Turkeys

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…

Emma is my auburn hen 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.

Voices

Turkeys are hatching…

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.
🙂

Last Day of February

Ever have one of those months where all you can think is “holy shit, I made it!”??
Yep, that was February for me.
😂😂😂

But today is the last day, I’m almost ready to fire up the grow lights…
Oh.
Wait.
So I’m sending Hubby out on a mission tomorrow. Because my stand for growing seedlings isn’t big enough.
And I always end up with some in the library window, with a hanging lamp that doesn’t have enough light to keep the plants from getting long and leggy before planting.
Thanks to the google, I discovered the Home Depot here in Canada has a led light fixture that is a grow light.
Probably designed for the folks who want to grow pot (because that’s legal here now) but hey…it works for us gardening folks.
So I’m sending Hubby out to buy me one tomorrow after work.
And then, if that works, I’ll send him back for another 2 of them.
And we’ll build one of the shelving units we have in boxes in the basement and hook up lights for 3 shelves and then I’ll have 2 plant stands and 4 shelves to grow seedlings!
Not that I’m excited about growing seedling for the garden or anything…
Oh no.
Not me.
Not even a little bit.
😂😂😂
Okay…maybe a little bit.

We’re a week into the first round of incubation.
I haven’t candled the eggs yet.
Maybe tonight, if I remember.
Not sure how many are going to be good…I had to collect for 6 days before I had enough, which is longer than I like to collect eggs for.
After that polar vortex ripped through here, the hens were withholding eggs like crazy.
Down from 60ish a day to 8…if I was lucky.
They’re on the upswing now, which is good because in 2 weeks Ima need aaaaallllll the greens and blues they’ll give me.
I always collect as many of those as I can for hatching, then fill in with the browns.
Those genetic egg pictures tell me my big roos from brown eggs crossed on blue and green egg layers should give me more green eggs…
I love me some colour in my egg basket.
😉

This is Miracle the Rooster…and nice side eye from that black hen there…🙄

See? Big rooster.
This guy’s name is Miracle.
He came to us a year ago on NYE with 2 other boys and a group of hens.
A friend needed to rehome her birds and asked if I was interested.
Yup!
Now, this guy and his 2 brothers were originally called Larry, Darryl and Darryl (google it if you don’t get the reference 😉 ), but this summer and fall we had no end of trouble with that damn coyote.
Bastard got the other Darryl and we thought got this Darryl too…
Until the evening (because that stinking coyote was brazen enough to be picking my birds off in the middle of the damn day!) and we were bbq’ing and my Kid goes dashing off the deck yelling “rooster!!”
And I’m like “wtf?!?” as she runs to the pasture fence, climbs over, then climbs back with this rooster in her arms…well, he was short some tail feathers and he was definitely in shock, but we couldn’t find any other injuries on him.
So we banded his leg and re-named him Miracle because it’s a damn miracle he got away from the coyote!
Lemme tell ya, he’s a lot more careful how far he lets his hens go and he sure does make sure they listen and scuttle their feathered butts back to safety the *second* he says so…
He’s a lucky boy to still be alive and he knows it!
Hopefully he teaches the other roosters to be just as diligent with their ladies.
(though thankfully we haven’t seen Wile E since the last time we fired shots at his rear end…)

So we’re ready for March.
Looks like it’s coming in like a Lamb, and I’ll be expecting it to go out like one too.
Either way, we’re ready for spring, for building, for gardening, for the growing season overall.

And maybe a nap or two too. 😉

Skeksies

Welp, I finally managed to get out to the turkey yard with my camera.
Hubby and The Kid got the fence pulled and we now *have* a turkey yard!
Those poor birds were so confused the first time we left the door to their coop open.
And then again when Hubby shoveled out the mass of poo and straw.
😂😂😂
He was stealing their good stuff!!
But they’ve had a few days of freedom outside now and they’re starting to get it.
So the other day I went out with Voldemort and just sat down in the yard…in a spot they hadn’t shit yet…lemme tell ya, turkeys can shit a lot. Everywhere. Lots of shit.

But I found a spot and had a seat, giving them a chance to settle down and try to figure out what the hell I was…

“Oh hey…what are you?”

They spent a lot of time just staring at me, completely confused.
😂😂😂
Um, turkeys are confused a lot.
And a bit sketchy/skittish.
Oh but they’re fun!
They sing and hoot and call to each other and they’re like gangly teenagers who don’t have complete control of their bodies yet.

And I am 100% convinced that turkeys were the inspiration for the Skeksies.

