are all youngsters from the best breeders. I wonder how many best breeding couples are on such a champion loft. It may well be best breeders but I have nothing to do with that. Everyone wants them from the best breeding couples and that is a completely different story but enough about that. What remains is how do we get pigeons to which we have something, pigeons with which we come forward and then you can select as strict as you want you will have to have quality. When I look at my own loft I think every year that I have a great bunch of breeding couples. The practice is that every year there are only a few and that after 70 years of pigeon sport! One year the breeding results are a bit better than the other and I am happy when in the next three years I will still have 5 out of the 40 pigeons I will breed. If so, I have nothing to grumble because then I have had a good breeding. Is that because I dare to clean up pigeons, is that because I select very strict? But what do I pay attention to? Performance of young pigeons do not tell me everything, others only select on the basis of achievements. I also do not do that with youngsters. I do not want big hens, others choose that. I want to see clearly the difference between a cock and a hen. I already have so many well-performing cocks in my hands that I would not want to have my pigeon as a pigeon. They would be selected by me as a youngster. I sometimes wonder; how much good will I have disposed of in my life? Fortunately I have not always done it wrong. Recently I had two pictures in my hands from two hens with a list of numbers of pigeons that you no longer see. One managed to bring it in 1999 to 3rd National Ace Pigeon sprint with the following performances: 1st - 1757; 2e - 3612; 2e - 4029; 1e - 1208; 2nd - 4439 and 2nd - 3486 pigeons. The other was in that same year 1st Provincial Champion pigeon natour against 2000 fanciers with: 5th - 4572; 1e - 4439; 1st - 3486 and 7th - 4032 pigeons. Those are two pigeons of which we all dream. From the champion pigeon natour I did not breed anything noteworthy and the other gave at least a first prize winner with three different cocks. You have to have that luck! And as far as that strict selection is concerned that does not make sense. It is normal that you do away a deformed egg, it is still normal that you take away young pigeons that only produce watery dung. What do you have to do with youngsters that are all day long are squeaking and so I can continue for a while. Everything has to go naturally during breeding, everything has to be right. Young pigeons have to lie shine in the nest and when they leave the parents they have to feel "full". You have to have a pigeon in your hands that you think "Yes, that's one" is not that way get rid of it.

The intention was that this would happen between Christmas and New Year but that was not succeed. On Saturday January 5 we spent almost the entire day there. The lofts are burned out once again, filling the scales, replacing a hinge of the breeding loft doors here and there, repairing a grit bin and cleaning the drinking bowls. The cocks had been in the breeding lofts for some time so they knew where they live. Almost all hens were given another breeding loft. Two hens that were paired on paper were set aside because they were not liftable, they seemed like flopped chickens. Actually strange because the other hens were fine on weight. One of those hens had a place in the breeding loft for the first time but if she still go along with that I have my doubts. The other has been bought for a lot of money (not via internet) and in 2018 and gave a young bird that won 6x prize including a first against 1400 pigeons. It is that I have paid a lot of money and because she has given a good young otherwise she had already gone away. She now first gets a slimming treatment and afterwards we will decide whether she should disappear. It is now Tuesday evening and all pigeons are loose in the loft. No fights yet, but what is not is can still come. To date we are very satisfied. I hope to say that in six weeks.

The same song every year. On the last day of the year we wish each other all the good but what comes of it. World leaders hold beautiful speeches, politics tells us that the economy will move forward, unfortunately I cannot see little or nothing let alone understand because on 2 January everything will become more expensive and there is little added. The Dutch gas prices are slowly rising, the care becomes more expensive, the VAT goes up and I as a pensionado can only give in. While I entrust my letters to the paper I notice that I am working on a real Dutch story that conveys a little dissatisfaction while I recently wrote that everything in our country is as well arranged as it is😉. Together with my son Marco we have arranged everything well for our pigeons for 2019. The question is what will come of our national pigeon sport. At our own loft it will go, we are completely ready for it. Another important question is how will it go nationwide. Dark clouds get together if it goes about game pleasure and the survival of the more than 250 pigeon clubs. Transport has also become a hot issue due the strong decline of members. This week I was traditionally visiting a large pigeon sport center. As always there were the doughnut and apple turnovers. It was the last time because the owners stop, the shop is sold. Many pigeon fanciers from the wide area gathered there weekly shopping which was always very pleasant. With another owner you have to wait for that. I have been there for 40 years because there is no pet store in my area that sells pigeon feed. There used to be six but it's all over. Champion ceremonies, always crowded halls and the whole crowd stood on the dance floor. Now we are old, we dance once in a while and we can not resist that hard music. We only want to talk to each other so that we no longer have a party. We old men enjoy the sport in our own way with a drink and a snack then most of us are already very satisfied. A few days ago in our Country there was a sale of 75 summer youngsters offered by the well-known player Willem de Bruijn. The first of the sale was also the most expensive and went for 26,000 euros to his new boss. Total the sale brought 250.000 euros or 3000 euros on average. A wonderful result.

It is indeed high time that the breeding pigeons are put together. The mild weather for the time of the year makes the hens start to get interested. We have been stopped for a while with light and have the hens in the open aviary all day long. They look perfect but their behavior shows that they need to be paired. The cocks all have their own territory. I can tell by the manure that they are too crowded, they are not quietly in their breeding loft but fly too much in and out, leaving only trampled manure and I do not like that. Fortunately I know what is the cause of this. The next Saturday is reserved to clean the breeding lofts even more, the burner and the vermin syringe will be used again and then the pigeons can go into it. The hatching bowls have been ready for a long time, everywhere a mat and some tobacco stalks. Now we hope that we will be free of the necessary brawls. My experience is that you can prevent a lot of trouble with good guidance. On Sunday evening the first couples are allowed to leave the loft and my experience is that two days later all pigeons know exactly where they live. Because I have enough time I will stay alert the first week and after that they will check it out. Marco also pairs his racing pigeons that day so that a large part of the eggs of the breeders can be placed under those pigeons. When the breeders are brooding for three days my racing pigeons are coupled and after 5 days of breeding the first eggs from the breeders go to Marco. Two days before the eggs go to Marco I couple my racing pigeons so that the second round of the breeders can be placed underneath. In this way I try to get my racing pigeons and the breeders back to eggs at the same time.

If the preparation for the breeding season is good there are two eggs in the nest within 14 days. Maybe there should be a little longer waiting for too young pigeons or too old pigeons. Actually it is not good to let youngsters or very old pigeons do winter breeding. Winter breeding has more advantages than disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that the youngsters of the second round can also participate in the youngsters program. The other advantage is that they quickly start to moult the small feathers and hold the flight feathers. Darkening did and I do from the end of March and end at the end of June. Now first wait and see how good or bad the pigeons come on eggs. Already then begins the selection. Small eggs or deformed eggs I do away immediately. After that remains to see whether most eggs are fertilized and whether both eggs are similar. If that is not the case I keep an eye on that youngsters. After a week the difference is still clearly visible, then the smallest goes away. I think you can not be strict enough in that. After all it is not about quantity but about quality. Besides good breeding I wish you all a good health and a successful 2019.

The holidays are already over so fast it all goes. The whole month of December everyone is busy with Christmas and before we realize it we want to wish each other a Happy New Year. When I look back at the days before Christmas it looked like we were going to have a white Christmas. When I opened the curtains of the bedroom one morning everything was fairytale white, would we still get a white Christmas? Unfortunately that same evening all the snow had disappeared. It is now even 9 degrees and now and then the sun shines. Certainly not a winter image but ideal for the breeding pigeons. In many lofts the early youngsters have crawled out of the egg but there will also be lofts where it does not run as hoped. Too many unfertilized eggs indicate poor health and therefore poor preparation. The fairly mild weather has contributed to the fact that there are already enthusiastic fanciers who tell rubbing hands that their winter breeding is particularly good, at least almost no unfertilized eggs. Their first youngsters are growing so fast that they will have difficulty to ring them January 1. Always very exciting because many fanciers like to ring the youngsters of their better pigeons with the same final marks as their superior father or mother in the hope that they will be just as good or maybe better. Every fancier is of course very curious about the growth of the babies and especially the youngsters of newly purchased pigeons or the with great care compound couples that have performed top in 2018. All in all an important part of our hobby. Someone who is not interested in the new young talent is not doing well with his hobby. In my younger years I was able to watch the first youngster from the breeding scale so curious I was about my new champions. Our breeders have to wait a little longer. The idea was to put them together between Christmas and New Year, but due to the Christmas rush this was postponed for a week. Everything is arranged on paper, all the cocks are on the bins. Because of the mild winter weather it is time that they are coupled because there are already a few hens who love each other and I just do not wait for that. They can ruin the game in the summer months because they start cuddling again. That is why I have always a few hens to use a reserve hen in case of need. Of hens who like each other certainly one of the two has to disappear because they ruin your game, at least there are always a few hens that will perform less well

Is it because I am getting older or does it happen that the modern day managers think and act completely differently than we did before. A quiet season did not exist, there was going on and everything was organized. In my club, it is a pity that I have to say it, is gathered once after the racing season and that is it. Nothing but nothing is done there, nice and easy, a lot of members find it quite so and that way everybody is asleep to wake up in the first weekend of April because then it starts for them. They do not realize that they already have a round behind that they can no longer make up for. That is why I have to laugh when it is written that someone is the champion of 200 members, that sounds nice but it becomes a different story if only 40 of those 200 participate. If I see how many members the NPO has and who regularly participate then that is to cry. The sprint still has the most participants and just to those races is often a bit inferior looked at. No, the one-day long distance that is, it will be, but nationally only 15 to 20% of the members participate. I sometimes wonder why so few of the 17.000 members participate. The pigeon sport is inflated too much while it does not represent much more in terms of participation. The strange thing is that for the attraction flights after the official racing season is more enthusiasm than for the last five speed flights with which the racing season has been closed for many years. It becomes more difficult each year to get sufficient participants in the club so that for each discipline in their own club building can be basketed. There are still more than 250 pigeon clubs in the Netherlands of which at least 200 have to deal with the aforementioned problem. Furthermore I understand that in 2019 will be cut in the collection schedule, this means that in the Netherlands the pigeons are not picked up anymore or because too few members have to join them to another club. Partly because of this the number of participants goes back even more because the older ones among us have problems with this. Not because I am also an old male but the old greybeards may be a bit more cherished because the pigeon sport currently owes much of its existence to the large group of seventies or even older.

We are on the eve of a baby boom youngsters 2019. In my opinion far too much is being bred. I know you can be lucky enough to breed an "extra" out of two moderate pigeons. Actually this also applies to two high-quality pigeons that do not breed well on the conveyor belt. What matters to me is that it is now very normal to breed from all pigeons. There is less attention paid to the quality of the old pigeons, it is more or less necessary for many to breed as many youngsters as possible. Why? The problem is the large number of youngsters who for some reason can not find their way home. That can not only be on the high-voltage wires, not even on transport or birds of prey. It has a lot to do with quality and health. For many money purchased pigeons still has nothing to do with quality. Poor fanciers who have been influenced by well thought-out sales texts. Just this week I once again studied a number of pigeons that were offered for sale with a lot of fuss. By far the most pigeons that are beautifully photographed have done nothing but nothing at all, while there are wonderful results. The attentive reader must be able to see that they are being led around the garden. What tells me the description of the mother who has put 10 first prize winners in the world and that sisters and brothers of the pigeon have achieved great results, of the pigeon that is offered for sale is nothing. Yes there is a long story with super performance but not one that is achieved by the pigeon offered for sale and because she has an appealing name thousands of euros are added to it. Then there are now also the necessary sales of youngsters from the best breeders. Just a meaningless story, what do we do with this? Oh poor pigeon sport, where does that go? A good advice; breed only from the very best you own and dare to select strictly. Do not be afraid that you are clearing up a good one because everyone has no more than a handful or even that.

The preparations for the new breeding season are getting more and more started. Some have already put their breeder together at full moon, others wait a bit because they are afraid that they will no longer get the rings of 2019 on the legs. Still others find January early enough to start breeding and the long distance players have more patience because most of them are not so concerned about the fanatical game with the youngsters, these men go on with their hibernation. What matters now is the composition of the couples. With us in the loft the couples are changed for at least 80% and we do that mainly not to get too much of the same. Also the proven couples are changed after two years together. In addition there is always the possibility to re-link them which seldom happens. As soon as our racing pigeons are three years old (have participated in the races for 4 seasons), we look at the performances and possible breeding results. Based on this it is determined whether they deserve a spot on the breeding loft. Our selection method looks like this; the performance of the youngsters is not decisive. A youngster we should like to see. This is often the first impression when you take the pigeon in your hand, the look is also very important. For me, the color is also important, I like blue and light scratches (that is also a hobby) while my son Marco also accepts other colors in his loft. I still hold on to the Janssen tradition, those guys also had mainly light and blue pigeons. I will often tell other fanciers; do not pay too much attention to the color. An ugly pigeon that arrives with the first every week is getting better and better. A good friend of mine once had an unsightly measly little fat-blue hen, that pigeon would not have had a chance with me in the loft. But he got the change with him and that was also because he possessed many more pigeons than I did. I told him from the beginning; get rid of that thing what do you do with such a bantling? As a youngster she came home on the last two races of over 300 km so she could hibernate. In the following spring I saw her again and made the comment; do you still have her? He had looked better than me. Unbelievable as that animal has performed, just incredible but true. When I returned to him in the summer months he told me about her performance and made the comment; Bert you have to see that pigeon through my glasses then she looks very different. I assume you understand what he meant.

The first thing I do is look at the 5 best breeding couples and with best I mean the couples with the best breeding results. Do not think that these are couples who only fly headers on the world, such exist but not with me. I sometimes read something about such couples and usually on a sales site. The strange thing is that you do not read anything about a youngster of that couple who performed well above average. A very famous fancier from earlier years once said to me that you can speak of luck if you have a breeding pair that has given only 1 good young, but then a real good one. Still I was fortunate that I had breeding couples several times that only gave us useful pigeons, which regularly became a real topper. If you are in those happy circumstances you always belong to the great champions but that was another time. Just look at the famous names of now, they all have their name from a super performance of one of their pigeons while they have a few hundred. I already made a study of the breeding pigeons in my own way, I was working on it all winter. That changed many times even on the day of pairing I changed at the last moment 1 or 2 couples. When everything was together I thought it was all very good couples. It could not have been wrong because one pigeon had performed even better than the other and that's also how it was with their construction. Beautiful in the hand because I love beautiful and especially good pigeons. I have succeeded in my entire pigeon career, it did not matter which couple gave good youngsters the most important was that there were always some couples who did what the boss expected from them. Frankly, most did not do what the boss expected from them. I always thought I had a nice look at pigeons, I thought I would get the best out of whatever loft I came from. I did not completely misunderstand but to get the real topper out of it I usually do not succeed. Top pigeons are always well built, you actually do not see much. There is much more to see on a badly built pigeon and even then it can be a good racer. In my breeding loft is never a badly built pigeon but that does not mean anything about the breeding value. They have performed well to very good in my eyes, they have come through the selection and yet best people the majority of their youngsters are completely unsuited to perform well. What is wisdom?

In the 70 years that I have pigeons I am still looking for even better while I also breed my entire life out of pigeons that meet everything and yet I am never satisfied. I really enjoy my pigeons, I have always been a very fierce rascal with a preference for the speed races and the small middle distance I count on that too. I won many hundreds of first prizes, most of course in the club, but I also often played the first violin. Most probably due to age the intensity has largely disappeared. Because of your age you change a little every year without being aware of it. Suddenly there is a period that you notice, especially the condition and the perseverance are the reason that you become easier every year. The "must" touches a little bit away, I do not want to see that, I cannot believe it. I am definitely motivated because the plans for 2019 are already largely completed. A joint breeding loft with my son, 12 couples to fly and 35 young pigeons have to ensure that I play with along with the best and even a single victory in a big context should certainly be possible. Next week I will continue to review the breeders who may meet between Christmas and New Year. This weekend I will go to the national days of the NPO, next time I will tell you what I thought of it.

Everything is possible but then there must be a will. It is as if the Dutch pigeon sport has completely lost its way. In my opinion that is the case and the reason for this is the strong decline of members. There has never been invested in, the pigeon sport runs for many years as a well-oiled machine. So why should people (the board) worry about something? Plenty of members, lots of pigeons, a national fleet with far too large transport wagons, an increasingly extensive flight program, it could not be done. If everything runs smoothly within a sports organization this often goes hand in hand with too little attention for a future-oriented policy. That is how it also went with different branches within the business community. Very well-known national companies have thus disappeared from the scene. The pigeon sport also goes that way, it is too late to turn the tide. In addition there is also the difficulty that our national board itself cannot take any decision. They are completely dependent on their supporters who make the service. As a result our national administration is the same as a pigeon house, the managers fly in and out. Unfortunately there is no rest in pigeon land and I fear that it will never come back. The national board has created a number of working groups with the best intentions for every discipline within our sport. In itself an ideal image for a perfect organization. The annoying thing is that the short distance players do not speak the same language as marathon players and among the fanciers of competitions with youngsters play different things than within the group long distance players. I think that we can all understand how difficult it is to get everyone in the same direction. There are far too many different interests in the way of sports experience. There are sports friends who experience their sport very professionally, others have their pigeons their club and participate weekly in the game they like. They have never thought about the organization before. That can be seen during the club meetings. There are always the same ones who have immersed themselves in the matter, which are usually the spokespersons and the rest looks in silence.

Because old and grey forms the largest group gives that often a distorted image within the result of a vote. Many elderly people think; it will take my time off and I think it's fine what their club decides. They assume that in 2019 they will be able to use their pigeons once a week and that they will be picked up. That they on their way to the unloading place be cared, that they are released on time, that a weekly result is made and so they live from one week to another. Nice and easy but that's not how it works in practice. To make sure everything runs smoothly a lot of manpower is needed. Despite the automation there is still a lot of manual work to be done and the group that has to do that is getting less and less motivated and unfortunately is getting smaller and smaller. Now that several working groups have been created will also be new life in the brewery, especially by the "fair play" working group. They called on all members to express their wishes in relation to fair play. Of the approximately 15.000 playing lofts (I do not think there are more), just over 200 responses have arrived. Within a sports association where there is so much movement we can speak of a disappointing result. Those who have taken the trouble to read the overview of all those reactions become dizzy. It is true that the large majority of Dutch fanciers want to get rid of the unlimited number of pigeons that can be used on every flight. The majority prefers maximum numbers. The preference is for a maximum of 25 old pigeons and 35 young pigeons. With those numbers there is competition for the championships. It is now the case that a number of internationally known fanciers come to lugged weekly with baskets full of pigeons and that discourages the modal fancier. Certainly know that within the Dutch pigeon sport it will be or will change in 2019. There is certainly the maximum number of pigeons that can be played for the championships. After all we also play football eleven against eleven. We should not lose sight of the fact that all changes are not improvements. The pigeon sport as it was will never come back.

Our annual event will be held on 1 and 2 December in Nieuwegein this year, a different location. Admission is free and that has been made possible thanks to the fact that leading fanciers have donated a pigeon for sale. On Saturday there is also a pigeon day organized for the youth. Furthermore everything is in the sign of the pigeon sport. Hopefully many national and international sports friends can find their way to the NPO days. I hope we will meet each other in large numbers. Here the address: De Beursfabriek, Symfonielaan 5, 3438EX - Nieuwegein near Utrecht.

Pairing at full moon. Many fanciers believe in that, especially if you have been doing that for several years and the breeding results speak for themselves why would you deviate from that. I am also a herd animal because I have tried it. The first year was great as my youngsters performed, the next two years it was three times nothing. One year it was remarkable that I bred several pigeons of which two toes had grown together as it were there was a kind of fleece between them. I really do not know what the cause was in any case not too close inbreeding. I blamed the full moon and then I paired the breeding pigeons between Christmas and New Year and never looked at the moon again. This year on the 23rd of November it is full moon again and I know that there are again a lot of fanciers who will pair the pigeons. Scientifically there is nothing proven but if you have success with something you should certainly not depart from it at least that is my opinion. It will not be the case if you put together two pigeons at full moon that have never won a prize that you then breed prize winners. I still look for it in the quality and still assume that you have a higher chance of breeding a top pigeon from two top pigeons even if you put those summers together at half-moon.

Or maybe it is. In our eyes the pigeon world is completely runaway. What has happened in the past two weeks is almost unbelievable. Daily newspaper De Duif held their annual Golden Ten sales for the umpteenth time. A number of super commercial fanciers were invited to make six young pigeons available for a hall sale with a lot of tam - tam. The organizing newspaper spoke of a great success. In all simplicity we can ask ourselves; For who it was a great success? Does it add anything to the popularity of the pigeon sport? No Belgian or Dutch citizen gets it in his head to start with the pigeon sport after reading all astronomical amounts paid for young pigeons. Pigeons that have never been in the basket and will never come in the basket are immediately destined for breeding. Why? Especially because they are so expensive but that has nothing to do with breeding value. A proceeds of 1.179.000 euros for 168 youngsters (average 7020 euros) are madness at the top. It got even crazier on the internet sales of the famous Belgian Gaby Vandenabeele. This very sympathetic fancier had more or less forced his pigeons away because of a pigeon lung. Gaby has through his appealing achievements built up a very good reputation over the years partly because others are also very successful with his pigeons. We know Gaby from his strong game with a not too large number of pigeons in the race. Great was the surprise when the sale was announced of no less than 815 pigeons. Where does he suddenly get that? Others who are forced to stop can bring half or even more to the poulter. A professional pigeon broker company known as Pipa thought differently. They really got everything out of the closet to prepare a spectacular internet sale. Something that you can leave to this company with a clear conscience. The end of the story is a record yield of an average of 8000 euros per pigeon, or a total revenue of 6.5 million euros. The most expensive of the entire circus went to China for 376.000 euros where more than 60% of the pigeons (482 units) went, the other 40% went to 30 different countries. Of the old pigeons that were sold 2 went to the Netherlands and that says something for a leading pigeon country. It is unfortunate that there is never mentioned anything about the breeding results of all those pigeons that are sold to all kinds of sales sites for breeding. Just look at your own loft how much good, I mean real good, be bred there. Count only the 4 year old and once you know exactly how difficult it is. It must be said that it was fantastic to be able to follow this sale on the Internet for three days especially because I think this will never happen again. But…. Never say never!

It is so sad with the Dutch pigeon sport. At the time that there were still 100.000 fanciers in the Netherlands there was half a page of pigeon news in every self-respecting newspaper at the beginning of the week. That is over. The sharp decline in the number of pigeon fanciers is also the cause of this. Pigeon sport is no longer a national sport. In the past years the pigeon sport also had a large number of supporters who wanted to read weekly in the newspaper who had the best performances. That was talked about at work, in the family and by friends and acquaintances. Now people ask me if I still have pigeons and if there is still pigeon racing because they cannot read a letter in the newspaper anymore. That is something that our national sports administration should discuss with the writing press. Without publicity the pigeon sport sinks further and further into anonymity.

It does not take so long for our pigeons to start a new breeding season. The winter months are ideally suited to purchase (valuable) breeding material. Nowadays certainly not a simple matter especially if you read all those dizzying amounts that are counted for a pigeon. I consciously say a pigeon because many pigeons do not deserve a place in the breeding loft. Nevertheless in our sport all pigeons that enter the breeding loft are called breeding pigeons. With all these pigeons are every year a number of purchased pigeons, received, exchanged, bought for a lot or little money, everyone dreams of a good breeding result. Personally I spent a lot of attention on pigeons that earn a place in the breeding loft. Each pigeon that won first prize in the ZCC entered the breeding loft. That did not mean that they immediately ended up after winning a victory. No, that required more. In any case they had to play the entire season. Sometimes there were pigeons that had won a first prize three or four times or a first plus some real top prizes. I think that is the only good method. Of course I also purchased at least 1 pigeon every year. At that time there always had to be one with at least 50% blood from the world-famous Janssen pigeons. Honestly those pigeons have given me a lot of sports fun. More beautiful and better pigeons did not exist in my eyes. There were also other good and beautiful pigeons but Janssen pigeons made the crown. I have never understood that they were not appreciated in their own country. Jealousy perhaps? The real Janssen pigeons are now eliminate all over the world, there is little or nothing left of it. I still own the kind of the Belgian brothers, they still look the same but they are crossed. However to cross has chosen for another champion loft. I certainly do not get them anywhere. Meanwhile I have together with my son built up a beautiful breeding collection their youngsters performed excellently this year. The breeders are not all first prize winners or champion pigeon yet but this year there are still five added plus 2 new acquisitions. We have, just like all those buyers of the Vandenabeele pigeons, every confidence. But as an old hand in racing pigeons I know very well that most breeding results will not be as good as we hope. I have had years that I thought I only had top breeding couples, unfortunately that turned out not to be the case. Despite that I have played at the top for many years and now that my son Marco has been added I am motivated again on the bone to the bid and that for an 81 year old. That promises something!

How we turn it or turn it we are on our way to the cold winter months. At this moment not to believe because the high temperatures for the time of the year continue. Cause are the hurricanes far away from our country causing a lot of misery and grief while in the Netherlands the beautiful holiday weather continues. Our beaches are full of sun worshipers every day, you hardly dare to watch the news on TV in the evening because there is a lot to see differently than we are used to. The one natural disaster follows the other, the annoying thing is that we humans cannot control nature. The only thing that remains is to help as many fellow sufferers as possible, no matter how difficult that is in many cases. The world is changing, it is the conversation of the day. We ordinary people cannot influence that, war, violence, sadness, disasters, corruption every day we are confronted with it. Unbelievable that there is so much fuss in the Netherlands about the old Sinterklaas feast, without doubt a fantastic children's party that is celebrated on 5 December. Action groups are busy because Sinterklaas has a sooty black servant with large earrings and scarlet lips. It would go back to the slave time. No child knows about it, at the schools all children have been taught that Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet are big children's friends and therefore on 5 December when the Sint celebrates its birthday to all children will bring a gift. I remember the day of yesterday that I was surprised in 1947 on Sinterklaas evening with 2 racing pigeons and despite the fact that we have been taught that Sint and Piet come from Spain the pigeons did have Dutch rings. I thought that was strange at the age of 10. Not so long after that I found out that both did not exist, now I am 81 and still enjoy the party especially when I see all those happy little children's mussels.

When the molting is over pigeons are paired again in many lofts. Preparations for this are already receiving extra attention from many fanciers. Old breeders who have not provided good breeding results for some years have to make way for the younger generation because the youth has the future. We are now in a period that we can only watch how everything goes in the loft. Come the pigeons well through the molt and remain free of diseases, more is actually not to experience. It is the quiet season and then you have to be well motivated to continue to pay full attention to the ups and downs in the pigeon loft and that is not always easy for many older fanciers, I just look at myself. I do not really feel like it anymore, it gets too much for me. The days that I went whistling to the pigeons every time are less, many of my old pigeon friends are no longer there. A few times a week visiting a pigeon friend has not existed for a long time. Club life is getting less because there are almost no members left and worse there are no new members. Yes, sometimes one who does not like it at another club but that does not stand up either. I have to really pick myself up while it used to go automatically. If you hardly speak to anyone who has the same hobby the pleasure will go away especially if the care starts to weigh too heavily. That is why I have decided to make more contacts, yes also in writing, to talk more about pigeons. It is mostly about the past but that does not matter, the sport becomes more lively and makes it a bit more enjoyable. Even now I am still dubbing to do everything away and if someone happens to come along and wants to take over the chance is there that I will do. But what if they are gone and I regret, you fall into a hole. Fortunately that is not quite so because my son has the breeding pigeons so if the need is the man I can always start with a few youngsters. At the moment I am a bit more cheerful because in a short time I have had some nice conversations with old friends, two of whom no longer have any pigeons. One does not miss them, the other can no longer keep them because of relocation but would want to return to the old situation. Keeping pigeons is a great hobby at home, yet it turns out that it is definitely not a hobby to experience at home alone. Keeping in touch with sports friends brings more pleasure to the hobby, exchanging ideas with each other, talking about the past and making plans for the future is something you do just with each other.

