News and Updates

The birds are progressing better than expected, we started with 2541 six days ago and clocked 2529 today.  When they arrive they continue to fly, fly, then fly some more.  They are not being challenged, none are having problems with these short tosses, so we are going to start working them toward the first ridgeline 5 miles south of the loft.  We will give them a few short tosses from Moxee Dump Road which is basically at the base of the ridge, if they do well after a few tosses we will progress over the ridge and start making some real progress.  From Moxee Dump Road they normally get above the ridgeline and can get a good look around on both sides before heading to familiar territory on the north side where their loft is, once we see them flying above the ridge we then know it is time to start training on the south side of the ridge.  We are hoping that they do well two tosses in a row from this location before moving to the fire station which is 8 miles from the loft on the line, once they do this then it is time to go to the next ridgeline which is 20 miles from the loft.  

Please stay tuned and wish us luck!

On a personal note, yesterday was the 20 year anniversary of my wife Olga and daughter Sasha arriving in America from Ukraine.  I am extremely proud of both of them, Olga has become a high level tax professional and Sasha is serving in the US Air Force.  Together Olga and I had Angelina and she just started college at Washington State University last week.  Along with my son Billy, we are a happy family and I couldn't be a happier man.  Now if we can just have a little luck and get most of these birds through activation....well life just does not get better than that friends! 


Rick & Olga



Today was the 4th toss, birds are being released slow and gradual out of the back of the trailer that has sliding doors.  They are being released in this manner so they can gain confidence, not bunch up and be susceptible to hitting wires while heading home, or a smash toss.  They will NOT be released this way for races. 

It got cool last night and is cool this morning, the returning birds are enjoying this change from hot to cool and many are still outside the loft but trapping in slowly.  As the distance increases their matabolisims will kick in to overdrive, feed intake will increase, and they will trap much faster. 

The birds are progressing perfectly, they are not being challenged and need more distance which we will start tomorrow.  We want to get them a few 15-20 mile tosses to the SE along the ridgeline that runs E and W 5 miles S from our loft.  Once they look ready we will hop them over the ridgeline and train to the base of the next ridgeline 20 miles due south running E and W, follow this ridgeline to the E before heading over the ridge in Mabton, WA before heading SE toward the Columbia River.  Once we train from this side, the WA side of the Columbia River that is a few times from 55 miles and they look ready, we will progress over the river to the OR side, give them a few tosses over on the OR side 75-80 miles before having the activation race at 100 miles. 

Keep your fingers crossed and pray that everything goes well, we are doing our absolute best to try to get as many birds through activation as possible this year and could use all the good "vibes" ya'll can send this way!

Rick & Olga




The self loading trailer is complete and we have had it backed up to the west end of the loft where the birds can walk in and out of it all day after they have come in from their loft flying.  Today was their first day having to go through the trailer to loft fly, the sides open up on the trailer so the birds exited the loft down the hallway through the trailer fairly easily.  It will take a few more days of doing this and them getting used to having to go in to the trailer before we start road training, hopefully the first toss will be Wednesday or Thursday this coming week. 

One bird just clocked in this morning from the last inventory we ran a few days ago.  There are six birds in the recovery pens due to wing injuries, that means one bird is missing from the last inventory.  The birds have went accross the pads several times since the last inventory and the clock has stayed on.  We will check the chips before the activation race.   

We started accepting birds in February this year.  When birds arrive we quarentine them for a week, second week they go in to the aiviary to look outside, the third week they get trap trained.  After about 21 days your birds are out flying.  We have found that by settling them weekly while they are young they settle a lot better, if they sit in the loft too long then losses are higher right off the loft or when they get chased for the first time by birds of prey.  This means that we have had birds flying since the third week in February and we settled birds weekly up to the third week of June, 31 May was our cut off date.

Health is incredible, you would think with nearly twice as many birds as we usually intake we would have had twice the trouble which just has not been the case.  We have someone come daily for no less than 4 hours to clean the loft, disenfect waterers/feeders, then refill waterers, feeders, and grit containers before they come back in the loft after loft flying.  If you are going to have a large OLR like ours this year, you definitely have to have hired help.  

We post videos near daily on Facebook.  If you want to view our videos which are posted for PUBLIC viewing look us up under Rick Mee, Yakima, WA.  If you want to be our friend on FB and would like to make comments then send us a FRIEND REQUEST and also send us a Instant Message through FB so we know who you are.  The birds are really flying great now every morning, do not miss out on seeing what they are doing!

We are excited to start training, let the fun begin!


Rick & Olga 


Good morning everyone, hope everyone is having a great day! 

