This morning I took the turner out of the incubator. A day later, as usual. Good thing I got it done first thing this morning, because 2 eggs had already pipped, and now? This:
First little turkey has emerged! Pretty excited fr this year’s hatchings. I have 24 turkey eggs in here, with 13 guinea fowl eggs. The other incubator has 14 turkeys that I started 2 weeks later. And that’s the whole of our hatching for this year. Tho, I still have a ton of birds coming from the hatchery on the 31st….so it’s not like there won’t be a bunch of bebes around. Still waiting on the ducks to lay, but at least they’re back in their yard, not in my garden. 🙂
Got through another blizzard. Rain/snow comin’ this weekend. Feelin’ like the winter that never wants to end. Donkey horse did this to herself:
I’m sure she had one helluva headache after that. She sure was grumpy with me when I poked and prodded it. lol Someone had to poke at it and see how bad it was. 😉 Good thing it’s not fly season or sunburn season, otherwise she’d be even unhappier with me.
This week I’m firing up the incubators. No chickens this year. Got no roos left. Sadly, in the hellacious winter of 21/22, I lost all my roos to shitty weather and a respiratory infection that blew through my coops like crazy. So only turkeys. And a few cross bred ducks…and guinea fowl…both of those I’m picking up from a FB friend who asked if anyone was interested in some to hatch out. Um, yeah! Haven’t managed to have ducks hatch in the incubator (came close with a couple muscovies but they quit a week or so before they were due) and never had guinea fowl, so, for free eggs? I’m willing to give it a try. Now we let our duck hens do the work, because muscovies love, love, love to hatch bebes. And aside from late season nests, I’m happy to let them.
I’m currently up to 15 turkey eggs to hatch. Today we discovered, much to my chagrin, that one hen we thought was a hen turned out to be a tom. So Oscar (my main tom) has only 6 girls instead of 7. I’m just hoping that the newly discovered tom stays subservient long enough that we can get him to a better size for the freezer. 2 breeding toms is plenty and I don’t have enough hens to give Dingus any right now, so keeping a 3rd tom is just not gonna work. Plus, toss in the whole avian influenza thing going on, selling a live bird right now is more of a pain in the ass than normal…plus, we like turkey, and we let these jerks breed so we can eat the extras, so…
Tomato seeds are popping up through the dirt. I’m getting ready to sow a few more. Only have 36 little cups (though each cup has more than 1 seed in it and I’ll pot up any extras that come up from those multiples…except for the San Marzano…I only had 10 of those seeds, so 1 per cup) and that ain’t going to be nearly enough tomatoes for us. Tomatoes is like beans…I could plant an acre of ’em and that *might* be enough for us. 😂😂😂 All my other seeds that I ordered, have come in. Hubby is just picking up bits and bobs here and there when he’s at the feed store or the hardware store. Mostly adding to the carrots/beets supply of seeds. We go through a lot of both.
And that’s us. We’re just waiting on spring to really and for truly get here. And for hands in the dirt/building season to begin. YeeHaw.
In 3 weeks I’m going to traumatize the turkeys. Again. In 3 weeks they’ll get a deep cleaning of their hut (with weekly spot cleanings in between now and then) and deep, fresh straw added. Then, in 3 weeks, I’ll start collecting eggs for the incubators. Right now the eggs are being washed and eaten (because yummmmmmmmy!!).
Right now, my brooders that Hubby built me last year are all under snow. So we’re not ready for itty bitty birbs. Yet. But in 3 weeks… We’ll be closer to getting them ready. So I’ll set eggs, and in the 4 week time it takes for turkey eggs to hatch, we’ll have those brooders ready for bebes. Which is good, because at the end of May I have: 10 pekin ducklings 10 lavender orpingtons 10 black giants (regional variant of Jersey Giants) 5 white geese and 25 white turkeys to pick up from the feed store. So yeah…Ima need those brooders.
And by the end of May the muscovies will be laying and hopefully some of the hens will be already sitting nests. If not, then soon. I can’t wait for aaaaalllll the leetle bebe birbies to be here! 😍😍😍
We’re in the middle of a heat wave. It’s hot. I’m cranky because it’s hot. I’m watering the garden a lot. Birds get out at dawn and stay out until dusk. I’d *love* to leave them out overnight in this heat but…someone posted on a local FB group that a black bear had been seen (with picture!) just a few miles from us. Uh, I don’t need my birds being a bear buffet. 😂😂😂 And while I’m not adverse to shooting and eating a bear, I think it’s better to not have the birds out as a possible buffet temptation in the first place. So up early to let ’em out, up late to put them away.
