Sunday, September 18, 2011

Big bird

A real bird.

An imaginary bird (image from Wikipedia).
I knew Big Bird (right) since I was a small boy. Initially, I didn't know that his feathers were yellow, thanks to our first TV, a black and white Motorola (yes, Motorola used to make TVs).

And I have Sesame Street to thank for since that's where I learned my A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s. It's also the reason why I pronounce the letter Z as 'zee' and not 'zey' like 'hey' which was the way they taught in school back then, and I think they still do today. Sesame Street was a part of my life perhaps until college. And then one day I "grew up" and became a part of the working class.

Then there's another big bird that I thought would not do well in our country because of the year-round high humidity and a long wet season. That's what I thought until my father proposed that we try raising ostriches. This idea came about when he saw a booming ostrich farm in a neighboring province which led to his lofty idea of being the first in our province to have an ostrich farm. Since I could sense that he was dead serious, I reluctantly consented.

The remaining trio, the male is in the middle.

My father suggested that we start with seven chicks. But when I learned that one young chick costs almost US$200.00 I wanted to back out. That does not include the cost of feeds and supplements. Not to disappoint my father I just closed my eyes and prayed that these chicks better not go to ostrich heaven or else I'm gonna be a very, very unhappy man. It was a gamble.

How I wish this female was sitting on some eggs.

As the chicks grew and the years go by, the seven ostriches became six, then five, then four, then three --- their current number today. The six became five because, as it turned out, there was only one male in the flock. Like any other birds it is hard to determine ostrich sex while they are still young. The ostrich farm agreed to exchange one of their male ostriches for two of our females. Hmmm... sounds like an unfair deal.

As expected in animal husbandry, there will be mortality. The other ostriches succumbed to various ailments. Thank goodness there's still one male alive. But I'm beginning to think he's either sterile, gay or impotent. Eventually, one of the females managed to lay two eggs. We thought we'll be hearing the sound of chirping baby ostriches soon but both eggs were unfertilized. Since then they've never produced a single egg.

Near the shed which serves as their shelter at night and during bad weathers.

Even though my father's dream of an ostrich farm did not materialize I'm thinking of keeping at least 2 or 3 ostriches so that the presence of these big birds will not be missed. Sometimes visitors would come just to look at them and marvel at the sight of these oversized but graceful birds.

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