What a strange day! This morning we found one of the chickens with a badly infected foot – probably the result of a previous mite attack gone bad. I decided she was not going to recover, which meant I had to provide the assistance into her next cycle. Only the second girl I’ve had to send on, and the first I stunned with a bit of two by two. Having been … er, inspired by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recently, I bit my lip and wrung her neck. Not a pleasant task, even knowing how chickens flap about after death. What I wasn’t expecting – though perhaps given my druid tendencies I ought to have been – was the jolt of electricity I felt as her life ended; as if her life force was a shorted, discharging battery! The pulse ran through my hand and up my arm; slightly weaker than mains electricity but not dissimilar in nature. Was is my own nervous system under stress, or what?I have the idea we may raise meat birds before long, so perhaps this unpleasant task will become more regular (although, hopefully, never routine), but as a possibly diseased and somewhat aged bird she found a new home under the trees with the other chooks and guinea pigs of times past.
Later, Miss and I went for a walk around the village and came upon the stink of diesel where it oughtn’t be. On investigation we found diesel oil floating on top of a swiftly flowing drainage stream. The speed of the stream, after the recent rain and floods, did not prevent the oil slick from covering the whole surface in a rainbow scum, which showed the rate at which it was leaking into the ditch (seemingly coming up from under the ditch itself possibly following the water table). It doesn’t actually take a lot of oil to make a huge slick, but then it doesn’t take much oil to kill all the life in a normally healthy stream either. There was evidence of scorching on much of the vegetation, caused by the oil, all up either side of the ditch. I called the local council environmental department and the Environment Agency, and this afternoon we placed booms across the stream to stop the oil getting into the local river. Hopefully the cause of the contamination will soon be located and isolated. I was impressed at the speed at which the council Environmental Officer attended site, and at the cooperation from the adjacent businesses. Possibly I am slightly hyper about such incidents, working as I do in an industry with thousands of gallons of oil (all, usually, very well under control and safely bunded), but I’m pleased what could have been a long term leak has been identified and controlled.