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… 😉
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.