18.10.38

We have now lost 3 fowls in addition to the one which was presumably pecked to death. Symptoms all the same – loss of power of legs & head drooping. Evidently paralysis, tho’ attributed by the Arabs to a black parasite infesting the birds. Cause & effect uncertain here. The Arabs’ treatment is rubbing with a mixture of charcoal ash, salt & water. Seems effective, at any rate two which were slightly affected seem better to day° & able to run about. The remaining 8 fowls seem now in good condition, but their appetite is very small even allowing for small size. They will never eat maize unless boiled, & do not care greatly for mash.

Goats tamer. Am milking the small one only once a day, & getting about 1/2 pint a day from the two. Even this is more than a few days back. The small one had slight diarrhea yesterday, probably caused by too much wet green fodder, so am now drying the lucerne into a kind of hay. About the same time one of M. Simont’s sheep mysteriously died – attributed to eating too much of the herbage which sprang up after the rain. Goats will eat almost anything, eg. orange peel, & a certain amount of maize can be given to them if boiled & mixed with mash. Flaked maize not obtainable here. The goats already follow & know the way to their shed.

Saw a lizard this morning, walking up the window pane. About 4” long, rather stumpy, resembling an alligator, prickly tail. The first lizard seen in Morocco.

A little cooler, & today very still.

Large ants can drag two peppercorns & the twig connecting them. Ants of various sizes drag a grain of wheat each.

The fowls perched on the new perch for the first time last night.

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10 Responses to 18.10.38

  1. Well, I’m glad some of the fowl are recovering. Loved the lizard-sighting and ant comments. How does he do it? His prose is so simple, yet he makes us see what he sees.

  2. Edward Smith says:

    Well, it’s just careful observation and leaving out the irrelevant: the groundwork for good journalism. You see in this journal the same thing that can be read in Chekhov’s notebooks: the author noting carefully whatever details have arrested his attention, he figuring if they interest him now they may be turned to good use down the line, as his observations of the English countryside were in pieces like “Some thoughts on the common toad”.

  3. Steve says:

    As far as I can tell by reading various chicken disease books, there’s only one parasite that can actually kill birds: the chigger, which also affects humans and seems too small to match the Arab’s description — George hasn’t mentioned being personally tormented by them, either. There are a couple other parasites that do match the description, but these are just annoying, not fatal. If the problem is Newcastle disease, which matches some of the symptoms, there could be tough times ahead for the flock.

    Are the birds in a coop, or can they fossick around the yard? They’d cheerfully eat that lizard, if they could catch it. And self-administered dust baths would help with the parasites.

  4. Lewis Willians says:

    This is great! I just found this site today. I have read some of Orwell’s writing about the Spanish Civil War and was talking about his time in Burma, only yesterday.

    Why is he in Morocco at this time? I know it is after Munich and this discouraged the loyalists greatly. But the war was not over and was not Morocco strictly fascist territory?

  5. CAL says:

    Orwell is really working to keep his chickens alive and well; I hope the rest survive. He hasn’t said anything about their laying eggs, which I suppose is the point. And what about those goats — the little bit of milk hardly repays the trouble of feeding them and milking them, but at least they follow him. But what I enjoyed most was the picture of those ants pulling the peppercorns with a twig attached.

  6. dave says:

    As a farmers son, I can’t really visualize boiling maize (corn) every day or drying your goats hay out…

    Sounds like he was one of the early “gentleman farmers” ,..sort of like Prince Charles.

    Why did he choose to convalesce in such an unlikely place as Morroco? Cheap living I imagine. Is he with his wife? does he have children? I need some context here if anyone could fill me in?

  7. Phil Barker says:

    Lewis, Orwell was in Morocco to help him recover from TB., and in French Morocco rather than Spanish.

    And yes, this is great.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I’m not sure it was a lizard. Stumpy tail and walking up the window pane suggest gecko rather than lizard.

  9. Lewis Willians says:

    Thanks Phil, this orients me.

    Lewis

  10. Jeremy: The gecko is a type of lizard.

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