Still planting the garden. These are the days of beans. So. Many. Beans. But, I didn’t get enough canned last year to make it ’til this years harvest (have 4 jars left) so the bean patch is getting a bit bigger. And I keep saying we need to expand the garden more. Not even kidding. But there’s a plan that replaces last year’s plan that didn’t work out and all it’ll take is a weekend to move a pasture fence and a couple big round straw bales…wheat straw please, because I can’t grow food to feed my Kid in oat straw…unless I want to kill her…which I don’t. Obvs. But that’s a Fall project. For now, Hubby is building another brooder…that’ll be 4 for this year. 2 for turkeys and 2 for chickens. Then he can work on a refurbish of the duck one (remember, it had mold and killed off over a 2/3rds of my first hatch of turkeys. 😥 )
Things went a bit sideways with my pre-purchased plants. Trees were shorted from the order…so no saskatoons and no siberian crabapples this year. Prolly for the best, I’m running out of place to jam things…for now. Once the expansion is done, a section will be specifically for the saskatoons. Then I heard from the local greenhouse that my order was being shorted the wild hops plants I wanted because the plants didn’t make it through the winter. *sad face* So I’ve substituted chives, a couple paprika pepper plants and mortgage lifter tomatoes. I’ll get hops next year. Really, it’s all kind of a blessing in disguise because I hadn’t figured out where to put all the trees, and not even kidding when I say I’m already exhausted. 😂😂😂 But…the end of planting is in sight, so once that’s done, it’s mulching, weeding and watering until harvest begins. And feeding the bazillion and 15 birds. Again tho…we’re gonna eat good this winter. 😉 Oh! And the lady we bought our pig from last year has been in touch. I have my pig booked for pickup in the Fall. So just as I’m dropping from exhaustion from butchering birds, we’ll have another 250lb pig to do. Not to mention the bartering trade of birds for a pig from a friend. Lots of pork, lots of poultry. Now, we’ll just need a deer or two and some beef and we’re set. 🙂
2 more weeks for the Sweetgrass turkey eggs. 3 more weeks for the Narragansett turkey eggs. Then there will be many, many more turkeys. And in case anyone thinks turkey might have a wee bit of a brain, trust me, there is a reason I call them my “stupid children” Case in point:
She stood there a bitched and bitched and bitched…for a good 20 minutes…because her feet were cold. Seriously. Turkeys is stoopid. But, they are also good eating and fun to watch. Which is why I love ’em. 😂😂😂
It’s Saturday morning. The roosters are screaming. Some mornings, I feel like I should be allowed to wake up screaming like they do… Eh, with my closest neighbour 1/2 mile away, I guess I could. But let me tell you about our week…
After all that work getting the pressure tank done, we’re still having problems with the well pump coming on too often. And it turns out it’s because…we have a broken water line from the well to the house. Joy. So we’re chasing the local well company to come out for a. and estimate on cost to repair and b. time frame to do it. But it’s planting season and fuck if anyone is calling us back. 😡 *sigh*
Tuesday I got a message on Instagram from my turkey hatching egg dealer…she was in the biggest city the next day, my big incubator just emptied of hatched chicks, and did I want her to bring me turkey eggs? Um, let me think… YES!!! So after some discussion, we figured out MCFHubby would meet up with her for the exchange. I was disappointed I didn’t get to visit with her (she really is a cool lady!) but at least we managed to get the egg exchange done, and I now had another 36 Narragansett turkey eggs to put into my incubator. Yay me!! 🙂
Wednesday morning, I pop the eggs into the incubator, with 5 that my turkey hens laid, for a total of 60 turkey eggs set between the 2 incubators. I still haven’t cracked one of ours open to make sure the tell tale bulls eye is there, but I *have* watched the boys do their jobs, so I’m going with “horny teenage turkeys” for the win. 😂😂😂
Oh and then Thursday… Fucking Thursday. So, I’m dozing at 4am, waiting for my turn in the bathroom, when I hear repeated beeps from the small incubator. I’m not terribly worried because Miss Daisy Mae loves to sit there and sometimes she knocks the cord and it beeps as she does it. But then, I realize, I have 3/3 cats in bed with me. Hmmmm… So I get up and I see the lights flashing on the incubator. And the fucking cord is hot, hot, hot…oh and it’s smoking! And there’s a bulge in the cord where there shouldn’t be one… Shit! Clearly, this cord is fucked. So we scramble (at 4am) to find a replacement in the house…because doesn’t *everybody* have a million and 2 extra ac power cords lying about? No deal. Nothing that will work. But we find that if the power pack (big rectangle in the middle of the cord) has a fan on it, it cools off enough to keep it running…okay, but this can’t be the answer for another 3 weeks, so Hubby heads off to work and I make a list of places to call to find a new incubator. Fuck.
