The Battle of the Wild Birds
I’ve said a million times that winter is the best time to catch up on all the repairs and upgrades on the ranch. Here in Phoenix the temperatures are in the mid seventies this time of year, that’s certainly better than 110! So, last Sunday I scratched off a nasty chore on my list that’s been hounding me for months. One that I won’t soon forget either. It took this long to get over my anger, and finally laugh about it.
This year I took on a project that was nothing short of a nightmare. Aviary netting, what a royal pain in the butt that is to handle! My constant fight against the wild birds eating my chicken feed finally got the best of me. They were consuming seven pounds a day, and this meant war! But I’m honestly not sure which fight was worse, the problem or the solution.
It took seven hours to do the job, two of them were probably spent trying to fight myself out of a tangled mess. Aviary netting also proved to be a really handy way to turn my hair into a rats nest. Good to know, for that special sought after look at special occasions.
I might mention that if you step on aviary netting, it sticks to your shoes, with this really cool way of binding your ankles together. Numerous times I was a prisoner of war, a hostage, in the grips of this evil material. But every cowgirl knows to never leave the house without a knife, so there I was… jack the ripper.
If I thought my neighbors had a sense of humor I’d hung that stuff naked. Every button, rivet, and seam was the culprit of a tangled disaster. Speaking of disaster, earrings were an extremely poor choice of accessories that day. It’s just amazing how light aviary netting is, did you know you can have 40ft of it hanging from your ear and hardly know its there?
There is one thing, the only thing, that aviary netting does not stick to… itself. Therefore, zip-ties were the fastener of choice. The packaging failed to mention that these were terrific little buggers if you’re looking to rip your fingers to shreds. Maybe it was a sales tactic assuring the future sales of the zip-tie fastener tool. What? there’s a tool?
I was completely frustrated during all these unexpected challenges. Partly because I couldn’t help thinking it might not even work. Birds, especially sparrows, can fit through an opening the size of a quarter. The margin of success was grim and my confidence began to shrivel, so I started drinking Rum.
Nine billion zip ties later, the aviary netting was affixed to the fenced enclosure that houses a few of my select chickens. Now, to seek out and close every single nook and cranny. My incentive was overhead, where literally hundreds of birds watched from the above power lines, just waiting for their chance to make a fool out of me. A few doves perched their engorged with chicken feed and too fat to fly bodies on a tree root a few feet away. I was comforted by their presence knowing at the very least, my efforts would indeed deny them from feasting here again.
It was dusk, and I was finally done. I put bricks around the entire enclosure, just in case my chickens dug holes around the base allowing the sparrows an entry. I had a headache from the rum, my fingers were like raw hamburger, and my legs felt like a wet dish rag, but there was one last thing to do. I filled the chicken feeder, dragged my ass to the house, and hoped tomorrow morning I wouldn’t have to fight my way through an explosion of sparrows fleeing my chicken feeder.
Monday Morning 6:30 AM
I crawled out of bed and felt like I’d been run over by a truck, every muscle in my body was screaming from the torture of excessive work. A price worth paying I thought, providing I didn’t see those damn sparrows devouring my paycheck. The coffee was still brewing, I was savoring the moment of thinking my battle of the birds was won, either that, or putting off the pain of defeat.
The sun peered from the mountain top and it was time to face my fate. I approached the side of the house and peeked around the corner taking a glimpse of the chicken enclosure. There was a chill in the air but all I felt was that warm and fuzzy feeling of a job well done. Not one bird in sight, no sparrows, doves, or pigeons! VICTORY!