The battle to participate in the racing pigeons Olympiad has been fought. The sport pigeons that will be from all over the world have finished their matches. The regulations set by the FCI apply in all participating countries. Of course there are still some beauty flaws attached to it but in general it is now; equal monks, equal hoods. Also in the pigeon sport participation in the Olympiad would be the highest possible. I totally disagree with that but it feels like a great honor to be honored especially in the sporting class. I have also been allowed to experience that once and that gives you a bit of a feeling that you have delivered a sporting performance. In the Netherlands no fancier has to submit the best performance of his best pigeon himself. This is provided through our national accounting agency so that only those entitled are invited. All kinds of champion pigeons will be shortly presented to us. There are all kinds of titles or championships to think of. They are very strong at Pipa. In almost all cases it is not about the performance but about the commercial value. Within the pigeon sport it is teeming with championships and championships that actually do not represent anything at all. There should be only one title and not a 2nd, 3rd, 4, 8th or 10th championship. Get rid of that fooling! If we all together, I better can say with a number of compatriots are in the Polish city of Poznan, because who are going there? you will see that pigeons on an Olympiad get a lot of international interest . At other events these are the exhibitors, at an Olympiad the fanciers will marvel at all those pigeons that are present according to the same sporting conditions. The organization can safely be left to the Poles. In 2011 they were allowed to do that once and that looked great. Poland has become a full-fledged pigeon country which they prove on all sides. It still takes 3 months which seems to be very far away. We are so there and in many lofts there are already big youngsters in the dish and in some lofts the first youngsters are already weaned. All honors are behind us, yet all the greats can enjoy their achievements in 2018 and then we all start with a clean slate again.

That was a number of years ago a new concept within the pigeon sport. It had a bit to do with unfair play back then. It was created by our national organization. The directors at the time realized that our sport was going the wrong way. At that time our country had many fanciers especially small socializing players. The flying programs became more extensive, there were more possibilities for play for everyone. The problems also came with the expansion of the flight programs. Sometimes three flights in a weekend. For a lot of players that was fantastic, I belonged to that group. Rather four flights than one I thought. Wonderful waiting for the pigeons on Saturday. That day was my pigeon day and the whole family plus friends knew that I was occupied on Saturday, then the pigeons went for everything. When I got older I started to notice more and more that due to the amount of competitions the hobby became very expensive. With school-age children and a little more pigeons because there were more flights, that turned out to be no feasible for me. At that time I could not spend 50 guilders per week on my pigeon hobby and with me many others. With great regularity was written in the pigeon magazines about specialization. If you belonged to the category of socializing players it was better to specialize on one or two parts of the pigeon sport. You did not want to measure yourself with the big men who owned many more pigeons. In itself a very good idea, and so it happened. Fanciers enough so no problem.

Due to the specialization came fewer and fewer pigeons after a while. A new phenomenon were the "fly in pigeons". Those were the pigeons that were used to practice or to train but did not participate in the race and therefore were not clocked. Then you got situations of a participation of 400 pigeons of which only 150 entered the race and that was not the intention either. Because of the specialization you got fanciers who only played short distance, others played short and middle distance. Some only youngsters, others only one-day long distance and others preferred the marathon races. There was therefore a possibility for everyone to play until at a given moment it became clear that the number of pigeons per discipline fell sharply and that is how it is still today. In some clubs it is even the case that due to too small participation one has to switch to another inventory room especially on the one-day long distance and the last middle distance races. At first the specialization was to let everyone play their own game. The strong decline of members shows that the specialization at many clubs becomes problematic in connection with the survival of the club. There are no participants enough! What would be a good solution?

For years the flight program consisted of 5 sprint, 4 middle distance, 4 long distance of which an overnight flight, 6 youngsters and 5 natour. 1 flight every week, no specialization and everyone participated weekly. Now it will be clear why the general championship in those years was so important and currently because of the specialization nothing more because almost no one participates in ALL competitions or can participate. Over the years so much has changed we start to wonder why those changes were well thought through. Reducing the current extended flight program to 1 flight per weekend is likely to cause major unrest but we should have to go a bit in that direction. The pigeon sport will become more attractive less time-consuming and perhaps also less expensive. Of course it is also about keeping the existing group of members together. If there is more drop out we will come closer to the end of the pigeon sport as we know it.

For years there was no target at all. Members enough so why worry about the future. With such an ill-considered policy many companies and sports clubs have gone to the buttons. When people realized that the pigeon sport was starting to age important managers awoke from their sleep. Based on the decline of members people started to calculate how long the pigeon sport could continue. The outcome of the calculation did not look rosy so action had to be taken but in what way? Almost all arrows were aimed at youth. That took a lot of energy but not shot is always wrong. They started by placing a free pigeon loft with a number of children who had chosen for the pigeon sport without parental help. The same was done at schools, playgrounds and a single petting zoo. It did not deliver anything, that is money thrown away. Suddenly somebody came up with the luminous idea of a making a promotional film. Everywhere in the Netherlands the film could be screened, every club had access to it so they could go on to promote our sport. 40-50 were thought of. They had finished their own sports and the pigeon sport would be a welcome addition to that. Also for this form of promotion was heavily tapped in the pouch. Final conclusion once again wasted money, goal not achieved or no extra members can note and so muddled through. No real vision, no substantiated proposals, but in a short time several goodwill board members and unfortunately that did not deliver anything either. Still people are fighting to win the youth for our sport. However let us not forget that despite the fact that the youth of today will always exist there is now a youth of today who looks completely different. They have so many opportunities to spend their free time and in that list the pigeon sport does not belong. Just too expensive and too time-consuming. Those who visit the national days in early December will again meet large groups of children at the event on Saturday. Youth members who can also bring their friends. Very well intended but what matters ......... I think no new members are listed. If children come home enthusiastically and tell their story to parents who know nothing about pigeon racing, they start to shatter when they realize what all this will cost and what will the neighbors say about it. No, that is absolutely no simple matter. There is little promotion via newspapers. There are still a huge number of weekly magazines in which the pigeon sport can be promoted in a professional way. Within our pigeon sport the expertise is available to work on it. A nice start is perhaps the attention for the pigeons that participate in the final selection for the racing pigeon Olympics in Poland, also a nice item for a sports program at TV. After all the Netherlands is a world-wide leading pigeon country and we have to show this in a positive way as much as possible.

In the Netherlands, or better said by the Dutch pigeon fanciers, there is more and more talk of the proliferation in the large number of pigeons that is used by more and more fanciers every week. That discourages many fanciers and therefore there is dissatisfaction. The fanciers now finally let their voices heard, they revolt and insist that playing with an unlimited number of pigeons is restricted because as it is now it is absolutely the wrong way. The game for the common man has grown into a gigantic large commercial event. It is no longer a household price or a small amount of money. In many departments money is not even played anymore. The hobby fanciers play for a championship title and the mega lofts play for chain results because that is big business for them. Championships are not interesting for the mega lofts. For them are champion pigeons and especially results where as many of their pigeons as possible occur important. It is a pity that the hobby-moderate is disappearing more and more. The amateurs still want to take up against the professional players but with equal weapons and no more 100 against 10. That is an unequal battle that the little man can never win. So something has to change.

That is what it is all about in the Netherlands. The hobby fanciers certainly does not have to set aside for the mega lofts that have made their hobby their profession. The little man can definitely clock a pigeon for such a professional which fortunately still happens very regularly. The bread players should not think that they only have the right to display top prizes and nice results. Those who can read a result know better. But to organize competitions where 100 against 10 is the most normal thing in the world must be put an end to very quickly. Only then can we speak of fair play. The pigeon sport is far too expensive for many fanciers while the pros can enormously enrich themselves thanks to the participation of the hobby players and with the cooperation of the sales sites. Within such a potty hobby as pigeon sport that is too crazy for words. The day and weeklies are barely interested in the pigeon sport while millions are involved every year. Soon there will be a total sale of star player Gaby Vandenabeele. I have read that there are just over 800 pigeons under the hammer. Certainly know that they will pay a dizzying amount mainly thanks to the victories against Jan with the cap. The frustrating thing is that Jan with the cap is not able to buy a pigeon from such a famous loft. No they can only basket their pigeons so that the ever-growing group of professional players can shine with performances achieved against a respectable number of pigeons. Especially fanciers from other countries kick in there. They absolutely do not know what an unfair game is being played especially in the Netherlands and Belgium. Fortunately more and more fanciers in Belgium are revolting against the absurd situation that the mega lofts or unsportsmanlike pocket fillers bring about.

That's how it was years ago. In the first place years ago not such nonsensical numbers of pigeons were used by a fancier. If someone with 40 pigeons came he was laughed at. Certainly afraid that you go under was soon said. It was during the time that only the first pigeon counted for a championship title. So 40 against 10 were found unfair at that time. At that time there was also clocking with rubber rings and that took much more time compared to electronic detection. I told in that time that I did not set aside for anyone although they came with 200. I would not say that now because the decline of members, the far too large flight areas, the smaller number of participating pigeons, the electronic detection and the mega big fanciers has changed the pigeon game completely. It is said flat finally out of the clutches. The big men make the service and it will not be easy to change that in no time. Yet it will have to!

The season is over and the meeting season is coming again. From my department I have already received the first proposals to change all kinds of things. After reading everything I immediately sat with my hands in my hair. All of those proposals that have been on the agenda for 50 years. Ideas conceived by one or two diligent club officials who think they are going to invent the wheel again. What would it be nice if our national sports association would prescribe it? This is how we will do it and not otherwise. What should be the problem if we all start and end on the same date. What will be the problem if we start at least 100 km and end up at 600 km. An exception can then be made for the handful of marathon players that we have in the Netherlands. What will be the problem if we all play through a homogenous championship system. What could be the objection that we all participate weekly with a maximum of 25 pigeons, the ring numbers of which are specified before the start of the season and still add 5 reserve pigeons in case a few pigeons are lost. Fanciers of many pigeons can keep 500 without problems but to participate 25. Then see if the professionals have such a good look that they weekly play everything on firewood. In Malta they are allowed to use up to 10 pigeons. In Portugal they mostly play with yearlings and in China with youngsters. I assume that in those countries they enjoy the pigeon game as much as we do. What would be the problem if we all basket centrally, as a result of which a large part of the collection costs will be canceled. What could be the objection if more and more will be transported centrally? What could be the objection if we work together more and more (in not too long time) instead of working against. What would be the objection if there were smaller flight areas through which no one is played away and no one has any extra advantage. More and more ideas will be able to be launched especially now that a committee is working in the Netherlands with the main goal FAIR GAME!

At first I thought that this could be of vital importance for the pigeon sport. I soon came back to this because it is impossible to keep large groups of pigeons healthy and also give good training. Large numbers always stay together, do not pull away and remain as stupid as the horse of our dear Lord and that was a donkey. No, one loft races are not in my opinion either. Coincidentally, I recently read a report of the "Derby Costa del Sol" which was held for the 6th time. 1200 pigeons were used of which 827 participated in the final race. According to the report the organization had everything down to the smallest detail that I immediately believe. However, I am always very curious about the end result. The pigeons were released at 7.40 am and the first 6 pigeons registered at 2.22 pm which means they have flown for 402 minutes. The winning speed was 1,112 meters per minute so the distance must have been plus minus 447 km. So far it looks promising, but now it comes. On the day of release 35 pigeons from the 827 were at home, yes you read that correctly. What is so great about such a race? I do not know how it ended in the end but I cannot see such a flight as excellent. For me this is a disastrous course and maybe it ended in disaster, but my information does not go that far. Unfortunately it is not just the case at the Derby Costa de Sol in the southern Spanish city of Malaga. In my opinion one loft races are casinos for gambling pigeon fanciers. The big winnings are very important and the pigeon ......? Unfortunately that does not count. At least that is my opinion.

How we turn it or turn it we are on our way to the cold winter months. At this moment not to believe because the high temperatures for the time of the year continue. Cause are the hurricanes far away from our country causing a lot of misery and grief while in the Netherlands the beautiful holiday weather continues. Our beaches are full of sun worshipers every day, you hardly dare to watch the news on TV in the evening because there is a lot to see differently than we are used to. The one natural disaster follows the other, the annoying thing is that we humans cannot control nature. The only thing that remains is to help as many fellow sufferers as possible, no matter how difficult that is in many cases. The world is changing, it is the conversation of the day. We ordinary people cannot influence that, war, violence, sadness, disasters, corruption every day we are confronted with it. Unbelievable that there is so much fuss in the Netherlands about the old Sinterklaas feast, without doubt a fantastic children's party that is celebrated on 5 December. Action groups are busy because Sinterklaas has a sooty black servant with large earrings and scarlet lips. It would go back to the slave time. No child knows about it, at the schools all children have been taught that Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet are big children's friends and therefore on 5 December when the Sint celebrates its birthday to all children will bring a gift. I remember the day of yesterday that I was surprised in 1947 on Sinterklaas evening with 2 racing pigeons and despite the fact that we have been taught that Sint and Piet come from Spain the pigeons did have Dutch rings. I thought that was strange at the age of 10. Not so long after that I found out that both did not exist, now I am 81 and still enjoy the party especially when I see all those happy little children's mussels.

When the molting is over pigeons are paired again in many lofts. Preparations for this are already receiving extra attention from many fanciers. Old breeders who have not provided good breeding results for some years have to make way for the younger generation because the youth has the future. We are now in a period that we can only watch how everything goes in the loft. Come the pigeons well through the molt and remain free of diseases, more is actually not to experience. It is the quiet season and then you have to be well motivated to continue to pay full attention to the ups and downs in the pigeon loft and that is not always easy for many older fanciers, I just look at myself. I do not really feel like it anymore, it gets too much for me. The days that I went whistling to the pigeons every time are less, many of my old pigeon friends are no longer there. A few times a week visiting a pigeon friend has not existed for a long time. Club life is getting less because there are almost no members left and worse there are no new members. Yes, sometimes one who does not like it at another club but that does not stand up either. I have to really pick myself up while it used to go automatically. If you hardly speak to anyone who has the same hobby the pleasure will go away especially if the care starts to weigh too heavily. That is why I have decided to make more contacts, yes also in writing, to talk more about pigeons. It is mostly about the past but that does not matter, the sport becomes more lively and makes it a bit more enjoyable. Even now I am still dubbing to do everything away and if someone happens to come along and wants to take over the chance is there that I will do. But what if they are gone and I regret, you fall into a hole. Fortunately that is not quite so because my son has the breeding pigeons so if the need is the man I can always start with a few youngsters. At the moment I am a bit more cheerful because in a short time I have had some nice conversations with old friends, two of whom no longer have any pigeons. One does not miss them, the other can no longer keep them because of relocation but would want to return to the old situation. Keeping pigeons is a great hobby at home, yet it turns out that it is definitely not a hobby to experience at home alone. Keeping in touch with sports friends brings more pleasure to the hobby, exchanging ideas with each other, talking about the past and making plans for the future is something you do just with each other.

The battle to participate in the racing pigeons Olympiad has been fought. The sport pigeons that will be from all over the world have finished their matches. The regulations set by the FCI apply in all participating countries. Of course there are still some beauty flaws attached to it but in general it is now; equal monks, equal hoods. Also in the pigeon sport participation in the Olympiad would be the highest possible. I totally disagree with that but it feels like a great honor to be honored especially in the sporting class. I have also been allowed to experience that once and that gives you a bit of a feeling that you have delivered a sporting performance. In the Netherlands no fancier has to submit the best performance of his best pigeon himself. This is provided through our national accounting agency so that only those entitled are invited. All kinds of champion pigeons will be shortly presented to us. There are all kinds of titles or championships to think of. They are very strong at Pipa. In almost all cases it is not about the performance but about the commercial value. Within the pigeon sport it is teeming with championships and championships that actually do not represent anything at all. There should be only one title and not a 2nd, 3rd, 4, 8th or 10th championship. Get rid of that fooling! If we all together, I better can say with a number of compatriots are in the Polish city of Poznan, because who are going there? you will see that pigeons on an Olympiad get a lot of international interest . At other events these are the exhibitors, at an Olympiad the fanciers will marvel at all those pigeons that are present according to the same sporting conditions. The organization can safely be left to the Poles. In 2011 they were allowed to do that once and that looked great. Poland has become a full-fledged pigeon country which they prove on all sides. It still takes 3 months which seems to be very far away. We are so there and in many lofts there are already big youngsters in the dish and in some lofts the first youngsters are already weaned. All honors are behind us, yet all the greats can enjoy their achievements in 2018 and then we all start with a clean slate again.

I just came out of my pigeon loft with the sweat on my forehead. I thought it necessary to clean three departments well today. Because of an inflammation in my arm I neglected that for a while. Now that the suffering was almost done I just wanted to clean the lofts well and halfway through the afternoon I thought it was enough. Tomorrow I will continue because today the weekly column must be written and from tomorrow on I will continue to clean the lofts every day. In a clean loft I enjoy my pigeons much more. They are heavy molting and that is how it belongs in this period of the year yet I will be happy if I am rid of the large amount of feathers. Everything is dry, in that respect we do with the weather. It is likely that Dutch records will be broken again because I cannot remember a year with so many sunny days and such high temperatures at this time of the year. It is autumn and many plants are still in bloom, it is as if the seasons are changing. The racing pigeons from different departments come out every two days but they do not have a lot of sense to fly. They still miss too many feathers and when they fly to their seats in the loft from the floor you hear that they have to make extra effort to rise. Once they are through the molt they float up as it were but it is not that far yet, so be patient. From next week I start all pigeons a two-week paratyphoid cure through the drinking water. From experience I know that it has no wrong influence on the molt. It is now ideal again to refurbish the loft, here and there some needs to be repaired and a lick of paint does not hurt either. A sputnik must be completely renewed and the fence around the balustrade is also in need of renewal. There is also a lot of pruning work in the garden but I do not do that myself. By the way I am no handyman at all, painting, carpentry and all that kind of work is not spent on me.

Another cycling year over. I have been involved in cycling for many years and I still cannot get enough of it. I have not been active in sports for a long time and I also said goodbye to the organization a while ago. The sport itself continues to fascinate me enormously. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that I do not agree with in amateur sport but that problem may be solved by others. Two weeks ago the first team of my club DTS - "strong by training" was second during the National club championships on the road, they had to give 16 seconds to the winning team. In the last six years they finished first three times and twice as second, "we" are the best cycling club in the Netherlands. On the first Saturday of October the Noord-Holland cycling season was concluded with the fairground round of Assendelft. There was fought for the Dutch Championship Criterium, you know them the famous circles around the church. The victory went to one of our promising members, his father has already won that title and his grandfather even has been world champion behind the big motorcycles. Professional cyclist Nikki Terpstra, member of DTS, became second in the autumn classic Paris-Tours on Sunday. A week later, the Tour of Lombardy follows and then the season for the cyclo-cross starts. For now I have again enjoyed the many beautiful and exciting cycling races.

For a long time there is a lot to do about "fair play" within the Dutch pigeon sport. Our national organization the NPO finally sees that the sport is not going in the right direction. What matters most is the unlimited use of pigeons on all flights of the official flight program. The number of fanciers who play with a lot of pigeons is increasing enormously and it is precisely there that the shoe wriggles, the members do not accept it anymore. There are examples of fanciers who use more than 250 pigeons while others participate with a tenth of that number and get a good beating every week. That does not make a person happy, it spoils the mood in the club, the enthusiasm to join goes back and the appreciation for the "big" winners is noticeably less. Commerce within the sport can no longer be ignored, that is where most sports clubs are running, unfortunately the Dutch pigeon sport is not getting better. Within our sport and a number of other countries, it is all about a number of individual fanciers who can enormously enrich themselves by selling their pigeons. On the sales sites it becomes more and more nepotism. Those commercial fanciers sell a lot of pigeons at huge prices, they do not because they have achieved championships, they do so because they play with large numbers of pigeons which gives them a better chance to catch some early pigeons in the results. Here too the law of the big numbers counts or the more tickets the more chance of a prize. That is why it makes no sense. Tha’ts why it does not make any sense at all to let the first 35 pigeons of the basketing list count for the championships. This gives even more advantage to the big men because they come every week with 35 random pigeons so that most titles will go to them and who can play with 35 pigeons every week? With me sports friends have never come to buy pigeons because I won championship titles they only did that because I made remarkably good results in my younger years. After all we all want to improve our pigeon colony and you can only do that by buying good pigeons. You can buy a dog, but not wagging his tail.

That’s how it was but that has been a long time ago. Why do not new / young members join? First of all the reports in the newspapers about idiotic prices paid for pigeons. A new starter or youth member must invest far too much in order to be able to get along fairly quickly, even so much that almost no parents can afford that so that his son cannot keep pigeons. The sport takes too much time and is much too expensive while there is nothing to do with it. All older players and those who have been participating for years and never win anything worth mentioning are encouraged every week to participate but for what? But still there are every week a reasonable number of pigeons in the baskets. But for whom? Only for the ever growing group of commercial fanciers who can show results and do business the rest of the participants are extras. Our national administrators are all volunteers, they spend a large part of their free time on the organization, question is with what purpose?

It makes no sense at all. It is a game but not a fair game. You cannot play against each other under 500 km, there are too few fanciers and therefore too few pigeons. There is not enough dispersion while the flight areas are too large so that weekly large groups of fanciers are played away by weather influences or enormously favored. Middelburg cannot play against Groningen and Den Helder cannot play against Maastricht, or ZW Netherlands cannot play against NO Netherlands and NW Netherlands cannot not play against ZO Nederland which distance differences are far too big. The best thing is to go back to smaller fly areas, we will have to get used to it in the Netherlands and certainly in Belgium that we will play against each other with fewer members and fewer pigeons. It is no different, but fairer!

A fantastic invention in the beginning. Then a fancier who gave 50 pigeons a very big one. Nowadays they come with a variety of lashes. Those men take 30 minutes in a minute and that is also mentioned with large letters in a pigeon magazine. Who are we in the name of God for busy? Not for the little fancier who is allowed to put the mega numbers of the big men in the basket every week. The NPO board will take steps to change the above. I sincerely hope that they will succeed together with the members. I am now 81, if they do not succeed I will experience the demise of the pigeon sport.

Our lofts indicate how many pigeons we can keep. Because of possible losses we determine how many youngsters we are going to breed and because of the space it is already determined during this period how many pigeons we can keep in the winter and how many pigeons will be bred for the next season. That is a given whether we have to decide to build a smaller or larger loft than the numbers change. Most of us are inclined to breed more young than we can store. That is where the first mistake is already made because overcrowding can have serious consequences for health. I always go from; better a couple of seats too many than a few too short. At this way you also achieve that the youngsters will stay healthy more easily, the losses will also be less. Few young pigeons can also cause a luxury problem. I use as much as possible that I start in the spring with about 50% yearlings and as many old racing pigeons. This year the youngsters performed extremely well and then you are usually in the fortunate circumstance that you also lose less, so you have too much to spare. In other words, losing a lot is not fun, but having too much is also not always fun. We all want to keep a lot of pigeons because it is better to select from 30 pigeons than from 4. The commercial lofts will think differently, for them there cannot be enough for the sales. I do not believe that they sell their best and keep the lesser ones, but that is my opinion. Now that my youngsters have performed so formidably we will probably be able to keep more of them this year and that will be at the expense of the old. So one year you can be one of the favorites of the loft and the next year have to make room for another well performing and promising youngster. That is how it will always go because we are always looking for even better ones. Being able to make a wide choice from a well-performing group of youngsters gives a considerably better feeling than having to keep a number of young pigeons. But you do not just have enough of good performing youngsters there is a little more involved.

We all know that it is not self-evident that a well-performing youngster will also be a good yearling. There are plenty of examples that a real top performing youngster is totally failing as a yearling. This preseason I spoke a strong playing fancier who had one of the best youngsters in the entire country a year earlier and until the moment I had spoken to him that same pigeon did not win any prize. Of course there are also plenty of examples of young pigeons that did not win a flat prize and played the stars of heaven as a yearling. That is why I ask the question; is the basket the best selector? On the other hand you can say that if the basket is not what then? I think we are all the best selector in our own loft. We know our pigeons because we are busy with them daily, take enough time to observe them, study their fly and breeding results and what is very important, what is the health and flight condition? Are we also able to determine top condition and recognize diseases in the loft. It is not necessary that we are a pigeon doctor but it is important to be able to quickly see that something is stumbling on the pigeons. That is why I became a judge many years ago. I traveled all over the country to judge pigeons at all kinds of exhibitions. That was a great time but I mainly did a lot to learn about pigeons. In the early years many fanciers with their better and especially beautiful pigeons came to the show so I often got the cream of the crop. Those years are unfortunately over, I am too old and the fanciers have no real interest in what judges think of their pigeons.

Look at other branches of sport, the most beautiful athletes are certainly not the best and look at your own loft, there you discover exactly the same. On a show it is less difficult to point out the best, in your own loft it is almost impossible to appoint only valuable pigeons. Nevertheless we have to work on that in the coming period. If all goes well the first pigeons have been selected in many lofts, you can notice that at the sales that are starting to come again. Those pigeons have already received a cross behind their ring number or name in the past season and that is a good thing because in a few weeks they will be nice again and then it will be a lot harder to get rid of them. Which can we do best? I think the first and the best choice is to only keep pigeons that you like as a fancier. You know those pigeons that you say, yes that is one! You can feel the compactness, the soft plumes, the firm carcass, the tightly closed coccyx and the model of the pigeon. We all have a predilection for a pigeon and that is usually a model or type or even the color where you have achieved the necessary successes. In addition, the descent comes as an important argument in which important pigeons from ourselves must occur. Do not look too much at the extensive descendants of pigeons for sale, which can be made so tempting that you think that the guy who sells the pigeons is not good at his head otherwise he would not do away such top pigeons (?). The practice is very different. Especially keep it with own bred pigeons. Your pigeons that have performed super remain without any doubt and are also worth breeding in every way. The other pigeons that do not have a lot of good to tell about can best be kept or discarded at own intuition. You will always have to make your own choice somewhere or in a few cases you could ask for help of a good sports friend. My advice is; dare to make your own choices because with damage and shame you will quickly become a
lot wiser

The season is (finally) over. We can let the reins be celebrated because the "must" is now over. Fortunately, because I really have the end in the mouth. It was not even that many years ago that I did not want to stop. As far as I am concerned, the pigeon game could continue until Christmas and then start again immediately after New Year. I was so obsessed with the pigeon sport. Fortunately I have come to a different insight over the years. Many times I have written a pigeon year lasts a whole calendar year and not only in spring and summer. For many of us that is the most important period but the best fanciers do not think too easily about the period immediately after the racing season because even then the care requires attention. The big molt has started, the lofts are full of feathers. Large amounts of feathers are found in every nook and cranny, also in the drinks and grit trays. So paying extra attention is more or less a must. To prevent the feathers from blowing through the entire loft I place one or two baffles in each corner at an angle diagonally against the wall so that the springs blow behind and can be taken away in a grip. I have now stepped off from the accurate care and feeding and releasing of the pigeons at fixed times. All pigeons now get almost simultaneously between nine and half ten food and water, in the afternoon that happens around five o'clock.

Today I have by the 10 pairs of racing pigeons, after they have been brooding for 12 days, all the eggs removed and the hens have been transferred to another loft. The breeding pigeons have been separated for a long time so that they are in the right condition at the end of November to be paired again. We are already working hard now at least on paper but from experience I know that these links will change several times. We almost ended up in the same situation as in the late eighties/early nineties when our breeding loft consisted only of first prize winners and champion pigeons with some pigeons purchased. The big difference with that time is the number of pigeons that are played every week. Now that the flights are over I sometimes read the old results, it is shocking how the number of participating pigeons has dropped and with the number of pigeons, of course, the number of fanciers. We will have to learn to live with that, even if it is not easy. For example; I was the prize-winner last Saturday at the prize-giving ceremony of the North Holland Golden Rings race. But it was good that in the days before I inquired where and when the prize-giving ceremony was because the organization had forgotten to invite me and that while I am even the owner of the 1st Ace pigeon of this competition. A beautiful young light blue hen who achieved her performance on a small youngster. When I entered the room at half past six there was about 30 men and that was it. You will understand that you will not immediately achieve a real party mood and despite the good intentions of the one and a half organizer who was there I think we experienced the funeral of the NH Golden ring race. Again another nice event away. You are gradually wondering what the fanciers still like. I am convinced that in the coming winter months we will see more things that we will be shocked about.

