Back on August 2nd, I noticed our Emma turkey hen was missing, had been for about 3ish days…and then out of the blue, she popped up out of the former duck yard (which is massively overgrown with weeds). That’s another one of the shitty things about flooding (aside from all the obvious ones) is that weed seeds come from where ever the water did to establish themselves exactly where you don’t want them… At least in this case, those giant sumpweed trees (because they really are the size of smaller trees!) have come in handy…but I think I’m gonna burn ’em down this fall.
So I said to the family that I think Emma is broody and has a nest in that yard…Hubby waded into the mess of weeds and, in fact, did find her sitting a nest. So that was cool. By that time, she’d been sitting for 3 days. I figured in another 25 or so, we oughta see poults. And, guess what?? Thursday, 28 days after she’d gone missing she appeared with…
8 poults. There’s only 7 in the picture because my Kid was cuddling one…baby turkeys are super cute little fuckers, and must be cuddled. 😉
Sure can see that Oscar’s influence on them…Oscar is my auburn tom, Emma is an auburn too…huh, I might be breeding a flock of auburn Narragansetts! 😂😂😂
Now poor 12 and 13 (who are traditional bronze colours) are trying hard af to go broody too. They really want what Emma has. But, nope. Way too late now. Bad enough that there’s a chicken in the same mess of weeds sitting on a nest of turkey eggs… I really oughta go in and candle them and see how far along the eggs are. If they’re not far, I should just take ’em away. But, poults! 😂😂😂
At least I know that the Oscar Meyer Wiener is doing his job!!
The first of the turkeys have hatched. Out of 24 eggs set in the incubator, we have 10 poults. But, considering we lost power 3 times in the incubation cycle, I’m happy to have had *anything* hatch.
We did have a few that were well formed but quit in the later stages of incubation. Sad, but that happens sometimes. Again, power outages don’t help.
But the 10 that did pop out on their own are hopping and bopping around the brooder, having a grand time being happy little birds…
I set 14 more eggs a while back that are due to hatch after June 6th. Just because I’m hoping to add more hens to the flock so our boy Dingus can have his own harem. Then I’ll have 2 Narragansett breeding groups. That’s the plan, anyways. We’ll see how that goes. 😂😂😂
Turkey babies (who are not so much babies anymore, but teens) needed their brooder cleaned. So I set up a yard within the big turkey yard, put out food and water and opened them up…and they proceeded to panic and fly here, there, and everywhere whilst screaming angst filled teenaged turkey anthems of woe and abuse because the whole wide world is scary and The Food Lady was murdering them. *sigh*
So they ran the big turkey yard (the big turkeys were still in their coop because they are too big to run with the teen turkeys who are still mid-sized and no match for a full sized hen, let alone Dingus or Oscar) while I scooped their mass of straw/feed/shit out… With this being the stenchiest part of the job, my Kiddo went off to feed the ducks and chicks in the Little Red Shed, only to come back to tell me 10 (58) chicks had popped their door and were now wandering around the building here, there and everywhere. *sigh*
With that, we rounded up the teenaged angst filled turkeys and put them back into the brooder…and let the big adults out because they were convinced that they were gonna starve to death.
If Oscar doesn’t eat 65.3 times a day, he will die. He is happy to regale you with tales of how I starve him and how he has died so many times for lack of food. *sigh*
As I cleaned out the next brooder (which is a half full combo of cornish and first hatchers), Kiddo let out and fed the ducks, geeses and big chickens. Geeses are mad that I haven’t dropped every single goddamed thing to get them some weeds right fucking now…and they are happy to tell me that in no uncertain terms.
I have not listened to them, other than to laugh and say “You’re on the list, I’ll get to you soon”. The next brooder got lined with shavings (because I’m out of straw and I don’t have the energy to chase anyone for any quite yet) and we set out to capture 10 (58) chicks and move them to it. 1 Wheelbarrow, a dog crate, 2 women, a dog and 3 horses… This is what it takes to move 10 (58) chicks out of the Little Red Shed to the brooder. Well, the dog and the horses are more a hindrance than help, but that is no surprise. And then there were 10 (58) chicks in the brooder. *sigh*
Finally, we got to the point of making sure all the feeders and waterer were topped up, collecting eggs (my turkey hens are trying to nest again and are rather put out that I keep stealing their smooth egg babies), the pools for the smaller ducks filled to warm in the sunshine for afternoon swimming and now? Now it is finally coffee time. While I play with money to pay the bills, buy some groceries and if all gets paid just right, maybe even a case of beer for Hubby. *sigh*
My helper at editing earlier this week… This is Homer J, our latest house duckling. He was abandoned by the hen who hatched him, left for dead at night in the duck yard. We found him and brought him inside. Honestly, didn’t think he was going to make it. But it’s been a week now, and he’s doing just fine. Singing up a storm and pooping everywhere but on my desk. 😉
All the plants are out of my house. Not necessarily planted, but moved out to the garden and this afternoon, I’ll put in whatever I can. And then it’s down to the weeding, watering, mulching and whatever Mother Nature decides she’s going to do…oh, and fucking cats.
