End of September

Here’s where we’re at…

2 turkeys went to Freezer Camp…Dingus and an auburn Narragansett.
Still have the rest of the whites to do, and another tom.
2 muscovy drakes joined them.
They were dicks and needed to be culled from the flock…leaving us 3 drakes to over winter with the hens and younglings.
1 pekin drake has been done.
We ordered 10 pekin ducklings and in a very odd twist, it seems like we got 2 drakes and 8 hens. That’s wild, because normally you get more boys than girls.
So we have to narrow down the last of the pekin hens we’re keeping and butcher the rest.
3 geese are in the freezer too.
Leaving us our breeding pair.

Garden is starting to clear out.
All but 4 tomato plants are stripped and pulled.
Beans are done (except for my blue lake pole beans and my rattlesnake beans, which I’m leaving as long as possible for seeds).
I’m working on pulling carrots, beets and onions.
Then I’ll mow the entire thing and cover with straw.
I moved a few rhubarb plants to new spaces, and I’m working on an asparagus bed.

I have the chance to get some horseradish plants later on this fall, so I have to get my 1/2 whiskey barrel planters situated where I want that.
I love horseradish and love the idea of growing it, but it can take over fast, so it must be contained.
The barrels moved out here with us from the city house and have sat empty of plants since.
It’s time for them to be filled.

Our load of duck eggs in the incubator produced 4 ducklings.
2 strong ones (so far, knock on wood), 2 that needed help to emerge and ended up passing.
The incubator has a difficult time keeping humidity levels high enough for ducks (I really hate styrofoam incubators…like really, really hate them), so sadly, it ends up shrink wrapping the poor little dudes into the membrane within the shell and suffocating them.
So eff that crap.
I’m on the hunt for a better incubator for doing ducks.
Something that can hold humidity better.
I fear I may have to make a bigger investment than I want too…
But
As far as sustainability goes, it would be a good investment, because of course, there are other birds here to incubate as well as ducks, so it’s not like it won’t get used. Often.

We moved the little chickens (10 each lavender orpingtons and jersey giants) into the main chicken coop.
It’s only been 1 night, and they’re confused af about not being able to get back into their former house (that’s where the 2 ducklings are), but after a night or two of being carried back to the right coop, they’ll get it.
We have at least 7 roosters between the 2 breeds, so I have good pick for who gets to stay and who gets to be fajitas.
Then next spring we’ll be able to hatch chickens out again.
EmmaBird the turkey and her 8 kids got a yard added to their brooder…with a lid so she can’t screw off on them and the chickens can’t get in to steal the kids’ foods.
Littles get a high protein feed that the regular chickens just don’t need…but everyone loves like it’s candy. And I ain’t payin’ $30/55lbs to feed it to laying hens when they have their own feed to eat!

And of course, we’re still cleaning up the yard and getting ready for the next season.
I’ll tell ya, that spring flooding kicked the crap out of our back yard.
It’s so overgrown with horrible weeds that I can’t use the regular lawn mower on, Hubby has to use the tractor mower, but with all the stupid little chickens hiding in there, it hasn’t happened yet (and because we have other things that have taken precedence over mowing…). Hopefully soon.
I really would love to see *grass* growing next year, but I fear I’ll have to sow some seed for that to happen.
*sigh*
I guess I’ll worry about it next spring, after we see what this winter has planned for us.
:/

It’s Fall Y’all

September 22nd, and so far, so good…we have not had a frost.
We better not for a bit yet.
I figure after hitting me with frost on the first day of Summer, Mother Nature owes me a long, warm Fall for things to ripen on the plants, before finishing the garden with a killing frost.
I’m hopeful.
I know better than try to demand *anything* of Mother Nature.
😂😂😂
Plus, we’re still working on building.
Building takes all 3 of us, so that only happens on the weekends.
Which is why The Kid and I are in full on butchering mode from here on ’til all the birbs going Camping are done.

Today it’s the geese.
I’m so done with their shitty geese attitudes.
Hey, they’re fun!
They have all sorts of hilarious idiosyncrasies, but…they’re dicks.
And I’m sure that’s because we didn’t handle them enough from the time we got them.
If we decide to get a small flock of them next year, that will change.
But for this year, they’re going Camping.
Still the best 5 turkeys I ever spent.

Then this weekend, we’re doing roosters and the white turkeys.
It’s time for those turkeys, it really is.
They are big, big, birbs.
And getting them into the freezer will cut down the feed bill immensely.