Tell me that bird doesn’t look like a Skeksie!
Of course he does!
In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about…
Skeksies

Just wandering about, doing turkey things…
Pretty light coloured hen…and some ducks.
The light one right in front is a tom…he’s figuring out his strutting and dancing…though he keeps doing it for the duck hens, not the turkey hens…I guess he likes his girls short, fat and weird looking. 😂😂😂

In a few months, we should see the hens begin to lay eggs…probably end of Feb., beginning of March…and then we’ll see the boys dance their mating dance…and then! Then I’ll be grabbing eggs to put into the incubator, because more turkeys is a good thing. 😉
Hell, if I can order some broad breasted whites (commercial birds) to raise with a round of these guys, hopefully we’ll be flush with turkeys for next year!
Fingers crossed.
🙂

Turkey Update

When they were young…just over 2 weeks old here…

And then yesterday:

9 weeks old…

This weekend we’re fencing their new yard…because with 13 of ’em in there, this coop/brooder is just too small. Plus, Ima gonna need that brooder back thankyouverymuch for next March when the hatching begins again.

I do also have this lovely coop that’s going to be used for chicks too:

Which was given to us by a friend when she moved.
It’s awesome because it’s separated into sections, so when I hatch out eggs from different sources, I can keep chicks separate until they’re big enough to band for identification.
But anyways…the turkeys have to move to bigger, easier to keep them in, space for winter.
That’s just one of the many things we’re doing this weekend.

And damn, ain’t my turkeys cute??
😉

Sharing with Oak Hill Homestead for the Simple Homestead blog hop.

It Finally Happened

This has been a couple years in the making.
We’ve been waiting what feels like for. ever.
We’ve been wanting this to happen for so long.
And finally…

This is Ripple…one of our muscovy hens.
Isn’t she a beautiful girl?
Look beside her…

There’s a scrap of something bright, bright yellow there…
Do you see it?

Do you see now?
🙂

Ripple has hatched out ducklings!!

It’s late in the season, yes.
But after the eggs I stuck into the incubator died (but were well formed) we knew our new drake was working…before winter though, I needed confirmation that spring would give us ducklings. Otherwise, I’d be looking for a new drake. Again.
So when Ripple decided she was sitting a nest at the end of July, we let her.

There’s 2!

There’s a couple more eggs under her that might hatch yet…

There’s 3!
You can just see the hint of a 3rd duckling under her.
🙂

Good job, Mama Ripple!

If that doesn’t make getting the duck house in place for winter that much more urgent, I don’t know what does!!
😂😂😂

Rainy Saturday

Today was supposed to be meat chicken processing day.
Last night however, we had a raging down pour.
No complaints here though.
It was a hot, hot week and it was getting dry and crispy again.
So we definitely needed the rain.
But it messed with getting meat chickens done.
Ah well, gives ’em another week to enjoy life as a chicken. 😉

We’ve moved chicks around again.
We had 40 chickens in that orange tool racking for a couple months now.
Now they’re big enough to join the general population of birds.
Since we took out another dozen roosters last week, we have more room in the meat chicken house and the layer coop for them to move into.
So it’s time to get them free rangin’ like the rest of the birds.

Next up today, now that the drizzle has stopped, is to get the ducklings moved.
They’re doing well and growing like crazy in their space, but we need to rotate them around the grass…so they can enjoy fresh grass and their poop can fertilize the ground. 😉
Rotational grazing for ducks.
Gotta love it!

Then yesterday we picked up some more wood for the greenhouse build.

We have a pile of windows now, a bunch of 2×6’s to get started and I have to dig the 4×4’s we have out of the lumber pile.
The walls will be built on pressure treated 4×4’s on gravel.
Then inside I’ll build raised beds on either side, which will work as seed starting areas in spring and growing spaces through summer and fall.
Lots of work coming up to get it done for use next spring.
But we’re working on it when we’re not butchering.
Then once our big field is harvested, we’re starting the garden expansion permabeds.
lol
I’ll sleep in winter.
Hopefully.
😂😂😂

Oh, I finally took some pictures of the turkeys!
Just pics with my phone.
Haven’t had much energy to use Voldemort for a while now, so he’s been sitting…but I figured at 2 1/2 weeks old, y’all should get to see what a bunch of cuties these poults are!
😍

13 adorable little faces.
😍

That little white one!!
😍

3 from above

Ain’t they something?
😍

So now we need to think about how we’re gonna over winter ’em.
At least half of them, anyways.
Because I want to have a breeding flock, but it won’t be all of them.
Some will be freezer campers, but we won’t know who until much later in the year.
For now, all they have to do is eat, sing, poop and grow.
😍

Other than poultry wrangling and butchering, I’ve been weeding the garden.
Surprise, right?
lol

I have to say, with all the weeds, I’m missing kinda having pigs to feed them to.
But the Cornish meat birds are eating a lot of them.
😂😂😂
Their little hooting sounds they make while running over as fast as their little legs will bring them is hilarious.
It’s once of the best parts of my day, seeing those happy little chicken faces come barreling at me for thistles and garden weeds.