We ran short on material over the weekend so the trailer did not get finished as he had hoped for since the metal yards are colosed on weekends.  It should be finished today, tomorrow at the latest.  When it is we will butt it up to the west end of the loft where they will self load themselves, after a few days of them getting used to this we will start road training. 

Other than that, not much to report.  Birds are loft flown daily and remain to be healthy.  Today is the last day of them being ran on Doxycycline, they get ran on this before training starts and before the final if we feel they need it based upon the results of the race prior. 

Looking forward to starting training, we hope you are as excited as we are!


Rick & Olga




About 95% of the birds are exercising on their own each morning, yesterday and today we started to flag the remainder just once to make sure they are able to fly.  Some only fly 15 minutes, some are flying well over a hour.  When we do start road training next week we will start short and then increase distance when we feel they are ready, this in itself will whip the lazy ones in to shape.  

Looks like the trailer is a day behind on completion, we are being told should be done tomorrow.  When done it will immediately be butted up to the west end where the birds will be able to walk in and out on their own accord back in to the loft.  After a few days of them having to go in to the trailer to go out to loft fly using the ramp to reach the top 3 sections we will load them up for their first short toss.  To explain better, the back of the trailer will have 4 sliding horizontal doors for loading, the sides will have 5 vertical doors each side for releasing and cleaning.

Birds continue to be offered baths each morning, they are really enjoying this.  Once the trailer is completed the guy working on the trailer will install the misting system we talked about a few days ago. 

Health is great, most are flying on their own with no influence from ourselves, looks like they are ready to start training!


Rick & Olga    


Good morning Apple Cup breeders!

The birds continue to be released each morning about 6 AM and are really starting to fly again, flights are nearly completely back in.  They are offered the opportunity to take a bath each morning as well. 

Yesterday we cut out the wall at the west end of the hallway and installed a sliding door for release.  This will be used now on for loft flying and when the trailer is done, being told Friday, we will butt up the end of the trailer that has openings so the birds can get used to going in it for a few days before we start training next week.

If you have a bird that has to be removed we will call you, if you have a bird show up missing on a inventory and we did not call you then we have no idea as to what happened to your missing bird.  Sometimes these birds hit things, meet birds of prey, or collide with eachother while well away from the loft and they go down.  In the aforementioned incidents, we have no way of knowing what happened.  So to reiterate, if you have a bird come up missing and we did not call you then we will not be able to tell you what happened to your specific bird.  I know to most this sounds like common sense, but some individuals demand to know what happened to their birds when they come up missing on a inventory.  Unless they die, we can not give you an answer other than we just do not know.  

Temps have been up and down lately fluctuating between high 80s to 100ish, seems we are about past the 100ish days and that is well received by us and the birds.  

Again, as long as the trailer is complete by Friday which we are being told will be so and there is no smoke in our area, we will start training next week.  We are excited to start getting your birds down the road, we hope you are too!

Everyone have a great week and stay coo!


Rick & OLga 



Today we got some welcome cooler weather, it will be in the 80s today and start heating up again this weekend with it hitting 100 F on Monday. 

We are running a inventory today, most are in but there are several birds outside still so please be patient if you are missing a bird or two.  We worked on narrowing both the width and height of the trap entrances today, the birds came through them easily just having enough room to go through with not much space above their backs.  It is now impossible for a bird to piggyback which we saw a few birds doing on these loft flying inventories where they want to rush in to eat and drink, eliminated that possibility completely.  

Speaking of missing birds, as mentioned in our updates previously, if you have a bird show up missing and do not receive a call from us then we have no idea as to what happened to your missing bird.  We call breeders if they have a bird die or injured, but when we open the doors for their morning loft flying we invariably are going to have birds hit wires while out routing or collide with eachother and ocassionally run in to a bird of prey.  Unless it happens right in they yard where we see it, well you get the point.   

We continue to walk through the loft several times a day handling birds to see where they are with their 9th and 10th flight regrowth after having pulled them coming up on a month ago.  We are happy to report that they are coming in nicely and many of the birds are starting to really fly well again like they were before flights were pulled.  Providing the smoke from the NW fires we get this time of year is not lingering in our area and on our training path, we shoulld start training in 10-14 days.  Our trailer will be done in a few days and we want to get them used to it for about a week before we start taking them down the road.  The trailer will butt up to the end of the loft and they will have to run in to the trailer to be able to go outside.  We also have a ramp being built to assist them in reaching the top 3 sections of the trailer, there will be 4 sections total.  The back of the trailer will have sliding doors for loading, the sides will also open for releasing and cleaning.  Once it is done we will post pictures.     