After some run around, a lot of coffee, and a break down or two…seriously, want to see a grown woman sob uncontrollably? Let her see smoke coming off her incubator at 4am when she can’t do shit all about it…but, I found an incubator and a set of turners at the local Peavey Mart (for y’all in the US, think Canadian version of Tractor Supply). I texted Hubby, who then left work to go and get it. I’m telling you, incubators are in short supply this year! More and more people are turning to hatching out chicks than ever. A lot of them are not so sure about what to do with the roosters they hatch but that’s a whole different discussion. Y’all know we eat any extras here. Some folks can’t wrap their heads around that tho…
So the great thing about this new incubator is, with the turner, it holds 41 eggs. And it has windows!! No more fighting the urge to peek in and see what’s going on. Just look in the windows! 😍 I had 19 turkey eggs in the small incubator, that were at 1 week development. Turkey eggs take 28 days. Chicken eggs take 21 days. See where I’m going here? 😂😂😂
Once we got the new one set up, and the turkey eggs were in, I just had to fill it with chicken eggs. Because they will hatch around the same time. So I get an extra 22 chicks (potentially). And now I have the capacity to hatch 97 chicks at a time. So. Many. Birds! But, we’re gonna eat goooooood this winter. 😉 And I figure I can run 2 more hatches this year, before it gets too late for chicks.
Oh, and that small incubator? Totally fucked. The entire digital panel is malfunctioning. But the thing is, I only paid $115 for it, and this was our 3rd season using it. It has, over it’s life time, ran continually for just about 13 months…and I’ve hatched many, many chicks out of it. It has *more* than paid for itself! But this also tells me that I need to make sure I have money set aside for when the big one goes…it’s from the same place, and we’re on our 2nd season with it. It may last longer, it may not. But I need to be prepared for whatever happens.
As for the current turkeys… Whites are growing wonderfully. They’re only 4 weeks old but fully feathered and almost ready for an outdoor yard. My remaining 5 Narragansett kids are doing wonderfully too. I have at least 2 hens, one is another little auburn girl who is soooo pretty! And she loves to perch on my arm. I kinda hope she continues that habit. ❤
And then there’s my EmmaBird from last year’s hatch…
That box she’s in is my hay baling box. She’s decided that’s her get away from the boys. I think she’s considering going broody. She can’t have that box though, so Hubby is working on building a couple smaller ones that we can put into the turkey yard, because broody turkeys is just fine with me. And ain’t she just a lovely girl? While turkeys may not be the brightest of birds, they are endearing (and tasty), and Miss Emma is one of my favorites.
I knew it! I just…knew it. That nice weather last week was lulling us into a false sense of security. Mother Nature said “oh, yeah! Go right ahead and plant out your tenders…your tomatoes and peppers and pumpkin starts…I promise, I’ll take care of them!” And here we are. Shivering because I’m too damn stubborn to turn the heat back on. It’s currently +3c with the wind it feels like 0* So had I planted like I really, really wanted to, my tender plants would be toast. 😂😂😂 Nice try Mother Nature. But not this year. I fought myself for a few days and then said “Wolfie, honey…it’s only the 3rd week of May. You are gonna get frost. Be. Patient.” Well, glad I listened to myself, because, here we are. Frost last night, frost tonight. But my carrots, peas, and beets are planted and I’m ready to go on onions, radishes, greens and a few other cool weather crops. Then I can look towards the warmer days/nights ahead for the plants and the beans and corn.
I am still waiting to hear from the local greenhouse to let me know when I can pick up my plant order from them. Though, with the cooler temps. I’m happy to let *them* baby my plants a little while longer!
So my food production for today included putting 40 turkey eggs into the incubator. To go with the 19 I set last week in the small incubator. The eggs in the small one though, are being split with another farm. I think mentioned this already, a friend had Sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs, and I set them to hatch. Well, I also had 7 of my Narragansett eggs ready to go in, so all in they went. Our deal was to split whatever hatched from the Sweetgrass, but I figure the whole set is fair to split. Since I have extras in the big ‘bator, I have no issues whatsoever counting my 7 Narragansett into the split deal.
