Spring is upon us, and it's shaping up to be a busy and industrious season at our little "homestead".
Our little flock is back to full service egg laying, and wow, are they productive. I expected they would lay an egg every day or so each, but, most of them are laying every single day. The sizes are varying based on how long they have been laying and what breed they are, with our Leghorns, Mochi and Nia, laying the biggest, extra large, white eggs. The light blue eggs are from Rosie, our reddish orange Easter Egger, and the olive green egg is from Chief, our oldest Easter Egger (if you can call barely a year old being old). The light green is from Bunny, our pheasant colored Easter Egger. Then there are the Salmon Faverolles, Winnie and Pipi. They don't lay everyday, but, seem to enjoy alternating days, so we usually get one smallish tan egg. The Silver Laced Wyandotte, Lacey, lays the bigger tan eggs and the Buff Orpington, Tikka the bigger light brown egg. Morticia, the Austrolorp, lays the elongated light brown eggs, and then Loralei, the Cuckoo Marans, lays the most beautiful chocolate brown eggs.
I just love getting a rainbow of eggs to put in our egg cartons.
And now we have a new type of egg to gather.
Back when we decided not to butcher our hen turkey, Kris, we weren't sure if we were going to keep her for much longer than it would take for her to fill out. When we butchered the tom, Hank, he ended up still being too small for a Thanksgiving turkey, and she was much smaller than him. After doing some research I found that Bourbon Red turkeys take quite a long time to get any butchering size, and we should have gotten him sooner than we did to use for the holidays. We should have started more like March. Heritage breeds never get to be the humungous size dressed weight that you see in the stores. What the market typically produces are turkeys that are bred to fill out very quickly and have large breasts. Heritage turkeys are more like the original turkeys people ate before science had a hand in it.
Since we went into turkey raising with very little knowledge, we found out the hard way, so, we decided for that reason and one other very important reason, to just keep Kris.
The second reason was the euthanizing method we attempted. What was supposed to be humane and peaceful for the bird ended up being traumatizing for all of us, and I still have a hard time thinking about it. I had read so many posts from people that used gas to euthanize their birds for various reasons. They all claimed it was quick, gentle, and painless, and that the bird just went to sleep and then stopped breathing. Sounded like the perfect solution to not wanting to grab him and hold him down while we chopped off his head, and I really do not like the killing cones method of slitting their throat and letting them bleed to death. Everyone has their own opinions of which method is best and the most humane, but, I had to try the gas method. It went very badly. Hank died slowly, and after almost 30 minutes he finally thrashed and seized and then died. It was horrible. To make matters worse, we couldn't use the meat because it was permeated with the gas. I will never, repeat, never use that method ever again.
So, here we were with a hen turkey and she was used to living with Hank in the little playhouse. We were building a much bigger chicken coop, so, we made provisions for her to share it with the hens, as long as everyone got along okay. We were so nervous that she would chase and attack them, and especially if they were all inside the coop with nowhere to run and hide. While we waited for Hank to expire, we let Kris just walk around the yard, supervised, to see how she interacted with the hens when Hank wasn't around. Surprisingly, she just hung out with them and chilled. No problems at all. Not one.
So, while we built the coop she stayed alone in the playhouse, with the hens visiting her and hanging with her whenever they could, but, as soon as the coop was done, she and the hens all moved in together.
We put her favorite chair from the patio with the roosting bar from the playhouse into the coop, and she was a happy little camper. After a week she decided she wanted to be up on the roosts where the hens roosted, so, we made a roosting bar just for her so she had enough space. She's been happy ever since.
So, now that she is a grown up girl, she has started laying , and they are the prettiest speckled extra extra large eggs I've ever seen.
When a chicken starts laying eggs the first dozen or so are pretty small, so, if this picture is any indication of her future egg size, Wow,just wow. This is her first egg next to our Leghorn's extra large size.
And so, the Spring season brings with it new experiences with our turkey adventure. Will we get more turkeys this year, well, that remains to be seen. If we do, it will be Broad Breasted so we get a nice big turkey and it reaches butchering weight in time for the holidays, and, we will be chopping heads off the old fashioned way.
I'm a mother of eleven children, wife of 37 years, Latter Day Saint, and 911 Dispatcher and a budding homesteader. Come along with me as I journey toward self sufficiency, one baby step at a time.
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