So yeah, about that…

So about this thing I haven’t been talking about. I do have a couple of things to say about it after all. I’ll say what it is very quietly so no one will overhear: avian flu. Yeah, that. Is this thing a threat to our backyard chickens? Could men in white biohazard suits pull up in an unmarked van someday and demand to see our birds? I hope not. What else can I do? Obsess over it and fan the flames of fear? That’s won’t do any good. What if, like those WMDs, we get all worked up for nothing and end up wasting a lot of lives and resources for no good reason? Perhaps this will turn out like Y2K: a few problems, all of them solveable and not terrible expensive, so that the whole thing ends up being a non-event. Good deal.

Well anyway, here’s what I have to say on the subject:

1. There sure are a lot of interesting chicken photos out there, such as this one from the New York Times.

2. Sacramento Gardening has posted a very helpful list of reminders for owners of backyard flocks, including the suggestion that you keep food and water under cover, and keep the chicken’s run covered, to protect your flock from the droppings of migratory birds.

3. Our government is developing a national system for tracking livestock “from birth to slaughter” so they can be identified quickly if there’s an outbreak of disease. Right now, according to the USDA’s website, animals like backyard chickens are exempt: “Animals that never leave a premises do not need to be identified. However, animal owners are encouraged to identify their animals and their premises, regardless of the number of animals present, since many animal diseases may be spread whether an animal leaves its home premises or not.” But if you take your horse on a trail, or take your cow or pig or turkey to a county fair to show them, you’re covered under these new rules. Check it out, read the draft plan, and submit your comments here:

National Animal Identification System