“A plague has come to Noah’s Ark.”
Lauren told me that on the way out this morning, as we were headed to the dentist’s office. It certainly feels that way.
On the plus side, the dentist appointment went well.
We’ve been slowly amassing poultry this week. At various times we’ve had as many as twelve (not thirteen – hey, they move around a lot and they’re hard to count) chickens and ten turkeys in assorted large bins in the living room, all chirping madly and, in the case of the turkeys (who really are the dumbest things on the planet, even if you include certain state legislators who shall go unnamed for the moment), learning how to eat. We lost one turkey early on, but that’s to be expected. They’re fragile things, and the attrition rate for them is high even when things go entirely right.
And when they don’t go entirely right, well.
We lost a chicken early this week, which was a bit of a surprise. Chickens are basically indestructible. But it was one of the smallest of the chicks in the bin, and we suspect that it just got trampled. Chickens are smarter than turkeys, but not, after all, by much.
We figured we had been pre-disastered and were good to go.
But when I came home from work yesterday Lauren greeted me with two bits of news.
First, another turkey had died – one of the bigger ones, which was a bit of a surprise. She’d already taken care of burial, so that was that.
And second, one of her rabbits – newly moved outside now that the weather has been consistently above freezing – seemed to have something wrong with an eye.
We are experienced with problems with rabbit eyes. Milkshake did not earn his nickname “the Dread Pirate Milkshake” for nothing, after all. He earned it thanks to a botfly infestation and a surprisingly expensive bit of veterinary surgery that introduced us all to the word “enucleation” which is a word you really do not want to look up. Trust me on this.
He's fine now, if lacking in the depth-perception department.
This particular rabbit – which we have not identified yet in order to reduce its stress levels, since identifying the rabbit involves flipping it over and examining it in rather personal ways – seems to have an abrasion of some sort on its eye as well as some blue sort of something creeping across the surface of the eye. We have been anointing it with unguents and keeping it comfortable, and at some point we will take it to an Expert for evaluation.
By the time we went to bed we figured we had resolved more than our requisite share of animal-related health crises for one week and could therefore sleep without fear.
Turkey poults require rather warm temperatures when they are little. You can’t just put them in a large bin in your living room and forget about them – you have to keep them warm. Normally this entails putting a clip-on lamp with a 75-100 watt incandescent bulb in it on top of the wire mesh covering the bin and just not turning the thing off for a while.
We had this covered, we thought. We’re not noobs. This is not our first turkey poult rodeo. It is our fourth, which is a enough rodeos to figure this sort of thing out, even if it is not a professional quantity of rodeos.
And then sometime last night the bulb burned out.
This morning there were some frosty turkeys. We put them in with the chickens to keep them warm (though you’re not really supposed to put them in with chickens for all sorts of other reasons) and after I dropped Lauren off at the dentist I went out in search of 75-100 watt incandescent bulbs.
Do you know how hard it is to find incandescent bulbs anymore?
Everything is LED now. LED bulbs are fantastic, by the way – they give you immense amounts of light for very little energy cost, and they emit almost no heat in the process. As a former firefighter I am very much in favor of light sources that emit no heat. Fewer house fires that way.
But sometimes the heat is the point, and LED lights are not useful for turkeys.
What isn’t LED is now some kind of super-efficient halogen light bulb that says 75 WATTS! on the packaging but really only draws 53 watts, which is not nearly enough to keep a small flock of turkeys warm even if the purchaser thinks it will actually provide 75 watts worth of warmth! Kim discovered this sad fact this afternoon when she went home and surveyed the devastation among the turkeys.
So here we are.
We have already lost one bronze turkey. Several more turkeys are rallying but could still slip away, even with the giant garage bulb that Kim found and installed to warm up the bin. We may yet have to restock our turkeys entirely.
A plague indeed.