Ah, spring. Especially this spring. Daylight hours edge deliciously ever longer, and the wisteria and the calla lilies are in joyful bloom.
The air is filled with the perfume of orange blossoms, our little swarm of honeybees have returned, and the hens have come out of their winter trance and begun laying again. Even Ginger, who is going on eight years old!
Best of all, mask mandates, vaccine mandates and Dr. Fauci have absolutely vanished from the stage as if none of it every happened. Poof!
So all is well, in fact, better than ever.
But beware the ides of March, at least if you’re a chicken.
Because a new avian flu has winged its way in on the Atlantic flyway, and it’s a doozie. I usually shrug off news about avian flu since it generally only impacts large-scale poultry operations. But there are two things about H5N1 that ruffle my feathers:
1) it is being found in backyard flocks, and
2) it is being spread by migratory waterfowl.
Since I have a beloved backyard flock
and our neighborhood is a hangout for waterfowl,
I’m paying close attention to this one. Backyard Poultry Magazine has sounded the alarm on Bird Flu 2022
and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) at least thirteen commercial flocks have been impacted by the virus since February in twenty different states. 2.7 million birds have been destroyed as a result. The virus has been found in backyard flocks in Maine and New York as well as in the UK. To date, it seems to have moved westward as far as Iowa and Utah.
A recent Healthline article states that “current evidence suggests H5N1 to be low risk to people” and that there are currently no human cases of it in the United States. There is, however, a vaccine which “as per the CDC…is being stockpiled for pandemic preparedness by the United States government.”
In other words, here we go again? Hopefully not. In the meantime, flock keeper bio-security protocol is especially important.
If the pair of mallards that annually tries to take over our swimming pool shows up they will not be receiving a warm welcome this year. Hand washing and parking the chicken shoes at the door is a given, as is, of course, keeping a clean coop.
In the meantime, it’s still a spectacularly lovely spring and our little flock is blissfully unaware. Fingers crossed that it stays that way…