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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: turkeys

Things on the Farmette change all the time. As we delve further into our experiences in country living, we make more refined decisions about what works for us.

Our poultry is a big concern. We had added lots of different kinds of fowl to the mix. There are no regrets. We have loved having them all and learned a lot from doing so. This year, mainly by attrition as predators such as feral cats, coyote, foxes, and hawks discovered easy pickings in our domesticated bird lot, we have downsized by type.

We had started letting them back out, again, but that had dire consequences – worse than the last raid on our bantam coops a bit farther back in time. Everyone is now locked up for good unless we are out keeping a careful eye on them… They just love running around picking green shoots of grass and reducing the insect population, but it is not safe to leave them out for very long. We need to build a few mobile mini yards, so that they can enjoy more freedom.

We will be keeping our pet turkey raised from a week old poult.  She sits down to be pet like a dog and will follow you everywhere. Gertrude is a farm pet. We also get extremely big eggs for breakfast every Spring.

However, her beau Bart is FOR SALE. He is 1/2 Royal Palm and 1/2 Standard Bronze. He is a proven breeder and is 2 years old. We got him as a Jake. He is not aggressive (actually shy), but will follow you for food. Bartholomew puts on quite a show for his girl and will gobble up a storm during breeding season, or when feeling a bit cocky – throughout the year.

Bartholomew the Tom Turkey - $40.00 OBO. "Update" Gertrude for sale also if purchased with Bart. $75.00 for this big, healthy, breeding pair. Note: Need incubator for eggs since hen is so heavy. Gerti and Bart - SOLD

We have 2 female Japanese quail (need to get a boy). And the rest of the flock is made up of Mini Bantam chickens. Chicks are hatching out of our incubator now. It is located in my office so that I can keep it properly maintained and monitored at all times.

Our focus is on “the Ridiculous-looking chicken” project. We cross Americauna, Polish, Silkie, Silkie Showgirl, D’uucle, Serama, Sebright and Cochin in order to accomplish this goal. One great by-product is that the crosses are extremely healthy since inbreeding flaws are bred out in the process. You get a lot of great looking chickens, wonderful layers and a strong genetic pool.

Project Chicks

Chick Pic 2

The following pics show last Spring’s crosses and Parents.

Silkie Showgirl x Polish Hen

Cochin x Silkie Hen

Serama Rooster

Polish Roo

Polish Top Hats have quite a Headdress

Bantam Americauna Rooster

D'uucle x Silkie Hen full shot

D'uucle x Silkie Hen head shot

Silkie Showgirl Rooster head shot

SSG Roo

This RIDICULOUS masterpiece is up for sale. He is an Americauna x Silkie Showgirl and falls into the Easter Egger category since his female offspring will lay blue or green eggs.

Americauna x Silkie Showgirl Young Rooster - SOLD to Becky M.

Alternate pose

Head shot

This hen is a Serama x Sebright with a little Cochin mixed in. There is also one more hen. She is a black with rust colored Serama with a little Cochin mixed in. She produces nice tiny chicks.

Serama x Sebright Cochin Hen

Serama with a twist of Cochin Hen

And last but not least is our Purebred Silkie Roo (a bit muddy today).

White Silkie Roo

Marshmallow

Have a Cockle Doodle Day!

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2011 is here and it is time to pair down. Doing this quarterly helps keep an appropriate number of livestock living on our 5 acre Farmette. Reducing numbers now makes way for the Spring goat births and fowl egg hatching. Also, the original plans for building up the Farmette had to be scaled down due to a medical condition that slows me down.

The most recent to go was “Billy the Kid”. We have enough brush clearing goats, so this wether (banded/neutered male/billy) goat was not a necessity.

8 month old neutered male pygmy goat - SOLD

He had gotten quite fat and was very happy staying with his mother in our little herd. But, it was time for him to move on.

"Billy the Kid" (right) with his Mom "Olivia"

BtK could not have gotten a better home. He was a Christmas gift for the mother of a very nice young couple. The mother kept livestock for pets – not to eat…

If we have any boy goats born this Spring, they will be sold off when weaned and will not linger this time around. Only one boy – the herd sire – is needed here.