Of the other turkeys, the 5 of 16 who survived out initial issues in the spring (unbeknownst to us, mold in the brooder) 4 were hens, 1 was a tom.
Well, I can’t keep 3 toms.
Oscar and Dingus are my 2 breeding boys.
Jake was odd boy out.
So he was on the block…until we got our water line fixed and I promised a breeding pair to Joe the plumber.
On Sunday, Jake went to his new home, with a hen from his age group, at Joe’s place.
I think Jake will be very happy there.
After that, I have the littles that hatched out in June to finish growing out.
6 for a friend, then I’ll choose my extra keeper hens, and the rest go camping.
Unless Joe wants another hen to go with his current pair.
But we’ll see what happens between now and the time they get to size enough to run with the bigs.
Once the whites are done, that will happen sooner…those darn whites are just too big to let the littles run with the whole flock…they don’t understand their strength or bulk.
All in all, I don’t think the whites are cost effective (I’ll know better when I have an idea on carcass size), but they’re a lot of fun.
I mean, turkeys are just fun to raise.
I would raise them, the whites, again.
Next time though, I will give them more scraps and veggies as options, earlier.
These guys were freaked out by watermelon.
But they love, love, love hard boiled eggs.
But scrambled eggs are scary.
And bread/bakery stuff?
It’s gonna kill them. Jump up off the ground and murder them.
I call them my stupid children for a reason…
lol
So yeah, having them less picky feed wise, especially with Loop as feed supplement, would be soooo nice.
But I can work on that next year. If we order whites.

Once all is said and done, everyone who needs to be in the freezer is there, then I’ll sit down and run the numbers, figure out what was worth doing, what needs changing and, if we have a white turkey or two for sale, what the cost will be…
I *know* it’s not going to be anywhere like grocery store prices.
Ain’t no $0.99/lb birds here. Ever.
But, well raised food shouldn’t *be* that cheap.
The only way we get food that cheap is by cutting corners, or by raisers and growers losing money.
Well, neither is a good answer to me.
Sorry.
Food is life, and we need to be willing to pay what it’s worth.
And yes, I do understand that some cannot afford my prices.
At some point though, I think we need to shift our perspective on what whole, good nutrition is and what it’s worth.
My turkeys might go for what some feel is an unreasonable price, but if you make the most of the entire bird, you’re coming out ahead.
A friend mentioned, last time she was here, she got 50 meals for herself and her husband from a 25lb turkey. 50!!
That’s what we have to return to.
Slow food cooking, hands on preparations, no more convenience (or make our own convenience) foods…
Real.
Whole.
Well raised.
Humanely dispatched.
Beak to tail feather consumption.
Not just the choice parts and toss the rest.
That’s not healthy. It’s not sustainable. It’s not ethical.

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll keep saying it…
I will shout it from the rooftops!

Happy Food Tastes Better

And I guaran-damn-tee my food animals are happy right up until their one bad day.
The way it should be.

Down Sizing

This past weekend we got the news that our regular feed guy did not have good returns on his fields.
Which means, he doesn’t have as much to sell to us for feed for the birds for winter.

Now, we had already been discussing downsizing some of the birds, simply because the bulk of our feed money is going into The Merry Mares.
Hay prices are…well I don’t know exactly what’s doing with our regular Hay Guy.
He says things have been real bad (that was back in July) but he didn’t say he wouldn’t have for us.
I’ve been looking and trying to get bales elsewhere, just in case.
One of our other connections had an entire field of hay stolen.
That’s the new thing this year.
Stealing hay.
Hell, she didn’t even get it cut!
They came, cut and baled in a 24 hour period.
Which means it’s either gonna go up in flames or it’s going to mold.
Either way, if they sell the stolen bales, the person buying is fucked and if they try to use it themselves, their animals are gonna suffer.
What a fucked up year.

My straw connection has bales for me.
In fact, she says she has a fair bit extra, so if we had to use straw and supplement with grains and hay cubes, we’ll be able to do that and keep The Merry Mares healthy.
Her prices have gone up…almost double.
But, we also have to consider the low yields on fields, the rising gas prices, repairs to equipment, etc.
It all adds up.
I will not begrudge someone needing to make a living.
And you know, both my straw connection and my Hay Guy have been fucking awesome with us.
I have no complaints about them at all.
Besides, that’s the joys of having money eating shit machines.
In years like this, you pay through the nose to keep them.
But realistically, there’s no market for aging mares who haven’t been ridden for years and who’s only job it has been is to be pretty. Besides, I told them all that they’re here for life.
That’s it, that’s all.

So we’re downsizing where we can.
That’s with birds.
But the good thing with that is, birds are food.
I’m going to go through my hens and take out the aging girls (except for a choice few older gals who will get to die of old age.) Once I have an idea of how many older girls are going, then I’ll see how many roos will stay.
I want to keep 40 hens, so that means 3 roos.
Frank, Blue and probably Darryl (or is it Larry?).

Geese will go to Freezer Camp.
I had hoped to be able to keep them, but…
They’ve been complete assholes to the ducks (they were in the duck yard) and have been picking at new growing wing feathers on the duck hens.
The geese aren’t lacking anything, their just dicks.
😂😂😂
We’ll get more in the spring.