My hope is, as always, for an abundant hatch. Of the eggs in the big incubator, all the hens will stay on for eggs/hatching. Any boys will have the most excellent of life before going on to Freezer Camp. I hope that of the ones going to Freezer Camp there will be enough of them to offer a few for sale (after we take care of family and friends). We still have people interested in well raised, home slaughtered birds, and I would love to have more to offer for sale. And that’s why hens are staying on…our two toms Oscar and Dingus need more girls (5 hens to 2 toms is not ideal!) and welp, food is not going to get cheaper or easier to get. Especially well cared for, well raised, happy food. I want to be you #HappyFoodTastesBetter dealer. 😂😂😂
And my other food production thing today was the finding and very much enjoying Les Stroud’s website for his latest project: Les Stroud’s Wild Harvest
Les had a show years ago called “SurvivorMan”. He was dropped off in remote locations, just him and his cameras, for 7 days. And he had very, very limited tools to work with. I really enjoyed the shows. Now he’s exploring foraging, hunting and using all that he finds. I’m telling you, it’s one more piece in the puzzle, foraging is. So I’ll be binging that for a while. Testing recipes where I can. Soaking in the knowledge. Trying to stay warm for the next couple of days.
It’s been blazing hot here the past few days, with gale force winds. So I’m a little slow. We’re all a little slow. The heat weighs you down, and then the wind strips all moisture out of your body almost instantly. Lots and lots of liquids going in the past few days, I tell ya!
Working on getting seeds into the garden before the rains come. Always chasing the waterers for the animals, making sure they have enough to drink. And trying to stay on top of the “what’s for dinner?” moments. I’m tired. 😂😂😂
But, it’s a good tired and I’m not complaining. Much.
Last week I had chance to connect with a friend who’s working on her own family’s food security. This is something that comes up a lot around here (in case no one’s noticed) because I’m pretty darn passionate about good foods, well raised foods, and not being beholden to any govt for getting access to that food. So in this conversation, we talked about the space they have for growing food animals, compared to ours. We’re not doing pigs this year. Might be a year or 2 more before we consider it. She and her partner have access to low cost culls, and have space to grow them out. We have many, many, many birds. 😂😂😂 So. Many. Fucking. Birds. And so we thought that bartering pork for birds was something to consider. As always, I worry about making sure that all parties are happy. I never, ever want to be in a barter situation where someone feels shorted…especially not with a friend. But I think if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement (and I do believe we will 🙂 )then I love the idea of bartering. It builds community (and Lady Bless us all, we so need that in society right now!) and it gets more well raised foods into more homes. Done well it’s an excellent thing!
And then she says to me…I have 12 heritage sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs…are you interested? Um… YES!
Last night another friend dropped them off here…and her and I discussed how her daughter’s new home had so many rhubarb plants that could become wine to share amongst us all. Yup, bartering for food/wine is a damn fine thing. 😉
Tonight the eggs will go into the incubator. And whatever comes out in after 28 days will be split between two Farms. I, uh, might be a little bit addicted to hatching turkeys. 😂😂😂
Oooooh, and just because it’s amazing, and finally happened:
That my friends, is our very first laid right here on Midnight Calico Farm Narragansett turkey egg!! And yup, it’s going into the incubator with the sweetgrass turkey eggs. 🙂 My excitement was (still is) over the moon last night.
We were putting birds to bed, and when I got to the turkey yard, my Kid says “I have a present for you” and puts this egg in my hand… Oh there is no mistaking turkey eggs. None whatsoever. They are unique (among my birds at least) and so very beautiful. I may have cooed over it like Gollum cooed over the One Ring. 😉 It should be fertile…I’ve been watching the boys do their jobs for the past few weeks…hell, when we were working on the plastic around the garden, I was cheering Oscar on as he made the rounds with every hen in the yard. 😂😂😂 Horny teenager turkey. If these birds start producing a lot of eggs, I’ll be looking at a 3rd incubator just for turkeys…and another brooder. But y’know, we’ll eat really well.