We enjoy our ducks, but they love free ranging. Unluckily, they do not come back to roost at night and become easy targets for foxes, coyotes and raccoons.

Two Duck Hens

The ducks have been penned since our trouble with predators. They would be happier loose and with a pond. They are advertised for sale on craig’s list.

There is also an Ameraucana Rooster up for grabs. He is a good boy and a beauty.

A. Rooster - SOLD

He is the last of the standard sized chickens for sale. There is one regular sized hen that we will keep since she was raised here from an egg. She’ll be bred into the Bantam flock this year or will just provide some nice big blue eggs for our breakfast table.

UPDATE: Went ahead and sold the last Standard Hen (Ameraucana/Jersey Giant) with the Rooster in the pic. The Duck sale has been delayed since they are the only ones laying right now – we do love fresh eggs.

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Gertrude and Bartholomew

We had the perfect chance to take advantage of homesteading on the Farmette. Unluckily we are a couple of chickens when it comes to meat. Being omnivorous, you’d think we would appreciate organic and very fresh poultry more, but our pacifist personalities take over when it is time to cook the birds…

Gerti and Bart, as my husband states, were given a pardon for Thanksgiving. It is not even a stay of execution, as our turkey pair is too friendly to slaughter – ever.

This goes for the rest of our birds too. I honestly wish I could do it. I sometimes think about becoming vegetarian in order to focus on truly living off of the farm.

This coming Spring, I am positively going to milk the goats and make cheese. And we love all of the fresh eggs big and small. We will always include farm fresh dairy food in our diet. But, we do enjoy our carnivorous tendencies. There is nothing like a rare steak, fried chicken or breakfast sausage. I have been able to prepare fresh fish. Maybe we’ll have to dig a pond and stock it.

It is not to hard to manage the processing of a fish. It must be the eyes. Fish eyes don’t hold emotion. There are no whites or eyelids or brows to communicate with. All the birds have to do is look at me and my drive for fresh chicken vanishes. But it really doesn’t make sense to buy it from the store when it is right outside our door and in a healthier form.

I have thought about trading birds with another Farmette owner or making some type of deal in return for doing the deed. A solution has not yet presented itself. The opportunity to learn to maintain our own food supply has been available. A really nice poultry farmer offered to show me how to do it. I still have not taken him up on it.

A family that we purchase quail from uses them for dinner. The birds live a normal happy life. Then these homesteaders just reach in and grab a few. Supposedly, the quail never know the better and are soon sizzling in a pan.

I think that I would give my intentions away. They would be able to feel my pulse racing and fear would be the very last thought in their little bird lives. But isn’t it better than the life led inside a metal building with no sunlight and thousands of other chickens trapped in small spaces? It is a dilemma. Depending on food production developed for the masses is not the direction in which we want to travel.

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It is hard to write about the hard times on the Farmette. But it is important that everyone know that it is not all fun and games. Sometimes you lose livestock – and not to old age.

Parasites, illness and predators are a constant threat. The last chicken purchases may have brought in an illness. It could have been mice sneaking in to salvage any uneaten grain. It could have been carried on the wind from other birds. We lost several birds to sickness recently.

It is difficult when you are attempting to keep your Farmette natural and organic. I try to hold back as much as possible before treating birds with chemical based solutions. There are two little hens in a crate in the garage right now. Since they have both had the eye/sinus infections twice, I finally let go and am treating them with store bought antibiotics in their water.

This illness seemed to be compounded by some type of internal parasites, even though everyone was recently de-wormed. A couple of them just did not put on adequate weight as they were maturing. They were the ones became sick and did not recover.

One of the young guineas caught his head in the fence when poking it in the turkey coop. Fowl are very territorial. The turkeys pecked him to death in his vulnerable position. Our lovely little bantam hen, Pumpkin, ventured into the back fenced area with the dogs. The pack instinct set in and she did not make it back out.

Then there was the pen massacre. Something (weasel, cat, racoon…?) discovered an easy way to get a meal. The really nasty part about that was that it must think that bird heads are a delicacy, since it left the remainder of some of my little birds for the gruesome discovery.