This morning as I’m moving the plants out for the final time, I notice my zucchini is gone. They were lovely seedlings passed onto me by friends…they were growing beautifully. Up to 6 leaves and happy, happy, happy. And then this morning? Gone. WTF???
Yeah so, I had started some pumpkins in the house. I set those outside in the garden first, then went back for the tomatoes. I guess I didn’t latch the gate…or she climbed the fence. Either way, I came into the garden to find this asshole:
…eating the pumpkins. Seriously. Eating the pumpkin leaves… WTF??
And then I look down to the end where the peppers are and see this one…
…lying on the pepper plants. I say again…WTF???
And then, just to add a bit more insult to injury, Coal walks over to Trouble, does the nosy kitty kiss thing with him, looks straight at me and starts munching on a pepper plant.
I may have lost it right about then. Screamed like a maniac at the cats. Chased them out of the garden. Threatened to make slippers from their lovely furry fucking hides.
And now the weather can’t decide if there’s going to be gale force winds, or if there will be no winds, or what it’s doing. All I know is, it’s June 18th and the tomatoes are not coming back into the house. They can live or die as they see fit. Grow, don’t grow, what the fuck ever.
But I’ve had my first harvest of Lamb’s Quarters. And I’ll be harvesting more this weekend with weeding. And today I’ll be emptying the one incubator. Some turkeys have hatched, some chicks have hatched. And on Sunday the other incubator goes into lockdown with 41 Narragansett turkey eggs in it. Then, one last round of eggs for the year. It’ll be a big set…97 eggs. And once those hatch, it’ll be mid-July. Which makes it the last one. I am so good with that.
But for today, all I have to do is get things in the ground. Rains are coming this Sunday, so I want everything done and in. I’m so very close.
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’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.
You see, since March 28th, I have not been able to upload a single picture to the blog. I’ve been having to link to Instagram to show y’all pictures. Today, for some reason unknown to me, I decided to try to upload a few images.
So, now I’m going through any pictures I’ve taken the last month and trying to do a mass uploading, just incase WP decides that I shouldn’t be able to again…
Today you get Cricket, the happy muscovy duck:
Why is he happy? He doesn’t know. He’s a duck. 😂😂😂
Ducks and images aside, gardening is getting underway. This past weekend, I rejigged the small raised beds in the front yard. There are 9 ~ 3’x3′ beds. Well, were. Now there are 3 ~ 3’x3′ bed that are much deeper. I took out 6 of them, stacked them on the other 3 and made them more usable. A good heavy layer of rotted horse manure in the bottom, some straw over top of that and then topsoil. And lots and lots and lots of watering in between. Then yesterday, I planted rhubarb in one and asparagus in another. I have room in the asparagus box for more crowns, so next time MCFHubby is at Canadian Tire, he’ll grab another pouch of them for me…and Thursday, he’s going to a friend’s to help split an established rhubarb for us. So I’ll have 2 rhubarb plants.
And anyone who knows me is doing the quizzical doggy head tilt, because I don’t like rhubarb. But, I like the *medicinal properties* of rhubarb…
Plus there’s wine, sooooo, yeah. 😂😂😂
Next up, prepping the spots for peas, and getting those planted. then we’re onto parsley, carrots and beets. While hathing more chicks…because we like eating chicken. 😂😂😂
I set another 80 eggs on the 1st. And I don’t know what the ducks are doing, but I’m hoping to see some duckling action happening soon. We have so many girls going broody, but no one is sitting nests yet. Our Ripple abandoned hers after we moved it…we knew that would be a possibility, but we couldn’t leave her getting beat up by the turkeys.
Speaking of turkeys, my 5 left from the hatching are doing great! Same with the 10 whites in with them. Eggs every day for breakfast and tons of gamebird feed in their feeder 24/7. Finally, they’re all growing gangbusters! Thank goodness!
Now I just need my full grown turkey hens to get on with the laying. They all have the tell tail sign that Oscar and Dingus are wooing them, but we haven’t seen any eggs yet. They might be like the ducks though…the ducks did nothing for laying/broodiness until their 2nd year. Eh, we shall see, right? In the meantime, there’s no shortage of chickens to eat here. 😂😂😂
I told y’all how we moved the turkey poults out of the one brooder, into a new one and how we were still losing them… Welp, so far, we’ve managed to stop the losses. From 16, we’re down to 5 Narragansett poults, plus our 10 white poults. So far, everyone is doing very well. I am…cautiously optimistic.