Speaking of starting training, Olga and I have really been putting the miles on our tires searching out improved training locations for this year.  We want to try to train the birds to go around Satus Pass this year instead of going due south on HWY 97, the route we plan on training is slightly SE and to the east side of Satus pass and the mountains.  In other words, instead of training them to go over the mountains and hills, we are going around to the east side where it is fairly flat scattered with wheat fields and vineards.  Wednesday we put nearly 400 miles under our tires, then yesterday I drove down to OR again and put another 300 miles on the odometer.  One of your main focuses has been to find a spot on the N side of the Columbia River whereas the birds can see the river and get used to it before we have to take them across.  The next goal was to find the best spot to train across the river on the OR side where they will hopefully recognize the spot across the river on the WA side we will be training from.  Hopefully the training spots we have identified will equate to more birds getting activated which will make our breeders and ourselves happy.

Birds are super healthy, flights are nearing completion, we should be on the road within the next 2 weeks.  

Everyone have a great week!


Rick & Olga   


Record breaking heat this week, hit 110F yesterday and cooling through the weekend.  Personally not complaining too much, it hit 128F in Iraq when I was there in 2005 a few miles north of Baghdad while wearing full combat gear lugging around my rifle in the sand.  I will take 110F any day over that because now I get to wear swimming trunks and flip flops instead of full combat gear! 

The million dollar question is, how many gallons of water can slightly over 2,500 birds go through a day on hot summer days like this in the arid high desert region of WA?  They went through 44 gallons yesterday and today will go through about the same.  The birds are liberated each morning at 0600 slightly after the sun has crested over the hills to the east and by 0900 they are allowed to reenter.  Our helpers go home around 1000 and at the time of typing this update up, 1530 which is 3:30 PM for you non military folks, they get fresh water again.  We find it is FARR BETTER to give them fresh cool water in the afternoons then to have the loft full of waterers getting warm on days like this, it also helps with maintaining health them getting a fresh drink in the afternoons opposed to warm water.

Invariably some birds just can not handle the heat, they most likely (would put my house on it) have a underlying bacterial or viral issue that we just can not see with the naked eye.  Yesterday we had one pigeon die and today had one as well, breeders notified.  We have not had to remove a bird for several weeks, we are absolutely giddy over health this year, so having a bird succumb to this extreme health here and there tells us that if 99.99% of the birds are doing great even on days like this we are going to jump up and down with joy!

As stated the last few times in our updates, every evening we handle about a dozen birds checking on the progress of the flights regrowth.  We are happy to report that they are growing in nicely with the aid of great quality feed supplied by Don Chapin with Juniper Feed, Don also does Top Pigeon clocking systems.  The grain Don uses is locally grown in the Pacific Northwest, they also get fresh mineral grit twice a day and we alternate between Primilac and Ecoltonic from Ed Minvielle of Siegels in the water.  When we find the need to medicate we also include Primilac, we find this keeps their good gut bacteria where it needs to be to help maintain optimum health.  

OK running back to the house where it is cool, everyone try to stay coo!  


Rick & Olga   


Good morning fellow Racing Pigeon enthusiasts! 

As you can tell we ran a complete inventory yesterday, birds trapped slowly for several hours so we highly doubt any were missed.  If any were missed or stayed out overnight they will be picked up this morning as the clock is still running.  The way our traps are set up this year no birds should be missed. 

At the time of writing this the birds are out of the loft and have bath pans in front of them on the ground out in front of the loft. 

We handled about a dozen birds yesterday while walking through the loft in the evening to see where they are in the moult.  We are happy to report that the flights are coming in nicely and all throats were clear and their eyes were bright.  This is something we do daily in the evenings while giving them fresh water and securing the loft for the night.  

Record breaking heat this week, the birds are handling it nicely.  We are out here as the sun is rising which makes things much easier for us and easier on the birds.

As it looks we should start training mid to late August, please be patient as we will not force them if they are not ready and we are on no set timeline.

We have a misting system being installed that will run the entire length of the aiviary, we are sure the birds will really enjoy this.  


Rick & Olga




Good morning Apple Cup breeders and onlookers!

We are running a complete inventory today.  All birds were forced out of the loft this morning so this will be a inventory of all birds entered.  The birds have had the feed really poured to them since the flights were pulled and are trapping very slowly so there should be no birds being missed today. 

Many of the birds are forming in to small flocks again and starting to take off for several minutes, it is just a matter of time before they are routing again like a majority were before having had their flights pulled. 

Our neighbor took the entire week off work from his construction/welding job and says that the trailer should be done by end of week.  It is good having your welder living so close because you can offer suggestions as the project unflods.  This trailer is going to be like no other, when it is complete we will post pictures on Facebook. 

We are supposed to have record breaking heat this week.  The birds are given fresh water every morning and again in the evening.  Now that health has evened itself out we are offering them frequent baths to help keep them happy, cool, and clean. 

Hope everyone has a great week!


Rick & Olga



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