Happy February! We got our first duck eggs yesterday — I wasn’t expecting them to be laying again so soon. Anya and I took a break after lunch to cut dried grasses for the ducks’ bedding. As we opened the coop to put in the new bedding, there were two duck eggs in the farthest, darkest corner of the coop.
Looking up pekin ducks — they grow out really quickly. We decided to pick up the rest of the ducks at the TSC — quite a bit of driving, but we now have eleven more ducks. That’s a lot of ducks shaking their little tails and dancing! Maybe next week, we can get Anya’s little inflatable pool set up so she can swim with all of the ducks.
Well … we had one day of Astra fostering the new broilers. They’re older baby guys (which is why they were super cheap) … and I think they got used to doing their own thing. And didn’t want to get back into the nesting box when she told them to. The OG baby guy totally comes when called, but these guys? Not so much. And Astra freaked out. Anya saved one of the Cornish babies while Scott and I were working on some trees — she got Astra out of the coop and tended to the little guy’s wounded head. It was bad — scalped. She tried putting Astra in the tractor with the other birds, but Astra was pretty set on getting back to baby guy. And freaked out the turkeys, who attacked her. So now Astra has the feathers pulled from the back of her head just like the Cornish she attacked.
Anya got Astra into the baby tractor, got the turkeys calmed down, and introduced the Cornish to the ducks (who, thankfully, didn’t go after the wound). Baby guy made its way out of the coop and over to Astra in the baby tractor. So they were happy, pecking around at food and grit. The Cornish were safe in the coop. And everyone else was in the big tractor. That was sorted enough that we could finish splitting the wood and getting it stacked.
Near sunset, we had to get all of the Cornish into the brooder so Astra and baby guy could go into the coop. We put a board in front of their nesting box to keep the turkeys from going after her wounded head.
The thirteen eggs Astra incubated yielded one chick — a really cute one, and the first one born on our farm. But not the gaggle of broilers we were anticipating. So we decided to buy some more hatchlings for her to raise. The Tractor Supply had Rangers last week, but we didn’t manage to make it out there in time. So I called around to all of the TSC’s in the area trying to find some. No luck, but the next TSC to the south had a lot of birds they were trying to get rid of. Cornish x Rock’s at two for a buck. That’s a great deal, so we headed down. They also had pekin ducks for the same price … and we picked up two to try out raising ducks. I love those little bills!
Well, introducing the ducks to Astra didn’t go so well — they’re pretty active, and they either didn’t want to listen to her or didn’t understand chicken talk … but they wouldn’t go back into the nest when she called them. And now we’ve got ducks in the brooder and a bunch of chicks snuggling up with Astra.
I’d spent a good bit of time, earlier this year, researching turkeys. I ultimately decided not to buy them this year — we were adding American Bresse chickens to our flock, and we are getting a few beehives. But we kept thinking about it — specially now that the Bresse are pretty much grown up. It was, however, too late to be ordering turkeys. They were all sold out! I managed to find one hatchery — Cackle — that had a “surplus” box of random heritage turkeys available. And hatching the very next day. We decided to order five, and the turkeys hatched basically the day we ordered them.
They shipped the little guys out the next day — and then we encountered the problem with sending live animals. The delivery was Friday. Then it was Saturday. Then it was Monday — that’s a long time for little guys to be trapped in a box! We rang up the USPS 800 number and our local post office this morning. The local post office offered to call us as soon as the truck got in — 4:30 AM — if we wanted. Better than waiting another four hours until they open. Luckily, the USPS folks in Akron were proactive about animal welfare and called me Saturday afternoon. He asked if we were expecting a shipment of live chicks. I said, “oh yeah; you’ve got our turkeys, turkey?” (because we all say turkey, turkey to each other all the time). He paused for a second to parse that out then said ‘yup’. He was concerned that the animals wouldn’t make it if they were sitting at his office for the rest of the day and all day Sunday. Did we want to come out there and pick them up? Yes! They’re even open 24/7. We wrapped up the work we were doing outside and drove right over. After I went into the distribution center and was directed to the chap who called, he called out “you here for your turkeys, turkey?” — always nice to come across goofy people.
Opening the box, we had two dead poults right off — one very dead, a second taking its last breaths. We got it a little liquid, but it was way too late. Between Saturday night and Sunday, most of the turkeys didn’t make it. We hand ‘fed’ them liquids to keep them hydrated, and we moved the less vigorous birds out of the brooder into a warm box so they wouldn’t get hurt by the ones that were walking around. The two slates and what I think was a Narragansett died too.
There’s a yellow poult that is still able to stand and open its eyes, but it’s quite weak. There’s a black one with a yellow head that’s doing well — it’s drinking on its own and venturing around the brooder pecking crumbles off the floor (and it’s found the food dish a few times too). I talked to the hatchery today because (1) the post office said that priority mail express is the only one with a guaranteed delivery time-frame and (2) there wasn’t any food in the box. Turns out there is a delivery guarantee for live animal express mail. So the post office did screw up (not that it helps). They also put cubes of gel nutrient stuff in the box because it’s consumed and doesn’t leave trash — there’s enough for the three days that it’s supposed to take to deliver your birds (also doesn’t help, but made me feel a lot better about doing business with the company). We also had a chat about expecting delays given the logistics changes at the post office — mail essentially gets put on the truck the day after it gets to each hop, and it takes a lot longer for delivery. If four or six day delivery is going to be the norm, they should be putting four or six days worth of food cubes into the box!
Here are the possibilities for the turkeys we’ve got …
While we’ve got egg chickens on order, we’re thinking about meat chickens too … I’ve got a odd problem keeping both. Not sure (and I know you don’t really) how you explain to the egg chickens why some of their friends randomly disappear. Seems kind of unfair — even the meat chickens that are kept for breeding … but if we do decide to get meat chickens, I found these Bresse chickens from France. https://www.bressefarms.com/store/p108/White_Bresse_Chicks_.html
Here are the chickens we want to order. I had put together a list based on research and talking to other people. Then I let Anya go through the hatchery’s website and pick the chickens she liked. Then I showed her where to find info about how many eggs they produce, if they are good in hot and cold weather, how friendly they are. We went through her list & eliminated birds that didn’t want to be in the cold, weren’t friendly, or only produce an egg a week. She really wants a white leghorn, but they say it’s not a good breed for cold weather. All but one of the ones I added were dropped because of lower egg production or less friendly personalities, so she was OK with removing some of her favorites from the list because sooooo many of mine got removed too.
Now we just have to wait until August for them to arrive! There’s evidently been a run on both chickens and seeds as people encounter runs on, well, everything at the grocery store.
|Astra||Austra White||208||260||Heat and Cold Hardy||Quite, tame and docile||Large|
|Sunshine||Buff Orpington||200||280||Very Cold Hardy||Docile, Quiet & Affectionate||Large|
|Tilly||Columbian Wyandotte||180||Very Robust, Cold Hardy||Generally Docile||Large|
|Queenington||Green Queen||208||260||extremely hearty in all climates||Friendly, Docile, Good Pet||Large|
|Soaring Eagle||Black Jersey Giant||180||200||very cold hearty||Calm & Easy Going||Medium|