Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chicken Run

Warning: Little Knit Content Today.

We have chickens at the food bank. Rhode Island Reds, to be exact. We had a dozen (12 chickens X 1 egg each per day = 7 dozen eggs a week), but one of them became "egg bound" (don't ask) and died. (Actually, the kids from Juvenile Probation who take care of them get the eggs. Win-win in my book!)

These are working girls. They are part of a state-wide West Nile Virus project. As I understand it, the WNV carrier mosquito generally bites "avian species" (birds), transmitting the virus from one species to the next, crows being particularly vulnerable. Chickens have a natural immunity to WNV, so they are perfect test animals. Plus, they don't fly, so keeping them penned up isn't as much of an issue. At least not right now.

Once a week, someone comes from the health department to "bleed" the chickies (he pulls about a quarter teaspoon of blood from a vein in the armpit -- if chickens had arms -- of each one and sends it for testing). It needs to be done every week because of that immunity. The blood will titer for the virus if the chicken has been bitten within the last week or so, but not for much longer. The idea is to locate and localize breeding areas so that they can be destroyed (the breeding areas, not the chickens).

And now, I know more about chickens and WNV than I wanted to.

And here's what I can share: You can help fight WNV (which can be fatal in fragile humans) by not allowing standing water (breeding ground for the mosquitos that carry the virus) in your yard. Don't leave wading pools or tires or recycling bins or anything else that holds water to collect and hold water. Pools with circulating pumps are okay. Change the water in the bird bath at least every other day. Don't "forget" your ice cream dish on the patio. It can collect rain water and become a breeding place.

If I remember to take the camera to work, I will post chix pix tomorrow.

I'm making good progress on the Clauses

but I need to perfect (hell, just get it to look half-right) something called a "loop stitch" that has me baffled for the moment. (You want me to put that needle WHERE??)

So I did what any other normal person with chronic startitis does.

Yep, the snowpeople.

They look strangely like eggs - Christmas eggs.

Thanks for the 411 on WNV. It's a scary prospect.
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