With the start of spring greeting us with sun and promising above-freezing temperatures, I'm getting ramped up for new opportunities and projects for the year.
Although last month was a little bit of a let-down, I now feel like I have a good handle on how I'm going to approach outreach programs and my availability going forward. But it's not just me and my efforts with CROC that are ramping up - My own daughter will also be participating in her own version of educational outreach programs through her YouTube channel: Mia's Menagerie.
The incubator is up and running with 20 chicken eggs expected to hatch before Easter. Although I was not originally planning to raise more poultry, staying-put in our current home means there will be ample time to commit to my chicken coop operations. I would be applying for NPIP certification (which would have allowed me to transfer & show my birds across state lines all year) but unfortunately due to a recent outbreak in Eurasian Avian Influenza HN5 the state department is not doing new facility inspections at this time. Instead, I am just going to continue with the in-state testing and certification required to maintain a clean flock for New Hampshire sales and exhibits. Flustered Clucks coop & egg sales will likely be open for business starting May 1st at the beginning of camping season.
The hardest part of being a caretaker for animals is when you have to say goodbye to them. A few weeks ago I lost my beautiful and gentle Chaco Goldenknee Tarantula "Anansi" after she struggled to molt out of her old exoskeleton. Despite efforts to save her by manually assisting with the removal of the old shell, she did not recover. She was one of my original ambassadors, having been with me since 2011 and was believed to be at least 5 years old at that time, but since she was originally a wild-caught import she could have been much older. She was a fan favorite - having helped hundreds of people conquer their arachnophobia, and inspiring appreciation for the less-loved creatures of our planet. She was gentle and patient, even allowing my young daughter to handle her. Although many may see her as "just a spider" or would rather see harm to such a creature than appreciate them, her passing brought a lot of sadness to me.
When one is known for taking in and providing care to a variety of species - voids are rarely left open. Earlier this year retired several of my previous ambassador species to let them go into new pet-only homes where they would be happier and more comfortable with the private attention they would receive. It is rare that an opportunity to bring in a species that I had specifically hoped for comes up, since I try to source many of my animals through rescues or rehoming situations. Fortunately my patience paid off, and I was able to bring in not just one animal I had been hoping for, but 4. These new additions are looking very promising as candidates for education and outreach programs, but like all "new hires" they will be undergoing health screening and observation to ensure they're cut out for the job.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. With a war raging between Russia and Ukraine underway we are seeing prices on fuel and other commodities skyrocket on top of the already inflated pricing and supply-chain shortages brought on by the COVID Pandemic over the past 2 years. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can continue to operate CROC as a labor of love while still attending to my full-time job as an IT Professional to bring in the necessary cash flow to support my family and my passion. Although ensuring all of my obligations receive equal attention is a delicate dance, I feel I have a good rhythm going. I can only hope that the music continues to play.