Saturday, February 03, 2007

it's here

Bird flu has arrived just when it seemed we'd escaped the virus and the hype for another year. Sad pictures of a horrible building housing thousands of turkeys tell me a great deal about why we are in such a bad place:
'Bernard Matthews' seems such a euphemism for cheap meat where the poultry pay the price. I hope people give up buying from such producers and buy local, free-range birds when they want chicken or turkey, but then this virus is going to affect us all potentially. Feeling weary with the threat of it but so much more so with the likelihood of weeks of media hype.
An action for us all: buy free-range or organic poultry raised locally if you can. Buy eggs that are free-range or organic and local. Encourage your friends to do this too. Poultry producers will suffer from the public's anxiety and the stupidity of the public fearing to eat well-raised meat and eggs - please act boldly and help! And if you can pray for them and their birds.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

a gentle end

the old brown leghorn recently named 'Margaret' died today at 3.30pm sitting in a tray of straw in the corner of the kitchen. She'd collapsed again in the garden this morning and looked dead till I picked her up when she stopped playing possum and began to eat and drink again. She came inside and seemed quite happy. She was lovely and is now in the garden waiting to feed a fox who no doubt will come by later on.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Indoor girl

The old brown leghorn is back indoors. She comes in each evening now for a warm up and a cosy snooze. She's very thin and her lungs still rattle but she's game and mostly fine. Two days ago she was practicing dying on the front doorstep but a sleep in a tray of hay in the kitchen put her right. Now she walks over to the front door in the morning to be let out to join the others, spends the day in the garden mostly foraging near them, then in the late afternoon lets herself be picked up to come inside. Then she moves between kitchen and dining room, eating and drinking a little and standing by my chair while I work. Her cough sounds like one from a life of 60 a day. Lovely company.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

a normal day begins...

a normal day begins... at 3.30am on the dot with the first young cockerel doing his musical thing up a tree in the front garden. It's always the same time, he's always up the same tree, but I notice that my attitude has changed. At first a few months ago I cringed every time he crowed, I worried about my neighbours, I imagined a fox just waiting under the tree. Now I can enjoy his new-found ability and the normality of country noise. He's as loud as ever and his hatch-brothers are getting a beak in too from time to time, but it no longer grates. Unless he and his mates move into a hutch they won't last the spring since they'll fly down when dawn arrives straight into hungry jaws whereas now they don't descend till around 7.45am as it struggles to get light.

And another thing... what happened to our moral panic over bird flu last year? The birds all arrived to over-winter and there wasn't a squeak from the press and no dead swans or anything. They also laid off attacking pregnant teenagers and dangerous dogs - is it that global warming is absorbing all our corporate angst?

Monday, December 25, 2006

revival of an old boiler

This lovely old brown leghorn is six years old and when she arrived a year ago she already had a wheezy chest. Yesterday she looked so unwell, after a week of hanging around looking a bit down in the beak, that I brought her into the kitchen and she ate a bit, drank out of the dog water bowl and stood in her nest box. Her breathing was dreadful all night and she coughed quite a bit but slept with her head under her wing. This morning I expected to find she had died, but not at all. She woke up when I put the light on at 6am and ate a bit more. Before lunch I left the front door open and after a bit of wandering in the hall she went outside and joined the other hens under the yew tree. So a proper resurrection and on Christmas Day! Hooray!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

they've gone and I miss them

I met a retired chief constable in a layby and handed over the two tiny call ducks. They were so noisy when I caught them and put them in their cardboard box. Shutting the box in the understairs cupboard only magnified their noise (or was it my guilt that did that?) so I put them in the car and an hour later drove to the assignation. It looked like a drugs drop - me in a dog-collar and him in a big 4x4 and a box with slits for air holes... but they went off with him without a backward quack and all seems to be well with them in their new place. But now it's quiet - lovely but somehow a bit sad - like when relatives finally go home and you've the house all to yourself but after a brief ten minutes of euphoria you can't remember what you were going to do with all the space and sit there instead missing the racket (for a bit). So the garden is a sadder wiser place.

Friday, December 15, 2006

call ducks off elsewhere

The two white call ducks are going tomorrow - hooray! They look sweet and harmless but their constant high pitched calling quack has been the cause of my despair so often that they need to go now, or even sooner. I was given them by a friend who thought they were just small and girlie. Well they are small and they may be girlie but they are LOUD!!!! They are also the reason that the other ducks don't go to bed at dusk but loiter on the path in the dark playing at being fox food. So I can hardly wait - as I type they are not yet in bed... but hanging around the front door trying to make me a duck murderer - well don't push it girls!