The season 2018 enters the books as a year with excessively high temperatures and on most competition days wind from the east. No simple circumstances, especially for youngsters. Nevertheless, the losses in our region generally fell very badly. There was a member in my club who only participated in a few races because he lost too many youngsters from the beginning. Let's just say that I belong to the lucky one because I have lost 3 over the entire season and the old 2. Yet I keep saying that many fanciers do not seriously deal with their youngsters. They have to accompany them every week, which means that they do not pay attention to their condition and health. Of course quality and weather conditions also play an important role and in some areas the birds of prey cause even greater problems. Only we pigeon fanciers know what it means when a promising young bird is caught by a bird of prey. By the old it happens several times that a real top pigeon is caught. People do not know what an emotional value can be attached to that and then I do not even talk about the financial value. It is said so easily that we have to learn to live with that. Perhaps we may ask to keep the ever-increasing population of different species of birds of prey a little more in control. It really runs out of spools now even so much that large numbers of pigeon fanciers have stopped their hobby.
Next time I will go into the selection, unfortunately I will not succeed now. I go to the doctor first, I think I have a nerve infection in my left arm and that is too painful to sit in front of the computer for a long time. Unfortunately!
Till next week

For the older fanciers among us a complete surprise. For years this competition was called "the flight of all flights" and suddenly it was over and out. A committee of wise men ensured that this national competition was banned, it would be too far. A decision made by people who understand little or nothing of the game with youngsters. The Dutch fanciers were extremely disappointed, the biggest young pigeon competition in the whole world no longer existed. A competition that lived enormously, the whole Dutch pigeon sport was working on it, there was even talk about "Orleans fever" so exciting this flight was. In the golden years 180.000 youngsters came to the start, a number that will never be reached due to the enormous decline of members. It is great that the NPO has come up with a national proposal for youngsters. The start and the end of it is the same for all Dutch, the program consists of 12 flights. Of these the first two do not count for the national championship, furthermore the program consists of 5 sprint and 5 middle distance flights. In order to qualify for the national championship the four best results count on each component. The National competition from Orleans will, as the majority of Dutch fanciers agree, take place on August 31 2019. For now it is only a proposal that must be ratified at the general members meeting of November 10th.

I am convinced that not everyone agrees with the above proposal. Whatever one thinks up will always remain for and opponents. In itself that's fine, everyone should be able to express his opinion. When the mood is over the minority will have to stand by the majority, that is democracy, unfortunately easier said than done. Usually then the conversations along the street and in the clubs start again which in my opinion would be very unfortunate. What would it be nice if we as pigeon fanciers once completely agree. Actually it is a pity that a well thought-out proposal must be voted on. In other large sports federations the national administration writes how it is going to be and everyone should stick to it. Within the Dutch pigeon sport the national board has little say, the departments generally make the service. In this case it would be nice if the proposal for 2019 is simply implemented, excluding discussion. Only a blow with the chairman's hammer and with that the case is settled. We'll know more in two months.

The season and a long hot summer are behind us. Almost all pigeons have started the big molt and a large group of fanciers have the end in the mouth so to speak and are happy that it is over. For the great champions, or rather the men who still have a good pace in the hall, it may continue for a while. Most have given up the courage that was evident from the participation in the ZCC (my game area). On the program was the semi national competition from Fontenay, around 500 km. This flight also counted for the young pigeon championship in the ZCC. Last winter that was decided but experience taught me that this flight does not appeal to most fanciers. Why? Probably too late in the season and there is a big difference between semi-national and national. Semi national means that four different sectors are flown, or rather four flights each with a different release point. In the ZCC 17 fanciers participated who brought 238 pigeons to the start and 7 fanciers did not win a prize. That same day there was another flight with 47 participants and 16 of those did not appear in the results.

Because the national competition from Orleans was withdrawn for youngsters from the calendar the four sectoral competitions were replaced. The past weekend it was that far again. In Sector 1 704 fanciers started with 8527 pigeons, sector 2 had 738 participants with 14.516 pigeons, in 3 there were 1044 fanciers with 14.422 pigeons and in sector 4 there were 12.019 pigeons from 999 fanciers. In total 3485 fanciers participated, that's a nice number and the more than 57.000 pigeons is something that appeals to the imagination. Suppose they were in 1 competition that would be even better. A national competition from the same release point will appeal to the participants even more so that the participation will be considerably higher. Despite these nice numbers I have to conclude that only 20% of all Dutch fanciers have participated in these sector competitions. That is very little and says enough.
You would immediately be tempted to say that the birds of prey or perhaps the high voltage wires, the weather, the air pollution, the tropical heat or all sorts of other things, it will all be. Without you realizing it you will discover more and more that our biggest enemy is the age, I am experiencing that more and more. For years I flew through the lofts as it were and at a record pace I had everything clean. I like clean lofts because the pigeons look even more beautiful. Now that I am getting older, or rather old, the enthusiasm drops to clean the lofts every day, even though I have decided to keep fewer pigeons. However, it is the case that within the pigeon sport the law of large numbers counts enormously. I saw that last weekend again on a result of a sectoral flight. As a fancier I usually only look at the first sheet of the result and then I see again and again that the men with many pigeons are the most eye-catching. That is no longer possible for someone with 15 pigeons in the race. The electronic observation also contributes to this. Give a bath every week and at least once a week fresh vegetables, it keeps on increasing. It is all a bit too much and that is absolutely at the expense of the results. The point is therefore that in old age you still have to invent a proper care system so that with a minimal effort you still occasionally have a pigeon in the top of the result. That keeps you going and also ensures that you stay motivated. The aging process continues and without noticing we go back a step backwards every time unfortunately. Most important is to continue to enjoy your hobby. However, if you are used to always playing with the best and that less and less succeed the fun ends. Conclusion; growing old has more disadvantages than benefits, at least that's how I think about it.

Frankly I like surprises but there is an exception and that happened to me during the third natour race. On Thursday it was decided that the pigeons should not be basket on Friday but on Saturday. Throughout the summer we enjoyed or had trouble, it is just how you look at it, of the often tropical temperatures. This time Pluto was bothering us, heavy rains and thunder caused our managers postpone the flight for a day. Saturday night we had to go to the room and that's why the pigeons came home on Sunday. It turned out to be a good decision afterwards despite the fact that several flights were still going on Saturday. On Sunday we had the most beautiful weather in the world but there was a catch. It was indicated that it was windless during the release and also in our garden you could not see a leaf on the trees. This time no influence of the wind so it became a race of which we say "own speed" that comes down to around 80 km per hour. My supporters were not there yet and because the weather was nice and sunny I told my wife that I was already sitting in the garden. I did not count ten times when, according to me, there was a pigeon in the loft. Because I could not see it properly I decided to look up. There were already more on the loft and there were also some in the loft. Early in the morning I had turned on the clock, the valves open and everything else in order. I could not believe my eyes, they were barely one and a half hours away and the distance was 155 km. How is it possible I ran into muttering myself, incredible, cannot and even more of those surprised cries. But they were there and the boss was clearly surprised and at the same time disappointed. There were eight in a minute gone inside. Big question that always will remain unanswered what time would the first have been. I sat almost four minutes after my son who was first and flies 1 km shorter. So I did not care much I thought but that was wrongly thought. It was an incredibly fast flight with speeds of just over 100 km per hour so they must have had the wind on the tail. Against 13.060 pigeons I started with the 697th place, then you still have more than 12.000 behind you. Who thinks so deceives himself, in competitive sports it is about how much you have for you. If you are second you have delivered a great performance but you have lost. The flight that I expected so much was a huge damper for me. Soon forgotten and the natour championship I can also forget now that we have only two flights to go. A disappointing end of the season 2018. Fortunately there are also plenty of nice memories so I can look back with satisfaction on a super sunny year with and a number of absolute highlights. You must remember that and forget the rest soon.

For a large part of the racing season I have been busy braking the molt which keeps the aerodynamics intact. That has succeeded for a large part. My youngsters are now still on 7 pens, the old birds on 4 and the breeders on 2. The racing pigeons have only dropped some cover feathers when they were only paired for the last five races. After 10 days of breeding that is stopped and now they have bald young in the nest the molt is as good as quiet. If the youngsters is away in two weeks they will start the tail molt immediately. The middle feathers let them fall first and when the one outer is fully grown they are also ready with the big molt. With the youngsters that will take some time, I assume that in December that job will be done. Maybe there are some who have an old flights, my experience is that it goes out as soon as they have been brooding or even during breeding. The person who observes his pigeons well can see whether the molt is going well or not. Young pigeons become adults and usually become somewhat stronger. Unfortunately it sometimes happens that youngsters have problems with the molting. I see that as a kind of weakness, perhaps too reckless or too much played. Pigeons that struggle to get through the molting I absolutely do away. Last winter I decided to keep fewer racing pigeons. I started with 12 couples and there are 11 of them, in that respect a nice result. However those 11 couples have not all met the demands of the boss. There must be 5 couples away and that while I am so glad that I only lost two pigeons. It is never really good, you lose a lot of it, you are disappointed, you do not lose a lot then you are faced with the problem that you still have to clean up some. It is my intention that in 2019 I will start again with 12 couples, divided into 12 yearlings and 12 years old.

My youngsters took the champion title just like last year and pigeons that perform well and are therefore in a good condition are not easily lost. I still have 30 but only 12 can stay. Maybe 14 but that means that only 10 old can stay. I absolutely do not deviate from my point of view, breeding boxes add certainly does not happen. With the youngsters there are about six or so which I can say goodbye quite easily, but then. Then a number of sleepless nights will follow, because who else needs to get out. Maybe there are still a few who can get a place in the breeding loft. Breeders who have not given anything for years is not that difficult the problem is that I have been working on it for years. This means that Marco and I have breeding pigeons that we are keen on, despite that some older ones will have to leave the younger breeders often have our preference. So there is an end to a season with very few losses, in other words we have (a lot) too many pigeons but certainly not all good, I wish I could say that. Selecting is always based on intuition with help from the result list. In our breeding loft are pigeons that have performed in such a way that they are well worth breeding and if that is not possible this year we will have to change some couples. When I had only a few breeding couples I changed them every year. I was never a fan of many pigeons and if you do not give the breeding pigeons a different partner you get too much of the same strain in your loft which makes it very likely that it will be too closely inbreed. You can breed the most beautiful pigeons in this way I think the quality will deteriorate in the long run and I have always been careful. Just a little longer and we do not have to worry about performance anymore, the period that will soon come is even more difficult. Who may and may not stay on. I wish you a lot of wisdom.

Wembley treated us again to top tennis, even a game of 6.5 hours just stans up. The Tour de France with two days in a row the Hollander Dylan Groenewegen as winner. The World Cup football with the highlight of the match France - Croatia. The gold heads have rightly won but Croatia was a revelation to many. The battle for the third place was won by neighboring Belgium who sent our English friends home empty-handed. And now it's a few days in a row enjoying the tough mountain stages in the Tour that finishes on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday. In addition the competition program for our pigeons is running at full speed, several races in a weekend and that each time with tropical temperatures and wind from the east so that the western resident fanciers are already in the advantage from the beginning of April. Fortunately, but we cannot control the wind and the weather conditions what would it become a chaos in the pigeon sport, you are most likely agree with that.

I think I have never experienced such a long period with so many summer days in my life. It is unprecedented and then you go on thinking at a given moment. We hear and read almost daily about global warming. The North Pole ice melts faster than ever before it really gets serious now. Even in the watery Netherlands the prolonged drought causes a lack of water. Something we Dutch can only imagine and because the Arctic ice melts the dikes in the Netherlands have to be raised because we live well below sea level. The Netherlands has always fought against the water, we have expertise enough. It is now a world problem and then we pigeon fanciers are busy when there is a dulled egg in the nest. How crazy do you have to be? Despite the tropical temperatures there are weekly flights for the youngsters until mid-September. The organization is gradually don’t know what to do with it. A flight has already been canceled and I wonder how we should proceed. Perhaps the only solution is to organize flights of up to 150 km. On the other hand we cannot be too careful either. There are countries where at temperatures of 30 degrees it’s normal to play and there are also countries where they only start play with pigeons when we are skating. It is as if the seasons are moving up and the pigeon sport will have to respond to that. Maybe there should be a summer break if the temperatures remain so high in the middle of the year. In any case there are planned for 2018 young pigeon flights until mid-September, we will see where the ship is stranded but with all these losses we cannot continue this way.

We now have three competition flights. In the weeks before my wife took them six times and between the flights they were taken away every Wednesday which I have never done before. As soon as the matches started it was done with bringing them away I then have absolute rest on the loft. For many years I have been darken young pigeons until the first week of June, this time to the first week of July. Last year I did that too and then and now (yet) I did not suffer from the coli contamination and that is a nice feeling. I find it terrible when the youngsters get coli they are really sick of it. My experience is that once they are better they can come with the best. So they do not suffer from it only in the period that they are ill they are really sick, vomit, dirty bad green oil like thin manure, poor appetite and drink far too much. Loft cleaning is then a very dirty job but I do it twice a day and then I go over there with the burner. I put the sick pigeons apart and give them only very little food and of course the coli cure from doctor van der Sluis in the drinking water. After a few days the suffering has been suffered again. The third flight on July 14 I had 30 with which 22 price to start with 6-7-8. If I manage to keep them as they are now it could be a very nice season. The losses are not too bad, only 2 old pigeons have not come back and to date I only lost 1 young pigeon. Let me beat that because we have just started the season is still long.

A very good acquaintance of mine from my time that I was a cyclist did running with a preference for the marathon. You do not want to know what a training job involves. I would not be able to do that maybe because I really dislike running/walking. Riding a bike for 6 hours is not as bad as running for 1 hour. Despite the heavy training of a marathon runner they only do two or three matches more is almost impossible to make. That is why I watched with great amazement at the flying program with which the marathon player can participate with his pigeons. In my opinion just absurd and if you want to participate in all these flights you have to own lofts full of pigeons. Most of these men also have lofts full, the big question is how many pigeons are involved that can handle such long distances. Coincidentally last week I saw two results of two marathon races that were held in the same weekend. Then the first thing I do is look at the names you read a lot in advertisements or on sales sites. It is sporadic that you encounter those greats in the head of the result. I did see one who had more than 80 pigeons on both races and did not play 15% prize. There was one very early and we will soon read a comprehensive report about y because of the top performance of that one pigeon the other loft mates have to raise a huge amount in the coming winter. I do not want you to withhold the marathon program, here they are; 15/6 St. Vincent; 22/6 Bordeaux; 23/6 Pau; 29/6 Agen; 6/7 Barcelona; 7/6 Dax; 14/7 St, Vincent and Agen; 20/7 Marseille; 27/7 Cahors and Perpignan. A number of flights are unloaded in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I assume that marathon pigeons can finish a maximum of 2 and at most 3 of these races. No one is obliged to take part in all flights, there are those who do. Perhaps there will be more participants if the number of flights is drastically reduced. When I view the results the number of participants is shockingly low. A good friend once said to me; do you know why some of those men have such a good name on those flights? I would not know, I said. That is because we program players do not participate, he said. Maybe he spoke the truth.

What a great spring we have had and also summer spoils us with radiant weather. High temperatures, plenty of sun and occasionally a strong east to north east wind. Great to sit back in a comfortable chair in a shady spot in the garden. That is enjoyment and we do not experience that often in the Netherlands. Rain is often a game breaker of various fun events. The world is changing, we have never had such long periods with beautiful summer weather. However this also has disadvantages because it has never been so dry. From above it is even asked to no longer spray the garden and to use water sparingly. Normally everything is in bloom and now the grass is as dry as hay, plants dry out and the fresh green is slowly disappearing. For the major sporting events it is especially for the spectators sublime again unfortunately for those who have to perform in different sports not so ideal. But unfortunately for the athlete that is also part of it.

The World Cup is the tournament of the surprises. Favorite countries are home now it is still between England, France, Belgium and Croatia. If you see this article it is known who will play the final. Frankly I award them all four titles but it does not work like that. We will fight until the last game. If I can make a forecast is the final between France-England. But who am I, because I have never won the football pool so to say that I have some view certainly not. If it is a nice final a lot of neutral supporters are satisfied and that's what’s is about.

There is still little to say about this. What struck us was the unfair behavior of the French by expanding Chris Froome. Unfortunately we know that the behavior of the French certainly when it comes to a foreign rider who has a chance to win the final victory. In the first stage it only became interesting in the last 10 km. Due to a crash, a number of favorites were already running a little behind. World champion Sagan showed in the final of the second stage that he behaves like a kamikaze pilot and does not move aside. After the team time trial the Belgian Greg Van Avermaet came in the yellow leader's jersey and that classification will certainly look very different now. Last Tuesday they went into the mountains after the first rest day and then the entire classification is turned upside down. Those are the stages in which you watch at the tip of your chair without you noticing it yourself.

Friday was not released. On Saturday morning at 9 o'clock the 15.000 Barcelona racers were allowed on their way home. Under ideal circumstances for the real long distance pigeons it became a murderous flight. For most pigeons it was not a simple task. The distance, the heat and the north-easterly wind prevented any pigeon from reaching the loft on the day of unloading. It became a race for the real go-getters. None of the participating pigeons could realize a speed of 1000 mpm. The international victory went to Belgium. Team Freddy de Jaeger from Knesselare clocked their winning pigeon LLOYD, a 3-year-old cock who arrived on Sunday morning at 10.14 and made a winning speed of 952 meters per minute (57 km per hour). In England it was again a national victory for Mark Gilbert, Windsor. In the Netherlands it was Bruin from Nieuwerkerk who had the fastest and in Germany the national victory went to Peter Nitsch from Boppard. At the moment it is not yet known what the outcome is of the world's most appealing multi-day long distance race. Very deep hats for all pigeons who have accomplished this heavy task.

The first official flight took place on 23 June. An early release was necessary to give the inexperienced pigeons the opportunity to be home for the worst heat. That only partially succeeded. The flight was not bad, but it was true that many pigeons came home over a large part of the day. A week later people did not dare to continue the flight. Again too hot for the youngsters who have already suffered much from the trip to the release point. The specially equipped pigeon trolleys are equipped with all modern gadgets. It is the inexperience of the youngsters who play tricks on them. The biggest handicap is drinking in the basket. Most of them have not realized yet. Added to this is the necessary stress because if you suddenly have to go home between thousands of pigeons some things have happened. On the first Saturday of July, just like the first flight, it was discharged at a distance of 110 km. Again early so that the pigeons were already home about nine. Very well done, for the beautiful it is for the fanciers something too early at least that is my opinion. I like to have the loft extra clean on Saturday morning, read newspaper, drink coffee and then take a seat in the garden and wait for the arrival of the first pigeons. There was no opportunity for these first flights. Too bad for me but good for the pigeons.

Marco was full of fire at the start of the season. He had it in his head that he would fly the whole competition during the speed races. It was not what he had counted on. Wait, he said as soon as the middle distance races begin. That too was not what he expected. For me it was about the same song. More than the 2nd championship on the speed was not there, also some nice results in the middle distance but I did not get the pigeons in the condition they need to get into the spotlight. Both we were going to shift our focus to the game with the youngsters. Unfortunately it was so warm that it was irresponsible to drive with the pigeons. Only a few days before the first flight it was, in my view, justified. Marco had no opportunity to do so because of busy work and skipped the first flight. We both participated in the past weekend. I played the first flight the 2nd and on the second flight even 1 and 2 while Marco claimed the 3rd place. Tropical temperatures are also expected for the coming flight. I have already proclaimed it several times; young pigeons have a harder time than the old ones. In any case, it is the case that they have to race in the hottest period of the year. Yet I participate because everything they learn in their birth year will benefit them later.

On Saturday 7 July the Tour de France started. The world's largest cycling spectacle for the 105th time and that same day were the arrivals of the Barcelona racers. For most of the 15.707 international pigeons (in 2009 there were still 27.669) this very difficult course is over while the 178 riders (22 teams of 8) still have three weeks of top sport which is certainly no fun at all but much to abandon. The World Cup is also nearing its peak. Surprises were enough, known football countries have long been home. As things stand at present probably Brazil is the biggest favorite and we Dutch are of course very curious what our southern neighbors the Belgians are going to bring and let us also our English friends do not forget because they are still in the race for the world title . France, Uruguay, Brazil, Belgium, England, Sweden, Croatia and the organizing Russia have qualified for the quarter finals that started last Friday.

You cannot open the paper or turn on the TV the press only pays incredible attention to the major international sporting events. Other sports hardly come into play. Regardless of which station or newspaper they write all the same, one tries to outdo the other with even larger letters which is actually a pathetic spectacle. Why in regional newspapers do not pay extra attention to regional sports. Here too football gets the most attention and other sports are a bit more involved. Does the editorial staff of the regional newspaper not realize that their subscribers are very interested in the regional region and sports news? Every sports association and of course other associations can certainly use some extra attention. As a pigeon fancier I get annoyed green and yellow in the attitude of my regional newspaper. Previously there were two and there was competition, now that they have merged the newspaper has the display right. For years there was a half-page every Tuesday in the newspaper with pigeon results. Everyone read it because everyone had a neighbor, family member, colleague or friend who was a pigeon fancier. So those results were read by a lot of people and they were talked about. The pigeon sport lived and knew many supporters. The newspaper no longer considers it important to report on this increasingly smaller group of pigeon fanciers. The youth has other possibilities, they are not interested in pigeon sport partly because there is no publicity anymore. The youth is inside the computer every day. The youth no longer moves, they become more and more robots become totally dulled. No, it goes completely wrong with many sports. In my environment one after the other merges. Clubs are becoming too small due to aging and insufficient accretion. For many clubs break even more difficult times. The flourishing club life unfortunately does not exist anymore and what have we elderly people enjoyed a lot of fun. That will never come back and what comes in its place I would not know. Probably everything will play out on the internet soon. Shops are closed, club buildings are being demolished and there is a new generation coming that do their shopping and all sorts of other things via the internet. I must not think that it will come this far and hope never to experience that situation.

The law of large numbers also applies in pigeon racing. It is still the case that the person who buys the most lottery tickets is also theoretically most likely to win a prize. It is no guarantee that the person who bets the most pigeons also wins the match or has the most pigeons in the result. What matters is that we fight each other with equal weapons in every branch of sport. I think more attention should be paid to that. Participants who use a lot of pigeons do nothing wrong in the Netherlands. The regulations do not provide that a maximum is bound. For many fanciers it is and remains an unfair feeling when you have to play 10 against 50 or 20 against 100. There are countries where this is arranged. Is not there a clean task for the FCI? Coincidentally I saw this week the club results of the Snelvlucht from Bodegraven. That is the club where Gerard and Bas Verkerk and Willem de Bruijn are members. Father and son Verkerk and also Willem de Bruijn are good acquaintances of mine, plus I have great admiration for them because they have played a leading role in the Dutch pigeon sport for many years. While looking at that result I had to think of the fanciers who play against these greats and get a beating every week. It was about the middle distance flight Melun. 12 members of this club had jointly deployed 336 pigeons and only 4 members managed to win a place in the result. Verkerk had 135 with it and had 46 in the results, the Bruijn played 35 prizes of the 87 pigeons, a member with 14 pigeons became 52nd and another member with 11 pigeons was 64th and 66th. The other 8 participants did not play a prize and that is often the case week after week. How will those 8 feel? What kind of fun do these people still enjoy in the pigeon sport? Something like that does not keep a person full. I then continued my search and came to a startling discovery that nearly 50% of the participating members won no prize in almost all clubs. Why do you think the membership is declining so fast. That is certainly not just the bird of prey.

In the early years when we still had several pigeon weeklies in the Netherlands there was a regular section every week "Where are our pigeons?". In that respect not much has changed. At that time there were many more fanciers and also many more pigeons. That has changed considerably. Our group is getting smaller and with that the number of pigeons. Flights with a disastrous course have always existed and that will remain so despite the modern equipment. Nature cannot be arranged so that this always remains an uncertain factor. Everyone is doing his best to stop the big losses of now only we do not know exactly how, it remains a big mystery. We cannot say that all the pigeons that were lost were not healthy. We cannot say anything about the quality or the transport, who knows it has something to do with the food or with the stay in the metal boxes or with the wrong ventilation in the cars. Air pollution is probably one of the biggest causes and we don’t now know what we can do about it. Pigeon sport, it does not get any easier.

For the club of long await this week the multi-day classic Barcelona is on the program. The cycling fanatics get their money as the Tour de France starts and football fans now get the most important and hopefully also the most exciting matches of the World Championship held in Russia. In addition the races for the youngsters started in the Netherlands plus the competition program for the old pigeons is in full swing. All sporting events that interest me enormously. I do not participate in Barcelona but I follow this appealing race from the beginning to the end. I have a lot of appreciation for the pigeons that are in the basket for almost a whole week before they can start their homeward journey. For days on end in the car eating and drinking and also for almost a week to do their needs in the basket, not just stretch their wings, maybe here and there a fight and then comes the day that they all have to cover more than a thousand kilometers for several glory of their boss. Let's not forget that somewhere on the way home you have to stay overnight and where do they do that. Not in a four star hotel, perhaps somewhere on a roof of a house on the silent heathland where life starts only late or they take place on a high church where every hour the clock strikes so that long sleep does not end up. Those pigeons are chased away so they can take an important advantage over many competitors. The weather plays an important role at this time of the year, it is never completely dark at night. With that clear weather and the wind from behind it is possible that many pigeons fly a large part of the night. Mist and rain are also possible because once they have been unloaded little more can be done. All elements that can make Barcelona so exciting. For me this kind of flight is far too far, I will sleep well that night, for sure that most Barcelona participants do not close their eyes that night. Am very curious who will write this marathon on his name.

I am already looking forward to that, three weeks of cycling at the highest level. Without other big rounds shortage remains the Tour de France the world's largest and most appealing cycling event. Cycling has become a real TV sport, something has to be done and it is immediately visualized. Niki Terpstra (NED) starts as one of the leaders. Once he started as an 8-year-old at the cycling club DTS where I was then chairman, you will understand that I am proud of him. He was already three times Dutch champion on the road with the professional cyclists, he is not a Tour winner but is capable of very much. However there are so many other toppers and, like other years, the battle to bring the yellow jersey to Paris will at most go between 5 participants. I can predict who that is, but there is no point in that. I am convinced that there will be several stages were the viewers sit on the edge of their seat.

Now that the first and second place are known in every group it really becomes serious. The chaff is so to say separated from the corn which means that the lesser football countries are home. Surprises were enough. The Moroccans have disappointed me the most and the Belgians have ended up in the list of contenders because of their two big victories. Argentina, England and Germany are still in the race and Croatia is doing extremely well up to now. I've seen most of the matches and in between there was time to take care of the pigeons. They behave as they should and I consider them great things in the coming weeks.
Last week, Chateauroux was on the program for me 668 km and I think that's too far. When I looked at the results I noticed that many fanciers who made their name on the overnight races had a lot of pigeons on this one-day classic. It was a fairly easy flight because within an hour all prize pigeons were at home. What stood out was the performance of the overnight players. Large numbers of pigeons and the big crowd did not qualify until the second half of the result. Some of those men clocked their first pigeon only 45 minutes after the winner and then I wonder how that is possible. Can these pigeons do not make high speeds at these distances, do they orient themselves so badly or do they really get going after they have 500 km behind them. The difference between these men and the program players is that they never ask each other what time they have clocked, they usually ask how much they have at home. Program players have nothing to do with homecoming, in principle every pigeon comes home. You have to have those who know how to class themselves several times on the first sheet of the result. But yes, tastes differ, let's keep it there.

There is so much talk about good pigeons, if you do not have them you do not count. I think there are a number of good pigeons in each loft. Pigeons that occasionally race in the list or even regularly do so are good pigeons or do I see that wrong? Most fanciers among us entertained weekly because some of their pigeons play a prize. For many the arrival of their pigeons is something to get goose bumps. However pigeon sport is a competitive sport and among the practitioners there are a lot that want to win at any cost. They even have a lot of money to achieve that. Too bad for them, but results and championships are not for sale, they are not in a box or bottle. To a large extent it is still the mental doping and that is the interplay between boss and pigeon. If that is good the results will come almost automatically. In addition you must have "excellent" in your loft. These are pigeons that can win at least three victories and the necessary top prizes in a season. Unfortunately there are few of them and you are a lucky if you have one or two of these supers in your loft. For many of us a dream but there are those who have a few of those clappers almost every year. I've had them too, but having had is an ugly word you have to have them now. I have enough good pigeons frankly I have been waiting for two years for one or two extras and I do not have much time anymore but it remains a fantastic hobby for me.

The season is running at full speed and like previous years there are more losers then winners. Fortunately there are also who play the tiles from the roof but I hear from different sides they also have to deal with setbacks. This means that there are already several fanciers who have given up the courage to play with old pigeons. They have already focused their arrows on the game with the youngsters. Even there, unfortunately, it does not succeed with the right preparation cause the high temperatures and the easterly wind. I write that for several weeks, believe me for our untrained youngsters that is far from ideal. Those who have driven the pigeons themselves have all had to deal with a huge setback at least once. Four, five times it goes well and then there is just one day that they come home all day plus a number is not coming back at all. I also hear those comments about the old pigeons and it is very striking that so many proven pigeons stay behind. Today I happen to speak to two fanciers who both lost their pigeons last Saturday that won the first prize against more than 2000 pigeons the previous week. Last week was the first training flight with the club for the youngsters. The weather was of that kind that only in the afternoon could be released. The course was abominably bad, many pigeons on the same day not at home. Today, Tuesday the second training flight and again it is so bad weather that the pigeons are being released close to home this afternoon. I did not give pigeons myself because I did not trust it again. My pigeons are ready in the basket so that I can immediately leave when the air breaks open. I will not drive as long as that is not the case. I say that I'm not going to drive but that is a bit of a big speech because I still cannot drive so as soon as the weather improved my wife Cora goes with the pigeons away. It is the first time and she does not go further than 8 km. Hopefully tomorrow again and also the following days I hope we can ride with them. Saturday the 23rd of June is the first race and I hope they are gone once or 7. After the first official flight there is no more driving. Then it is every Saturday race and through the week rest, but they go out twice a day for an hour. With me the youngsters look perfect while I hear from all sides that there is a lot of problems. Especially ornithosis and that is because every day the sun shines brightly and then especially the lofts with a lot of glass get problems. The sun burns all the oxygen from the lofts so I leave the roller blind on the south-west side. I shut out the sun just like in the southern countries. Sun is fine for humans and animals but can also be crazy. People should not lie too long in the sun and the pigeon loft better be a little darkened when the sun shines so brightly.

