BullsEye!

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…
😉

The Gardening Begins…

It’s a little chilly out there today, but we’re in full on working in the garden mode now.
The ducks and TD (TallDuck the sweetgrass turkey who thinks she’s a duck) are going back to their yard today, now that flood waters have receded enough.
Then, I start hauling loads of straw to mulch the areas of the garden where grasses tried to take over.
We garden no-till, so straw is my best friend at this time of year.
🙂
Next week I can start planting out my onion sets, my spring garlic and any cool weather seeds…beets, carrots, fava beans, lettuce, spinach, and the like…
We are absolutely going to get a few more nights of frost, so I’m not even thinking about my tomatoes going outside yet.
Soon I’ll start hardening them off tho…

The medicinal plants are doing much better, now that they have their chance under the grow light:

There’s been a growth explosion since this picture above too, so for that I’m glad.
And the reseeded mullein is starting to grow too…mullein is going to be a big one for harvesting (I hope!) this year, since it’s main usage is for respiratory issues. So between what I seeded this week, and hopefully what grows in the the winter sowing jugs, I hope to have an ample supply!

The stinging nettles are up.
Nettles are a nutritional powerhouse, and an excellent medicinal.
Last year I was sad because I thought we didn’t have any growing…then I realized, we have them literally all over the Farm, but the birds (turkeys mainly) were getting them before I found them…and then when I did find them, they were big and older.
Now I know *exactly* where the best stands grow and the turkeys are still in the garage, so *I* get to them first!

And the rhubarb plants are coming back, as well as my asparagus and the honeyberries survived being buried under 5 feet of snow, and the apples trees…well they took some damage, being buried under drifts of snow, but they’re budding and I think they’ll be okay.
So, all in all, we’re getting onto growing season, albeit a wee bit late, but now the spring/summer work begins.
Days of hauling straw, planting, mulching, weeding and maybe even some watering…
I’m looking forward to longer days outside in the sunshine.

I’m still working on the garden expansion out front too…cardboard down, bedding from the duck house next, some rotted horse manure than another layer of straw and finally topsoil.
I haven’t ordered the topsoil yet, but that area is going to be for the peppers (that survived 🙄🤦‍♀️😭) and some tomatoes, so I’m not in too big of a hurry for the dirt.

And just now, after moving ducks, I checked more of the winter sowing jugs and lo…there is growth in quite a few of them!!
For that I am excited.
Later on, I’ll go out with my list and see whats germinated and perhaps (like the plant nerd I am) share some pictures.

Oh, I am so grateful for spring!!
Winter this time ’round was way too hard and we *need* the growth of Spring to rebalance ourselves.
🖤🖤🖤

Turkeys Is Stupid

I know I’ve said it before.
I know I’ll say it again.
Turkeys is stupid.
Now, I tend to love my stupid children…that’s what I call my breeding group…my stupid children.
But every now and then you get one who is either a complete idiot (more so than their flock mates) or a complete asshole.
Idiots can be kept, if they’re not too much trouble.
Assholes?
Welp, those are the ones we eat.

Way back in winter we moved the turkeys to the garage after a particularly bad storm.
Except for Dingus (a tom) and StupidShit (a hen)…those 2 stayed in with the chickens because they were happy there.
Since it’s been much, much nicer, and all the coops are open during daylight hours, StupidShit has decided she must go into the duck yard and pick on T.D.
T.D. is a sweetgrass turkey who never really grew, and who the ducks decided was their turkey…and she seems to be able to speak “duck” so she lives with them, acting like a duck. Hence the name T.D., which is short for…TallDuck.
What can I say.
I’m not terribly inventive when it comes to naming animals.
🤷‍♀️

Anyways, StupidShit (because really, that’s exactly what she is…and she’s not even a nice hen, she’s a nasty shit…where Dingus is a big stupid tom, but sweet as hell and easy to handle, she’s a c**t) decided that she must visit with T.D., which was all well and good until she started picking T.D.’s tail feathers out, causing bleeding.
Yeah, that shit don’t fly with me.

So, StupidShit got corralled and sent to Oscar for…attitude adjustment.
😉
Because Oscar is my dominant tom, and the hens behave for him…or else.
Oh, but the corralling…
I should have grabbed the net, but she’s tried to rip her way out of it before…
So I went into the chicken coop, where she was trying to hide from me, and grabbed her.
Low and behold, that bitch tried going for my face with her talons as I reached for her.
Thankfully, I got my arms up in time to block her, and knocked her on her feathered ass, from which I grabbed her leg and hung her upside down ’til she tired her stupid self out.
Then she got carried, upside down, across the yard to the garage, where Oscar and the ladies had free run of the garage while their hut was getting scraped out.
StupidShit got a fancy green band (just a zip tie) on her leg, and then released.
Well damn if she didn’t try to take her bitchiness out on 13 right away, and Oscar dropped her with a well placed shoulder…😂😂😂
That’s *exactly* what she needed.
And when she tried to get up?
Both Oscar and Emma dropped her again.
Emma is the head hen in Oscar’s group and she, like Oscar, will accept no shit from anyone.
The only ones those 2 defer to are the humans…and even then, I had to *remind* the OscarMayerWeiner who the real boss was.