So, aside from the brooder change, what did we do? Hard boiled eggs. Yup, hard boiled eggs are a miracle food for poultry. They’re power packed nuggets of nutrition that give baby birbs an excellent boost. Thankfully, my chicken hens have been laying like mad, so having extras to feed my turkey kids is no problem at all.
I take 3 eggs, hard boil them, peel them, mush them up, add in a little poul-vite (it’s a vitamin mix for birds), a small pinch of brown sugar and water to make a slurry. Put the bowl down in front of those chicks and watch ’em gobble, gobble, gobble it down!
Plus they have fresh water and gamebird feed (with 28% protein) at all times. So I am very hopeful that the last 5 of the ones I hatched will survive. If they don’t now, it’s not because I haven’t tried damn near everything!
In the meantime…
Gardening has begun! The grape plant has been uncovered from her long winter nap. The garlic is getting uncovered tomorrow. And MCFHubby brought this home for me:
Onions, asparagus and rhubarb. All of which can (and hopefully will) be planted this weekend. Yes, it’s early before the frost date for us, but this is all stuff that can go in early. I’m also hoping to prep the area(s) for carrots, beets and peas. Again, cool weather crops that can get started soon here.
Every year I’m anxious for this time, and now that it’s here, I’m ready to get things going… So. Ready! 🙂
Back when Hubby, The Kid and I were thinking about how many meat chickens to order, we thought we’d settled on 50, like last year. And then, something picked at me and told me that wasn’t enough. I’ve been alive long enough to have learned to listen when my gut says something to me. So I ordered 75 of the little nuggets. And 10 white turkeys.
I figured with the success of our Narragansetts from last year, I oughta be able to get 10 whites to Freezer Camp size. I sure the eff hope so, because things have not been going well with my Narragansetts I hatched this year. My excitement over 16? Dashed, because we’re down to 5…and may very well lose them as well. Fuck.
Y’see, turkeys are very delicate. Yep, even heritage breeds. Even though the heritage breeds are tougher than the whites, they’re still delicate little things. As we were awaiting hatching, we evicted the ducks from the brooder, gave it a deep cleaning, sprayed it down with cleaner, thinking we were good to go with our poults. Welp, as it turns out, there was mold starting in the floor. I say again…fuck.
Turkeys are susceptible to mold. Even when us humans don’t know it’s there, have no fucking clue it’s there…turkeys will be doing great, bopping around like crazy birbs, eating, drinking, pooping beautiful turkey poops…and then just drop dead. Because their little lungs are that effing delicate.
So after the loss of 6 we thought “huh, this is more than just weak poults not making it”. Hubby and The Kid whipped off another brooder like the last one I showed y’all…metal floor for ease of cleaning, fresh new walls, lid that’s easy to lift for air movement and a door for easy access that doesn’t let heat out… Then, The Kid and I put fresh straw in, and I crawled into the old brooder to catch our remaining poults. That’s when I found the mold…under the straw, the wood was wet. And there were small fuzzy spots. Fuck.
Now we have the last 5 in the newly built brooder, nothing is in the old brooder until it gets torn apart and maybe refurbished…but it might just be scrap now. Fuck. I mean, we can’t really complain about it, if we have to scrap it. The brooder was here when we bought the place, it’s successfully raised near onto 500 hundred birds…but I hate that I found out this way that there was a problem with it. I hate that it’s costing little lives. 😥 That’s what kills me.
If you scroll through the pictures, you’ll see the size of the white turkeys, compared to my Narragansetts. The whites are a day old in the picture, the heritage birds over a week! They’re all getting along beautifully. I’m actually hoping that the whites will give the heritages enough impetus to keep fighting to stay alive. There’s really no treatment for mold exposure. Fuck. But I’ve got them on high protein feed, clean water with vitamins, a bit of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar twice a day, clean fresh bedding every other day, and today they got some mashed up hard boiled eggs with the vitamins mixed in. I’m trying my best to make the best of a shitty situation. While hoping that my turkey hens start laying soon…because goodness knows, the boys are doing their jobs. The very second I see eggs from the hens, I’m whisking them off to be incubated!
I’m going to bet dollars to donuts, that the second my incubators are full and working on chickens again, that’s when those turkeys will start popping out eggs…and then I’ll end up having to buy a 3rd incubator just for turkey eggs. 😂😂😂 Because that’s my life…chaotic, crazy, and always learning.