Saturday, March 19, 2016

Gobble Gobble Gobble: A Turkey Rant

Ah, turkeys.

They're a special type of fowl that's for sure.
But there are just some things about them that rub me the wrong way.
Don't get me wrong, I think turkey's are awesome.

The turkey hens I have are some of the friendliest birds I raise.
(Turkey hugs are the best by the way.)
 And I love seeing their wild counterparts.
Group of wild turkeys I found in Kentucky.
But you know, long ago when we decided to domesticate those beautiful bald birds, the poor turkeys lost something of great value to their wild cousins.
Oh yes, those wild ones may be smart, I've heard several of stories about hunters who were outwitted by wild turkeys.
But domestic ones? Not so much.
When we turned to making turkeys bigger and fatter, all the brains were tossed out the window.
You want to know why a typical turkey chicks averages at around 10$ at your average hatchery or breeders?
It's not because of their limited laying season. Although that's certainly a factor. Turkey hens will usually only lay from march until about July or August and they only lay normally about every other day.
You know why they're 10 bucks a pop?
Because they're stinking hard to hatch.
When I first started hatching turkeys I was really surprised how many needed my help. At first I thought it was me and my experience but after conferring with others who hatch turkeys, they have difficulties too. Some even straight up said they hated hatching turkeys because they often need a lot of help.

And it is also recommended if you have turkey chicks to also keep some chicken chicks with the turkeys because the chicks are smarter and figure out the whole eating food and water business faster than turkeys, they in turn help teach the turkeys how to eat and drink.
Another thing, when I watched the baby turkeys and chicks together I kept seeing the turkeys pecking at the beaks of the chickens and cheeping. I was puzzled by this behavior when it hit me.
You know what that behavior is called?
The turkeys were begging for food from chicks that were the same age as them! SERIOUSLY? The food is right there, just peck at it genius! Whats the chick going to do for you? he's still got a hatching hangover!
Turkeys are awesome.
They're cute.
They're sweet.
They make cute noises.
They taste good.
They can be friendly.
Turkeys are great, I'm not gonna lie.
But sometimes,
I really wish they were smarter.

Gobble gobble gobble.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Power Outage Survivors

It happened.

It's probably one of the top three fears of incubation addicts.
Temperature fluctuations,
Improper humidity,
and a power outage.
Last Tuesday night everything was going to plan, the last couple chicks were in the process of zipping and would probably pop out sometime during the night. We had tons of babies bouncing around in the brooder learning how to be a chicken, I was relaxed finishing up an episode of my favorite TV show when it happened.
Everything went dark.
After the initial surprise wore off and the outage had lasted longer than a little hiccup in the power would be it dawned on me how much relied on the power.
Our babies in the brooder certainly needed a light.
The teenagers in the outdoor pen had a light on as it was windy and chilly that night.
And the poor chicks still making their way out into the big wide world REALLY needed the incubator to stay running.
A power outage is something I hadn't really thought about before this happened. I have certainly heard and read about it happening to other people but not much thought had been put into a action plan if something like that were to happen to me.

Please, if you incubate eggs on any sort of a regular basis, please make a plan. You may not think it will happen to you but no one is immune, it's better to be safe than sorry, have a friend you can go to that's willing to let your incubator camp out at their place, have a generator or some sort of back up electricity. The welfare of your chicks could depend upon it.

That being said, despite the unexpected hiccup, everything turned out okay. We moved the babies in the brooder inside the house and the outdoor babies huddled up and were fine. Our wonderful friends were willing to let me tromp through their house and hijack their counter space and some electricity at 11 at night. The babies that had yet to hatch wound up being okay, I had give them some major help in the morning though, the humidity had fallen way below needed in the whole frantic process of keeping them warm and they were incredibly shrink wrapped and sticky. They're doing okay though. They have been deemed The Power Outage Survivors and they have their own little brooder box right now as there are still some crusty spots that I just can seem to clean and the other babies were picky on them. In a couple of weeks they can probably hang out together. 
This experience was a great reminder to be prepared and to have a plan, thankfully no one was worse for ware by the morning, except for me. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night worrying about all the little fluff balls!
Hopefully the next batch will be much less eventful. On Sunday tons of mallard eggs and turkey eggs were set in the bator, 26 days to go!

Friday, March 4, 2016

An Update: Spring Building

Things have been pretty busy here at the Kauffman Homestead!
In preparation for the adding of new livestock to our homestead and with a ton of additions to our flock my amazing and very tolerant dad has been working tirelessly on two new livestock pens at moms and my insistence. (Well mostly mine.)
The outer shell of the new duck/chicken pen is mostly complete! Now it just needs a roof an some basic escape proofing in the goat barn/coop.

And he's also been working on our goat pen!!! Hopefully we'll be getting two doelings, a buckling and baby ram once this is all finished. I can't wait! 

And I've been helping too, the chicks were ready to graduate from their brooder box to an outdoor pen, except the one we put together hastily for last springs chicks had kind of fallen in shambles a bit. Zipties just do not last in the Arizona sun.
So I gladly took over, anything to get the pens up quicker! So after three days of frustrations, caught hair, smashed fingers, and tons of baling twine this was the result:

Beautiful isn't it?
What it lacks in finesse I think it makes up for in practicality, I think it will discourage the up and coming flyers from escaping!

It's kind of nice taking a break from the every three day cleaning of their brooder, and plus they love being outside now, dust bathes galore!

The freedom from not having to clean brooder boxes won't last long though, new babies are due on Tuesday! I think I'll try and sell some of this next batch though, we're getting tons of chickens from Cackle Hatchery come April and we'll need to have room for the our next batch which will be turkey and duck eggs.
Yes indeed, God willing I will be hatching my own DUCKS!!!
We'll be setting a bunch of mallard eggs from a friend along with a bunch of turkey eggs sometime next week. YIPPEEE!!!
So once I hopefully have a bunch of ducks, will I be a crazy chicken lady AND duck lady? And once I get goats and sheep, will I be a crazy goat lady?
Only time will tell, but this sure is shaping up to be one heck of a spring!