Norman’s Nonsense 26 – Bird Flu

Norman’s Nonsense 26 – Bird Flu

I can’t even remember the last time we were allowed to go out to the backyard. We don’t even line up at the gate anymore.

All of a sudden, we didn’t have Garden Party any more. In the olden days, the cats got fed and then the Farm Manager locked them up. Then we sprinted out to the back yard to kill the grass. Finally, the sheep would saunter through the aviary on their way to graze in the front yard. A couple of months ago, everything changed because of Bird Flu. We’re in quarantine, well, not quite, we’re in a “control zone.” But we’re right at the edge in the “get ready to panic” area. We’re surrounded by infected flocks and neighbors are even seeing late crows in the street. (They are seeing dead moles, too, but I don’t think we are in a Mole Flu control area.)

Garden Party: Pick every blade of grass clean outta here!

The Farm Manager is thrilled, of course. The seed we used to eat is now germinating and creating a backyard pasture for the sheep. Whoop-de-doo, they have the entire front yard. We’re stuck in the aviary where there isn’t a speck of green. Why is that?

Eggs keep coming

The WSDA recommends against giving away eggs, and I guess we’re stuck with the fancy duck and hen feathers this year, not to mention several bags of fertilizer that used to be hot items.

“Just nuke them for a minute.”

The eggs are piling up so the Farm Manager simply scrambles a couple eggs in the microwave and feeds them back to the hens along with the kitchen scraps. It’s perfect chicken food, if you think about it. I must say Pearly Mae has gained her weight back and looks stunning.

Hamish is the boss of everything now.

We can’t complain much, because the aviary is about 40′ by 70′ (12m by 21m) and the barn is stuck way over in that corner. It isn’t really a barn, it’s a strategically placed set of fences and gates, on the not-as-windy side of the house, away from the neighbors. The Farm Manager is too lazy to shut us all in for the night so she covered the entire area with wire to keep the raccoons and coyotes and possums and owls out. We can stay up late and have parties on the weekends, and wander in to the barn to roost as the mood suits us.

Charlotte the mud hen.

The problem is that the Farm Manager has given up on all forms of propriety and now she lets the sheep in to “help” whenever they feel motivated. First, there is a mad dash for the chicken food. She yanks the 40# (18k) hanging bin up out of their reach, so don’t offer sympathy when she complains about her shoulder.

Wee Charlotte goes up.

The baby sheep, Charlotte, has no couth, so all bets are off and we have learned to get out of the way. She runs around and gets into everything, ears flapping like a sailor signaling semaphore. We can’t figure her out.

What does one ear straight up and the other perfectly horizontal mean? Is she ready for jammies?

What on earth are the cats looking at? Also called The Charlotte Effect.

The cats are befuddled by all the changes, and wary of the helpers that barge in most days. They don’t have much sympathy for the cooped up hens. They are stuck in the aviary 24/7, never ever get out. Stachie is lazy, but Larry has caught a little rat (and, sigh, a bird) this week. She is very, very sneaky.

Fuzzball lurking atop the birch, again.

We all wish the Farm Manager would send Larry out after the raccoon. It skulks around all night, but if that wasn’t scary enough, he sleeps off his night prowls on the top of the birch tree. The birches got diseased and the tops were chopped off. It worked and they are no longer dying back, but it created a charming observatory for our resident rogue male raccoon.

Would I lie to you?

I don’t know how the Farm Manager spotted him up there, but, hey, it’s her job, you know? Another job is to keep the sheep out of here! Seriously, why does she let them in?


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