I am absolutely not a fan of the long distance flights. I follow them and have respect for the fanciers and their pigeons who perform well at great distances. My experience is that if something goes wrong it is mostly on the long distance races. In my opinion these flights get too much appreciation from the writing pigeon press. Is that because those pigeons know how to bridge large distances or because participation is so big or does commerce play an important role. The fact that these pigeons are able to bridge large distances is in my view not at all sensational. They are bred for it, at the short distance races they always come home much too late. They have a better endurance than the speed pigeons. Speed pigeons orient themselves faster and cause an explosion on the shorter distances and are soon return home. In my view the flights up to 450 km are undervalued in the press. There is always a bit of inferior talk about it, while those flights have the most participants. Last weekend the long distance players had the bad luck that on Saturday and also on Sunday they could not be discharged at the planned release point. Low-hanging clouds and mist were the cause. What to do? The board decided to go back Sunday to a distance of (for me) 335 km. There it was such weather that it was safe to unload the pigeons. It was also decided that the flight would count towards the long distance championship and that was against the agreements made. The agreement was that if it was not a good weather at the unloading place one would drive back to minimal (for me 387 km). Now I saw a fancier in the result that played 298 km, such distances you cannot count for the long distance. Long distance officially starts at 500 km. Anyway it is also not nice to let the pigeons fly for nothing.
Here we see again that in the winter months good thought has to be given to making arrangements because it has already happened several times that one regrets it in the summer months

A little while and then the game starts. Many fanciers look forward to it because they assume that everyone can play with young pigeons. So it was many years ago but also the game with the youngsters has become a specialized game. Look at the results later, then very different names come forward as we could read weekly in the snout of the results with the old pigeons. With me I see the youngsters becoming more and more mature. The young cocks try to court the ladies, nice to see how they dig out. The disadvantage is that the length of flying around the loft is less. The young stuff wants to enter the loft where they can lie down in a seat or on the ground to court. Only when the flights have started for them I will encourage them by creating some dark spots, the small breeding boxes will remain closed until then. Throughout the season, cocks and hens stay together and they can nest as much as they want. Nevertheless there are always a few unpaired youngsters that can achieve prefect results. Often they jostle themselves by being jealous of a couple that is somewhere to cuddle. As the weather looks now the youngsters will be basket again this afternoon for a short training flight.

This was preceded by the superhuman achievement of Chris Froome (UK). He, the big Froome went off on Saturday 26th May as a hare to wear after 80 km solo the rosé leader's jersey. After two weeks of tough races only one could win and that was Simon Yates (UK). Almost two weeks the rosé around his slender shoulders who could do something about it. After the individual time trial of 34.5 km Yates came completely deserted across the line. I told everyone who wanted to hear that the candle by Yates was burned out. Very sorry for him the fit was out of his body and two days later he was a big disadvantage and it became clear that there was nothing more to win for him. From that moment Froome became the biggest contender for the overall victory after Tom Dumoulin. Sure enough he performed it and nobody but no one could do anything against him either. Now he is one of the greatest people who managed to write all three big rounds on their behalf. Last year's winner had to settle for the second place. Let's see who is the best in the Tour de France. First the World Cup in Russia where the Netherlands is the big absent. In another big sporting event the decision was made that same weekend. Real Madrid and Liverpool had to decide who would win the Champions League. Real Madrid succeeded for the third consecutive time. Tasteful moments in that match were the blunders of the German Liverpool goalkeeper and the formidable nick of the Englishman Gareth Bale. An incredibly nice kick was a goal that the whole world has passed.

It is now June and that means that the fans of the long distance races are wide awake. Last weekend the first long distance races were on the program in the Netherlands. In Belgium a national long distance flight was started immediately from the famous relocation center Bourges. For me the distance is 620 km and that is a nice average distance for a national flight. The Belgians like to play nationally and do not take it so closely with the distances. On this first national Bourges the victory went to the Family 3D, a combination of three different fanciers. It was their hen Beatrix who was too quick to finish all 20.280 other competitors. They covered the distance of 390 km (in my view much too short for a national flight) with an average speed of 1275 meters per minute. As second came the famous champion formation Kurt and Raf Platteeuw, they had put 103 in. What did not work last year did succeed this time. The national results could be read on the internet two days after the race and that was fun for our Belgian sports friends because last year we had to wait for the right results for weeks. Hopefully the National Board members of the KBDB have gained some more friends because of this quick result.

The neutralization time has been a hot topic in the multi-day long distance races in recent years. I can still remember the time when people told us that pigeons cannot see anything in the dark. Then came the time that a pigeon arrived in the night hours. That could and did not exist, it was an incredible achievement. Those nocturnal arrivals occurred more and more. Was it cultivated or were the pigeons trained in the dark? it will certainly have something to do with it. An arrangement was made that was called "neutralization time". This wanted to prevent groups of fanciers from being completely eliminated. The world changed, small villages where a lamppost used to illuminate the village center are now much more and what to think of all the brightly illuminated advertisements. That is not only the case with the small villages, the big cities are a sea of light and it is therefore never dark in the summer. The quality of the pigeons is also getting better and in the summer months when most long distance races are being held, more and more pigeons continue to fly at night. Try to come up with an arrangement that everyone agrees with. It has gone (reasonably) well for a while until more opposition came. Another arrangement had to be devised. Many proposals have been submitted and the end of the song is that despite all good intentions the fans of the multi-day long distance are not next to each other. It will be quite a job to get the noses of the ZLU and KBDB managers in the same direction. This mouse certainly has a tail, so ... .. will be continued.

For Dutch standards we have beautiful weather every week. It is full enjoyment of the fresh green, everything is in bloom and the temperatures are sometimes not to last. Around our house is water and every day mother ducks with their children pass by. There are those who have started with 12 youngsters and now there are only 2 left. The herons and pike eat a good number of them every day, those little ducks are a real treat for them. Nature is hard on that matter. There are also many fanciers in the Netherlands who have lost the necessary young pigeons to the birds of prey. In our country there are absolutely too many birds of prey, beautiful animals that many people don’t get bored. As far as pigeon fanciers are concerned more urgent measures must be taken to keep the bird of prey population under control. As long as there is allowed to place nesting boxes for these killers in all kinds of places we are not at that problem for now. Why are pigeons not as protected as all birds of prey? Today finally a heavy rain shower and that was badly needed for our garden.

The old pigeons do it as desired but to be honest I expected more from them. In the club they are doing fine because every week at least two in the first ten is a dream for many. In the ZCC I still participate with the best, the long distance I skip. I now focus more on the game with the youngsters that starts on 24 June. Today I have them by Dr. Van der Sluis all vaccinated against paratyphus. They got a little bit of it. I did not release them that day and also the next day they stay inside. Next week the last speed flight and two weeks later the youngsters start. I currently have 35 to play with, that must be enough to resist at the highest level. The old pigeons get a few middle distance races to finish and now it is already known which pigeons get their last chance on the last five natour races. They are no longer on the old pigeon program. I do not leave them because they provide atmosphere in the loft and maybe the poorly performing pigeons are good enough to keep their neighbor sharp so they continue quietly with good performance.

I cannot speak for all Dutch pigeon fanciers but I can say how things are going on the west side so far. The weather will not let us down until last Saturday. However, this year every week east wind and you know everything about it because I've already written so many times so that it is annoying at the end. I have already written that we can arrange a lot in our sport except the weather, the wind and the location. Unfortunately the majority of the Dutch pigeons could not be released on Saturday May 19th. Especially in Belgium and the south of the Netherlands it was outright bad, with such weather you would not even leave your dog outside. The annoyance of all that was that all pigeon fanciers families who had made an appointment to do something fun on whit Sunday that had to blow off. However there was enough time on Saturday to follow the tough mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia. It was a magisterial victory for the great English champion Chris Froome who showed that he certainly is not without a chance and that he is most likely going to make a throw at a podium place. Today 22-5 in the 34.5 km long time trial he clearly showed that he was still among the contenders. It is going to be an exciting last week with three more mountain arrivals. Biggest contender is Simon Yates, although I thought he was over the mark today after the time trial. However he is in super shape and therefore still the big contender for the final victory although we certainly cannot write off Tom Dumoulin, Pozzovivo and Froome. On Sunday it was again for the cycling fans to enjoy Simon Yates who drove the entire peloton on his own. On Monday there was a day off and that was also a great opportunity for the fanciers to lick the wounds. There were quite a few stayed behind and from different sides I heard that the pigeons were very thirsty. Here and there even pigeons were fished out of the water, thirsty and then no more power to fly up again from the water. My son Marco missed 7 hens in the evening and I still 3. Typically that it was predominantly hens. From a good friend I heard that his best pigeon was not back on Tuesday. A pigeon that already won two victories against a few thousand pigeons this year, you do not want to lose such a pigeon. In my opinion the pigeons were unloaded too late. At 10.30 am for a race of almost 400 km with a hot north wind turns out to be too heavy task for many pigeons. To the pigeons that were on time at home you could clearly see that they should have put on a lot. Even on Tuesday morning I had to drive two cocks out of the loft and that says something.

The middle distance races that can be so beautiful have many participants but among them there are already some that will throw the towel in the ring. In that respect we fanciers must have a very strong character to participate in the next race after such a bad race. I had secretly thought to participate in the one day long distance but still look away from it. In the first place because I only participate with very few pigeons, secondly because I lost three hens and thirdly I find 520 km with again north wind and very high temperatures not a flight that I look forward to. This weekend the one-day long distance races start and we also have the last speed flight of about 220 km. That should be good, especially if the pigeons can get out early. It is not that warm yet and usually the wind is not that strong either. I do in any case participate to keep my second place for the speed championship. How Marco thinks about is to guess if you have handed in 6 hens on a flight. It is not an excuse but he is currently too busy. Fortunately his own home furnishing business requires a lot of time, then he has been in the middle of a renovation of his own house for a long time plus that he has a family and is also crazy about his grandchildren. I used to be so fanatical that the pigeons almost always came first. It was a nice time but if I have done it all just right that you should ask my wife.

I currently enjoy a lot of fun with my youngsters. They are as healthy as a fish and therefore they do things that every pigeon fancier likes to see. They eat like madmen, they train like idiots, when I call them they call in as kamikaze pilots, the manure is to eat so nice, they are still darkened 13 hours a day. If that remains the case the competition will find people at home. For the moment I am very enthusiastic. We all know that something can happen from one day to the next. I am already hesitant to cancel the eclipse because a few weeks later you can have a chance of a coli outbreak or even worse. Those who read other pigeon magazines know that they have a lot of problems with the adeno virus in some countries and unfortunately that is often fatal for youngsters. When I release my youngsters in the morning and I go out of the loft to see where they are I do not see one anymore. This morning they returned in small groups. On the one hand I like that but on the other hand you have a problem with feeding. It did no harm to them because tonight they flew again that it was a sweet delight. What is pigeon sport than a wonderful hobby, unfortunately our sport also has to deal with many setbacks. You know those situations, fully enjoy the pigeons and then suddenly a sickness outbreak or a heavy flight so that a number of pigeons have become totally out of shape. This week my youngsters get their chip ring and on June 4 we start in the club with the first training flight. Before that time I have been away with them for at least three times. I certainly do not go further than 30 km. All very successful but you know nothing goes spontaneous

Both have my interest and I like to compare them. Currently we are with the pigeons at the 8th stage and in the Giro d'Italia they have today the 10th stage. The Englishman Yates rides in the rosé leader's jersey, the Dutchman Tom Dumoulin who defends his title is in the general classification in second place and the great English favorite Chris Froome is still looking for his right form. As for the pigeons we cannot grumble about the weather. So far fine weather to wait for the pigeons and that is also an important part of our hobby. Cozy with all in the garden enjoying the beautiful spring weather with the tension of the arrival of the pigeons. Every afternoon I watch the Giro match report if possible. As far as cycling is concerned I leave no possibility untouched to follow the many races that are present today. Cycling has become a real television sport. If anything happens it is broadcast immediately, which can be a demurrage, a crash or great nature shots of the beautiful Italian landscape. Especially the mountain stages are fascinating and attract a lot of public. Do you know that the possibility exists to follow the pigeons during their home trip. I doubt the pigeon sport become more interesting by that the surprise element is completely gone. However, it is important that you continue to research the behavior of the pigeons during short and very long flights. The pigeons and cycling have a lot in common. We pigeon fanciers are the team leaders of our pigeons, but also the mechanic and the doctor. Just like in cycling we have to ensure that some of our team's athletes are among the first. The different distances in the pigeon sport are comparable with the stages in important cycling races. For example in both sports winners can arrive solo or in a leading group and it can also be the case that the winner has to come out of the bunch sprint. In both branches of sport weather conditions can play a very important role on the game element.

These races with distances of 300 to 500 km are seen by many fanciers as the most beautiful distances and have the largest participation. Last Saturday we had the first race in a series of six. For me the distance was 334 km, the pigeons were released at half past eight and there was a calm southeast wind that usually produces a surprising race. This was also the case this time. On the North Sea coast the pigeons made a speed that was 100 meters per minute higher than on the eastern IJselmeer coast. The speed that the first pigeons made was higher than we expected because in the garden the weather seemed very calm. There we noticed nothing of the wind and therefore wet had the speed wrongly estimated. We expected that the fastest pigeons would arrive at about a quarter past eleven at my distance. None of these, at 10.53 am the first ones were there and made a speed of 100 km per hour and within 20 minutes all prize pigeons (that is 25% of the participating pigeons) were at home. I got a hen in front who was my second pigeon the week before. I do not play with her cock, that is a summer youngster of 2017 who has never been in the basket. Perhaps here a proof that it is important that the pigeon knows that the partner is waiting when he comes home. I have the idea that hens are better off that the partner is not there when they come home from the race. With cocks it is as if they are disappointed when the wife is not there. Fortunately there are plenty cocks that perform well on widowhood and set several times a good performance.

In the winter months the flight schedules for the next season are determined. I have the feeling that they throw the cap in North Holland. Last year relocation was changed with great regularity. Now that is the case again, of the seven flights we have already been unloaded four times at another location. The last time it was really laughable. This time the unloading place was not changed because there was an annual fair or fun fair at the unloading place, no one changed because on Saturday sometimes an east wind could blow and then there is the possibility that there are pigeons above the sea with all the consequences. In the UK and Ireland the pigeons fly weekly over the English Channel and the Irish Sea and then I do not even talk about the Canaries islands where many fanciers live and the pigeons are discharged at sea each week. This is also often the case with the pigeons that live on the island of Malta. They have a really hard time because there are no other options. My experience is that in the Netherlands pigeon races with east or southeast wind always have a strange course and in young pigeons races it is even the case that the losses are gigantic. But to change flights for old pigeons because of predicted easterly wind that is going too far. Despite that change it turned out to be a strange flight. We can arrange a lot inside the pigeon sport except for the weather conditions and the pigeons' traits that they do themselves. This Saturday is the second middle distance race and next week we have the last speed flight and also the first one day long distance race.

Because of the beautiful weather and the calm south-easterly wind the pigeons were earlier in the lofts than their bosses. Many fanciers had gone wrong by the speed. I started extra early cleaning the lofts in short I had everything ready in time for the pigeons to come. From a sun-drenched garden I called my son Marco to talk about what we could expect from this game. Frankly my expectations were not so high because I found that the pigeons from mid-week did not pick up the food quickly enough. Pigeons have to be able to eat quickly and at the end of the week that may be slightly less because they are well prepared for the upcoming race. Their behavior was fine, the manure was nice there was down in the loft but eat they did very badly. I imagine that I have pigeons long enough to know how to feed them and I was not satisfied. While on Saturday morning I had my son Marco on the phone there arrived a pigeon in his loft. He had not seen her come and when the clocks were emptied he turned out to be justly beaten for the first prize. I then had to wait two minutes before I got a pigeon. For me it was not so bad because both of us got two in the top ten and that's all weeks. I do my best to get an old-fashioned beautiful series, I'll keep you informed.

During the competition season there is every week a lively discussion about location and wind it is a hot item. In the case of westerly winds the east side has the advantage and the west side in the east wind. If the wind comes from the north there is benefit for the for flight (shortest distance) and in the south wind there is benefit for the most northern (longest distance) living fanciers. In most cases that is true but we never have security. On the 5th of May we had a flight where all theories fell apart. There was nothing to be said about the weather. In Belgium the wind was blowing from the south-east and in the Netherlands he was right east and certainly not the fanciers from my playing area are happy with that. Our pigeons that often come home on the western side of the Netherlands have a beautiful orientation line on the Dutch coast. It has to blow very hard the pigeons want to blow inland so that our western participants so to speak often lie on the first teat. Last Saturday nothing of that theory was correct. While we and some fans were waiting for the pigeons there was of course a lot of philosophizing about how the flight would take place and where the fastest pigeons would arrive. Speed was also discussed extensively. If it was correct that the pigeons in Belgium were discharged with southeast wind then speeds of 120 km per hour were possible. We were informed that the wind in the south of the Netherlands was east and that is pushing the speed. Because of the beautiful weather with a cloudless sky, I think that is not ideal for pigeons and certainly not for youngsters, our pigeons were already released at 8.15 am and the distance for me was 243 km. I took into account 90 km per hour which was estimated too high. The temperature rose very quickly and the humidity was very low. The boss got soon a need for a soda during the wait, it was still too early for a beer. The pigeons were facing the same problem. In short, in our opinion it was an ideal situation for the western living fanciers. Soon the place name Zandvoort fell a beautiful seaside resort on the North Sea where at one of the shortest distances live strong fanciers. We soon agreed that the fastest pigeons would arrive there, I do not think so! It became a race in which many fanciers had the opportunity to clock an early pigeon. How that is possible is still a mystery to me. Relatively speaking in my playing area most early pigeons fell while we live in the middle of the province. Even the eastern fanciers achieved excellent results. The story that with the east wind the western fanciers the whole competition pulling towards itself went this time not on. We see once again that theory and practice can sometimes be very far apart.

The speed flights are almost over. There will be one on the program for 26 May, the same day the first one day long distance race will take place. This weekend the middle distance flights will start of which we also have 6. My son Marco has his mind set on the middle distance but also on the short distance, he knows how to play his game well. He beat his father last weekend. Marco started with 1 and 3 and Dad had to settle for the 4th place against 333 pigeons. Pa takes second place in the intermediate classification. In place 1 is a fancier who has three absolute top pigeons. Every week the pigeons are there and very early too. It must be an experience to have a few of such toppers in your loft. Honestly I do not have such pigeons the last two years but ...... the season is long and who knows which pigeons are still in the spotlight. I have seen it more times that in the middle distance only pigeons emerge that at the speed only a few mediocre prices flap together. The miracles are not yet out of this world and I have the idea that two hens are still going to surprise me. I am not dissatisfied with the results of my pigeons. Every week Marco and I catch two or even more at the top 10, the series should in my eyes be much better. The pigeons look good so I think they should follow each other faster. Unfortunately I do not succeed with that but also with most fanciers, the price percentages are too low. There are also a couple that rattling quickly behind each other in a row but that has to come with me. Also because I play with much less pigeons now and the law of the big numbers always plays an important role, also in the pigeon sport.

On 26 April a conversation took place between the Province of Antwerp and the NPO at the KBDB office in Halle (B). Point of discussion was the unloading of pigeons within the Province of Antwerp for which no permission was granted. That agreement has been running for a long time but in practice it appears that the Dutch fanciers, playing together and things like that do not adhere to it. There is an agreement that only on Wednesday Saturday and Sunday may be released. There must be a permit issued and there may only be released in the presence of a mandatary (director) of the Belgian Federation. So-called wild discharges (without a license) have caused losses of Belgian youngsters many times within the Province of Antwerp. Belgian fanciers are asked as soon as they see a truck unloading pigeons somewhere to take a picture of it including the license plate. Appointment is appointment so do not do it anymore.

Through Pipa we heard that at the end of the year a total sale will take place of the well-known Belgian champion Gaby Vandenabeele due to health problems (pigeon lung). The season 2018 is finished and then the canvas falls. Very sad because we cannot miss such champions.

I cannot say that it was a gamble to unload the pigeons last Saturday. At the release place excellent weather but the closer the pigeons came to the house the worse it became. Heavy low-hanging clouds and heavy downpours caused the competition remain open for too long despite the strong southwest wind. Races of 180 km must be completed within a few minutes. Now it took 25 minutes before all prize pigeons were at home and that is far too long. The fastest pigeons went 108 km per hour or 1790 meters per minute. It was all in all a typical flight. Most fanciers got the wrong pigeons in front and their signed pigeons failed in many cases. Some fanciers clocked more than 50% of their pigeons in the results but most did not. Fortunately there were few to no stragglers. Because the flight has a strange course you start thinking about what it can be. Could it be the loading of the cars? The agreement is that our entire department resolves all the pigeons at once. No problem but it can become a problem if all pigeons are distributed over the available space so that it is possible that the pigeons living on the east side come in the car where most of the pigeons are from the west side. It is precisely on the short speed flights that this can adversely affect the competition. Another possibility is the weather. For Sunday was very bad weather predicted with great chance of heavy gusts of wind, rain showers that could cause a lot of flooding, hail and thunder. That all came true because in Belgium and southern Netherlands the police and fire brigade fell short because of the enormous flooding and burning houses that had been struck by lightning. I am not saying that as a result the flight from Saturday was a strange course. However, I have already experienced several times that we were waiting for the pigeons with good weather and that it was a flight with a disastrous course. There are then situations in the atmosphere that we as humans cannot observe while our pigeons have major problems to orient themselves. Who knows that the predicted weather for the Sunday already on Saturday the pigeons confused.

On Saturday morning our pigeons were already on their way to the Zaanstreek at 9.15 am. The release point was the same as the week before. The release message indicated that the pigeons had a quick departure and there was a moderate southwest wind. In my area it was completely windless so I assumed 90 km per hour which meant that the pigeons could arrive at 11.15 hours. It was a good thing that my regular fans were on time to watch the arrival of the pigeons because at 10.57 o'clock a yearling cock was diving at a huge speed inside. It had to be an early one, you can just see that in the enormous haste that a pigeon has. I was completely surprised but then it took 8 minutes for my second and third pigeon to burst into the loft at the same time. Then it was a long wait again. The winning pigeon was no fluke he had already registered twice this season and now he took the victory against 1569 pigeons. As a youngster he was also the best and became a champion pigeon. Let's hope he can continue his good series. His sire is a grandson of my famous Sprint Pair who won 12 first prize winners and his mother is a granddaughter of the European Cup couple who won 16 first prize winners.

In the early years of the pigeon sport the pigeons were transported in wicker baskets. That tradition is still being continued in pigeon country Belgium. They are baskets that are still being pulled open by hand. But also in Belgium they do not sit still and go along with modern developments. Because the pigeons are no longer shipped by horse and wagon but with modern trucks they have also switched. Especially for pigeon transport developed cars equipped with the latest gadgets become from now on only on plastic boxes allowed. In the Netherlands these are still the aluminum boxes where about 25 pigeons can be sent. Belgium opts for the unit of transport so that the fancier cannot feel disadvantaged when their pigeons are not placed in plastic boxes. Hopefully a problem less.

The pigeon market in Lier is probably known about the entire pigeon world. For years thousands of pigeon friends went to the market in Lier during the first winter months of the new year. In the freezing cold thousands of youngsters were offered and from many countries fanciers traveled by bus to the biggest pigeon market in the world. Bird flu and the declining number of fanciers sometimes caused panic situations. It sometimes looked as if the Lier market no longer had a right to exist. Fortunately there is an initiative to place a bronze pigeon in the middle of the big market in Lier. The Municipality agrees but does not guarantee that it will pay the 20,000 euros that the bronze statue has to cost. As a result, "de Heren van Lier" founded in 1973 started with a nice initiative. They place in one of the most famous pigeon cafes a large glass bottle in which the pigeon friends can lose their loose euro cents so they hope to be able to finance the statue. The last market day of 2018 took place on April 29 and the slogan for the bronze statue is: "Give your copper money, you will get a bronze statue".

To perform well in any sport an unbridled effort is required. Those who cannot deliver that are as good as hopeless. Real toppers have no problem to use the full 100%, with that deviation they are born. Nothing is too much for them to achieve their stated goal and that is also within the pigeon sport. Here the condition of the fancier may be a tad less bad he must be in the right form to take care of his pigeons perfectly. For those who do not want to win at all costs it is not so precise and unfortunately most of them. Not bad at all, maybe they still enjoy more of their pigeons than the ones who go every week for the victory. They have to, others are already happy when they occasionally catch an early pigeon. I have always been enormously driven, actually still but a bit different. In order to perform well you must be able to tell yourself that you have done everything to put the pigeons in an optimal condition so that you cannot blame yourself for a disappointing result. As soon as I made a result that was not to my liking I went harder against it. Yet you always remain dependent on a number of factors. Especially on the speed races everything has to be in order to finish in the snout of the result. We all know how important this is on flights with a short distance, location and wind direction play a very important role. But also the place in the car and with whom. In my game area we drive with fairly large cars in which up to 250 boxes with 26 pigeons can be loaded. They must be equipped with a perfect ventilation system. It is a huge difference whether your pigeons are in the top of the car or at the bottom. If you have ever been in such a large pigeon container you know how warm it can be there especially at the top. The +/- 5000 pigeons that are transported produce a huge amount of heat. They already have a body temperature of 42 degrees and since the warm air rises upwards the pigeons can sit better at the bottom. Unfortunately that is not possible, but it is advisable that this is taken into account when loading the transport trolleys so that the same associations are not always above or below the car. It even makes a difference whether you are in front or behind the car because the baskets do not all open at once and since every second is one, in the short races it counts. However let us not make that problem bigger then it is. What is very bad what happened to my association. In the Zaanstreek, that is the area where I live, we have a beautiful ensemble. This year it appears that on the first three flights the baskets of our association are loaded in another car than the other ZCC associations. Something like this makes you almost without chance on flights up to 200 km.
Obviously there was a lot of commotion about this unfortunately a correct solution has not yet been found

Whether the baskets of our club may or may not at the other ZCC cargos are in the car makes fortunately for the club result no difference. This time there were 310 and father and son take the two fastest of them. A nice result for which we are working all week. You see, commitment is rewarded. It was a nice flight, unfortunately my first signed failed. In the evening I saw that he missed his half tail. Cause? Probably a bit faster than the bird of prey. Within 8 minutes the prices on this 180 km flight were earned, despite the northeast head wind the fastest pigeons still made 77 km per hour. The next weekend we will go 50 km further. It is to be hoped that not too many fanciers keep it up. Once we had 450 in the ZCC, this year only 74 participated on the first flight, a week later 70 and this time 68. Too bad, it is a pity that in this way the once beautiful pigeon sport dies a slow death. Who knows, this year the fairly new national board will come up with a good plan to interest several people for the pigeon sport, I heartily give it to them.
Some time ago our national board (NPO) started its own newsletter. A great initiative to pass on the (important) federation notifications to as many as possible members digitally. The members are given the opportunity to subscribe to this newsletter by just passing on their email address. It is a shame that at the head office they are screaming for a copy. Volunteers are asked to pass all kinds of news from the associations. With this I think they have missed their goal. A newsletter from the national central administration should not be filled with data from all kinds of exhibitions or reports from youth members who have visited lofts. With this the effect has disappeared and the national newsletter has been written with club activities and that is not why he was created for. The name of the newsletter is UP TO DATE, which means that the NPO board keeps its members informed of new developments at national and international level. What they are doing now I do not like, but who am I? I wanted to drop this anyway because in my opinion were the gentlemen started very well and now with the changed newsletter slip just like the number of members into the abyss.

This year the ZLU exists for 60 years. This Dutch organization has been successfully working for the extreme long distance game all these years. Partly because of this jubilee and because the international race from Agen / Bordeaux is held for the 40th time, this race gets a festive character. The pigeons are released on June 29. The release point is now 17 km to the south and will take place at the Hippodrome Beaumont de Lomagne.

