Getting back into the swing of the work year is always a bit of a rude awakening (especially when that awakening happens at 4:15 a.m.!). But it seems like we have also had a serious pile of crazy added to it.
Last week during a training run our best bird, #828, failed to come home. It wasn’t a particularly hot or windy day, but he just never showed up. He did, however, come limping home about 4 days later, and we had a tough time grabbing him because he was hiding under the loft building. Not a good sign. Awhile later we found him inside the loft, back with his buddies, but in pretty bad condition. Most likely savaged by a hawk. He was missing all kinds of feathers, and pretty cut up. We took him to one of our pigeon friends who thought that he might make it if we were to separate him and clean him up, give him electrolytes and special easy-to-digest food. So we did. He seemed to be getting better, was eating and pooping, and a friend recommended we treat him with Ledum, as it had seriously helped with a chicken that was attacked, and another friend had used it on a ram with a badly infected head. Unfortunately, I think he was away for too many critical days, and was too far gone. He died yesterday, so our thoughts of keeping him just as a breeder were done. Poor little guy. He was a tough one, and you do read about homing pigeons who endure a lot and get home okay and survive. But I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for him.
Added to that, the litany of aggravating craziness just keeps on coming. Last week the washing machine was out of order; end of the week we lost our hot water for 36 hours; this week our refrigerator crapped out (but the freezer part is still working); I got another denial on my NJ pension; and the real topper: a wonderful woman who ran our middle school cafeteria for many years and had beat cancer, just didn’t wake up the other morning. 54 years old and the sweetest, most positive and upbeat person I have never met. She will be sorely missed by so many. I can’t even really process it.
So in the scheme of things, the washer and the refrigerator, and the pension hoo-ha doesn’t really amount to much. Frustrating, but nothing compared to the loss of a dear, sweet soul. Maybe she and our pigeon boy are out there somewhere smiling on us. I hope so.
Hard at work every day, those homing pigeons get their exercise flights. Now that they have been flying regularly for a few weeks, we can expect most of what they are going to do.
On their first flight, we could barely get them into the air and away from the loft. They were out all day perched in the trees around the loft because they were unsure of how to get back in. Now they are going out, flying hard, and then returning about an hour later. They land on the ridge of the loft roof, and then one of them leads the group down to the one-way-in door. Some nights they practically trample each other to get in to their dinner.
When I watch them in the air and they are flying pretty close, they look so silly. Little round bodies and short wings. I don’t know how they do it, they are amazing! Soon it will be time to take them in a crate to a spot down the road, so we can let them loose and see how long it takes them to get home. The pigs are definitely flying!
I have been a very bad blogger this past two weeks. The weekends have been full to overflowing with activity, and not all of it has been of a pleasant nature.
First, though, on the pleasant and positive side, John has become a newly fledged homing pigeon flyer. That’s probably not what they are called, but there it is. We have 18 homers, young ones, that he is training for eventual racing. They are fascinating creatures! I love them too, as I am a sucker for most animals. The whole homing pigeon thing is very involved, and we are lucky to have two or three really wonderful mentors in the area. The birds get “flown” every time it’s nice weather and we are around (and we plan ahead and don’t feed them first thing in the morning), which usually means on the weekends. It’s been up and down crazy, as during the first flight last weekend we weren’t sure they would all return. They flew around and around above the farm, and then perched in the trees above the loft, and sat and sat. But return they finally did, finding the correct door in the building, and with each successive flight the majority of them have learned to get home with more alacrity.
This past Thursday, however, 3 of them failed to come back. John has to close the loft up at night so that no predators gain entry, and the ones not back are left to their own devices. A friend of ours from Round Pond, about a mile away, called last night and told us that 3 of our birds were eating like little piggies under his bird feeder! We couldn’t catch them then, but this morning two returned, looking the worse for wear, and then amazingly, the other one returned late this afternoon! I really didn’t think it would happen. They are so young, and they were not born here, so it makes it difficult for me to comprehend how they do it.
The pigeons are quite beautiful, and of course, I have my favorites. It’s always the way. Learning about their phenomenal ability to navigate and get back to our little speck on the map is quite the adventure. More on our winged adventures tomorrow :*)
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