Bas en Gerard Verkerk had a very successful 2012 season on their new location.
Reeuwijk, Holland – Whoever thinks of South-Holland thinks of rivers and canals… or Holland at its most beautiful!… Plenty of water… ducks of all kinds… moorhens… majestic swans… stately herons catching frogs… interspersed with the bleating of a flock of sheep. Everything custom made for an idyllic greeting card… it is difficult to find anything more beautiful!
Reeuwijk is situated in the ‘Groene Hart’ (Green Hart)… an area of peat land between the big cities Rotterdam-Leiden-Utrecht, with a predominately rural character… forming a counterpart to the urban area around it.
We went there to look for ‘Holland’s Best’… Gerard (66) and Bas Verkerk (35)… who after a magnificent career in nearby Alphen aan den Rijn, moved to a new spot in Reeuwijk in 2010. The old farmstead that was there was transformed into a handsome villa with superb lofts. Construction work is expected to finish at the end of 2012… but for now, work still proceeds with heavy equipment to transform the area around house and lofts into a green lawns with a footpath. So there’s enough work still to be done, but the season of 2012 was the same as ever… impressive!
Gerard and Sebastiaan!
Father Gerard comes from a true pigeon family… his father Willem was a fancier in Gouda who didn’t do too badly in the overnight races. When Gerard was just seven years old he already climbed the stairs to the pigeon loft… and later he raced in combination with his father for several years.
In 1973, Gerard moved to Alphen aan den Rijn… he opened a shoe repair shop that curtailed his free time… but still he formed a combination with three friends, and under the name of ‘Internos’ they tackled the races!
However, it wasn’t perfect… and in 1974 a loft was built over the shoe repair shop. Well… loft… more a ‘box room’ with a height of 1,2 meter… ‘crouch down’ pigeon sport… and a ‘buzzer’ in the downstairs shop to report that a pigeon had settled on the landing board. The successes of those days were achieved with pigeons of ‘all and sundry’… but Gerard managed to get himself counted all the same!
In 1978, the Verkerk family moved to a new home in Alphen aan den Rijn and at first they continued with the pigeon sport on the same basis… but these first birds were soon reinforced with pigeons from the De Wit Brothers from Koudekerk (Janssen & Klak).
In 1984 Bas joined Gerard at the helm of the colony… a son born to the pigeon sport… and his youthful enthusiasm and ambition made for an extra drive. In 1984, pigeons from Jan Ouwerkerk from Lekkerkerk (line ’46’ Verbart) were added… and in 1987 some more from the Vroomen Brothers from Geverik. Important stock pigeons in that time were ‘De Reimsdoffer’ (de Wit Brothers)… ‘De Midfondkampioen’ (Jan Ouwerkerk)… and ‘De Gouden Kweekduif’ (Vroomen Brothers).
On examining the present colony we can say that the base is formed with the names de Wit-Ouwerkerk-Vroomen… crossed with a few separate pigeons ‘from renowned names’ like Reedijk-Jongekrijg… Marcel Sangers… Ad Schaerlaeckens… Co & Piet Verbree… Willem de Bruijn… Gerard Koopman… Cor Leijtens… Antoon & Hilde Reynaert… a 100% pure Janssen pigeon from J. Rimmelzwaan… Jo and Florian Hendriks, and three national toppers like ‘Mission Impossible’ (Ruud v.d. Wal)… ‘Blue Champ’ (Chris Koring)… and ‘Bulgari’ (Bas v.d. Burg). And also ‘Queen Claudia’ (Cock Groen)… ‘Sissi’ and ‘Magic Winner’ (P. Veenstra) and ‘Super Blauwe’ (Rik Ros – long-distance)… that had been given on loan for one year by Mr Dong (Chinese). Recently also pigeons from Will & Falco Ebben, Chris Koring (long-distance), Loos-Rijsbergen (long-distance)… and the nest brother of ‘Athena’ from Rik Hermans were added.
For the real long-distance pigeons they bought from P & H Brockamp from Boppard and Etienne Meirlaen from St. Martens-Latem. Incoming long-distance pigeons are crossed with their own sort. Preferable for cross breeding are the children of Ace and Olympiad pigeons!
The big move!
Gerard and Bas found their new property in Reeuwijk via the Internet. They visited many places in Zuid-Holland, looking for a place with a lot of space, and the location of the property was not the most important factor.
It settled on an old farmhouse on 3,5 acres of land that would be completely rebuilt. They didn’t shun the competition (W. de Bruijn) in their choice of location, because competition only makes a fancier stronger in the pigeon sport. Already in 2010 they raced from a temporary loft in the ‘natoer races’ with four rounds of young.
In November 2010 (after the necessary permits) building was started and they hope to be finished by the end of 2012. It became a loft with a total length of 62 meters, for the cocks (13 meters) and hens (7,5 meters) on total widowhood… young pigeons (15,5 meters)… breeding cocks (13 meters)… breeding hens (2,5 meters)… storage space (11 meters)… and a covered run for backup pigeons (11 meters). In front of all compartments is an aviary with a depth of 2,7 meters, open on all sides and without a roof. In front of the loft for the breeding pigeons the depth of the aviary is 5,4 meters.
Very important is that all Ace pigeons… all Olympiad pigeons and all top breeders made the move to Reeuwijk! That was of course a very serious business, but with a lot of help it was done fairly smoothly.
In the past, Gerard and Bas were mentioned in the newspapers as ‘the Champions of the square meter’, but now that is definitely different. The space in Alphen aan den Rijn had become too small and for many years there were plans to move to a location with more space. On account of various reasons it took a bit longer than planned.
The start with the old pigeons was not very good… in other words, the loft was not good. The widow hens would under no circumstances settle on the perches and slept for the most part on the floor. So the loft was altered… the droppings conveyor belt was removed… and the entire ceiling, except for 50 centimetres over the corridor, was covered with bubble foil. Straight away the compartments became a lot warmer and the wind at the back (the west side) was tempered.
This, together with a treatment against bronchial infections, led to the turning point and at the end of May the racing team made a very different impression.
The plans are to participate in the speed… middle-distance and long-distance races… from Meer to Ruffec.
The team that will fly the extra long-distance must race every week of the early season… 2x long-distance (Bourges and Chateauroux)… Bordeaux… and Narbonne. They hope that the race from Bordeaux or Narbonne will be difficult in 2013, which will determine how well the ‘crossed pigeons’ have performed because 2012 was well above expectation.
Concerning the number of pigeons, Gerard and Bas Verkerk have reached their maximum with 100 couples of old pigeons… 250 young birds… and 45 couples of breeders.
This is part 1 of a total of 4 parts of the Verkerk story. Please check back next Saturday for part 2.