While we finished cleaning and re-bedding the turkey hut, StupidShit got educated over and over on using her stupid turkey manners. By the time we had to herd them back to the hut, she was a thoroughly deflated hen.
Good.

Once we got back to the house, I had a chance to clean up the presents she gave me…

I’ve got a matching one on the other arm.
Not gonna lie, I was pretty darn happy to see Oscar and Emma discipline her.
Today she seems to have calmed down.
When I went to collect eggs, she just moved to the other side of the hut and stayed as far away from me as she could. And all the other hens were happy to get their morning treats, so it’s not that she’s taken up bullying anyone else.

Now we’ll see if she settles into being a good hen for Oscar.
If so, she’ll get to stay on.
If not?
Welp, I’ll Red Queen her.
😉

Duck Shit

Yup, that’s what I’ve been up to…
Shoveling duck shit/bedding.
Last week we flipped the top of the duck coop open (it’s on hinges), kicked every birb out, and I shoveled it out.
Twice.
I did that twice.
Then, everyone got a dose of ivermectin on their backs, right on the skin (I hate trying to get through those downy feathers to find skin, but the ivermectin has to go right on the skin to be effective) and they also got a 3 day course of penpro (antibiotic).
They had a respiratory infection that just wasn’t clearing up, so after a quick discussion with our vet, I dosed every damn duck (and T.D, a sweetgrass turkey who is convinced she’s a duck…so her name is TallDuck) in the coop.
Today, I am optimistic that everyone who is left will pull through just fine.
Today was their 2nd round of the ivermectin, and they’ll get one more in 7 days.
I’ve also had my second round of the ivermectin, because it is inevitable that I wear some while dosing ducks.
Muscovy hens are bitches when they don’t want to be handled.
Damn, them girls got some *fight* in ’em this week…and that’s a helluva good sign.
Means they’re feeling much, much better.
And everyone’s feathers are looking better, and they’re eating us out of house and home again…
And they’re running The Kid over when she opens their coop.
So, all good stuff.

I just feel like a shitty duck owner because it took this long to get them dewormed again and far too long to get them antibiotics….my Kid lost her foundation drake, Cricket:

Cricket the Duck. He’s a handsome fella!

And let me tell you…there’s nothing worse than listening to your kid’s sobs of heartbreak because an animal she loved died…
Problem was, the weather beat the shit out of us mercilessly and there really was no way (besides ivomec in water pails) to deworm them, and I didn’t put 2+2 together on the resp. infection until the sneezing didn’t clear up with clean bedding.

So now we’re just doing everything we can to keep the last 17 ducks going…
Fingers crossed, and a whole lotta ducks shit shoveling, and so far, everyone is good.
They’re having meetings and trilling and cooing and wagging tails (which are growing back in) and the drakes are starting to get *that look* and the hens are giving them the okay wags…

And for the record, Poop Machine (yep, that’s his name) thinks this hands on health care is complete duckshit. He ain’t liking it one little bit.
😂😂😂

In other news, the snow is finally melting.
About damn time.
The chickens and turkeys are doing well.
Oscar is dancing and prancing and the hens are squatting.
Next week begins the collection of eggs for the incubator(s).
Hopefully we’ll have a bunch of little Narragansetts running about come May!
Then any hens can be put with Dingus when they’re older.
Right now he only has 1 girl and she keeps calling for Oscar.
Fucking turkeys.
😂😂😂
But Oscar is the dominant tom, so all the hens who have been in with him (and Dingus’s girl was before the great garage move) want to stay with him.
Problem is I can’t keep the 2 toms together, or Oscar kills any hen who shows interest in Dingus.
Turkeys are misogynistic bastards.
Tasty bastards tho…

Down to my last 4 bales of hay.
The Merry Mares are going through roughly 1 a week…yup, still doing the put a whole bale out thing…just because the snow hasn’t melted enough that I can portion feed again.
But as the snow recedes and more ground is showing, they’re finding tasty bits to nibble.
Once the frost is out of the ground and all the melt soaks in, it’s take a day or two of warmth and the grass will explode into growth that they won’t be able to keep up with.
I am so hoping for an excellent hay season.
We need one after the last few years.

But, Mother Nature is gonna do whatever it is that She’s gonna do and we humans are just going to have to deal with whatever She throws our way.
Again.
I just hoping for good growing and harvesting weather.
It’s all I can do.