If we can build another pen next year, we’ll probably do pigs again.
By that time we’ll be out of pork and need to grow a few out.

I’m still hopeful for sheep though.
Definitely need something more for meat and I really want a dairy animal.
If I can find a dairy ewe or 2 (or 3 or 4) that can fit into our Farm, I’ll be happy.
I don’t care about wool.
There’s more than enough people shearing and selling wool in the province, so I’m not interested in getting into that.
Obviously if I had a breed that needed shearing it would be done for the health of the animals, but fiber is so low down on my list of wants it really doesn’t matter.
Milk and meat are my 2 top priorities.
After that, it’s horns for Hubby.
😂😂😂

That’s next year though…
Right now I’ve enough on my plate without adding another animal to take care of for winter.

Monday Morning Round Up

What a week last week was!
Hatching, weeding, canning…

I’m still weeding the garden.
I’ll forever be weeding the garden.
But, the weeds come out easily because of the straw mulch between the rows.
I need to get more straw down to smother them, but I’ve run out of bales for that…I’m working on using some of the older, more composted bales, but that’s slow going and I am but one human. 😉

Canning…
We did a round of roosters last weekend, so once the carcasses were cleaned and I made soup stock, I picked off whatever meat I missed, put it in jars and covered it with stock. 90 minutes in the pressure canner (quart size jars) and voila!! 5 meals of ready to use chicken on the shelf.
Good for soup, stir fry, sandwiches, fajitas…or whatever tickles our fancy at the time.

Hatching…
No pics yet.
I have to do that yet.
But
13
We had 13 turkeys hatch.
So now those little dudes are bopping around the brooder, eating, drinking, pooping, being cute…
All in all, it’s slightly more than a 50% hatch rate (I had 2 dozen eggs) but when each poult is going for $15 each, my $70 investment in eggs paid off with 5 hatching.
13 puts me way out ahead of the game.
Now I can clean up the incubator and put it away ’til next year.

And then yesterday, we did a thing…
😂😂😂

I keep talking about food security, especially in these uncertain times.
It’s a huge reason why we’ve hatched out as much poultry as we have.
Because somewhere in the future things are gonna go sideways again.
And I aim to make sure me and mine are well fed.

So when I came upon an ad for muscovy ducklings at a ridiculously cheap price, I said to Hubby “Wanna go on a road trip tomorrow?”
Next thing you know, we’re picking up these guys…

4 of ’em are 6 weeks old, the other 10 are 3 weeks old

The boys will grow out, enjoying life, eating bugs and grass and grains, and then go to Freezer Camp.
The girls (if there are any) will join our flock of muscovy ducks to produce eggs/chicks next year.

Ain’t they cute?

This year we had 2 hens go broody.
Nothing hatched though because they were continually stressed by chickens trying to steal their nests.
Grrrr!!
So we’re working on another yard for ducks, where the girls can nest without worry of the chickens annoying them.
Actually, we’ve popped the duck over into the once-was pig yard.
And they seem to be doing well there.
For winter though, they’ll be back into the main coop and then go back as soon as we can move ’em to the pig yard come spring.
I aim to be over run by muscovy duckling next year.
I keep hearing how they’ll do that if you don’t collect eggs.
I’m looking forward to it!!
🙂

Oh, then I stopped in at our favorite Pumpkin Farm.
The owner had made a post about having pickling cukes for sale, so I asked her for 10 lbs.
My cucumbers never make it to jars.
We always eat them as fast as they grow.
So with the chance to support a local small farmer, and all around good person, I jumped at buying 10 lbs.
That’s my job for tomorrow.
Today I realized I used the last of my pickling spices when I made pickled beets last year, so I have to get Hubby to stop and pick some up for me.
Tomorrow I make dill pickles.
Yum!!

And now I’m off to continue weeding…which includes clearing the weeds out of the spot where we’re building the greenhouse.
Because weeding never ends.
🙂

Turkeys!!

The chirping started, oh so quietly on Wednesday.
So quietly that I, in fact, thought I was hearing things, that it wasn’t happening.
I heard a quick burst at 8:30am and then nothing…’til later on in the evening.
Next morning??

Holy. Moly.
Several voices had broken through and were chirping.

Today?
Almost a constant song from many voices!

