Thursday, March 27, 2003

Chicken Disease

For several months we have been aware of the bird sickness that is devastating Southern California chicken flocks.
Read all about it. I've even cut back on our visits to petting zoos, feed stores and other places with bird flocks. Contamination is a great risk. Tuesday the USDA came to El Rancho. They asked whether we have birds, and inquired about their condition. They took a survey, and gave me an information packet. We are quarantined, or at least our chicas are. We can't transport them, their eggs, their feathers, their equipment or bedding. Furthermore we should consider disinfecting our own shoes and clothes if we visit other birds, before coming in contact with our own.

"You're pretty much surrounded," the woman said, "When your birds die call us. You'll be compensated at fair market value for their bodies." Fair Market Value? For a chicken? Who can put a price on a member of the family? I'm not saying I never expected they would die someday, but I'd hoped we'd at least have the privilage of giving them a proper send off. And now? Well, I haven't given it too much thought, because it's all too sad to consider. Those two from the USDA sounded pretty fatalistic, and I guess they'd know. So far, the chicas show no symptoms. They each left a warm, lovely egg in the nest box. They are enjoying their dust baths right now. That's all.

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