The manager of the high-voltage wires in Belgium is going to make a big change in marking these dangerous wires. The bulbs applied for air traffic do not serve as a warning mark for birds. Every year 170.000 to 500.000 birds fly against the high voltage wires including many racing pigeons. The new marking is a kind of large spiral that can be mounted on the wires at a short distance from each other. This will take some time. An attempt is made to first provide the wires on the important flight paths with this new marking.

In our ensemble the mighty ZCC played plus minus 450 fanciers against each other. This was for the Zaanse fanciers a very important game. A few thousand pigeons flew each week in a fairly small area. The short and middle distance game, not to mention the youngsters, had the most participants. Because all those fanciers lived close together it was about seconds. Three laps around the loft cost at least 50 places in the result. Playing 1-2-3 was almost an impossible task, I'm talking now about the time we clocked with the rubber rings. Before you had stripped three pigeons off their rings just thirty seconds had been tagged away. Now there are mega lofts that tackle 20 or more in half a minute, tackle is not the right word because we do not need to do anything about it. Every week we had 15 winners within the ZCC because we had 15 clubs at the time and there was an extensive report in the regional daily newspaper every week. Now we only have 4 winners every week because the number of clubs has dropped to four which is not interesting anymore for the newspaper and that is a shame. In the time that we had 14 winners there were also the same number of second and third prize winners and all that was read by family members, neighbors, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. There was a lot of talk about the pigeon sport. It was a popular sport that had many admirers. It is all over, it is as if the pigeon sport is being ignored by the press. There is only 1 pigeon magazine in our country and those people are doing their best to make something of it. Unfortunately the news coverage does not go beyond its own members. The layman will not know anything about pigeon racing in the future. The youth is not interested, they have many more possibilities that are not so expensive and time-consuming. With astonishment I watched the results of the first flight of this season. Only 74 participants in the entire ZCC. I could not believe my eyes, I read it three times but it stayed 74 and not one more. The second flight there were that still 70 and how will it look in six weeks. Will we still get the 50?

In the whole of our country is probably golf the only sport which is increasing. Several other clubs have to forced merge with as result renowned clubs disappear from the stage. You wonder what all those members do who have said goodbye to their sport. I read in the newspaper today that only 15% of youth regularly play outside. In the time that I belonged to the youth that was over 70%. In today's youth, also called back seat generation, there is not that much spirit. They are taken everywhere and picked up again, walking or cycling is no longer possible. They are massively at home behind the computer and are upset with all kinds of lugubrious game games that make them far too little physical exercise. This is becoming a big problem worldwide. Far too many children eat wrong become way too heavy, have no sense, become lazy and lose their condition. If we do the same with our pigeons not much will end up. Healthy eating, a regular life and sufficient exercise every day ensures a good physical condition. Then you do not need a pill for anything, that will come later when you really get very old.

A known pigeon doctor in the Netherlands is Dr. Hans van der Sluis from Kockengen near Utrecht. As long as I have pigeons he is my vet. He has his own medicine line and because I have every confidence in him I use his medication. Do not ask me what those medicines are made of, I know nothing about it and do not want to know it either. If my pigeons have coli I use his medication, against paratyphus he vaccinate my pigeons, against ornithosis I give his cure. In short he has developed medicines against all pigeon diseases and if necessary I use them. Fortunately there are some specialized pigeon doctors who can protect our pigeons against various diseases and they have medication against almost all diseases that can occur in our lofts. This week I noticed the wonderful result that Hans van der Sluijs and his assistant Stefan Gobel have achieved on the first speed flight. From the Belgian Minderhout with a participation of 2007 pigeons, whereat 56 of both white jackets, the result was as follows: 1-2-3-4-5-7-14-16-22-23-24 total 34 prizes. What is more beautiful to have a pigeon doctor who also plays fantastic.

All members and affiliated associations of the National Belgian pigeon organization (KBDB) have been informed that Article 56 of the national sports regulations is strictly applied so that everyone must meet the set requirements. Fanciers who own several clocks must offer them all during basketting. The clocks must be provided with the stamp recognized by the KBDB. Pigeons that are clocked on clocks that are not provided with that seal are not included in the results. Clocks whose seal cannot be identified must be presented again for inspection.

In the Netherlands is last year pigeon sport recognized as a national heritage. This means that our sport is protected for posterity. In Brugge (B) a national heritage day was organized on 21/22 April which the pigeon sport also received the necessary attention. Furthermore there was a continuous exhibition about everything that has to do with the pigeon sport. Interesting lectures were also held on the pigeon sport now and in the past. Good idea to organize something like that in other countries. The pigeon sport can use some extra publicity.

Saturday April 14 had to wait until half past one before the pigeons were allowed on their way home. Heavy clouds and mist at the unloading place. The wind was blowing from different directions. Yet, just like last week, it was the most westerly lofts that made the top rankings. In the big interplay of the ZCC with almost 2000 pigeons it went reasonably well. In our club son Marco had the fastest, I had to settle for a 7th and 11th place against 340 pigeons.

The first speed flight of this season showed huge differences. This winter it was assumed by majority vote that the pigeons from Noord-Holland (section 6 of the NPO) all flights would be discharged together. The first flight was hardly over or the disappointed fanciers let their voices immediately hear. It was not a style to unload 20,000 pigeons at once. You should not nag afterwards. This decision has been passed by a majority and if that has to be changed it will be possible to vote on it again in the coming winter. I am convinced that if the wind direction had been north west or north east this would be better for this first speed flight. Now the pigeons were blown massively to the North Sea coast on this short distance and that means that the western fanciers, and there are quite a few, almost all early prizes picked up and a large number of pigeons in the result knew. This means that the eastern fanciers have got a huge turn around their ears. Question is; what can we do about it? It has been known for a lifetime that the wind acts on this kind of flights. In addition, it was certainly not a normal flight. The competition duration was almost 30 minutes in many places and that for my distance of approx. 110 km. In the vast majority of cases it is viewed within 10 minutes. The speeds between west and east were also considerable. The west side made 1876 mpm at the shortest distance, the longest distance made 1863 mpm. This indicates that the western fanciers all had a chance to win early pigeons. On the east side it was a lot more difficult, the fastest pigeons went 100 mpm slower. The last prize pigeons made 1350 mpm more than 500 mpm slower than the fastest. What is the cause of the much too long concours duration is in the first instance the southeast wind. On such a short flight the still inexperienced pigeons are flying after each other and have all by no means the idea to leave the peloton in time so that they will cross the finish line too late. The coming weeks there will be some more regular income but if the weather is east or southeast wind this will not go well for the eastern fanciers again and the chance of a provincial championship has already become very small. Perhaps something was released too early with a view to inversion at a height of 70 m. Also there appeared to be quite dense fog in some places. However we will not let ourselves be discouraged. The season is still long and there are still plenty of opportunities to make a long nose to the competition. Who knows it’s already the case this weekend.

With an 8th and 9th place against 350 pigeons you cannot be dissatisfied and 11 of the 20 pigeons in the result is not bad either. Due to the strong southeast wind my expectations were certainly not high and at the arrival of my first two pigeons I could already see that they came all the way from the wrong corner it could not be a super result. I too belonged to the group that had to deal with a big bang. It could not be the condition of my pigeons. They are in a good condition, that I can see in the morning when I come to the lofts, all neat little dung balls. The hens and especially the cocks gleam at you. They also like to train, so if we move on for a week or six we'll see how the fork is in the handle. I have a lot of confidence in it despite having only a small number of pigeons. However last Saturday I lost a promising yearling hen. I understand that there are considerable losses here and there and that is always a shame at the start of the racing season but that is also part of the sport. I am very satisfied with the youngsters, that is fine, although I have more than the intention. The counter is now at 38 and that's it, it can be less, but certainly not more. The youngsters look good, they are darkened from 1 April and are already beginning to molt. Some start to fly around the loft longer and longer, others stay in the loft with the younger ones. In two weeks the ball will go on regularly and they will have to stay in the air for a bit longer. Tomorrow the last youngsters picked up by their new boss and then it is over with the breeding.

We are increasingly heading in the right direction with the spring weather. May also because it is already 3 weeks spring. Nature is coming to life more and more. The birds are busy with nests and because in my area there are many chew and magpies I have absolutely no problems with birds of prey. That is a wonderful feeling and just by writing this I know that a lot of fanciers are very jealous of that. I have experienced too for a couple of years that the birds of prey flew on and off. I lost some old pigeons but especially young ones to those animals. There are too many of them and they are still protected from above. We pigeon fanciers would like something to be done and that is now also true. The NPO has good contacts about that, so ...... who knows.

Did you also enjoyed this tough cycling classic? Almost 300 km of splattering over the cobblestones, the audience is enjoying it. The riders love this race very much even though it is a torture for many. Kilometers long the bicycle lurches away from you in some areas. Blisters on the hands of the vibrating steering wheel. The luck was the riders at their side because in the early morning it had rained and then the cobblestones were very slippery with a chance of falling. The big men in the race soon realized that quickly made sure they were in the front of the group because then the chance of falling is the smallest. In Paris-Roubaix you cannot escape the necessary falls. That makes this very heavy classic so special. This year a blemish on the course because of a serious fall that a Belgian rider of 23 years made. Later it turned out that he had a cardiac arrest and everything that was done could not help, in a word horrible. The race was won magisterially by world champion Sagan. My big favorite Niki Terpstra had to do the heavy work for a large part on his own. Yet he managed to demolish so hard in the last 2 kilometers that none of his fellow pilots could keep the wheel so that Niki came solo as 3rd on the track of the beautiful cycling track in Roubaix. Now see what he is doing next weekend in the only Dutch classic the Amstel Gold race.

Football I like to watch, unfortunately more and more footballers no longer behave nicely, not in or outside the field. They are over the horse lifted "losers" who earn far too much money for their age. No this has nothing to do with jealousy. Unfortunately they forget that hard-working people have to pay a lot of money to watch an entire season to their home club. Respect and appreciation unfortunately our football boys understand not. My heart is more in cycling because I know what you have to do in order to become a professional cyclist. Those who are not able to ride up quite easily today are hopeless. Only a real sprinter would like to be included in a team. But there are also riders of "out of category" and Niki Terpstra is one of them. The year 2017 was dramatic for him. Three heavy falls made 2017 a disaster year. Among the pigeon fanciers are many supporters of cycling. I know that many of my pigeon friends watch as much as possible the spring classics and the big rounds. Certainly know that internationally many cycling supporters have been watching "our" Niki Terpstra with great respect. Two years ago he won the cobblestone classic better known as Paris-Roubaix and this year he came solo about the meet in the E3 prize Harelbeke (B) and two weeks later the same stunt in the most important classic of Belgium the Tour of Flanders about 300 km. Niki just drove the competition out of the wheel, what an engine should be in that body. I still see him coming as an 8 year old boy at our Zaanse cycling club DTS where I was then chairman. Now at the age of 33 it is one of the biggest riders we have in the Netherlands and beyond. Already three times National Champion at the professional cyclists on the road and then a beautiful honors list in the one-day races. You will understand that I am very proud of him.

The season is about to begin and the nice weather is coming. In recent weeks it was always too cold for the time of year unsuitable to learn the pigeons yourself. Saturday was the first and last training flight for the entire club. The weather forecast was not optimal and so I thought it would be better to keep the pigeons at home. Well I had misjudged that and that I have already once. The older I get the more careful I become. The pigeons were released on time and the wind ensured that they were home in record time. That day it was once again clear to see what influence the wind has on a speed competition. This does not only apply to the wind and the location, the time of unloading can also cause major differences in speed which was also the case on Saturday. The organizations that dared to unload in the early hours had the best concours and especially in the back flight the altitude speeds were achieved. The ZCC where I and Marco play in flew 20 km per hour less fast than those who live at the farthest distances and the eastern fanciers of mine were there for another 10 km short. On the 7th of April the real start of the season and then all pigeons from the province of Noord-Holland will be released at the same time. In the past it was always group unloading’s that were mainly done to prevent losses from young pigeons. Practice has shown that this does not matter. So the total release is still the best of all unloading’s. The wind will again play an important role now. As it looks now the wind blows from the south-west on Saturday so the fanciers on the east side of their playing area have the biggest chance to clock one or more early pigeons. However, it is not Saturday yet!

That means that he is up-date. The pigeons that are no longer in the loft are also removed from the clock. Only the racing pigeons that will participate in the 2018 season are in it and there are only a few. With 11 cocks and 11 hens I will fight against all fanciers from North Holland. There are men who play with a lot of pigeons but there are also many who, like me, only participate with a small number of pigeons. However it does not mean that you cannot win an early prize, certainly. The advantage is that you cannot get rid of that much but a disadvantage is that you cannot get too much in the list and that is a lot to look at. Especially the fanciers from the Far East want to see many pigeons in the results because they are used to playing a lot of pigeons. With 22 pigeons in the battle it will not be easy to catch a couple of pigeons in the top 100 against a few thousand pigeons. I keep it that it should be possible to regularly play with 1 or 2 pigeons at the top, just look at how many small lofts have a number of champion pigeons. That is why I have always bought a few pigeons mainly from this kind of fanciers. But I also deviated from that. Marco and I have also been to Willem de Bruijn and with the pigeons that come from this very big fancier we have also succeeded very well.

We are basically done with the breeding for ourselves. Now it's time to deliver the youngsters for whom Marco donated a number of tickets for various charities in the winter months. The first round went almost entirely to Marco, the second round was for me. Now there are only youngsters for people whom have been placed orders. It is our intention to stop breeding this year in time with the intention of doing winter breeding at the end of November. We skipped this winter. The youngsters did a great job with me in 2017 so you could say; why grow early? My opinion is that you can do more with early youngsters. They are usually brought up in a cold period which does not seem wrong to me. They are mature when the important races start and you can play them in widowhood, it is just what you like. On the basis of the performance we will see if we will breed another half round (with each breeding couple 1 young), during the season there will always be requests for young pigeons. Only if that is the case some will be bred. If not then our breeding pigeons are separated from the end of May and all attention can go to the game with the old and also the youngsters. Next week I hope to tell you with some pride how the results from Marco and me were on the first flight, but if there is no good result I will tell you that too.

The weather forecast for our pigeons does not look good. When I went on vacation it was 14 degrees and you think when I come back the temperature will still be slightly increased, but not. During our holiday the Netherlands was cold, wet and foggy. Unbelievable when you are at 30 degrees with no cloud in the air at the edge of the pool in Egypt. The intention was that after returning from vacation I would drive daily with the pigeons. To date, nothing has come of it. Every day mist and far too low temperatures. In addition I have a disability that I still do not dare to drive my car due to my poor visibility so I mainly depend on my wife to go out with the pigeons. If I look at the weather forecast daily, which pigeon fancier does not, there is no improvement for the time being and next Saturday (March 31) is our only joint training flight. I hope that the board will not allow this flight to continue. If they do not participation will probably be minimal and the shipping committee will have to pay a lot of money. In Belgium several flights have not been continued during several weekends. Very annoying but better than that the pigeons come home totally in a state of disrepair and probably there will also be those who are not at home anymore. In that respect pigeon sport is certainly not a simple game. We are dependent on the weather every week and that can be very changeable with us. Because the weather predictions for the rest of the week are totally unsuitable for pigeon sport I have already decided to skip the training flight. Should the weather still improve then I do not participate. I prefer to drive myself so that I can view it per day. How it all developed I have no idea but I do know that Saturday April 7 the launch will be released for the official start of the season 2018. It will be the 72nd season that I play with pigeons. In all those years quit a lot have changed.

It was in the time that old and young pigeons were together in a loft. Nobody had breeding pigeons and in most of the cases were played on nest. Most fanciers had at most 24 old pigeons and 15 youngsters. Pigeons lost and the bird of prey problem did not exist yet. I can remember it as the day of yesterday that we (my father and I) started with 16 youngsters and that we certainly had 14 left. It was also in the time of the rubber rings, that was much more exciting than now with the electronic clocks. If you used to have 3 pigeons at the same time you need almost a minute before the rings were in the clock. Now the mega lofts get 40 in half a minute. Then it can be said that those big fanciers do nothing wrong, certainly not. You can use as many pigeons in the Netherlands as you want. However it is becoming more and more an unequal struggle. I have never had trouble with it and still not to take it with my 36 racing pigeons against anyone. From the moment the electronic clock was introduced in 2000 the big fanciers are able to clock up striking mega series. Despite this every fancier regardless of the number of pigeons he gives has the possibility to win a first prize or to qualify at least at the top. But oh woe if such a mega player that day has a favorable location and get about twenty in a few seconds at home than he runs at a record tempo so that you as a small player becomes nauseous and dizzy. That’s just the way it is this film cannot be turned back. Whether it has improved in the interests of the pigeon sport is not so sure. The little fancier here is the child of the bill. So it will become a lot clearer why so many older fanciers stop and we still have the most of them. Just assume that this will not take that long. What then remains are the big ones and they can only play against each other and the fun will soon be over.

In the Netherlands summer time started. This weekend I will start by darken the youngsters. The last 7 youngsters are still added and they are immediately darkened it is no different. My other 27 youngsters were away from the parents before my holiday. I have no real early winter youngsters this year. The first round went to son Marco and only after that it was Dad's turn. Not bad at all maybe even better because I've experienced so often that youngsters of the 2nd or even 3rd round at the end of the young pigeon races perform better than the very early ones. Maybe it is a bit of coffee because in the pigeon sport it is often await you never have certainty. I have never darkened my old pigeons. I may only play the first two or three one-day long distance races and then it is not really necessary to darken the pigeons. At least that is my experience but I must also say that I have never been a fanatic long distance player and not yet. My preference is still for flights up to 400 km and we have enough of that. I am going to darken the youngsters in the months of April and May that is more than enough. From the first weekend of June, the curtains stay open day and night.

How often we read that its all about good pigeons. But the point is that you as a fancier can go well with pigeons. A strong remark statement is extremely important. You should be able to see at a glance what is going on in and around the loft. What matters is that you can see that pigeons behave differently. You must immediately see that they show an extra condition but also that something is wrong. Pigeons that behave very well you have to keep an eye on they are the ones that can surprise you. Fortunately there are very good pigeons which we can see during the season at the intermediate positions of the various competitions. We also all know that there are only a few real good pigeons. You would not say that to the prices paid for pigeons. On sale sites it looks like there are only good while most birds are not good enough for the boss and therefore are sold. There are plenty of examples of pigeons that just make a super performance because they just have a boyfriend or girlfriend. There are performances put down because some males cannot stand their neighbor so they are motivated and come very rapidly home. So let's not only talk about good pigeons there's a lot more to it.

With my health it did not go very well from the beginning of this year. Finally my wife and I decided to go to the sun for a week and that really did me a lot of good. Our choice had fallen on Egypt. Nice days in the sun on the edge of one of the beautiful pools, close to the bar and lazing on the lounger which was prepared every day by our regular lifeguard. Every day at least 30 degrees and in the evening it is great to have a nice dinner outside and then a drink. In our opinion a must for those who want to be assured of super sunny weather and do nothing but laze in the sun. The wind ensured that it was also fine in this sun. With a tanned head we are now back home and I immediately started to take care of everything according to the summer time. The day after our homecoming was the first walk to the pigeons. What would the youngsters look like? The old cocks and hens had not been outside during the holidays as I understand it could not be. It was very cold in the Netherlands with lots of wind and rain. You cannot imagine that it only rains 5 to 6 minutes per year in Egypt. I think Egypt is becoming a new popular holiday country but to live in that immense sandbox seems to me nothing at all. In two weeks the new season will start while the pigeons are not really ready. They look really good and that is a compliment to my sons Marco and Michel who have provided the pigeons during the holidays and also during my illness period. This morning it was a cloudless sky but it looked white outside because it had frozen again tonight and at this moment it is half cloudy. The coming weekend I hope to be able to start with bringing the old pigeons away. From experience I know that they become very fast in their flying rhythm and also the punctual care at fixed times contributes to a good condition. They have to take care of the flight condition themselves and they get it when they have to do their training work twice a day at set times.

That is a well-known saying in every branch of sport in the Netherlands. Many fanciers quietly build up the performance curve on what does not apply to the speed players, at least not to the Dutch speed players. In Belgium that is another story. There they can play a speed or a middle distance race every week from the end of March until the end of September. In the Netherlands we start with 6 speed flights. Then the same amount of middle distance races and then the one-day long distance races have started. At the end of June we start with eight young pigeons flights, then finally a series of 5 speed races in which both old and young pigeons are allowed to participate and then it's over again. Coming back to the fast starters I also like to hear. If you make the first flight a good result then you know that the condition is right. It may also be because you were in the right corner on that flight because as we all know in the short races the wind plays a very important role. So do not immediately cheer after a first good result. It is true that after the first flight I prefer that the crowd has to go after me than that I have to make up for the lost gap. It is also true that when you want to end with the champions you will have to finish in the snout of the result from the very beginning. Among us there are guaranteed to be a number with whom this will succeed but even more certain is that the group with whom it will not succeed will be greater. So put it on and just do your utmost to never cross the line in the last group.

For many years I am a big fan of light blue pigeons. This year I am forced to deviate from it, the reason you know. Marco and I have a breeding loft together and there are not only blue pigeons, there are even quite dark pigeons and I now have some youngsters in my racing loft. Marco says I should not complain about the colors. I used to mix everything and then I said to everyone who wanted to hear that ugly pigeons become more and more beautiful as they win early prizes, whatever they are. It may be due to the years that you get other preferences. Now I say it is my hobby and I decide what happens in my loft. I should probably assume that the time of blue alone is over. Given my age I do not have that many opportunities anymore. I do not want to say that I have had my time just think about it now and then. I still intend to count but I notice that it is all more difficult.

One of these days my electronic clock is being updated. The pigeons that are no longer there are removed from the clock and a single pigeon has to be added so that I can use the clock next weekend to see how the pigeons have come home from their first training flight. On Saturday 31 March there will be a training flight for the whole club. It is a kind of attraction flight and because it is a day before Easter the prices consist of eggs. In the past when I had a family with small children I thought it would be nice to win a few boxes but now that we are still two I do not have to think to eat all those eggs. Yet it is always nice when there is something to be gained. That is just like playing card games, if nothing is going on there is not being played seriously but as soon as it is a penny everybody wants to win. The will to win must always be there, without any interest you get nowhere and have always respect for the winner. Once that is known, shake hands and congratulate him on the success achieved. Who knows you might be next weekend.

With most fanciers the breeding is largely completed. With a large number of fanciers the early youngsters have been flying their daily laps around the loft for some time. In others the hens were transferred to the loft for youngsters with a youngster. With other fanciers, especially the long distance men, it has all just begun. If all goes well the program players and the speed men are already well advanced with the preparations for the first strength measurements. Of course it must all start with caution. Especially now that the severe frost and icy cold from the Dutch air has disappeared there is more and more opportunity to ride with the pigeons. The temperatures are about 8 to 12 degrees and that is a good temperature for training flights of 20 to 30 km. I have seen several groups of pigeons flying over, you could clearly see that they were on their way home. Now pray that we keep this type of weather for a long period so that we get a good start of the season and also wants to apply for the further course of the coming season. With me, although I still do not feel 100%, the regularity is very nice. The pigeons are currently released twice a day. Today they have had a bath again and tomorrow the hens with each a young go to the young pigeon loft. The cocks remain with their youngsters for a week in the racing loft. If I go on holiday for a week the youngsters the cocks and also the hens are separated and then get a 5 day yellow cure in the drinking water. They have to do with it they have had all the vaccinations so what medical support concerns they are ready. When I looked at the racing pigeons this week I was very happy with them. The weight was fine, they felt good and you could hardly see that they feed big youngsters. I hate it if you can clearly see that they have feeders beak. Still I have ones, yes that was a very long time ago, a hen who won 12 times the first, was always played on nest and with such a beak he won the first several times. She also won the first twice on an empty breeding dish. Her young had been moved to the young pigeon loft for more than a week and she still had not been laid. She went along just as well and believed it or not she was back and gave up the competition. It was a little fat-blue hen, just an unsightly creature but in my eyes she was terribly beautiful. I will never forget that animal. The crazy thing is that in the last twenty years I did not have such a pigeon in my loft because they would not pass through the selection and therefore get no vhance to perform. Now there is a small pigeon in our breeding loft again. It is a bit party colored too and I do not like that either. She has, also because of her formidable descent last year got the chance to raise a few youngsters. A large shale cock was found dead on the golf course next to our house. The nestmate, a small fur hen, did not miss. No, they were not all top prizes but when she played eight out of nine with twice in the first ten she is good enough for us to show her skills in 2018 as well.

Last year was not my strongest season. The breeding did not go well and that was reflected in the performance. The strange thing was that the youngsters did performed to complete satisfaction, in the club they were not even beating and the champion pigeon was mine. I have bred a few youngsters from a number of these yearlings and all other youngsters come from our joint breeders. That is why I will also have to get rid of my faith. I prefer to see all blue pigeons in my loft but that will change now because not all breeding pigeons are blue. Color is also a part of my hobby, red, pale, white, black, very colorful, I do not want them. Other fanciers do not care whether their pigeons are green or brown with them it is about performance. Also with me, but preferably achieved by beautiful light blue pigeons with possibly a single white pen. The racing pigeons for 2018 are all blue, the youngsters will have a number of other colors in between and they will have to come from a good house otherwise they will not come through the selection. When I talk about selection I am already busy with 2019. In that year I will be 82, will I still have pigeons? Let me not go too far ahead first 2018 and then we see further. It is indeed very unfortunate that the number of active fanciers decreases so quickly. Our national organization devises everything but unfortunately I do not see a bright spot that I think; yes, that might well have a chance of success. There has been worked with all kinds of committees for so long. Youth has long been an important target where a lot of time and money has been invested in. The number of members continues to decline further despite the unbridled efforts of our managers. No, the dark days for the pigeon sport are still there and if I see how many peers still are active then the downward trend in the number of members will be of increasing influence over the next two to three years. Associations will lose their right to exist and if the last club from the village or city ceases to exist more members will drop out because many older fanciers do not want to have to cover a large distance with their pigeons to basket. I would like to see it differently but this is the reality. In addition the mood in a small club can be very quickly influenced if some members do not agree with each other. In a club with at least 50 members you will not be bothered by that. How many clubs of 50 members will still be there? In my opinion not one and then to know that in the golden years there were several clubs with more than 100 members. Unfortunately this time I cannot knit a cozier end. Fortunately the season is approaching quickly and then there are to discuss completely different matters. Let's keep it that everyone in their own way will fully enjoy our hobby again.

More than two weeks of Olympic winter sports on TV was a bit too much of a good thing. Especially for the Netherlands because for us only skating was interesting because in the other sports we had a single participant but not really a contender. Our skaters have met the expectations, it could not be better. For me as a viewer it was all too much of a good thing. From the early morning to the midnight Olympics, I cannot see them anymore. On Monday evening in the Olympic Stadium of Amsterdam, where in 1948 the Summer Olympic Games were held, our athletes were in the presence of several hundred supporters and relatives in the icy cold honored. The announcer did not know how hard he had to scream to announce our Olympic champions. It became a shabby and anti-social display. That could have been much better and more stylish. This week they are invited to the King.

Cycling is done throughout the year. In the past years there was a winter break and there was room for track cycling. Nowadays the first cycling classics start right after the turn of the year. In the past it was only in March and Belgium was the first to take part in cycling, now it is the warm countries like Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and so on where the first races have already been held. Last weekend the first two classics in Belgium started in the icy cold and the next weekend "the drive to the sun" or Paris-Nice starts. Now it is freezing in the Netherlands the skating sport gets the most attention. Today the first marathon skating race on 200 km is held on natural ice. The skating fun is probably over at the end of the week. Too bad, because for the skate enthusiasts it could have lasted a week and then just rain hot water. But what do you get for weather, you better have dry weather with nice clear freezing than occasional sun and then rain again. Fortunately we do not have that in mind.

Despite the cold in our country it is fine weather to let the youngsters out. This is not the case with me yet they are only more than 14 days old. The first round is to Marco and only then it’s father's turn. After the bad luck with unfertilized eggs in the first round everything went well after that. The big problem was with our two better breeding couples. We had unfertilized from both the first and second rounds. The third round of the one couple is again not good but from the other couple it is. The youngsters who sit at Marco look perfect and with me they are shining in the nest. Beautiful manure around the dishes partly because of the cold and during the day a lot of sun it’s almost ideal for the growth of the youngsters. Not only the spring is coming the racing season is approaching with great speed. As I have seen it everything is ready on time. Second half of March we go to the sun for a week and when we come back we have 14 days left for the first speed flight. The pigeons can therefore still be tossed five times depending on the weather and that must be enough. The pigeons are still being cared by my sons Marco and Michel, I go only there at noon. Then you can see that the sun gets more and more strength, just wonderful to be with the pigeons for an hour. I hope that if it gets a bit warmer soon I will also become a bit more active. With my condition it is not worth anything at all after two months sick and quail. If I do something I am tired and to my age that will not so fast restore anymore.

