Spring is nearly here, the signs are everywhere. The blossom is falling off the blackthorn trees, and the bluebells are flowering. Vixens have gone to ground to have their cubs. I saw my first swallow this morning, picking insects out of the air. I picked my own insects: the first tick of the season off of Quincy.
Well, technically a tick is an arachnid, but why split hairs.
The weather has been so favorable, from a gardener's perspective, that for the first time ever I'm caught up with my sowing and planting. That's my
slapdash comprehensive garden plan for this year, scrawled on the back of an envelope -
Once plucked, you can see that, just above the vent, the male has a swollen bottom -
It only swells during breeding season, and the foam is only produced at this time too. However, I find that vent sexing is a more definitive method for sexing quail than colour.
I processed three quail this morning, saving the feathers for a local fly fisherman. Apparently they make good fly-tying material. Spud and Lily kept me company through the laborious task of plucking. The skin on quail is very thin and tears easily when plucking. The finished birds couldn't have looked worse if I'd let the dogs chew the feathers off.
Well, I processed two birds and all was going well. I hung them on the back of the truck where they would be out of reach of dogs playing in the garden. I had just dispatched the third when my spidey senses started tingling. Where was Quincy?
Behind the shed eating a bag of rat poison she excavated from a hole, that's where.
She came out with the empty bag on her head.
I didn't waste any time. I removed the bag from her head, bundled her into the truck, and drove straight to the vets, which is thankfully only ten minutes away.
I forgot the dead, plucked quail were still hanging from the rear of the truck until I was halfway through the centre of town and looked in my rearview mirror. There they were - swinging left, then right as I navigated the turns to the vets - completely naked except for their feathered heads.
(I'd put the just-dispatched bird I was holding when I caught Quincy into the nearest recepticle, which happened to be the metal bin we use as a mail box. I came home and found the mail left on top of the dead bird. Thank goodness for country post men, nothing phases them.)
Quincy got the same treatment that Spud got when she ate the poisoned rat. All signs for recovery look good as we got the poison out quickly. With some gentle persuasion from his wife (i.e. I showed him the vet's bill), Mike has agreed to go back to trapping the rats, at least until Quincy gets older.
Quincy found the bag because of her exceptional gun dog nose. I know her scenting ability is already well-developed, even if her judgement isn't.
Quincy - on the couch and on the mend