Garden, garden, garden. Birds, birds, birds. Work, work, work. Yard clean up again. Forage, forage, forage. More garden, garden, garden…
And started the incubator with the last 6 eggs I’m having hatch out this year…
That’s from our lone surviving Sweetgrass turkey hen, crossed with our big Narragansett boy Dingus.
I’m hoping for super hardy poults…there were many times through the winter from hell that we thought T.D wouldn’t be alive the next day…and yet, that tough little turkey-who-thinks-she’s-a-duck pulled through every. single. time.
So we’re hoping that tenacity breeds true…while Dingus is an amazingly sweet boy, for a tom turkey, and is easy to handle…we hope his temperament breeds true as well.
And tho T.D is a smaller turkey, we’re okay with a smaller than a regular Narragansett bird, because we often get requests for smaller turkeys for people’s freezers.
*I* like a monster bird, but not everyone does.
So I’m hopeful this heritage crossing becomes the foundation for the Midnight Calico turkey.
Our young Sweetgrass turkey hen has been adamant lately that she needs to have turkey time with Dingus, our 2nd breeding tom. I said to her “No dating ’til you lay eggs”. So last week she started laying eggs.
First day was supervised. We moved Dingus into the duck yard where T.D lives. Caramilk, one of the muscovy drakes took an instant disliking to Dingus and tried to beat him up. Kinda funny to watch, but not helpful in getting T.D’s eggs fertilized. So Caramilk got to spend some time in a big dog crate…food, water and a show while he was in (what we call) bird jail.
It takes forever for a successful turkey mating to happen. The hen has to lay down and accept the tom. Unlike chickens, where the rooster can ambush a hen and get ‘er done before she’s fully aware of what hit her. 😂😂😂
We watched Dingus dance and drum and tell T.D what an amazing, handsome, wonderful mate he would be for her…we watched her sit and get ready until the last second when he went to climb on, then she’d jump up and run away…then finally, after a good 45 minutes of “the dance”, she sat, he got on, he danced on her, she looked like he was killing her (totally normal), and then they got the deed done. Like chickens, turkeys mate with a cloacal kiss that, once they get together, takes seconds. Unlike ducks, who have corkscrew penises and mating takes a fair bit longer.
With 1 clearly sucessful mating done, Caramilk still in bird jail (and clearly outraged that this interloper was chasing *his girlfriend* around…which is something we’ll have to keep an eye on, to make sure Caramilk doesn’t try to mate T.D), we wandered off to do some garden work. Over the day, there was at least 1 more mating, and T.D laid her egg for the day. Which meant I could check Sunday’s egg for evidence of fertilization.
Saturday night we put Dingus back with the chicken hens. And moved him again Sunday for, hopefully, a few more rounds with T.D. Then we could leave Dingus back at the chicken coop and collect fertile eggs from T.D for a week to incubate. Hens will hold the tom’s sperm in their oviducts for roughly 3 weeks…so we could hatch out for that long if we wanted. Since I’m not aiming to run a whole bunch of hatches, I’ll only collect 7 eggs (after 7 days of collecting the first ones collected will drop in possibility of hatching). Next year I’ll collect more, if I like this crossing.
So Sunday I collected T.D’s egg and made sure to mark it as hers. Yesterday, I cracked it open, hopeful… Lo and behold!
It’s hard to see in the picture, but *it is there*. A bullseye around the white dot in the egg. That means T.D’s egg is fertilized. YAY! And now I’m collecting her eggs (stinker didn’t lay one yesterday) so that this weekend coming up, I’ll get them into the incubator and see what our Sweetgrass/Narragansett cross makes in poults. Fingers crossed for hardy af, super cute, well growing, not overly huge, birbs!! I’ll keep y’all updated… 😉