I was really shocked when I read the news that there was an outbreak of bird flu in Groningen (North Netherlands). All 36.000 chickens have been culled and a transport ban for poultry is in the immediate vicinity. We as pigeon fanciers do not like that at all. It has happened several times that on the eve of the new racing season an avian flu outbreak took place so the start of the season was pushed up for several weeks. It was then also in the period of the spring fair and immediately became a ban announced that no pigeons from different lofts could be placed together in a room. Think of all the young pigeons that have been bred especially for the weekend of this weekend and there is a prohibition proclaimed you should not think about it anyway. Now the outbreak is still in the far north of the Netherlands the control is becoming stricter throughout the country. There only needs to be an outbreak in the south and Belgium will close the border and how will it go with the famous pigeon market in Lier (B) and the spring fair of this weekend in Houten (Utrecht). I will not go there would not know what to do. Fortunately, there are many fanciers who think differently about this. There is even more risk, because fanciers in Belgian Limburg have been diagnosed with adeno virus and the risk for the young pigeon disease is very high. Because of the infection with adeno the e-coli bacteria in the intestinal system get the upper hand. The pigeons get sick of it, the appetite goes away, drink more than usual and produce that slimy green smelling manure and the end of the story is that those poor little animals to pay for death. Away nice breeding results. In that respect our hobby depends of disappointments to each other. The strange thing is that never all youngsters get sick. Are they the best, the strongest or is it coincidence? If these symptoms appear on the loft consult your veterinarian at all times.

The whole international sports world is currently under the spell of the Winter Olympics held in South Korean Pyongyang. Already from the first day on the Dutch skaters committed an attack on the highest achievable the gold medals, but silver and bronze are also not safe for skating land the Netherlands. The Dutch are both for woman and man in all parts of the long track skating and short track Lord and Master. It started on the first day with gold for Sven Kramer on the 5000 meters. Also in 2010 and 2014 he won gold at that distance and that has never been achieved before. A day later gold, silver and bronze for the ladies on the 3000 meters and so it continues every day. Irene Wust took gold at 1500 meters and that was her tenth Olympic medal. Never before has there been a lady who has won so many Olympic medals at the Winter Games. The presence of King Willem Alexander will certainly have contributed to this, wonderful to see how he behaved like a fan of our skaters in the stands, great enthusiasm! And it does not stop. The skating mile produced a gold medal for Kjeld Nuis with outsider Patrick Roest as the winner of the silver medal. If this continues it will be an unprecedented success for the Netherlands that has no chance of competing in the other parts of the Winter Games. Is not bad at all because we are a skating country and we have once again clearly shown.

Why the racing pigeon Olympiad is held once every two years is not clear to me. If that happens in all sports once every four years why then for the pigeon sport an exception. There are so many exceptions in our sport in the far too long series of championships. Only for commerce and nowhere else is it interesting to hold an Olympiad every two years. It does not take a year and we have again a race pigeon Olympiad in Poland that will be held in January 2019. Also in 2011 the Poles were allowed to organize the Olympiad in Poznan. A bit of a good thing don’t you think? The Netherlands is not only a skating country it is also a pigeon country par excellence and that means that, just as with skating, it should be possible to strike in the same way. We still have a race year to go so there is still everything possible. The pigeons that have performed strongly in 2017 can be used with some caution this year, do not take too much risk, but especially the latter is easier said than done. Even on the most simple flights a good pigeon can stay behind and locally the danger of the birds of prey remains. You do not have to think that an Olympiad candidate will be caught by such a robber.
If you come back after a week to the pigeons you see how much has changed. The youngsters who were then a day or twelve are now so old that they can almost get away from their parents. Where two eggs lay in the nest are now bald youngsters. Those are the first impressions I have gained this morning. Furthermore I have only fed them, the drinkers refreshed, everywhere new grit in the jars, fresh minerals and they needed it because in no time the pigeons had eaten the jars empty. They are also ready for a nice bath, it is cold but otherwise nice sunny weather. They still have to wait a while because the article must be ready first and then they will have a bath in the afternoon. The racing pigeons are allowed outside for a while and then I can clean the lofts. As far as I am concerned the condition is completely back to zero. A week of being really sick is a real attack on your body especially if we look at the figures that are for the age.

Other years that happened already in the third week of January. This year we consciously waited a bit longer with pairing. We have this year more preferred to our breeding pigeons. Most of the eggs from the first round are placed under the racing pigeons so that Marco and I both have two youngsters from the breeders. There were also the necessary setbacks so that I cannot immediately say that I am very enthusiastic about the start of the breeding season. By my racing pigeons I had four couples that I wanted to have youngsters from. Of the 12 couples there were 2 unfertilized and that was exactly 2 out of 4 that I wanted to keep. We have chosen to submit as much as possible, a choice that I think afterwards; we should have done that differently. With that I indicate that I am not really satisfied. Now do not panic because it is of course also how the total breeding results are going to be. After all, it is about quality and not about quantity. In general I hear from different sides that the culture is going well. Those who did winter breeding all have the youngsters outside and in addition the weather helps a little hand as well because until now all days are fine to let the young pigeons out every day and number of hours. Unfortunately I have been informed that there are again the necessary victims because of the predators. It is a pity that this problem cannot be solved for us pigeon fanciers. There is a lot of work done, such as registering places where the bird of prey strikes. If it stays that way it does not really help. I also known the problem for three years in a row but fortunately the last three years no longer. I live on the edge of the golf course, in some places pretty many trees. The number of jackdaws has increased enormously in recent years. In the evening there is a huge swarm, a beautiful sight and a huge noise when they finally land in the trees to go to sleep. It does mean that I have absolutely no problems with birds of prey. It seems that the jackdaw keep the birds of prey away. Let me not be too enthusiastic because something can change. From an Irish pigeon friend I received a photo on which one of his pigeons was caught by a hawk. He takes care of the pigeon that has a gaping wound, they are the real animals lovers doing something like that. You may wonder if it makes sense. We have pigeons to play with and we have to be careful that we do not make a hospital out of our loft. Despite the fact that I have been possessed by pigeons for a while it goes too far by me to care seriously injured pigeons. I'll do them away, maybe very hard but you have to wonder if it will ever be okay with such a pigeon. No, I would rather save them a longer period of suffering.

The weather forecast looks fine for this week. At night light to moderate frost, during the day plenty of sun and temperatures slightly above freezing. If this stays for another day or four we can skate in the Netherlands. As most of you will know the Netherlands is the skating country par excellence. That will also be noticed in the coming weekend when the Olympic Winter Games take place in South Korea. Naturally the Netherlands is also represented there primarily for the skating sport. In the other winter sports we Dutch people do not have much to look for. But who knows suddenly a Dutchman dives into skiing which would be a huge surprise. In any case there is a lot to enjoy on the TV for the sports enthusiasts next week. That's what we thought last week. Then the world cyclo-cross championship was held in our own country. Our biggest favorite was Matthieu van de Poel. He had already won 26 games this season and according to insiders he would also take the rainbow jersey. Well not, it was clear to see that it was not his day, it became a complete agony. It was a very heavy course but that counts for everyone. Our national star had to settle with the bronze and our representatives in the other categories did the same. The youngest of all took by the youthful ladies gold and that made the surprise complete. Now wait and see if our skaters win gold and who knows the whole of the Netherlands is on the ice at the end of the week. Because skating we do prefer and the pigeons cherish themselves in the winter sunshine.

There are fanciers who already have their first round of youngsters outside, there are also those who have recently paired. In any case we are now in the middle of the breeding season. Some long distance players have postponed the breeding for a while but it will not be long before they will start. My oldest youngsters are now about twelve days and the coming weekend the eggs from the second round of the breeding pigeons will come out. Even now unfertilized eggs from our two best breeding couples. I do not want to say that Marco and I are becoming despondent but we are certainly not happy about it. Last Sunday the necessary eggs have been transferred so that the breeding pigeons can start on the third round. Maybe a bit too soon after each other but we have breeding pigeons for that. This season also shows that early or winter breeding is not conducive to older pigeons. Nothing new, annoying if it does not run as we had hoped. We thought that we would breed from our two top couples soon each two youngsters but we do not have one. At this moment there are 39 ringed and there is will come the same amount and then we have enough. Marco a 50 or so and I around 30. That should be enough to get the necessary good results if we do not lose too much before the price flights start.

The period from October to the start of the new season is also called the quiet season. Nothing is less true. That used to be the case but now it is teeming with awards, champions days, local exhibitions and last but not least the great diversity of all sorts of meetings. Especially the latter sometimes runs into crap. For example there was the fraud case in the Belgian East Flanders which has chairman Dirk Schreel of the National Sport Committee has cost the head. Now there is again the necessary commotion in Antwerpen so a new board has to be chosen. The name of provincial chairman Alfons Buurs is already mentioned as National President and is also associated with chairman of the National Sport Committee. Most likely he is not eligible for both positions because he is not perfectly bilingual. In Belgium in the southern part is spoken French and in the other part Dutch or Flemish. At this moment there is still no clarity as to how the two new boards will look like. More will be known during the meeting of 28 February.

To be aware of the latest developments concerning the pigeon sport there is still a possibility for Belgian and fanciers from the surrounding countries to visit the International Pigeon show "Fugare" which on 10 and 11 February for the 8th time will be held in Kortrijk. Also there will be the prize ceremonies of the one-loft races from Zimbabwe, Spain. Portugal, Tenerife, Romania and Bulgaria have been held.

If I hate something then it is shy pigeons. You sometimes have one that when you enter the loft immediately flies from his seat, I can live with it a little bit. There are also those who fly out of the breeding loft and I absolutely cannot stand it. I always do my very best to keep the pigeons quiet. You can do a lot of it as a fancier. Do not make unexpected movements and walk through the lofts in slow motion. Let your voice be heard and I think it is also important that you are always dressed the same way. Take the time to feed the pigeons. While they are eating you can safely take one in your hands once in a while and put them down again shortly afterwards. The pigeons must not be afraid and if they are it is usually up to the boss. Sometimes it is not easy to stay calm. Especially if the pigeons are just paired and are allowed to leave the breeding lofts for the first time. Especially young cocks can sometimes uncontrollably fly into several breeding loft. They are sometimes so passionate that they fly everything that moves. They can also take care of the necessary brawls if they fly into the wrong breeding loft again. If they do that multiple times you are able to swing them against the wall. Do not and never do! You can really ruin them forever. You deprive them of an urge to come home and what is worse they also refuse to come in. Usually the first arriving pigeons are not shy or afraid. A matter of poor entry always lies with the boss. He has made the pigeons so because he behaves completely different when they arrive home than when he does the whole week. I have been with fanciers who went in tiger creep to the loft when a pigeon arrives. The pigeons are not crazy and stay if the boss does not behave like they are used to. When the pigeons return from a flight behave always the same as you do during the week. Some fanciers want the pigeon quickly inside and throw hands full of food into the loft while they never do it during the week. Some fanciers start to whistle like an idiot when they see a pigeon coming at a high altitude. Assume that pigeon has seen you before you see the pigeon. The pigeons have to be happy when they see the boss so do normal then you do crazy enough!

It is like less and less fanciers do winter breeding. There may be several reasons for this. As far as I am concerned the reason is I now belong to the older fanciers and I was very happy that the season was over, finally a period of absolute rust. Others are waiting for breeding because in a number of departments the young pigeon season starts later. For years I have done winter breeding, wonderful to look at the newly weaned youngsters in the second half of January because what are they beautiful when they are just weaned. Then there is a short period of some relapse but that will all be fine if they first start to eat a lot. I always say when they are beautiful in the nest the will become later on also beautiful. Of the become usable or even good ones I cannot give a good answer. However I do think that the chance to breed a good one is greater if the parents have performed well. Every fancier gets a good feeling when a couple of pigeons are born that care in the racing season for pleasure certainly when that youngsters comes from a couple that he has paired himself. But how did the breeding for the young pigeons have been before they were weaned? By me from the first day I put the pigeons together everything went smoothly. The pigeons were well prepared by me for the breeding period. Ten days lighted and daily a little bit of hemp seed for each pigeon. I have also started to give a breeding mixture, not too much because locked up pigeons fats very quickly and that is not conducive to a smooth leg. When I pair the pigeons I always try that they look like they go into the basket during the racing season. I have written before that, despite the good preparation and the smoothing of eggs, a number of things can go wrong. In older pigeons unfertilized eggs, young cocks if they are paired well still visit the neighbor’s with consequence fighting and broken eggs. That is even possible yet if there is a small youngster in the dish and I also got to deal with that.

That means that the first youngsters will be weaned the last week of February. That are not too many because most of the breeders' eggs went to my son Marco and he will have more than me at that time. This is the case with father and son who play against each other and have to draw from the same breeding loft. Still I had two unfertilized eggs from two different couples each and with Marco there were two trampled youngsters dead in the nest. To date no problems with the growth of the youngsters that is going well. The pigeons from which the eggs have been replaced have almost all been around the 25th laid and are now brooding for the second time. The youngsters that are born out of it are for the most part all for me. If I have about forty I am satisfied, that is a nice team I have hardly ever had more. I have tried in my wild years to breed a hundred that I could fly with. I have never completely succeeded, 80 I think is the largest number I have ever had. I was and am absolutely not a fan of many pigeons. This year I am going to play double widowhood with 12 couples, that's what I have to do with it and why that will not work out. You only need one for victory. I stopped to leave the light on. I currently feed all pigeons at six o'clock and half an hour later the lights go out. In the morning at 8 o'clock out of bed. Eating a sandwich, quick read the newspaper, at half past eight to the pigeons and then I start cleaning the breeding loft. There are 22 couples and there is the most manure. At 9 o'clock all pigeons get food. It is then light enough so there can be eaten without a lamp.

I have moved away from my religion. Last week it was such nice mild weather that I could not resist keeping the pigeons in. I left them at 11 o'clock and they could go in and out all day. At 3 o'clock the sputnik were put in such a way that they could only get in and before they were all inside they could still enjoy a bath in the open air between 12 and 1 o'clock, something they really like. Yesterday it was cold and in the afternoon it started to rain, I had left the sputnik open (forgotten) and when I came up most of the pigeons lay in the pouring rain, not to believe because I was flapping with my old body from the cold. So most had to get soaked into the night. I do not know if they have been cold, in the morning they all still lived and looked fine. In the racing season I would get nervous of death, supposing they would perform badly on the first flight you can hit yourself in front of you. It does not mean that I now every day let pigeons outside that I view every day. I have noticed that since I let the pigeons outside the down molting has increased, sign that the outside air does the pigeons well.
In the winter season you usually have more outages than in early spring. A small number of unfertilized eggs, eggs with a dent or an egg with a young in it that was not strong enough to get out of the egg. They are all matters that have no influence on the racing season. It will be a completely different story if half of the eggs are unfertilized or if too many youngsters die after about ten days. Only then will the chance of a good racing season become very small. The fault lies with the fancier himself. The preparation for the breeding has been insufficient. Too easy, forgot to let the pigeons vaccinate in time and failed to do manure research. By making time to observe the pigeons once in a while you can avoid a lot of trouble.

When I get up in the morning it is a regular habit of me to read extensive teletext. That has to do with my deafness. The whole day the radio is on but for me too soft to be able to follow the spoken word well. However in order to keep up to date with the latest news I use teletext and only later in the morning the newspaper is read during coffee. I also read teletext in the evening before going to bed. So I read this morning with amazement that since the beginning of the measurements in 1901 it has never been so hot in the Netherlands. The day started with a temperature of 12.2 degrees Celsius and the expectation is that it can be as high as 14 degrees. For Dutch standards these are spring temperatures. Normally it would be that at this time of year is skated, there is snow and there is plenty of ice fun. It seems that this is going to be a thing of the past for our country. It will be the books where our grandchildren can read how it used to be in the Netherlands. The Netherlands the country of skating, the big question is how often will we experience the fact that ditches, canals and lakes are frozen so that long skating trips such as the world famous Elfstedentocht of 225 km can be organized. Fortunately a lot of international attention is being paid to global warming, a pity or rather incomprehensible that certain countries do not worry about it because it will have major consequences for the whole world. When I read this great news about the record high temperature in the Netherlands I also had to think about the possible consequences for the pigeon sport. We and our pigeons live in the Netherlands a country with often huge differences in weather types, we have been raised there and we do not know better. That is the same with the inhabitants of the southern and other warm countries and for the Eskimos. All those people are used to their climate. The same applies to the pigeons. We Dutchmen panic when our pigeons have their matches with temperatures of around 30 degrees while such a thing in the hot countries is the most normal thing in the world. In any case, it is important to think about how in the future (does the pigeon sport still have a future?) our sport will look like. For example; let us stop for a moment on the period in which pigeons are played in the Netherlands. Normally from the last weekend of March to the second half of September. Is that still possible if the temperatures get higher every year and that is not the only thing, including the increasingly large rain showers play a big role in this. In the Netherlands I hear more and more the call to start the racing season later, there are a number of well-founded reasons for this. If we especially look at the weather for our sport there is probably something forced to change. Who knows, maybe we will play until the end of October. Or maybe the racing season should be shortened to just over 4 months. It is all still looking at coffee, that something is going to change is as certain if twice to is four. In several southern countries a summer break is very common and necessary.

We pigeon fanciers are all champions. There are so many different titles that you can gradually see the forest through the trees. So this week my eye fell on a report about a prize ceremony held in Belgium. If a lay person reads something like this the wrinkles in the forehead will abruptly more than double and, if present, the hair will stand up spontaneously. The pigeon sport makes himself ridiculous on all sides. Or has everything been done with premeditation? I am still of the time that there were no middle distance races, everything under 500 km was sprint and above was the long distance. One day and multi-day long distance plus marathon did not yet appear in the pigeon dictionary. A designated or demonstrated championship did exist, why did I never be able to understand. It would be something for the real connoisseurs among us, do not make me laugh. It has nothing to do with a match. At the time it was all about the two top pigeons from the participation list. The one who clocked these pigeons first or in time was eligible for the title. Well, well what an achievement. The title was and still is won by fanciers who own some regular pigeons and they are always at the top of the list, that is not that difficult after all? It would be a different story if everyone can give up a small number of pigeons that are at the top of the list all season. Why such a title? We mostly play every week in the Netherlands with a fixed number of pigeons that compete for a championship title and that too is spreading sand in the eyes of the average fancier. The large and mainly commercial fanciers laugh at a lump, they can draw from a large number of pigeons every week while the average fancier usually have no more than about thirty old racing pigeons. They have at least the chance to rank among the champions. By the commercial boys it’s about the total result where all their entered pigeons can occur even though they are in their first ten clocked pigeons no pigeon of their 25 or 30 pigeons that count towards the championship it remains the same to them. They do not sell any pigeons because they have become champion, in that world it is the number of pigeons in the results. We will stop because there is enough said about it. I am still for 1 champion and the ones that follow are finished as 2nd or 3rd and so on, but under no circumstances may they be called champions. Get rid of that fool! Despite the fact that we are bursting with titles more and more commercial inventions are made, such as the best Bourges pigeon or the best Chateauroux pigeon all with the intention of selling pigeons where not only the boss something on. Here is a summary about the "championships" about which this report started; general champion, small speed youngsters, small speed yearlings; small speed old pigeons, big speed youngsters, big speed yearlings, big speed old pigeons, small middle distance youngsters, small middle distance yearlings, small middle distance old birds, big middle distance youngsters, big middle distance yearlings, big middle distance old pigeons, grand middle distance old and yearling pigeons, long distance old pigeons, grand distance old pigeons, in addition there are still in 18 different disciplines at least 3 ace pigeon (ace pigeon) titles to win. There are games where up to 15 championships can be won per discipline. Should go crazy if someone does not know how to classify them in one way or another and then he may call himself champion. I've been laughing for half an hour already.

More than 1 week and then the first month of this new year is already over. Fortunately it is a little longer light because I hate darkness. A little while and then the wild birds start to make a new nest. Nature is getting under way and the first drop-outs of good intentions have already been reported. There is still a large group that cannot stay away from their familiar cigarette and every day a little more exercise appears to be too difficult for many people. Healthier eating is an almost impossible task for young people in particular. A pizza and a fries with a coke or a hamburger with extra sauce are dishes that are still being served in large quantities in the beginning of this new year, this is the time in which we live. The developments in the electronic world are also continuing. You can count on it that the coming 25 years will change a lot. In the car world we go to computer send with fully electric motors and a step further and we drive on hydrogen. The new cars are all equipped with a reversing camera, one step further and they are equipped with a front camera and then it is boarding and the car does the rest. And then we have not even talked about all the possibilities that us all mobile phone has to offer in the near future. For us elderly people it is even a bit creepy while our grandchildren just consider it as a toy. In this new year I had decided to give myself a little more insight into the use of the mobile phone but I still have not got it and I'm afraid it will stay with the good intentions. Every one's hobby, I keep it with my pigeons but it does not mean that I close my eyes to the new developments. Can I keep it up? I do not think so.

Easier said than done. Today the eggs of the breeders have been laid down for as many as possible with the racing pigeons of Marco. First of all it was checked whether the eggs were fertilized and whether there was a dulled egg in the nest here or there. When I arrived in the breeding loft this evening there was a broken egg on the ground which was the first setback. On paper we had recorded everything which eggs would be placed under which flying couple. By one of the most important pairs there was a dented egg in the dish. Bad luck, but that can be overcome. We all know the expression "whether the devil plays", that expression was very appropriate for what we were doing. Marco checked all the eggs and then it comes; of exactly our two proven breeding couples all four eggs were unfertilized. Unbelievable, isn’t it? We will certainly not be the only ones where such a thing happens but it is and remains very disappointing. You can talk about that for hours that does not make any sense. The couples whose eggs are gone or unfertilized may make a restart. At the same time I have put my 12 pairs of racing pigeons together with the intention that a few eggs from the breeders can be accommodated there in three weeks. I must confess that I was very impressed with the condition of the hens, beautiful on weight and super tight in the feathers. You would say that cannot go wrong but practice is often a bit different. Tomorrow we'll have a quick look at whether the couples have accepted each other and a day later we will cautiously start letting the couples loose in the loft. The cocks have been "in the box" for some time as we call it so they know where they live and the hens will soon fly after hubby. We started by the breeders with the 6-day traditional drinking water cancer cure from dr. van der Sluijs.

What name should we give to this blunder. I cannot name it anything other than a blunder. Where that blunder is made I do not even want to know. It has created a lot of conversation material. Many ugly words have been used, perhaps not serious but intended as something of powerlessness, anger and an expression of disappointment. It is incomprehensible to us pigeon fanciers that something like this can happen. Especially because it is not the first time that we as a Dutch racing pigeon organization order a large amount number of rings. Many fanciers have been panicked, fortunately a solution was found by providing those who urgently needed rings emergency rings where it is not possible to apply the chips. Hence emergency rings, admittedly a solution but not ideal. It is to be hoped that hard work is being done behind the scenes on a method whereby it is never possible that rings are not delivered on time. I assume that NPO board and supplier are sick of this extremely unpleasant situation. Only tranquility can save us. As I understand the suffering has been suffered. I have read that I can pick up the rings and also the golden rings on Friday night. What matters now is that the golden rings are pushed onto the right pigeon's foot because with this golden rings race an interesting amount can be won. I like a bit of extra tension.

I have written it so many times, the annual English manifestation in the famous resort of Blackpool is unique in its kind. Unfortunately I was not there this year either. I used to think that if I were not there that it would not go on! It gets busier every year. More and more visitors from the mainland of Europe know to find the way to Blackpool. That's where it all happens. An unprecedented number of sales in different locations, from a football canteen to the most luxurious hotel where thousands of pigeons change owners. All large commercial boys are present there personally or through their sales organization. It is very unfortunate that commercialism is increasingly dominating. In that respect it is absolutely no fun anymore. What is really fun the whole city of Blackpool is dominated by the pigeon sport and until the small hours there is plenty of fun. I cannot afford to go to Blackpool for a weekend. From the Netherlands you are there within two hours, but then ...... you're going to beat that weekend especially if you like me also like socializing which means that the days in the weekend of January 20 are very long and the nights very short. I am very happy that I have been there several times because of the great contacts I had with mister Louis Massarella. You may know that I'm a bit jealous of all those who were there this year. You never know, if health permits I might risk it again in 2019.

Fairly new within the pigeon sport is the game with the late youngsters. The fanciers who are doing that have their youngsters, who were born in October, flying around for quite some time. Despite possible problems with the birds of prey these late youngsters have to go outside. They have to train and therefore also have to deal with the hardness of nature. Birds of prey must also eat and as we all know they prefer a not to be scorned pigeon's bolt. The late youngsters are therefore more attentive and keep a close eye on everything. Once they have been introduced to an unexpected attack by a bird of prey they will soon realize that the loft is the safest place. The boss does well to let them train with an open loft. The winter breeders have seen the first eggs come around the Christmas days so that their young acquisitions could be ringed in the first days of 2018. Hopefully that has not caused too big problems. Why problems? It has been a good practice for years that in the Netherlands the rings between Christmas and New Year are delivered to the administrators so that they can deliver the rings on 1 January to those who need them urgently. From that years of use had to be deviated because the rings manufacturer could not deliver on time which is definitely a bad thing. According to the reports the last rings would be delivered on January 12 and the fanciers who urgently need rings could submit a request to receive at least 1 January a number of rings. I do not know if that has caused major problems. For us it is no problem at all. We have put together the breeding pigeons on December 28 and when the eggs hatched the rings will be delivered. The pigeons came well on time with eggs. After 12 days two couples had not yet laid, big question is whether one of the hens is still laying. She has been stuck on the nest for several days but not an egg, she is open but I fear with great fear that things go wrong. The other couple let themselves chase out of their breeding nest in the beginning, that cock has already a cross behind his name. I certainly do not like that pigeons let themselves chase out of their breeding loft, it is a newly formed couple and the cock is only 1 year old. It is a grandson of the famous "Harry" but that does not mean everything abvious.

We do not have any foster pairs so if we want to have more youngsters from the breeders we will have to use the racing pigeons. My son Marco has put his racing pigeons in line with the breeding pigeons that are all with me, of that a number go to Marco. As soon as that happens I will pair my racing pigeons so that part of the second round of eggs from the breeders can be placed underneath. In this way we get a few youngsters from the best racing pigeons plus that we have four youngsters from the breeders in a short time if everything runs at least as we hope. Yes, that is how we are all working in our own way with the intention to breed a number of usable pigeons again this year which we will enjoy and with which we can strengthen our colony. I have been working like that for 70 years, I am still not a world champion but despite the necessary setbacks I have been enjoying my pigeon hobby all these years. Unfortunately there is now the first setback of this breeding season. With a new breeding couple consisting of my best breeding hen who is now eighth year paired with a one year promising cock the neighbor has visited. What I have not experienced before with that neighbor happened now. He apparently had such a need for brooding that he tried to sit on the eggs of my best breeding pigeon. That was obviously not accepted and that was fighting. In the morning the two eggs next to the breeding dish were both with and dent so I could do nothing but throw them away. I did put two stone eggs directly on it and they are now brooding. The neighbor cock is locked up and that is also a situation that I do not want to know about, but for the time being I leave it that way. As soon as part of the eggs go to Marco I will also remove the stone eggs so that a number of breeding couples start the preparation of their second litter simultaneously. Now it is waiting a few days to see if all the eggs have been fertilized. I must tell you that my racing pigeons are also clearly ready to be coupled. That will most likely be on Sunday the 14th of January. It gives me a good feeling that the breeding pigeons are now coupled, no problems with fights and yet it happens that a cock, otherwise a very good breeder, has destroyed the nest of his left neighbors. In spite of the cold I can still afford to stay with the breeders for a bit longer and also get a little more pleasure in cleaning the lofts. It lives on the loft again and we need some more time for the care. As of January 1 everything goes a little more at fixed times which is good for the pigeons and certainly for the boss. In the morning when I get up everything feels stiff, but when I'm done with the care of the pigeons I feel a bit fitter.

I already know that it will be different than before. The hens do not come outside in the morning. In the racing season I started at 7 o'clock in the morning. I definitely do not do that anymore, it's just too early for me. I decided to release the cocks at 8 o'clock as soon as possible, then I'm ready at half past nine. In the afternoon the hens leave at half past four and I hope that they can keep their training labor up for an hour and a half. They get food at five o'clock and the cocks are allowed to go outside for an hour. When the youngsters are away from their parents they may spend an hour outside in the morning. As soon as they are older and fly around the loft they go out twice a day. In the morning from 9 to 10 o'clock and in the afternoon from 6 to 7 o'clock but then we already live in April. Until that time I will see it per day but for now all pigeons stay inside. They have not been outside since the end of October and this is how it will be until mid-February. As of March 1 everything will be accurate again. My son sometimes says; "Dad, how the hell did you last this 70 years!"

