by Jim Emerton
Most people frown upon their birds using local fields and in some cases this is wise practice with notable exceptions to the general practice. As a freedom lover myself and in the village of Holtby all my birds ranged as they needed to to ingest grain, minerals and some vegetable and animal supplements. From 1976 onwards very few were shot, with some predated by sparrowhawks. My birds were pin sharp and almost wild returning to the loft to nest, feed, drink and roost. Young and old walked the fields, sat on wires and sunned themselves on barns, and they were out all winter even in snow. Dorothy and I would break the ice, feed hoppers of pellets and supply all the birds' nutritional needs. At times it was bliss. Neil Bush and Nic Harvey do something similar, and for marathon races it works, and is beautiful in its simplicity. Ideally this applies to selected rural locations having checked out local conditions. In my system all ages of birds were together on deep litter in the same loft at all times - a free ranging pampered colony of pigeons. We absolutely loved it and recall those days with fond remembrance.