Sunday, June 21, 2009

More Poultry Fun

Last week we moved the Turkeys from their home by the garage to a more permanent home in the field. We set up our old dog kennel for outside access until the turkeys are big enough that the hawks can't take them. Here they are trying to decide if this new place is safe and interesting enough to all come out and play. Barry goes in to entice them out with a bit of food, but they take their time and really, really think about it. Fifteen minutes later one comes out: Houdini, our escape artist from the beginning. Of course it's he and not one of the others (and we are pretty sure it is a 'he' and not a 'she', but time will out).

They are really starting to look like turkeys now. Every day they seem to grow by leaps and bounds and get uglier, too. Personality-wise they are very fun, charming, actually. They cheep and twirp and twitter(without an iPhone) and gerble and gobble in a small way. They are super-curious, talk back to you as if they are listening and come when called. I tell people they are the best parts of a dog, which is why Barry loves them so much. Not too much, I hope, and keep reminding him that these turkeys, with three or four held back for breeding, are heading for stuffing and cranberry sauce come November.

So they've all come out to inspect. Seems okay...

"Hey, there's mom! She's the one in the red covering with the beak up high."

Here is our newest chicken. She is a typical "supermarket chicken" we got from a farmer friend of ours in north Georgia. It was left behind when the other chickens went to slaughter because it was too small to worry about. He said "You can have it if you can catch it", and I always love a challenge. This is a Cornish X designed to put on weight fast and have a big, meaty breast. She was easy to catch, is sweet, likes to be held and stroked, hides her head and thinks she's invisible, and is the dumbest chicken I have ever seen.

She spends her time hanging out with the ducks (because they are white like her?), or with her beak in the food dish. She is afraid of kitchen scraps and runs around avoiding the other chickens like they had the plague. Poor thing does not act like a chicken. Barry gets so upset when he thinks about how our agriculture industry are breeding stupid automaton birds just so everyone can have a giant chicken breast on their Caesar salad. In my years of having chickens of various types I can safely say their are some myths I can bust: chickens don't really mind getting wet, but they will run from the hose; and they are not stupid at all.

Poor little Corny won't be able to stay with us for too long. They aren't known for their egg laying abilities, and the sad fact is that it will get to large-breasted and its legs will give out before it ever got old enough to lay eggs anyway. We can't keep her from the feed dish, and it isn't fair to keep her in a pen, to limit her food intake. So s/he is destined for the frying pan, even though its sweet temperament would convince me to keep it awhile. The kind thing will be to butcher her humanely when the time comes.

We had some new babies show up the other day. One of our Cochins had been sitting on a dozen eggs, and we left her to it since they were useless to us by the time we found her. Well, one night some predator found her secret hiding place and made off with her, leaving the eggs behind. Since Cochins are known for being good mothers and very broody(having a constant desire to hatch eggs), we moved the eggs under a different hen. She hatched four chicks from the dozen eggs. The rest she moved out of the nest one by one and we took them and composted them. None of the non-hatchers had been fertilized, so were just bad smelling eggs. It amazes me how hens know when an egg is 'good' or not. I never take eggs out from under a sitting hen until she moves them away, then I know I can dispose of them. Nature is brilliant!

Here are Harriet and Howard, a bonded pair of Pekin Ducks. Howard is the greedy pig in the water with the bright orange beak. Harriet is behind him. Pekins are well known for they tasty, juicy meat, but I've told Barry that these two are here to stay for good (unless Howard keeps making a randy pest of himself with the other girl ducks, little sod). Since H&H are bonded, if one should die the other would stop eating and likely die, too. Of course it appears that being bonded doesn't mean Howard can't play the field and get action with the other ladies. Interesting...

All for now. See you on the farm!

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