Friday, May 24, 2013

Turkey Poults!

The turkeys are here!!!  (Ok, we've had them for about five weeks now). 

We got them as sweet tiny day-old poults, and boy have they grown and changed fast! They required more care and patience than chicks, because it is harder for them to figure out how to eat and drink on their own. We put colorful buttons and beads in their waterer to encourage drinking, put their food on aluminum foil, and put paper towels down in the brooder so they wouldn't slip. We had to dip their beaks and encourage eating and drinking a lot more than with chicks who naturally take to it.

This particular breed is the heritage Bourbon Red. They are supposed to be hardier than some and have a great flavor for meat. I have always been partial to Heritage breeds. An added bonus, the breed originated from Kentucky (my home sweet home).

turkeys are obviously very flexible- this one seems to be scratching his bum :)

We finished up the turkey pen at the back of our shed just in time! Using chicken wire, metal fence posts, and scrap wood, we built a pen for the turkeys that has a roost underneath the covered portion. My husband draped netting overtop to secure from above-ground predators. A full-sized door allows easy access for us to go inside. We also cut out a "window" screened with chicken wire for us to easily see what was going on in the pen without having to walk all the way around to the back of the shed.

(Pictures of the pen to come very soon!)

Oh my goodness these turkeys are too funny-- they are SO attached to us already. Way more than the chickens. When we leave their pen after coming in to change food/water or it visit, they cry and cry and CRY! If we come back before they have settled down or really anytime we show up to their pen they rush up to us so happy and cheeping. They like to be so close to us all the time and love to jump up on our knees or arms or whatever is available to them and be petted-- ahhhhh!!! My turkey poults must have separation anxiety or think that we are their mama turkey.

I'm not sure of the sexes yet, but if I had to take a guess I would say we have two boys and two girls. It's hard to think that we will be eating a couple of these birds around the Holidays, and will be very tough to let them go, but I'm glad at least knowing that the delicious bird I'm eating had a good life while it lived, raised in healthy conditions. 

Do any of you have turkeys? What do you find most interesting about their personalities?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Well Done Penny: Successful Chick Hatch!

Penny hatched out her chicks last weekend!

She surpassed our expectations as a broody and hatched out TWELVE babies! Good Girl!

shortly after hatching- the babies like to stay right up next to or underneath mama

seeing chick feed for the first time

She has been such a good mama to her chicks and very protective of them (pecking us when we reach in or get close). She raises them far better than we could, teaching them everything they need to know in chicken life. She shows them how to eat, drink, scratch, know what treats are, take a dust bath, and lots of other useful skills.

a couple weeks old

The chicks have grown and changed so much in just the last couple of weeks! They love to snuggle underneath her warm feathers and wings and often they will jump on top of her back to hang out for a bit while she is sitting down. SO CUTE.

catching a ride on mama's back

An interesting outcome of this year's hatch was the presence of a white Dominique chick, which when hatched looked like a fuzzy whitish yellow chick with some grey accents on the wings and head. I had no idea what a white Dominique even was until this happened, and at first I thought a stray rooster had stopped by one day without us knowing to visit our flock of all Dominiques! Apparently there is a recessive gene where every once in a while the Dominique will have white or partially white coloring. It is a pretty rare occurrence and it will be fun to see how this little chick changes as she/he develops.

the White Dominique chick gives mama kisses (or more likely picks food from her beak)

I love letting our chickens breed on their own and repopulate the flock naturally. It's much less work for us to let our hens raise the chicks, and I think they probably integrate into the flock better as well. It does involve some planning in order to breed the best type of whatever breed you have and improve your flock's genetics, but I find it great fun. There's nothing like watching a mama hen and her sweet baby chicks :)

A lot of people have asked us what we are going to do with all these chicks when they grow up. Well, we plan to keep all the pullets and from the cockerels we will save the best one with good Dominique type for breeding and the rest will be processed and go to freezer camp. This will be very very hard I'm sure, but a necessary part of homesteading for us. What else would we do with all those grown roosters?

For now, however, we will enjoy their utter cuteness and fuzzy bodies with high-pitched cheeping noises :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kentucky Derby Party

It's time for our annual tradition- a celebration of the Kentucky Derby! If you missed it, it was on Saturday and is always the first Saturday in May. Born and raised in central Kentucky, both my husband and I like to commemorate this historic event with friends over mint juleps, good Kentucky food and Derby dishes, and some classic Southern style and hospitality!

Although it was a muddy and messy race, the horse "Orb" came from behind and won the prestigious title, and will go on to race in the Preakness.

If you are interested in reading more of my posts on the Kentucky Derby and even snagging some recipes, you can find them located here.

Here is a recap showing some of the party highlights:

bourbon bottle encased in ice with mint leaves and rose petals

Derby food spread

Derby betting envelope system

Grown-up, sophisticated jello shots 

Bourbon Balls

we used our recently constructed potting bench as a bar for the party- Derby glasses are stacked on the shelves

With much Kentucky love,

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First Spring Harvest

Our first harvest of the springtime has arrived!! We were hoping to get some lettuces and greens earlier in the  colder months of spring, but it just did not work out that way. We will try again next winter :)

But right now, we are enjoying some beautiful red and white radishes harvested from the garden, along with some spring onions, lettuce, and baby spinach!

red and white radishes, spring onions

we have been harvesting the lettuce as we need it

Our sweet friends that live not far from us brought us fresh asparagus harvested from their garden--isn't is beautiful?

Pretty soon we will have kale available for cooking with collards following not too long afterwards! Our garlic is doing really well and should be ready perhaps in the next month. Fresh herbs have re-grown on their own, and we have TONS of lavender.


chives (they grow back every year on their own)

one of the lavender plants

So incredibly excited, I feel like our garden is finally at the productivity level we've always hoped for. After a couple years of only so-so harvests and a lot of total flops, we have learned how to make our garden healthier and give it what it needs most.


This includes lots of extra compost, little natural fertilizer and extra sunlight. The sunlight may have to be achieved by cutting down one of our trees. Although I really hate to do this, our yard is heavily wooded and there aren't many other places we could put it to receive that needed sunlight.

Another thing we have invested a lot of time in is starting our seeds indoors, moving them to bigger pots and hardening them off before transplanting outside. We use a simple home-made grow light that I showcased in this post as well as our cold frame for giving new seedlings the warmth and light they need.

My hope is to be harvesting something every week or two from our garden! How does your garden grow this spring?

Happy Harvesting,

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