When I still actively practiced cycling January 1 was the start of a new road season. That was at the end of the fifties, the cycling calendar indicated that there were almost no competitions. The months of November and December were the night of entertainment for us and we almost did not train. The weather conditions were often bad and we had never heard of a foreign training camp. But as soon as the calendar gave January 1 it was done with the fun and was seriously lived again. We started fitness training and as soon as we could we sit on the bike. The club that I was a member of and am still (next year 65 years) already organized in March the cycling classic De Ronde van Noord-Holland over 225 km. Now that the sport is much more professional and work is being done with sophisticated training schedules it’s in the early spring not even allowed to driven a course of 225 km at that time it did! Cycling has always been a tough sport and certainly in those years. Everyone had to figure it out for themselves, we trained like madmen and did not really know whether we did it right or not. We must and would have at least 2000 km in the legs before the Tour of North Holland started. In any case it was a wonderful time that I still think back to with great pleasure. Within the pigeon sport it is just like in cycling. Everything starts much earlier and the programs are getting heavier. Throughout the year there are cycling races and also the pigeon calendar shows a crowded program with sometimes three races in a weekend. Not surprising that there is more and more specialization in every branch of sport. Within the sport of cycling it is now the six days that demand attention and also the cyclo-cross is running at full speed. For the pigeon sport the time of the honors of all kinds of national competitions breaks up and there are also a number of big shows of which I still think Blackpool is the most beautiful and spectacular. Next year also for the very first time the tribute of the VERY BEST pigeons from the Netherlands. This is a competition with the same conditions that the F.C.I. is prescribed for participation in a racing pigeon Olympiad. The competition the "very best" is organized by the Neerlands Postduiven Orgaan.
Immediately in the beginning of the new year is started the presentation of the 10 best pigeons completed with their performance list achieved in the categories speed-middle distance-one-day long distance - marathon - yearlings - old pigeons - all-round pigeons and last and certainly not as unimportant the youngsters. No less than eight categories with the best pigeons in the Netherlands. It is almost unbelievable what our pigeons are capable of so it is not surprising that the Dutch racing pigeon is highly regarded all over the world. After the presentation of the very best pigeons on our site has taken place there is obviously a worthy and stylish ceremony. There is plenty of work behind the scenes. The final date will be announced very soon.

Now the first youngsters to be born it is important that everything in the loft is set accordingly. In this time of the year it can be cold and therefore a well-filled brooding dish with a mat underneath is not a luxury. When the fancier spends all the care on the new generation he will be amply rewarded from the summer. I've known fanciers where the winter youngsters just lay in a bare stone bowl, I do not understand how someone is capable of doing that. They are fanciers who wanted to participate in winter breeding as well but had not prepared anything and did absolutely did not want to do anything for it. They were winter champions with strong stories at the bar and in the summer they were invisible. Our pigeons should not lack anything especially now that they do not come out at all and everything is focused on a good breeding. Fresh vegetables, minerals and fresh grit are a prerequisite. Drinking water is also something like this, the pan must never be empty and as soon as it freezes the boss must ensure that there is no ice on it. As soon as the youngsters are about ten days old I feed the pigeons three times a day and I give water three times a day when the weather is cold. Maybe that's not necessary at all but it gives me a good feeling and that's why I do that. I hate if something fails during the breeding where I can blame myself. No, it all has to be correct and if you then have a nice team of youngsters running that gives a good feeling. It is still the intention that our breeders come together between Christmas and New Year. However, there is still a problem and these are the mice. I have tried everything, put clamps and put glue paper everywhere, I do not catch one. I sometimes see one or two run away, they are very dark in color, I think it's not the gray house mice but field mice. Possibly I have more knowledge of pigeons than of mice. I hate those little rodents an because they are ideal disease transporters. They also disturb the rest in the loft and as soon as the pigeons are brooding and they get a visit at night of those scum you even have a chance that the pigeons will run from the eggs. Mice are even able to crawl under the mat that lies at the bottom of the breeding bowl. I do not want to pair earlier than the mice in my loft have been exterminated. For the time being that seems like an almost impossible tasks

It is becoming increasingly common for fanciers to play with youngsters that were born in the period August / September. It is not new and there are more and more fanciers who try it because here and there fantastic results are achieved. It is a game that costs quite a lot of pigeons. I myself have played with some late youngsters and I will have done it wrong because I did not have one left. I also did not have that much with late youngsters, they just walk in the way and to breed with you have to wait more than a year and I did not feel like it. I know fanciers who are formidable with late youngsters and I even know that late youngsters in the long distance of the best pigeons of our country have ended. To achieve this these pigeons have to be taken away many times and that also happens, even in such bad weather conditions that we do not think about going out with them in the summer months. It is just what you love it is not for me and maybe I would also do it if I was 40 years younger then nothing was too much for me.

In the first place I want to start by wishing you all a very prosperous, healthy and successful 2018. After all the fun that the month of December had to offer us it was a nice feeling to pick up the thread of all days again. We are going in the right direction, the shortest day is already a few days behind us. We are on our way to spring but we are not there yet we have two cold months ahead of us and in March we can have plenty of snow fun. The situation in the world is still not rosy but we are concerned about a dent in an egg of a bald young lying next to the dish. What the hell are we talking about? Last weekend we had our annual club exhibition, it became a top-class debacle. Never has there been a year that I did not participate in my more than 70 year old pigeon career. It is first and foremost a fun weekend in the quiet winter period and it is fun to look back and of course to the plans for 2018 with sports friends. Curious about the results of the judge is almost nobody. It is mainly about commerce in our sport. It predominates unfortunately the overtone which through fanciers do not spontaneously talk anymore about their hobby. The large lofts are increasingly dominating and little fanciers are increasingly taking off against the big boys. Maybe not quit right but it happens and that goes ten expense of the atmosphere in the club. In our club we have no big boys and no commercial boys. In that respect matters are in balance which is not the case with the performances. Fortunately we have an A group and a B group. In the A games we play with 8 men and the rest of the members play in the B. In our show 13 members join and the rest failed and that is especially disappointing for the organization. Fortunately I have experienced very different times, as far as social life is concerned "golden times". It is no more, most of us are old we are not anxious to go on the dance floor. Yet it happened much more disciplined in my younger years. We felt obliged to participate in everything the club organized, we were real club people. That seems to be a dying kind. More and more clubs are defunct, we have to get used to the situation that we are with lesser fanciers and therefore play with fewer pigeons. That is not to say that it is less fun that is why it is important that every club has an active board because there are lots of things to think that are good for an atmosphere. Then the members must see that something only can happen as if each member cooperate
This summer the Dutch pigeon sport was startled by a fraud case. A manager from the province of Noord-Brabant had seen opportunities to cheat the things and he still managed. Until a day came when he fell through the basket. Worse than to bug your sports friends is not there. I understand that the man is now suspended for 5 years and what else is attached to him I do not know at the moment but I'm going after it! Only a penalty of 5 years for what he has on his conscience is insufficient. The next important question that needs to be answered in the cycling world is; "has the English top cyclist Chris Froome also found his way to the candy box?" Would be a great pity if that were true. For the time being where there is smoke fire is usually also present. We cannot do anything else then wait and see and this is almost certain again a rider ends up on the list of fraudsters. Riders who have ensured that we have been sitting on the tip of our seat several times to watch the incredibly exciting moments in the big cycling races. The American Lance Armstrong took care of that, the Dutchman Michael Boogerd, the Belgian Freddy Martens and what about Tommy Simpson and that way I can name 50 more without much effort. Commerce and doping / fraud, we will never get rid of it within the sport. Unfortunately!

For years there is too much time spent on that. Recently a national program has been adopted and now it is all about keeping our 11 departments there. In my department there is a speed flight added and further the whole program is equal to 2017. In itself I think it's a great program, I honestly did not go into that in depth. That time is behind me and now the youngsters (unfortunately there are almost no longer) are allowed to commit to this. I have seen that there are game opportunities for me every week and I can live with that. Just as the ideal car does not exist, the ideal flight program will probably not exist. Yet every year there are a number of those smarties who think they know better. That is how it has been for so long I am a member of the pigeon organization. In any case, on 7 April we will start with a series of 6 speed flights and on 7 September we will be ready. A week later there is still the possibility to play a joint competition with our sports friends from South Holland. So everything is arranged that there is opportunity for everyone who wants to play with pigeons every week.

A nice start in the new year. Our club has that on Friday evening January 5. Then the rings for 2018 can be collected. I have the idea that several members on January 1 at the ring administrator have been at the door because they urgently needed their rings. If you pair November 26 then you have the first youngster on Christmas and they will be on January 5 too big to be able to ring them in a decent way. There are fanciers who can ring them so to speak when they are 3 weeks old. This has to be done with a lot of art and flying work and I think it is with a lot of pain and effort, I just do not like it. Unfortunately, there are fanciers who have almost forgotten that their pigeons are living creatures and that they have to be cared in a good way and that includes rings in time.

The signing of the certificate took place on Sunday 10 December during the national days of the NPO held in Rosmalen. This is an important step for the preservation and future of the Dutch pigeon sport. The NPO thus has the obligation to consciously and actively set in to keep its immaterial heritage alive and to give it a future. The NPO has made a good care plan for this. Even Monday night in the TV program Hello Netherlands attention was paid. Heritage is the term used to indicate what one inherits from ancestors (inheritance). The importance of heritage is determined and supported by a society. In other words the term heritage is awarded to matters that people value, identify and want to preserve for future generations. As a foundation of a society works the matter also in a future-oriented way.

A part of the pigeon sport is the breeding period. At many lofts this period has started. This means that many fanciers have determined how they will or will have coupled the breeding pigeons, inbreeding or crossing. Both are done with the intention to breed a number of usable pigeons again. It is inbreed as soon as twice or even several times the same pigeon occurs in the pedigree of a pigeon up to and including the great-grandparents. Niece x cousin is the lightest form of inbreeding and often gives the desired results for a usable racing pigeon. Too close inbreeding, brother x sister, parent x child will not produce the desired result. Why would you do something like that? After all pigeons cannot pass on what they do not have in themselves. Inbreeding can only be done with the very best you have in your loft and then especially to keep up the good quality you have in the loft. Those breeding products, provided they meet the strict requirements of the final selection, can be used for a new breeding couple in crossbreeding. The children from that couple can be put back against their own kind. Certainty to breed better quality is almost never there but it is a good method to try to build up your own tribe. Beginners can best start with pigeons from two different lofts that have a good inbreeding family, so a well-bred strain. Those two lines against each other give a greater chance of a good after-breeding. In my own loft I have tried everything in the 70 years that I have pigeons. I made so much work of the breeding that I sometimes could not sleep. With what I described above I still had on average the best results. But ... best fanciers there are so many examples of all kinds of coincidences that you just as well cannot make a study to form the right couples. Why would you? Too close inbreeding is not advisable, free pairing is just a bit too far away. This week I heard a story from a leading fancier who probably has the best middle distance pigeon in one of the national competitions. The mother was a good racing pigeon but because she had a so called "lay butt" she got a place in the nursery loft. A lay butt occurs in hens who feel as if they have to lay an egg but there is nothing, but the coccyx is completely wide and her ass feels fat. That hen was courted by a young cock who had never been in the basket. She lay one good egg but there arise one of the best middle distance pigeons in our country, so more luck than wisdom! For example I was once with a fancier who had put his pigeons together that same day. There was another breeding loft available and there were still about thirty pigeons running on the floor. At the last moment a dark hen was chosen and a dark cock with a number of white tail feathers. The man had so many pigeons that he hardly looked at the pedigree of the pigeons. Two years later the pair of the white-tailed male turned out to be by far the best breeding couple, one good after another rolled out. I have put together two champion pigeons several times and the breeding results were not immediately to write home. Occasionally it was the case that their nothing-performing nest mate produced much better youngsters. Try to discover something like that, what do you have to look at? Are that the eyes, the feathers, the temperament, their strong coccyx, their limp at the top, the short rear wing, the broad chest, the short or long sternum, the narrow flight feathers, the breeding feathers under the wing. We can look and do what we want, we can think we understand it, forget it! The late Jos Klak once said it; we all know absolutely nothing about it. And yet we keep looking in the eye, pull out the wing and name it. It is all hobby and does not make any sense. There are fanciers who do not look at anything. They keep every year all the remaining youngsters and bring their older or lesser pigeons to the poulter or to the sales because they bring something more than with the poulter. You wonder how you get better pigeons that way. In any case I will go to the fancier himself.

There is more and more overview on the loft. Not all pigeons that can be gone are gone. However the 24 breeding couples that I now own together with my son Marco are paired on paper. Almost certainly we put them together on December 28 and then the party can begin. The cocks all know their own breeding loft which prevents the necessary fights when they are allowed out of the breeding lofts for the first time. The first two days they remain locked up and then they can turn loose in the loft. I am then often in the loft to be able to intervene if there are heavy fights. The days are currently extended with artificial light. The hens are nice on weight but the cocks are a bit too heavy but that will be reduced as soon as they are coupled because they will pay more attention to the female than eating. My son Marco pairs the racing pigeons with the breeders at the same time so that eggs can be placed under his racing pigeons from certain breeding pairs. I wait for a while I am glad that I have a little more overview. Because a large part of Marco his pigeons were with me now I finally get some more air. I pair my racing pigeons so that I can lay a number of eggs from the second round of the breeders. At the moment we are on a mouse hunt, they are mostly field mice that pull through the cold to the houses. Those sorts do eat the bags of food and I would not have any of that. Everywhere there are clips with a piece of cheese, peanut butter or bread. I only caught one in five days. I used to have glue to catch those critters, that always succeeded because even though they were stuck with a whisker they never came loose again. That glue can no longer be sold, I have now let myself be told that there are sheets of paper with a layer of glue on it. I'm looking for that now because the sooner the rodents are gone, the better. I'm still worried that mice can transmit diseases, they urinate in the grit and food bowl and they play water polo in the drinking trough, away with it!

A well-known saying within pigeon sport is; "in the winter the prizes for the following year are earned". That expression is based on the molt. All birds are subjected to this natural phenomenon. A good molt gives good health and is for our pigeons of the utmost importance for good breeding and flying results. With good breeding results is meant the growth of the young pigeons. It has nothing to do with quality. Even the worst pigeons can have beautiful youngsters in the nest. We do not know what the flight performance of the young guard will be until the end of the season and we do not know everything yet. It happens all too often that youngsters who perform more than well in their year of birth do not make a difference as a yearling. The opposite happens even more often and you only will know if you keep pigeons that have performed as young moderately. It regularly happens that they play the stars of heaven as a yearling. Usually this is done by pigeons who the boss like and have not come through the selection on the basis of performance. The molt of our pigeons lasts the whole year and that is just as well. The boss can see how it is done with health. Every morning when I come into the loft the first thing I do is check if there are a few tufts everywhere. Especially in the racing season with the widowers it is enjoyable to look in the breeding lofts and see beautiful little dry manure balls on which there are a few tufts. Then you start whistling with the general care of your colony because you have seen that it is good with health. The big molt normally starts in August. The season for the old pigeons has been done and in fact it would be good for the pigeons not to play them anymore. But other interests also play a role in that period. Especially nowadays with all those different (national) competitions commercial interests. That is why every effort is made to slow down the molt. Or if that has a good or bad influence we can see in January then all pigeons must have passed through the molt. Those who do winter breeding can do so only with breeding pigeons that are already separated from the beginning of August. It would be even better to have the eggs of these pigeons hatched by feeding couples and that means we have to keep more pigeons. The season has only just ended but we are now already busy with breeding and at the end of January all lofts are full again. I never have had any problem with that but now I do not have to think to care for so many pigeons and caring is something more than throwing a handful of food into the loft every day. We can do that to keep our chickens to the leg but pigeons where performance is expected require a different treatment. They are all top athletes, they may lack nothing and for that you have to establish a complete training and care schedule. A lot of work but if everything goes as the boss has in mind the effort is not for nothing and that gives a more than satisfied feeling.

Not by me yet. Our breeding pigeons, indeed our breeding pigeons, because from this year Marco and I have joined forces by making use of our joint breeding loft. Between Christmas and New Year the 24 couples are put in the way we recorded it on paper some time ago. Certainly know that something will be changed at the last minute. Maybe because a couple does not want to know anything about each other or that we think that the particular cock can be better placed against another hen. All events that belong to our hobby. Free pairing we do not accept. You also have more honor from your work if you have bred some very good pigeons that you have put together yourself. I used to pay attention to the fact that I did not put two pigeons together with the same eyes. I do not want to say that it is silly but I do not look at it anymore and breed just as much bad and good as before. When forming the breeding couples I paid attention to the fact that I put as much as possible a large one against a smaller pigeon this with the intention to breed a type of medium size. Do you know what happened? Whether large or small types came from that couple, compensation breeding is almost impossible at least that is my experience. Obviously you put the two best pigeons against each other and if you can you must try to breed at least four or even six youngsters from that pair. In itself very good but it does not guarantee the quality. It regularly occurs that a top pigeon is bred somewhere in the racing loft of two yearlings who have not yet produced any noteworthy flight performances. That is why I have always bred out all my pigeons. Pigeons that, according to the boss, are worth a place in the racing loft are in my opinion also worth breeding. The problem is that we all have too many pigeons. In most lofts there are too many breeding pigeons (at least that is how they are called), that is why only two youngsters are bred from most of the pairs, in fact this would have to be at least four for that we have breeding pigeons. If you only breed two youngsters every year you will never find out what the breeding value is. If we breed four youngsters from all breeding couples and also keep a few pigeons from the race pigeons the lofts will bulge out. Then we come to the point of how many good pigeons come from one and the same breeding couple. Usually not one and sometimes one and fortunately there are also examples of breeding couples who regularly put usable pigeons on the world. It shows how difficult or complicated it is to breed a number of pigeons by a minimum occupation each year to keep our colony up to standard but that is also the charm of our hobby. The bottom line is that we know very little about it and that we need every year a dose of luck to breed good ones. I still argue this way. Together with my son Marco we have 24 breeding couples and they are all there for us and for no one else. They are our breeding pigeons and we do not care what pairs of pigeons produce pigeons that get enough. It cannot lie on the descendants, if that would not be good such pigeons are not in our breeding loft.

They are bred every year and are a rich asset. It is a great feeling to have bred a pigeon yourself and it is absolutely fantastic to have a few brothers and sisters of that qualitatively almost inferior to that one absolute topper. Such a loft has a particularly good commercial value and is even of vital importance to a number of fanciers. We can ask ourselves whether it is still commercially important to have a top pigeon in our loft. The past weekend I have followed a two-day Internet auction, a bigger success is almost imaginable. Great what a gaining for mainly youngsters with a beautiful pedigree of mostly famous commercial fanciers. But we have already mentioned it several times, that does not give any guarantee. There was also a sale of young pigeons (from each breeding couple only one) that had never been in the basket but had been bred especially for that internet sale, average yield more than 5000 euros each. Without doubt a fantastic result, something to be jealous of. Commerce can no longer be seen separately from any sport. Every sport depends on it and within the pigeon sport there are even more fanciers whose simple pigeon hobby has become vital. Fortunately that these men are not dependent on sales in their own country, poverty would be a trump card. The time that there was a proof of ownership from a pigeon with the ring number of the father and mother on the back, despite the fact that I also profit from the trade, yet many times more fun.

Oh, oh what a beautiful children's party. Every year the Good Holy Father celebrates his birthday on December 5th and presents with his followers a gift to all small children. A party that has existed for a long time and where there has been a lot of commotion in recent years. Sinterklaas and his faithful servant is Zwarte Piet and in addition the Saint still has more servants of the same color. The discussion is about the black color and the name servant, which has already disappeared, which is according to the anti-Black Pete group is discriminatory. Many find this far-fetched but unfortunately the discussion has ensured that the assistants of Sinterklaas are not everywhere black anymore. Too bad that big people go so far. Luckily the children do not know and they sing Sinterklaas songs every night until December 5 in the hope of finding a present in their shoes the next morning. Also I as a child went to sleep every night after I had song by the stove to be sure that I had something in my shoe the next morning and I would definitely put a carrot and some hay for the beautiful white horse of St. Nicholas. As a child you could not sleep and in the early morning I went out of bed to see if the saint had been. Now I am a grandfather myself and together with my grandchildren I sang the highest song, unfortunately they are now too big to believe in Sinterklaas. At my age you almost really believe in Sinterklaas again. There have been many years that I only had stuff for my pigeons on my wish list. In the Netherlands the Sinterklaas feast was more important than Christmas for generations. More and more Christmas days take the upper hand by surprising family groups with a valuable gift. Christmas is a big family celebration although many do not know what it is all about. We are already busy with the preparations, unfortunately that is not the case in a large part of the world.

In pigeon land is the winter breeding where we worry about. At many lofts the breeding
and perhaps also the racing pigeons are together again. The season is emotionally only just coming to an end or the new generation is already coming. I am sure that in many lofts the final selection has not yet been completed. It is also no easy task to decide which pigeons may or may not stay. It is not easy to say goodbye to pigeons that you have been working on for a couple of years. Especially with the older pigeons it is difficult to decide about life or death. Everyone knows that we cannot keep all pigeons. After all our hobby also demands race improvement and that includes a strict selection. As a child I could not sleep if my father had said that there were too many pigeons. I knew then that we would eat pigeon soup for several weekends. My brother who had nothing to do with pigeons was crazy about pigeon soup and was usually the first at the table. I ate it but with every bite I took I had to think of the pigeons and in my thought I heard them still cooing. So it was with our rabbit. You cared him the whole year with the knowledge that he had to believe it with Christmas. That was not only the case with us, it was the most normal thing in the world in my childhood. At that time we had never heard of winter breeding. Our pigeons were usually coupled during the third weekend of February, we did not have breeding pigeons at that time. The racing pigeons were also the breeders. These were not just breeders they were all performance pigeons without a name. We only knew the last three digits of the ring number. With pigeons that were sold or donated was only a proof of ownership with at the back the ring number of the hen or the cock. You had to do it with that and that was enough for that time. In my opinion the breeding results were also better because the selection was much and much stricter than is currently the case. Most fanciers did not have the money to keep many pigeons. In many lofts money was played was played for money even though it was not large amounts it counted. Most fanciers bought their food with at most five kilos at a time and that cost no more than two guilders (90 eurocents). Such amounts could be earned several times per flight so that the pigeons could earn their own costs. That’s how it worked, pigeons where the boss had all confidence got money with but had to bring home the fivefold. If they did not succeed several times they signed their own death warrant. Nowadays are mainly played for championships in the Netherlands. The money game, even if it concerns small amounts, has largely disappeared from the sport and with it the quality of the pigeons. Every pigeon had to earn its place even if he or she had such good parents or performing brothers or sisters, every pigeon had to perform. Perhaps that is the main reason that fewer youngsters were lost in those years. Nowadays there is only just breed. Wherever two wings are attached it is allowed to produce youngsters especially if a beautiful name has been made up along with a pedigree where, for an observant fancier, nothing but baked air is placed on. About the pigeon itself there is almost nothing but it’s mostly about the great-grandparents who once made an appealing achievement. But what the hell do we have to do with such a meaningless pigeon. I cannot say that we are not doing well right now but it is true that we were doing different and better in the seventies and eighties. Now that we all have more money to spend the buying craziness has erupted so that the number of disappointed fanciers is increasing. In the Netherlands the fanciers have it through. They do, except a few, not participate anymore to count astronomical amounts. Pigeon sport is becoming more and more commercial while you cannot even win a brush and a can in the Netherlands. Name pigeons you must have, then you can sell something on the internet. Whether you can prove the buyers a service is doubtful. In this article we were talking about race improvement of racing pigeons, so think carefully about how to act. With proven racing pigeons you do not even have the guarantee to breed good pigeons let alone with the kind described above.

The weekend of November 26 is for many fanciers the beginning of a new season. Those who are going to do winter breeding have put the couples together on paper for a long time. From experience I know that there are still changes made on the day of pairing. It is a matter of deliberation and weighing which cock is against which hen, always an exciting activity. In my younger years I could lie awake for nights because I did not manage to form the couples in such a way that I would breed nothing but good youngsters. When I finally knew how I would put them together a heavy burden fell off me. I was almost certain that it would become top with this new coupling. In my dreams I challenged all competitors because I was so sure of my case that I would not know with the best will of the world who could beat me. Beautiful thoughts that never and never came out, now I know better. It is the same song every year. Most with lots of care composed couples are disappointing and that is a good thing. For the pigeon sport it would be disastrous if every year only good youngsters were born in all lofts. In every loft it is still feasting when a youngster is born that performs remarkably well especially when the same pigeon as a yearling can once again achieve excellent performances. They exist, however you have to look for them with a light. If you have doubts about what I am writing step into your loft now and see how many real good pigeons you have from 5 years and younger, maybe there are ten. You do not believe that yourself or you have to believe all those wild stories of fanciers who know how to breed nothing but just good pigeons. Suppose the average fancier breeds 50 youngsters per year, that's in 5 years 250. Just count how many of those 250 are left. If there are indeed ten top pigeons you will undoubtedly belong to the national top. Just a little longer and there is plenty of breeding and all fanciers have 100% confidence again. Maybe the newly purchased breeding pigeons bring good luck or maybe that formidable widower of 2017 will produce a bunch of pigeons in 2018 with which we can go a few years further. So we all have our dreams or expectations it is just how you want to call it. Fortunately it is not just about disappointment. Most fanciers are happy if they can come along reasonably well, it's not just about victory. Other (head) prizes also ensure that we enjoy our hobby. As in other sports there will always be fanciers who perform better. Do not be jealous but have appreciation for performances maybe there will be a time when you give the other a sporty beating. This is how the pigeon sport works. The rivalry ensures that pigeon racing remains a nice game. As long as everyone tries to beat his neighbor there will be a healthy fight every week, think about that. To beat the neighbor is more beautiful for many than a victory in a big context.

I have remembered these wise words from my father. It comes from the time that many fanciers took part in a show with their best pigeons. Everyone was curious how the man in the white coat judged the pigeons. Then there were judges who evaluated the pigeons on the basis of the regulations and unfortunately the best racers were almost never considered for a prize. The spirit ran back, fanciers hooked of because they did not want to go off at the annual club show. It had to be said that in the past years there were many judges who themselves performed below par. Then you soon get the remark; what does that guy imagine himself he cannot come along and does he have to condemn my pigeons? Because it was like that, pigeons with low points were condemned in the eyes of the fancier and not judged. There were also judges who were able to judge a pigeon. Just as good as there are good football coaches who cannot kick a dent in a packet of butter, that is also possible. Still there were then many fanciers curious about the results of the inspection but that time seems to be over. Fanciers find that they can do it better themselves. Here too the best mates are still on shore. Yet it is a shame that everything is different. Nowadays you have to lie on your knees to get participants for your own club show, actually too crazy for words. At our last meeting was asked who wanted to use pigeons for the show of our ensemble, no human! In the end our club joined as expected with 5 quartets. Last year we were the best and that is what we wanted to be again. That same afternoon the pigeons that were eligible for participation were selected in our club building. This time too our 20 pigeons (5 quartets) were judged the best so that the club prize was won by my club. No applause but the necessary commotion. It would not be not fair that our pigeons were pre-selected and that was reminded by the chairman during the award ceremony. Envy and unsportsmanlike I cannot make anything else.

This summer the Dutch pigeon sport was startled by a serious fraud case. The fraudster is the president of the local pigeon club, has a board position at provincial level and was even involved in the use of the pigeons. The man has admitted that he did indeed play unfairly some times. Despite this in his club of barely 20 members there are still a number of members against the dismissal of their chairman. Cause; no statement has yet been made by the NPO. For many fanciers the statement is far too long. You may wonder why? After all the man has known debt and from a later check it appears that he did not just piss off the pot this year. The good man had been monitored for a longer period of time but could not be caught immediately. Is not a simple matter and a question was asked about this at the last NPO meeting. Nobody knows exactly how to act when someone is suspect. That is indeed a serious matter and if you do not know exactly how to act crucial mistakes can be made. In spite of that it should not be that difficult to release the suspect (who has known debt) from his position and to exclude him from further participation or membership. "Your own fault, big bump", they say by us.