There’s a good amount of ’em in the incubator.
Not sure how many yet, because I don’t want to compromise anyone who might still be working on breaking out.
Today is only day 29…turkeys take 28 days.
By tomorrow morning, we’ll be ready to get them out into the brooder.

I’m good with keeping them inside another night yet…even if the chirping will drive us nuts.
Turkey poults are so much louder than chicken chicks!!
But, I am happy that we have many voices.
Fingers crossed I can raise them well and that we have a few to keep as a breeding pair(s).
🙂
I hope to take some pictures of them this weekend when we do move them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finally got my gate up on the garden.
YAY!!
Not the gate I wanted…

But it’s the gate that I got…
We had it here from another project that it didn’t get used for, so we figured putting it up on the garden was the best plan.
And it does the job.
Easy to open one handed (like when I’m trying to empty the compost pail from the kitchen) and keeps out the feathered assholes who think that garden produce is for chickens.
🙄🙄🙄

I will be painting a sign that reads “Witch’s Garden” to hang on it. 🙂
Plus, I finally have a home for this super cool owl carving…

The owl will be the garden guardian.
If only the owl would weed…
😂😂😂

First round of roosters is done.
If it wasn’t supposed to be blazing hot this weekend, we’d be doing more.
But, hot Saturday, rainy Sunday.
I will not complain about the rain though!
We’re dry and crispy and definitely in need of moisture.
Thank goodness for that hose and sprinkler for the garden.
I’ve sure been making use of it.

Anyways, we did 12 roosters.
So we have 6 meals of breasts, 4 pkges of ground chicken and 5 jars of chicken with stock.
And I’ve got at least another 4 dozen roos to be done before winter hits.
Just wait…soon the bean will be producing (because holy moly, flowers!!) and I’ll be canning every darn day.
Or, it’ll feel like it.
But, winter is coming and I’ve got some baaaaad feelings about this one.
So I’m just gonna keep working on my food stores, saving as much money as I can, and making the garden expansion/greenhouse build top priority.
I feel like we’re gonna need as much set up to be self sufficient as possible.
And I certainly don’t think we’ll be able to rely on anyone but ourselves.
:/

At the end of the day though, I hope those niggling feelings are wrong.
Don’t think so.
Planning like they aren’t.
But hopeful they are.

Hatching Egg Update

There was much chirping this week.
Again.
Another 44 chicks have joined the flock(s) out of the incubators.
That puts my hatching total this year at 217 chicks.
Whew!!
That’s a lot of chicks!
Though, it’s only half of what I was hoping for.
But, with the amount of roosters, and with the older layers slowing, we’ll have ample chicken in the freezer this winter.

There are a few eggs still in the small incubator.
It’s only day 22, and some might still hatch.
I’ll give them until Saturday to show signs, and if nothing, they’ll go to the compost bin.

With new chicks going into the brooder, that meant the chicks in there (now fully feathered and growing like crazy!) had to move out.
They moved into the tool rack Hubby brought home a while back.
As it turns out, it has a top section and a bottom section.
The 40 chicks who had to move previous to the 33 who moved today have the top section.
They’ve been there for almost 4 weeks and have space to go another couple of weeks for sure.
By that time, we’ll be looking at the 1st hatchers to separate roosters for Freezer Camp.
Once they’re processed, we can move the Top Half 40 to the poultry yard.
Whew.
It gets exhausting trying to remember who is how old and where they need to go next!
That’s why I take notes, to keep track of everything.
Except feed.
I got lost and distracted on feed this year.
*sigh*
It happens.

Ooooh, and the new thing…

So I told you all how we tried turkeys.
Hatchery turkeys did not work out.
Every one died.
BUT
I took the time to talk to a lot of folks who have heritage turkeys, did a LOT of learning, found where I made too many mistakes with the hatchery ones, and have vowed to not make those mistakes again.
Live, learn, do better when I know better.
And that’s where I’m at.

Yesterday, I picked up these…

Narragansett turkey eggs

Those went into the big incubator today.
The person I got them from is meticulous about her breeding program and has an excellent fertility rate.
So, fingers crossed that all goes well and we have (in 28 days) a bunch of turkey poults.
I’ll be looking at keeping a fair few as breeding stock, and then others will go to freezer camp.
Means more building to do, but it also puts us another step towards self sufficiency.
Plus, these guys are pretty af…

I am hopeful (and prayer filled…because I really want a flock of turkeys).

And Now I’m off to go do some weeding in the garden.
I may have fallen down on getting the tomatoes and peppers planted, but I have beans, carrots, beets, parsnips, some zucchini plants and some other random stuff growing in the weeds.
Time to work on that.
🙂

Enjoy your day, folks!