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An oasis of calm in a poultry crisis

The signs are now in place on the borders of the restricted zone. Local newspapers have moved on to emergency footing and bear headlines which read "The crisis - what YOU can do". Meanwhile, within the zone, we are doing our best to keep calm. We try to keep our chickens from fraternising with wild birds. We scan the horizon for any shovelers, swans or geese who might, addled by disease, perhaps, have overshot the east coast and flown inland. Outside the zone, the mood seems to be rather more twitchy. Friends have called to ask whether I might not be getting rather too close to my little flock of bantams while feeding them. Perhaps, they suggest, the health risk involved in poultry keeping has become unacceptably high. There are anxious enquiries as to whether I have been in close contact with the birds. That is a slightly tricky one....

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