There are no pictures for this blog. I’d really like to get all of those images out of my head.

So, now only the bantam chicken group is allowed to free range and only during the day. They get locked up at night now. Actually, the pigeon and 2 remaining guineas join them for sleepovers. They roost high off the ground, so they are the super free rangers, but they must feel safer still in the main coop.

The main coop needs work. If the funds can ever be raised, we would love to have a big barn to shelter the whole crew. But, for now, the coop seems to be keeping Jack the Ripper out.

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We just love our little Bantams. They are easier to handle than Standard-sized chickens and take up much less room. They are also less likely to wander far, so they have been let out of their pen for a few hours.

Surprisingly, their eggs are not that much smaller than your average chicken egg. We have ducks and turkeys and a group of Standard Ameraucanas for large eggs. That is plenty.

Although WordPress.com gives you and “add video” option, it seems to be limited as to the file types, so I have included a quick link to this clip:

http://goldencollie.com/Bantams.avi

As you can hear loudly in the background audio, the ducks were trying to steal the show. Actually, they just wanted more food for their bottomless-pit appetites.

The Bantams in this video are all Hens and Pullets with the exception of the Top Hat Rooster (Black body with a white plume of feathers on his head). The other roosters and in another pen so they won’t fight over the hens. The Top Hat rooster is a good predator deterrent since he is a mean little bastard.

We just purchased a new miter saw. This is a much needed tool for pen building. Hopefully, by the Spring, there will be a big, long pen or two with separators for breeding pairs. Until then, the Bantams can be kept in two groups.

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We have almost five acres. It is a nice sized piece of land. Getting the right combination of animals for the space has been a mix and match challenge. It is not enough space to have cows or a lot of other large animals, but it can accommodate a good number of small to medium sized livestock.

On one side of our house, we keep our fowl pens. There is a 10′ x 10′ pen with 2 ducks, a 5′ x 10′ pen with 2 turkeys, a cage with 2 Japanese (coturnix) quail and a homing pigeon, 3 bantam chicken cages, a chick grow out cage and the main standard chicken coop.

Our horse and pony have a double pasture out front. That set of large animals works well. The recent rain storms keep passing over our area, so we have a round bale scheduled for pickup today, but normally during the warm weather, the grass grows at about the same pace as their grazing.

The three dogs all stay inside now. And they have a fenced area in the back to run around in. That is also where our herd is. We have four mini goats. And now there is Charlie.

Charlie

This is our new lamb. He is very quiet and shy. I think that Charlie is an Oxford sheep. They are used for both meat and wool. We won’t be eating Charlie, but a scarf would be nice. Actually, I have a friend that weaves, so she will most likely be getting a surprise package when we shave him.

The goats have been ignoring him, except for Luna. Luna is our little black goat that loves to play all day. She taunts the dogs. She jabs me lightly in the calves with her little horns if I’m not quick enough at feed time. Luna has been torturing Charlie. But Charlie barely feels her pushing him around. His fleece serves as a bouncy, thick layer of protection.

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Some of you may be tiring of the egg blogs, but hopefully enough enjoy them to continue. I don’t know that I’ll ever run out of enthusiasm on this subject.

Yesterday, our first turkey egg was bestowed upon us. It was such a beautiful piece of art, that when we received another today, I had to break for a moment from typing to take a photograph of both.

Turkey Eggs

Our girl does not have a mate, so we are looking forward to one of our big breakfast days to try these out. They are quite a bit larger than chicken eggs, so we won’t need many.

The turkey hen that we have is a Broad-Breasted White. This is the most common commercial turkey. When we find her a Tom turkey (male), it will be a different breed.

BB White males cannot breed naturally and insemination must be used due to their unnaturally large chest (great for Thanksgiving participants who enjoy white meat, but not for impressing the girls). We are not interested in “juicing” a turkey and also prefer to use a baster for its originally intended task.

Therefore, we will be avoiding the BB White and the BB Bronze type Toms, which are both unable to mate. We are hoping to find “Gertrude” a boyfriend soon in order to hatch some hybrid poults.

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