Our national football team has many loyal supporters which is not surprising because it belonged for many years to the best national teams in the world. Unfortunately, the number of loyal supporters is after the Netherlands has not placed itself before the World Cup in Russia drastically reduced. Understandably, the nauseating behavior of the players, the disappointing results and the too high upgraded quality of the national coach are far below par. Perhaps the press has written our orange team up too much. The same is now the case with our skaters. The Netherlands is the ideal ice-skating country but if other countries do not stand still with development competition will increase. That was seen during the first World Cup matches in the Dutch skating temple in Heerenveen. It is annoying to have to note that the Dutch skaters more or less drove away what was caused because the noses of especially the men skaters were not the same way. So we will also have to be careful that something like this happens in pigeon land. For some time a new board has been working to set out uniform lines for everyone who wants to join the races. That the decisions are not satisfactory for everyone is simply an impossible task. The positive thing is that for every fancier every week are game possibilities, a situation with which we have to be very happy. Nevertheless there are all kinds of counter-proposals. When is the time that we are largely unanimous, which should actually be very simple. We must have confidence in our national board but not only confidence we also have to support them. Only in this way pigeon sport will have a healthy future. On November 4 another step in the right direction was taken during the national members' meeting.

It happens sporadically that you get into conversation with someone who has chosen pigeon sport as a hobby. Fortunately there are plenty of opportunities to start. We older fanciers can contribute our part. The best thing is to tell novices nothing about pigeon magazines or even worse give information about sales sites. Advise them to read a lot of books about the pigeon sport, a beginning pigeon fancier will learn something from that. From sales sites and magazines with only a list of all kinds of results beginners become not wiser. Tell them that they will take a look at regional pigeon shows at this time of the year. There they can admire the finest pigeons from fanciers in their neighborhood. There is also a possibility to get in conversation with the winners of the show or with other famous players from the area. Everyone is then in the opportunity to make an appointment for one or even multiple loft visits. That is interesting and educational. At such shows you often have the opportunity to buy a voucher or pigeon from famous regional and even national champions for a reasonable price. Recently I got into conversation with a starter. It was someone from the back of the fifties who had as a child pigeons and never did anything with it. Here we see that it is important that at a very young age knowledge is made with keeping pigeons then there is a big chance that in later life will they will come back. It is comparable to someone who once sat with his ass on a road bike, you will never forget that feeling again and cycling will always keep them interested. That is also the case with our pigeon sport that is also a kind of addiction, once pigeons always pigeons! It is important that beginners hear nothing but positive stories. The pigeon sport is and remains a wonderful hobby at home. The pigeon sport is not a cheap hobby but which hobby is? You can make every hobby as expensive as you want. It is better to build up the hobby slowly, everyone will have to start with a learning period. The pigeon sport will have to play a lot more on this. With newspaper reports about a pigeon sold for 500,000 euros we do not get any new members. The beginner I spoke last was with 500 euros in his pocket went to a room sale with the intention to buy a young hen of high-performing parents. The man went home disillusioned because there was no pigeon below the thousand euro. I told him that the price paid for a pigeon says nothing about quality. I have not told him what happened last week in North Limburg. There was a sale of youngsters brought together by prominent Belgian and Dutch fanciers. The craziness was complete there. Among the four most expensive pigeons of the sale were three of the Belgian Willy Daniels. He is the man whose pigeon was sold a few weeks ago for four tons. Without doubt a very good pigeon but for 4 tons you can also do a lot of other fun things. Willy is also a fancier who easily sells his best pigeons and always ensures that he has one or even several good pigeons in the cage in no time. Selling such a very expensive pigeon also has other very large commercial advantages, the entire loft is upgraded. The proof of this was delivered last week during an room auction. Three youngsters were sold for respectively 80.400 49.200 and 43.200 euros. The total yield of the 168 pigeons offered for sale was 941.000 euros (average 5.600 per pigeon). If during a regional show tickets and pigeons are offered for sale with the intention of giving the club cash a financial injection then there is loud applause when for 20 pigeons in its totality around 1500 euros is offered and then I do not talk about the quality because it will certainly not be inferior to those pigeons that are sold for an average of 5.000 euros or more. Those expensive up-written pigeons come only from commercial fanciers who often owe their name to top performances from one of their pigeons. They breed throughout the summer to sell as many pigeons as possible in the winter months. In regional sales the donors do their utmost to supply a high-quality pigeon that usually comes from their best breeding or racing couple. No, all those gigantic amounts are not good for the pigeon sport but for the fanciers himself. Who of us would not occasionally want to sell a pigeon for a gigantic amount? Of course most of us want that. We can ask ourselves whether we get new members as a result. It seems more obvious to me that we lose more. That is how the novice I spoke last thinks about it.

We recently had our fall meeting from the club. The attendance of the members was good, unfortunately the reactions to the new proposals for the next season were not immediately positive. I then thought about the novice I had spoken. There flashed through me "if that man had experienced this meeting he might have been screaming run away". Just as badly I found the enthusiasm to participate in the annual exhibition. Nobody raised his finger as a sign that he was participating. Only when father and son Braspenning indicated that they certainly participated were very careful still some fingers up. Last year our club had the finest collection then you surely want to defend that achievement. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that way.

The preparations for winter breeding has started although we are not yet ready for it. Neither is it necessary because we have still three weeks to reunite the sexes. The para-coli cure of doctor van der Sluis is behind. Something more than two weeks in a row ALL PIGEONS have had this cure in their drinking water. As previously responded my son and I combined our strengths by cultivating one another. The breeding cage has been completely made up. Dust free, spider webs removed, all corners sucked out with the vacuum cleaner. After that everything done with the burner (a better disinfectant does not exist) minor repair and then everything with the syringe against pests, lice and other spikes. The nest boxes had been cleaned some time ago. The next week they get a vaccination against paramixo and make a throat to see if they're free from cancer. Also the grit bins are cleaned well and burned with the burner. Everything looks new and the pigeons also look extra beautiful. Especially with the sun on the loft it’s enjoyment of the pigeons although they are not done with the molt they glow against you.

It was great today enjoying a fantastic weather. A steel blue cloudless sky, plenty of sunshine and a temperature just below 10 degrees. The pigeons also enjoyed the beautiful autumn weather. First the hens were allowed outside for two hours and then the cocks. At the pigeons you could see that they were fit as a fiddle because they flew that it was a dear lust except my two three-year-old pigeons. They breed longer than the other pigeons and therefore have some backlog in the molt. They just dropped their eighth pen and they are not feeling so beautiful yet. That's the case with the other pigeons especially the breeders who are already are through molt but yes they never come outside so you cannot judge them on fly lust. The department for the old race pigeons is still empty. I was planning to let the young cocks search a box but I’ll wait for it. The reason for this is that I do not know who is finally assigned a place. I have enough time with them because they will not be paired before January 1e. Fortunately I do not have a charge of birds of prey. Two or three years ago that I had and if you're not used to that misery it's a horror if you suddenly get along. Over the years I have spoken many fanciers who suffer from it all years. You hear their story and you have no idea what these people experience. If a single young pigeon is caught, ok you can say that's nature. It's going to be another story when they go with one or two of your better pigeons. You do not have to think about it and we know all too well what the commercial value of a true top pigeon is today. I know we all have our own top pigeons on the cage. We all know that one fancier's top pigeon is worth more than another. The same applies to all of us; none of us are waiting for the moment when our best pigeon is being puzzled by a robber.

They lived together in their pile house with us in the front yard. They were intensely happy with each other and occasionally rear up a youngster of the race pigeons. I did not like them because they are white and I do not like it at all, but there were two very nice pigeons on the yard.
These two nice white pigeons called "peacock tails". They are as easy as a lamb but now it's coming; the cock is not anymore. He came to the end of his life in a not so enjoyable way. In the early spring an magpie couple wanted to nest in that pile house. My white peacock tail wanted a stick for stitching he had enough talks to fight with those white/ black intruders, unfortunately he had to die with death. The pigeon is now alone and no longer in her pile house, she is between the breeding pigeons and gets a new husband in January. I have get ready a haired white pigeon for her. They can bring up two youngsters and they can then take place in the front yard so that I can enjoy a few white pigeons daily who can scramble around and around the yard. The previous two never got a bath, never got grit, they had to pick them up in the garden, they never received a medicine, never get a bathe they did when it was raining. They never felt anything and they always looked as white as snow. Especially my wife will be happy if the new "whites" are to be admired every day around the house.

From the first minute this meeting was possible to follow via internet. There had a big agenda to be finished and that was not equally interesting to everyone. Just like before they were mostly the same speakers who spoke and I have to say that our chairman his business was fine. He hardly had to think to give a well-formulated answer. It was a long time to follow this national meeting from ten to half past three. Of course I come back in a following article to explain the most important decisions. For me as a non-long distance player there was a very long discussion about the one-day long distance and the marathon flights. The proposed national flight program took also a long time but that’s never been others.

Of these 22 are sold on the internet via GPS. Simple yet, but it's not that simple. A few weeks before the sale the pedigrees must be handed in and two weeks before the sale all pigeons must be in the picture. A job of almost half an hour and there are high costs involved. In addition I had the bad luck that we landed in a 6 km file that caused 50 minutes of travel time. What am I glad I'm not on the road every day. During the return journey no setbacks and so on my way home together with my wife we have eaten deliciously. Now wait for the internet sales from 12 to 19 November.

As soon as the race season was over there was talked for years about the silent season but it has been a long time ago. The quiet season has never really existed. With a silence season is meant that the races were over. In winter the association exhibitions followed and there was no more. In some regions a lot of work was done on the annual championship ceremony and, in order to make the evening more cozy, there was sometimes a singer, a gagman or magician. The public was entertained and now these evenings are romanticized by saying that it used to be a lot more cozy. That's right, it was not comparable to what is being done now. At that time the people were used to nothing and had the greatest fun for the simplest things. It was real pigeon evenings, there was talked well and after the official part went on until the small hours the feet of the floor. It's different now, we're old and no longer getting on the dance floor, we just want to talk about our hobby. Now every pigeon event has always a few standers who sell all kinds of items for the pigeon sport but the main goal are the by-products that will perform pigeons better. Much work is being done of natural products which would be much better and less harmful than antibiotics. Unfortunately we cannot do without and what many may not know is that antibiotics are also a natural product but it is translated in a different way. Internationally the Kassel weekend (Germany) has been behind us. What ever begun in a simple hall has become an enormous international trade fair were in particular a large part of the entire commercial pigeon world comes. In the Netherlands is worked hard on the annual event of the NPO which is held this year on the weekend of 9-10 December, the entrance is just like parking free. On Saturday night the national champions will be honored and this always attract a lot of audience. It is also possible for the "standard" pigeons to be approved in advance for possible participation in the January 2019 Olympics held in Poland. Also the standard pigeons must have flown a number of kilometers determined by the FCI. If there are among the beautiful standard pigeons, who have flown the required mileage by 2017, the fancier can decide if the pigeon has to race a less heavy program in 2018 or that the pigeon needs to get some more out of the box. Anyway it’s so that the Netherlands is already in process of preparing for participation in the next Olympia. It's a pity that the heartiness for that category is not too big and that's very pity. In the past Dutch pigeons played a leading role in both the sport and the standard class. Fortunately is now working hard to recover that more or less lost position. The Netherlands has to go back to the place where they belong they go for gold and for less than bronze they do not. It is only that competition knows the Netherlands is coming on again, all countries are warned. How it will go with the sports class will depends largely on the Dutch weather. For the national league it does not matter so much, internationally it does because the weather conditions on the day of the race still have a major influence on the course of the matches held from early April to mid-September. Also from the sports pigeons are kept track of statistics so that a pigeon that makes a real chance for participation in the Olympics can be kept in on time.

In November a series of championship events will be held usually accompanied by a pigeon show. In my region it is the ZCC (our combination) that will hold the annual show and championship ceremony on 17 and 18 November. For the first time in the existence of the ZCC my son Marco is honored as the champion of speed and the middle distance races with which he takes the permanent place of his father. I ever did that from my father and so three generations of Braspenning play a leading role in Zaanse pigeon sport and also far beyond. This month is also the championship celebration of the North Holland long distance club. On December 2 the entire North Holland department, in which more than 1500 fanciers play weekly, will honor her champions. A week later on 9th and 10th December the national pigeon event and again a week later is the party weekend of my own association. Nationwide there are festivals every week. The one who want can visit several pigeon shows every week. Often this is worth it because every organization will have a sale of donated pigeons or vouchers for a young pigeon 2018 during such a weekend. Especially at all those regional festivities you can strengthen your pigeon colony for a very beneficial amount. In any case many times cheaper than the prices you see today on the increasing number of sales sites.

The big molt is almost is as good as over by most pigeons. In my darkened young pigeons there are some still standing on two old pens. They still have some time because the young pigeons do not do winter breeding. With the breeding pigeons we have been working for some time to form the 24 couples which gives me sleepless nights. I cannot actually write it but we really have a luxury problem. I did not even have so many breeding couples anymore. The pigeons I held in the winter of 2016/2017 have been through the selection so many times that they have all been well enough. Perhaps I still do some way because my son Marco has a formidable collection of breeding pigeons. What was first of all by me only the old-fashioned Janssen pigeons the descendants have now been crossed with the champion blood of the great Dutch all-round champion Willem de Bruijn. With that coupling we have been very successful. The hardest is yet to come. At the moment it is still not known which breeders from Marco can stay for sure. We are not going to put any breeding boxes at all. We have a loft with 24 breeding boxes and there rather stays one empty then there is one added. I am an enormous fan to have only performance pigeons in the breeding loft and that is not yet the case. We have again picked up some others among two grandchildren of Harry. We did that because Marco also wants to play his part on the one-day long distance. I have never been a fan of it but I have participated in it for several years. No, not all flights but with different successes. I would like to point out that my old Janssen type could also run up to 650km. It's a matter of want to and also daring to race the pigeons. Especially for the latter I was far too economical on my pigeons. Now that I'm old I'm thinking about it easier because my son Marco wants to enjoy those flights. Hence we will do our utmost to give the big boys whack. We never loved a figurative role.

On October 5 after a debilitating disease the highly respected Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan died. Shortly before his death he was still on the arm with King Willem Alexander for a walk through "his" Amsterdam. In his farewell letter to the inhabitants of the capital he wrote among other things, "take care of our city and for each other, goodbye". Thousands of Amsterdammers say goodbye in the concert hall on Friday October 13th to "their" precious mayor who was buried in a closed circle on Saturday. For us fanciers it was a pity that no pigeons were released during the funeral ceremony. Pigeons also belong by Amsterdam, at the Dam Square before the Royal Palace crimson it. Some hate them for others a tourist attraction. In the golden years of pigeon sport there were more than 1500 fanciers in Amsterdam. Amsterdam had its own department of own transport and of course its own board of directors. The Fond Club Amsterdam was very famous in the Netherlands and had many top players among its members. Their annual festival evening with the highlight of the championship ceremony was held at Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. To be there you should, even if you were a member, order timely tickets otherwise you did not get into it. The Amsterdam department also held their championship ceremony and the annual exhibition with a separate honorary class for the first ten general champions of the city. Usually were represented Mr. Staal director of Krasnapolsky who had his pigeon loft on top of the roof of this immensely large hotel and also in that time a man with respect Mr. Gerhard's director of the Mars chocolate factories for years he was the man who could not be beat. For those events there was always plenty of interest and with so many Amsterdammers in the hall you are assured of full of cosines. Twice I received an honorable invitation to judge the honors class which was one of the highlights of my career as a judge. Later the exhibition of Amsterdam was held at the Hilton Hotel after which it went unfortunately downhill. Consumption was found to be expensive and forced out into a simpler and cheaper accommodation. It eventually became the death strike for the ever-busy Amsterdam exhibition and it meant the end of many stylish party nights. At the moment many fanciers have left Amsterdam, they have been devoted to various outside communities because keeping pigeons in the overpopulated city was almost impossible. The department of Amsterdam, like the Haarlem department, has gone up in section 6 - Noord-Holland, but in this fusion department the membership is sadly returning and in the long run a large nostalgia gap will be lost. The Amsterdam humor will remain but unfortunately that's we can say.

Habru enjoys great publicity in the Netherlands because of their high-quality pigeon sports products. Carefully started making aluminum sputniks but after all those years the range has been expanded with a whole range of articles. During the 9th Habru day all products were well organized in the company's spacious hall so that the ever-increasing number of visitors could admire the latest new gadgets. Also from our neighboring countries was great interest in Habru products. The day was entirely a sign of charity and a strong forum was formed for the fanciers consisting of four strong players as; Willem de Bruijn, Stickers-Donckers (B), Opdebeeck-Baetens (B), the thriving Zeeland talent Frederik Dekker with as presenter the Frisian "self-made man" GJ Beute. The forum brought little news forward it took too long and there was too much talked about medicine, cure and vaccination. The pigeon on its own does not seem to be so important today either the pedigree and the name. The most beautiful response came from Stickers-Donkers, his answer to the question "how do you plan your pigeons if you want to" peak "on a particular flight he said; we have 40 flights a year and I want to win all of them so I do always the same. My pigeons can choose what they want to eat every day, there is plenty of food all day because the food tray is always filled. He is also in favor of driving a lot with the pigeons sometimes four times a day. Responding to the visitors' reactions it was definitely a successful day. I think so too because I like something different within our pigeon sport. All national and provincial annual return pigeon events will be very boring in the long run.

There was a time when every fancier had to submit his pigeon's performance in order to compete with national competitions. Not everybody did that which there was no pure picture of who the true champions were. There was a lot of discussion in the pigeon magazines. Known champions did not join at least that was what they told. Suddenly there was one year that two strong players had a good pigeon. Yes you read well, 1 good pigeon while they had 200. The pigeon sport is really not so simple when it comes to real top pigeons and yet they are there every year. Those two players who find all those extra championships nothing were in that year that they each had a good one the first to submit their participation form. Both ended high in the final classification but did not have the best. One of the men has died the other one still talks after 25 years about it remaining what indicates how difficult it is to score high. Still there are fanciers, counting on the fingers of a hand, who almost stand there every year. That's partly because everything in the computer is being calculated and saved and what appears now, there are still games, associations or regions who still count themselves. Almost all of the Netherlands will calculate their results at a nationally known accounting firm, some do not and therefore the final stages of all competitions at national level are still "official" at this time.

Now that the fly season is over and many fanciers are already quite advanced with the selection the conversations will begin to form the (new) breeders. I admit that winners give winners rather than ace pigeons do. That's why I always pair two winners. A few years ago I had more than the last two years. The cause I'm looking for is the age, motivation and fitness of the boss. These are the biggest dangers for an elderly fancier to be able to sustain. Elongated discussions can be held about breeding pigeons and the formation of breeding pairs. No-one can tell in advance what a good breeding couple is even the eye judges cannot, if they could they would have enough to one pair. Also they breed a large number of young pigeons every year which they indicate they also do not have a look at it. A good fancier once said to me; if you have a pair that has given 1 topper you already have a good breeding pair. There are couples who have given several useful pigeons and there will also be breeding pairs around the world that produced more real good. In general it’s so that all carefully compound breeders give more bad than good. So we do not know much about it, a dose of luck we certainly need to breed now and then a good one but for most of us it will always be a dream.

This week my mother would have been 109 years old. Four days ago was the cremation of a good pigeon friend with whom I spent many years in the board of our combination. Today I read in the newspaper that the widow of a good pigeon friend has passed away. After months of political consultation the Netherlands has again a new government since Tuesday the 10th. Last week I went to a cycling race near me, a real fun fair round that closes the cycling season in Noord-Holland every year. Last Saturday we went to a perfect dinner show in one of the television studios. The same Saturday we had the annual goat trip with which some renowned pubs participated. The purpose of this is to drive by bike from one bar to another and drink a buck of beer. The weather conditions were too bad so we had skipped that event this time. Monday evening was my fixed card evening and Tuesday I use to write some articles about the pigeon sport. No, I'm not bored because I'd like to be everywhere.

I go to my pigeons only half past ten every morning. I will first have a nice breakfast and reading my newspaper, then I release a department of pigeons and start cleaning. Most pigeons get food and clean water at 10 o'clock. After the afternoon another group of pigeons will be released and at 5 o'clock it’s dinner time again. They then get more like in the morning because they have to spend only 7 hours from one feed to another but after 5pm it is 17 hours. They have already been used to the new feeding times. Not all the lofts are cleaned every day. The young and old cocks are separated and that's also the case with the hens. However they still get a bath and fresh vegetables every Tuesday. The molt runs well and the pigeons now have a para-coli cure of Dr. Van der Sluis. Furthermore it’s the intention to vaccinate all pigeons in early November against paramixo and at the end of that month the breeding pigeons will be re-paired. They are almost ready. They are divorced from the beginning of June and most have only one old pen. The tails are almost full and when the one after another tail pen is renewed the big molt is behind.

In 2016 my son Marco returned to his birthplace again, he is living 5 minutes with me it's sky wide about 800 meter. He immediately tied up a simple loft so that before he moved to his new address had fly a number of young pigeons. He played them in the autumn flights and that meant little or nothing. Of the 20 14 left and they were allowed to stay all, only two of them had played a remarkable prize. With those 14, 6 hens and 8 cocks, the season for old pigeons began in 2017. The expectations were not super highly tensed. The pigeons were not selected they could all stay because they did come from the breeding pigeons. That does not say anything because how often it does not happen that two proven pigeons do not breed any good. Fortunately there are also (breeding) couples who regularly produce useful pigeons and because we both do not add so much to the performance of young pigeons there was the confidence that a couple of yearlings could provide fireworks. And yes, it even exceeded expectations and they even grabbed the title on the speed and also on the middle distance. Without a doubt an unprecedented success for father and son because the pigeons come for the most part from me. We are also pleased with the young pigeons who have performed well and we have not lost so much so for 2018 choice enough. All breeding pigeons, 24 couples, are housed in the existing breeding loft in the Wijdewormer. Still I have not been able to decide whether or not to play with old pigeons. As it looks now that is certainly not the case. It is the meaning that I am going to play with young pigeons in 2018. At least two sections for the young pigeon game are made ready to play "on the door". To say goodbye to all my pigeons I think it is too big risk. When you have 71 years pigeons, that's almost my whole life, the daily format is largely filled out and if it ones goes away I do not know what to do. I’m too old to occupy another position in some board or committee. Remains cycling and cards a few times a week because I like to play cards and occasionally together with my wife play bridge. But my pigeons were and are still my big passion. The cycling sport still has my interest too.

Marco and I are neither lovers of a large amount pigeons we must be able to overlook. I never had many pigeons all my life that was also my father's advice. He always said; we need only a few but all tops. That has succeed for a great deal but there exist no loft that has only good. Nowadays it might be possible. The trade in pigeons has gone unbelievably from the claws, all with wings is for sale nowadays. The Belgian hen sold last for 4 tons (400,000 euros) has opened many eyes again. I can still remember that we went on bike to the Jordaan Amsterdam where in the neighborhood building the Palm was held in the winter months every Sunday morning an auction. The pigeons were deployed for two guilders fifty (which is now 1 euro 20). The hall was full, only Amsterdam had more than 1500 fanciers at that time, now there are no more than 100. The auctioneer stood on a kitchen staircase and when the highest bid was released he hit with a whisk on a can and the pigeon was sold, great to experience. Now everything is internet, only the pedigree is checked and the pigeon is side issue. It becomes very interesting if it is an "ace pigeon" and all the way if it is a national winner. Does not matter against how many pigeons if he only won national. In such pigeons many wealthy people (there are many in pigeon land) are interested for commerce. It is also interesting for the little fancier who has such a pigeon on the loft. With such dizzying amounts paid for top pigeons you can do lots of fun. In my view it's not smart to not sell such pigeons. You must smear the iron if it is hot.

In the Netherlands it has been four weeks since the last official flight was held. Many pigeons could not be played anymore but maybe there were even more in blurred form. Now that the big molt has reached its peak it is no unnecessary luxury to give extra attention to the pigeons. Many fanciers are like their pigeons at rest and many take that rest as well. However that does not mean that you can throw the hat right now. You know a pigeon season lasts a whole year, proper care is needed from January 1st to December 31st. I say consciously a proper care which means that the bow does not have to be stretched anymore. Release the pigeons every day is nice if there is the opportunity but it is not necessary. There are fanciers who after the season never release their pigeons. This can be for several reasons for example they leave and come home in the dark from work and in a number of areas the predator problem is playing. Others think it’s enough to release the pigeons only on weekends. It is best to let the pigeons out as much as possible if there is the opportunity. This can also be an aviary what some call an oxygen cure. I do not know what to think about it, bad it will not be but my experience is that pigeons who are heavy molting like to sit inside and not full in the wind in an open aviary. My pigeons are currently flying for half an hour and do not know how fast they go inside. They actually know themselves what's good for them. The one who observes his pigeons regularly sees at their behavior what they like which you cannot resist at this time of the year.

Because I was not well in my skin for a few months during the race season the care and therefore the performances were not well. I did not have pleasure of staying on the loft longer than necessary. Cleaning did not happen daily and when I could not do that at all my two sons Marco and Michel took over this task temporarily. I continued to feed them what contained I lift the lid from the feed bin and quickly throw the estimated amount food in the tray. Look at the pigeons or take them in hand I did not at all. The widow pigeons seemed to be chickens there were always a few eggs here and there. I do not like that because the attention for the cock reduced. Some hens were not at all interested in their cocks, they were pushing at the pillars of the door to get out, well then you know. Or maybe not because there are those who, despite their behavior, perform (very) well. Two widow pigeons who are dumb to each other and sometimes lay their eggs at the same time can surprise at the flights. No, I do not encourage it because other pigeons perform under the measure. Previously I watched the ladies in the winter months very well and when I saw two ladies lay somewhere cuddling one of the two had to disappear. At this time of year you have no trouble whatsoever, they have something different on their heads the molt asks all their energy. That's why they may not lack anything, only on dry bread no athlete can perform. Only on barley no single pigeon come perfectly through the molt. Barley is fine for the pigeons but if they are completely ruined. My pigeons had never get barley they do not even know what it is. I never gave it because a big champion dissuade me. I've just kept that in mind, others swear by it. I like to feed sweets in the season and actually also in winter months I think more than the average fancier does. In my opinion candy seeds provide extra fuel and also for extra willpower but be careful they get too heavy. That was a few days ago when I watched the breeding pigeons. It had been a while since I took them into my hands, I was shocked they were not lifting so heavy. This is partly because they never come outside and the fly pigeons ask more attention. The breeding season is over so water, feed and cleaning and that's it, I do not know what to do more about it. Yes, occasionally take them in hand because if you do not do that it may have an effect on the molt because too heavy pigeons molt badly.

My young pigeons performed well. They stayed fine in the feathers because I almost darkened them until the end of June and maybe that’s why I did not suffer from an e-coli outbreak this year. Other years I darkened until the end of May and about two weeks later they suffered from coli. That's for me, for who not, something to get lost. First of all it’s very said for the pigeons because they are deadly and in the second place I find it terrible to clean the cage. Horrible that dirty green oily carpet it's almost impossible to get rid of your scraper. With a thorough approach to a coli infection you can get rid of within a week. During the cure feed very little or almost nothing because they are more likely than profitable. Once they start eating better and more they are also well within a week and you can see that because they will fly around the loft longer and faster. If they are ill you can keep them better inside. Adverse effects the young pigeons do not have if they have the coli contamination behind them. Those of me are heavily molting most of them are still on six old pens and I assume that they are all exchanged in three months so with New Year they are all back in the Sunday suit. Today I took the all youngsters in my hands, they disappoint me. Actually I should not have done that because molting pigeons never feel beautiful, often a little weak, wings not nice because some have thrown two pens at once and when they have just grown a little the next pen goes out again. No, I was actually a little disappointed in the youngsters a month ago I was so proud they looked so beautiful. Fortunately no burden of sickness or heredity.

I'm increasingly doubting to everything I do for my pigeons. In a week they all get a triple paratyphus cure, they do not molt less so evil it cannot be. Whether that disease is slumbering I do not know. If so such a traditional cure cannot be wrong but what is the point if it is completely absent? Why take an aspirin if you do not have a headache? Nevertheless, I'll do the cure again this year because Paratyphus is a common sneak disease, it's a real assassin that you better prevent then cure because it can crash your entire breeding and fly season.

The season is going to the end, it's almost up. I was always a fancier who wanted to play for a couple of weeks I could not get enough of it. Especially not if the pigeons continued to perform well and that was happily often the case. In particular the pigeons who stayed a whole year in the aviary did not like to stop and it was a pleasure to see pigeons arrive. Really like stones, the wings stiff against the body and only at the last moment the brake went on. I then flew the classical widowhood only with cocks. In fact, I think it is still the most beautiful. I then had 16 doffers and many times they played 16 prizes. You were quickly done cleaning and had enough time to observe the pigeons. There was also not so much time lost in release the pigeons. The cocks went out from Monday till Thursday twice a day. Friday not, that was a mandatory rest day. Also on Satu