And in duck news… There are many, many duck eggs lying around. Many of ’em. And I’m willing to bet even more we cannot see. Muscovies are notorious for hiding eggs and coming out just about a month later with a whole bunch of littles behind them. Based on the chirruping and berating we’re getting from some hens, there’s quite a few of our 21 girls thinking about hatching eggs. So we’ll cross our fingers to start seeing bebes in the next couple of months. For the record, I’ve tried incubating duck eggs and have had no luck at all. Followed all the directions and still had quitters. So I’d rather let the hens to the job. Means 1 less incubator I have to buy, because muscovies are a 35(ish) day hatch, where chickens are 21 and turkeys are 28. 35 days is a long time to tie up an incubator for no return. 😦
But if we have an abundance of hens hatching, that will give us some ducks to barter as well. And steak birds is good eating. 😉
I’m sure I’ve said that before. But it’s true. I call their hatching eggs “grow your own skeksies” kits. Oh, and I juuuuuust happened to have made a deal for 3 dozen more Narragansett hatching eggs. Nope. Not addicted to turkeys. Not at all.
I may, however, have to create my own support group. I’ll call it Poultry Anonymous. And we’ll meet on a weekly basis, enjoy wine and pictures of our poultry, and throw middle fingers at the govt, because self-help groups are “allowed” to meet. Yup, sure sounds like something I would do. 😉
We had an impromptu shoot with this little dude yesterday. The Kid grabbed them out of the brooder and onto the big mirror they went. Of course it was scary (because everything is scary when you’re a wee little birb in a great big world!) and they called and called and called for their brooder mates…which made the big turkeys wonder what was going on. It was really cute watching a couple of the hens, everytime this little called. You could just see their brains go “Baby!! I want Baby!!” So I said “Hurry up and get to laying eggs, you sillies! Then you can has Babies!” I don’t think they understood me. 😂😂😂
And then they poop on the mirror… 😂😂😂
And then, poor little pumpkin just got tired and sat down:
Hopefully this weekend will be nice enough to grab a couple of the whites out of the brooder and we can get a few shots of them with a Narragansett for size comparison. All in all though, every one of ’em is cute little birbs.
Hit play and turn up your sound! There’s many little voices in there. I’m so looking forward to meeting them all! Humidity is still high, so they’re not quite done hatching. When the humidity drops and stays low, then that’s an indication that they’re pretty much done. That’s when I open the incubator and see if there’s any who need help out of the shell. Until then, the ones that are out get to sing and dance around while they absorb the last bits of the yolk from their eggs. They’re good for up to (and sometimes longer than) 72 hours in there without food or water.
The brooder is ready and warmed up for them, when they’re all done and ready. 🙂
Yesterday was the first day we all left the Farm for errands in just about a year. It’s been mostly Hubby, sometimes I go with him, but The Kid has 99.99% of the time stayed home. Yesterday we all went for the drive.
First up we met up with a friend so she could get some delicious farm fresh eggs from my asshole birds. That was a lovely visit…we hadn’t seen her for more than a year, between life schedules and then this *waves hands* stuff going on…but it was so good to see her. ❤
Then off to see the Lady with the turkey eggs. Holy smokes, this woman is living the Dream! Moved from a crowded once country turned citified area to a 1/4 section farm where she can see elk off her deck most mornings. So exciting! She’s a really cool lady, and I’m super happy for her and her family. And when I found out I could still get turkey eggs from her this year, I jumped at the chance.
And then from see the Turkey Egg Lady, we went into the big city to get a new well pressure tank. Our well pump has been coming on every 20 minutes or so…which is not normal and not good. After posting on Facebook for ideas, we checked/fixed the leaky toilet and the leaky water softener and that didn’t change things. So a friend’s son, who is a plumber and former farm boy, said the next thing is the tank, because it sounds like the bladder has a leak. To be fair, another friend, who just recently had her pressure tank replaced, said the same thing. So now we have a new pressure tank, and Hubby (with the assistance of The Kid and I) will set about to replace the leaky one with the new one. Wish us all luck.
And finally, we were given some more feed seeds. Beans, and some feed corn. Pintos, and navy beans. Those got put into the “we’ll plant these for food for us” pile. And then there was the bag of feed corn. Um, yes please! I don’t actually have to tell y’all why I might want to grow feed corn, do I? Knowing that I love to do home brewing? Yeah, so I now have enough feed corn seed to do a very nice plot of corn. That may or may not become a lovely alcohol in the fall/winter. 😉
And the duck girls have started to lay…we’re taking the eggs away for a bit, just because it’s still chilly at night, but in a few weeks, we’ll leave them for the hens to start to sit, so we can have many, many bebe ducks. Fingers crossed! 🙂