Turkeys will be whittled down to Oscar, Dingus, Emma, 12, 13, and at least 5 other hens.
The boys do best with 4 hens minimum each.
So 8 hens (for sure) and the 2 boys will stay and they’ll easily replenish the flock come spring.
I had thought about keeping a white hen, from the hatchery turkeys.
Those hens do get kept for breeding, but as I thought about it, I worried whether I’d be allowing not-so-hardy genetics into my flock.
Yeah, I might get interesting colours, I might get a faster growing bird, but I might also get the worst of the whites too…
So nope, all whites are Freezer Campers.
In my littles flock, there are 4 Sweetgrass turkeys and the rest are Narragansetts.
6 of that flock belong to a friend.
She’s the one who gave me the Sweetgrass eggs.
I want to keep 1 of the Sweetgrass for my flock, so we’ll have crosses that way, and Sweetgrass are hardy like the Narragansetts, so that works.
Size wise, they’re the same, so it’s just going to be colours that the Sweetgrass will bring to the genetics.
I’m not dead set on pure Narragansetts, so that’s a good thing.
I want hardy, decent layers/mothers, pretty, and tasty.

And then there’s the ducks…
Well, we did just buy 19 bebes, then had another 8 hatch out, so we have a lot of ducks.
😂😂😂
But, we have drakes going Camping, and any drakes in the 19 we bought will go Camping too.
By the time November rolls around, we’ll know who is who and who’s not staying on.
Hens (for the most part) will stay.
We have 4 older gals, the foundation 4, who will be kept because they hatch clutches happily.
Hell, they’re trying to hide nests now!
Ya, no…no nests allowed now!
And the younger hens have been doing just as well too.
Plus, out of those 19 we bought, there should be a few hens, and it’s always good to bring in new bloodlines every few years. Once their coop is renewed (Hubby is working on that and the greenhouse at the same time…the Man is *busy*!!), we’ll see how many fit and go from there.
We have 2 drakes that stay on, Cricket and PoopMachine.
Drake (our main guy) should be staying too…we know he *works* 😉 and then we have Howard and another 1 who looks like Cricket. The Cricket look alike is being replaced with PoopMachine.
We try to keep 4 working drakes, but can go down to 3 if we have to.
That gives us a hen flock of 15-20, depending on space.

So we’re eating bird this winter.
That’s always been the plan, but some of the ones I had originally thought about keeping (space permitting) are now on the table.
And y’know what?
I’m not going to feel bad about that.
Thing is, birds, as much as we enjoy them being here, are food.
For us, for the cats, for the dog.
The rule is they get to live a good life being birds, then when it’s time, they feed us.
That’s just how it is.

Happy Food Tastes Better.

Cricket the Duck. He’s a handsome fella!

Geeses

Things have happened this weekend…
Birb things.

Last week my incubator of 41 Narragansett turkey eggs hatched out 32 poults.
2 passed away shortly after hatching.
That left me with 30.

I have to add…out of the 41 eggs, only 2 weren’t fertile.
But, we did have some strange temperature issues on one of the crazy hot days we had last week, so there were a couple of poults who died in the shell.
It’s was sad, because they were almost fully developed, but incubating can be a delicate balance of heat/humidity and fluctuations can cause deaths in the shell.

Plus, there were 10 already in the brooder from the new incubator…then we lost one because it drowned in the water.
Have I mentioned that turkeys can be stupid?
Yeah, this little one fell asleep in the bottom of the waterer and died.
So we’ve added some cleanly scrubbed rocks…which adds the bonus of giving the poults something to peck at, so they find the water easier.

So I now have 34 poults, with 6 belonging to a friend.
How does 39 become 34?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

39 poults becomes 34 poults when a friend says “hey, I’m going to be in your general area picking up some geeses bebes, do you want some?” and I says “um, yes!” and then she gets here and says “hey, want to trade poults for geeses?” and I once more say “um, yes!”

😂😂😂

And that’s how 39 poults became 34 poults and I now have 5 geeses bebes.
😂😂😂

And what exactly do we plan on doing with 5 geeses bebes?
Welp, we’ll see who’s a boy and who’s a girl (because I have no idea how to tell, if one can tell, at this age) and see who pairs off (because I am told geeses do the 1 mate thing) and then let them make the geeses eine kliene bang bang musick so we have more bebe geeses next year…and the extra geeses will become Freezer Campers.

Until that time though, they get to get acquainted with their space and then they’ll get to wander the yard with the rest of the poultry…because even though no one is supposed to be free rangin’, they don’t listen to me and just do whatever they want…
😂😂😂

Kinda like the turkey and cornish chickens yesterday…

But y’know…
Happy food always tastes better. 😉
And it sure does make them happy to be running all over the place eating bugs and grass and picking through the horse piles. Who am I to deny my food the right to be happy?