The Turkish are coming! The Turkish are coming!

I have just received notification from Porter’s Heritage Turkeys that my poults are on the way!

I have been disappointed by bad hatches so many times (a common occurrence with birds from a small gene pool) that I didn’t dare expect the shipping notice. I half-expected an email explaining that my order couldn’t be filled due to yet another bad hatch.

But, oh, they are coming, gentle reader!

I ordered ten of the Self-Blue/Slate turkeys, and am getting eight. I ordered five White Holland turkeys, and am getting seven. One must needs be flexible in the world of conserving rare and endangered creatures. These poults were ordered and paid for way back in September. That’s how hard it is to get these birds.

I have never ordered live babies before, not directly. I’ve purchased them through Chicken Debbie at Agway, who had them shipped from a large hatchery, but these are coming directly to me. I will drive to the post office at dawn, open the box and hold my breath to see if there were any losses during shipping. I will be responsible for their immediate care, making sure each and every one receives water immediately (with molasses for energy), and ensures each one knows how to eat and drink. I am nervous.

That may sound silly, but all reports are that poults are much slower to learn these essential skills than chicks are. Many people suggest putting a chick or two in with poults, to teach them. I thought to do this, but Chicken Debbie is no longer offering chicks, C3.0 is too big (and have now been exposed to the Great Outdoors), and C3.1 is three weeks too young. I shall have to be extremely diligent to ensure each and every poult is eating and drinking. Yes, they are that dim.

Here’s what I hope to find when I open the box:

Self-Blue (AKA Lavender)

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Slate (AKA Blue Slate)

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White Holland

Holland-hen-poults

I have been notified that the White Holland poults will be marked with yellow on their heads to distinguish them from the Self-Blue poults.

And as if that weren’t enough, I have also received notification that my BBS Orpington eggs are on their way from Wisconsin, and my Plymouth Barred Rock eggs are headed north from Kentucky. I will be receiving packages very early Thursday morning, very early Friday morning, or both.

Tomorrow, I will be bringing Heedley’s Hens eggs to the post office peeps as a token of appreciation/bribe, along with a heads up.

Fingers crossed, y’all…

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It pays to get a good seat.

Many years ago, I watched an NBA game from five rows behind the Chicago Bulls bench; we’re talking Jordan, Pippin, Rodman…it was breathtaking. The seat made all the difference.

And you know the people on that plane in LOST know this. The seat to which you had been assigned made the difference between life and death.

It seems this is also true for my incubator and egg turner.

As I approach my second hatching, I’ve had time to ruminate over the first: what worked, what I would do differently, and contemplating patterns that reveal what thermometers and hygrometers cannot. Confused? Here’s an illustration of C3.0’s hatch in the egg turner:

C30 incubator

The egg turner seats 41 chicken eggs; the yellow square in the upper left is the motor for the turner. The blue and dark brown eggs were numbered and laid out as illustrated above, and that’s where they stayed, turning slowly, until I heard #37 peep from within his shell at the end of Day 19.

The first eggs to hatch, on Day 20, were #29, #36, #37,  and #15. #1 & #8 were the first of the Ameraucanas to hatch. See a pattern? The two LA preemies were #7 & #12. Hmmmm….

Now, this is a very fine incubator, and new, with a circulating fan. There shouldn’t be that much difference in temperature from one corner to the other. And, yet…

When I incubate C3.1, I will rotate the eggs each time I candle, and watch closely for the outcome…

All hope is lost.

Oh, gentle reader, pray for me please, for, verily, I have lost what’s left of my mind.

The hatch of 3.0, my first, and shipped eggs of a difficult breed to hatch, to boot, went pretty much as expected, but not as hoped. As soon as I saw that I would have ten chicks, the laws of Nature and mathematics dictated that five of those will be roos; I will only be keeping one of each breed. This brings Heedley’s Hens up to fifteen, presuming no further losses, and, well…I have an itch.

While Ameraucanas and Marans lay lovely, unusually-coloured eggs, neither breed is known for high production. It’s great that we’ll have purebred hatching eggs come spring and lovely colour in our egg cartons, but pretty don’t feed the bulldog.

And, yes, I have 15-18 Kevin Porter heritage turkey poults coming in the final days of May, but that’s not quite scratching the aforementioned itch.

By now, you’re sitting back in your chair, gasping, the back of your hand to your parted lips…yes, gentle reader, yes. I just bought more hatching eggs.

But, wait! There’s more!! I ordered the eggs to coincide exactly with the arrival of the poults, hereafter known as T1.0.

This weekend, The Man will make the finishing touches on the crate in the coop, and C3.0 will move out of the house and in with their older sisters. Hilarity will ensue. This will leave the baby brooder in the house free for a thorough cleaning and new sand before the poults arrive. If the new hatching eggs are set at about the time the poults arrive, we can build the turkey house and stabilise the poults in two weeks, and get them into their new home in time for the newly-hatched chicks to move into the baby brooder.

By the time C3.1 is too big for the baby brooder, C3.0 will be integrated and roosting with the older girls, and C3.1 can move into the crate in the coop. Think I’m kidding? I have it all sketched out on the school calendar on the side of the fridge. I swear, it’s true, and those of you who know me know it’s true.

So…may I introduce you to C3.1?

I felt a need to pay homage to the girls I lost, my magnificent 1.0 girls. My first decision was to get more Plymouth Barred Rocks, in honour of the fantastic production I had from Coraline, Maisie, and especially Abby. These won’t be hatchery PBRs, though. Plymouth Barred Rocks are one of the oldest breeds in America, and there are breeders who have developed the finest heritage stock, going back many generations.

There are two important lines of heritage PBRs in America, and my eggs are coming from one of those lines, Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. I just heard from Fred of Fred’s Hens, from whom I will be getting the eggs. Here’s a pic of some of my babies’ daddy (the eggs will be fertilised by two different cocks, for genetic diversity):

LL

Is he not studly?!

I still find the occasional black and white striped feather around here, and they make me so sad. I look forward to having more Plymouth Barred Rocks here. Some really snooty ones.

And what about the second breed? I miss me some Buffy and Trixie. You know that. I know that you know that. You know that I know that you know that. How to have Orpingtons again, and still be du a gwyn?

Blue, Black, Splash Orpingtons, my dear, breeder quality, not from a hatchery.

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SplashOrpingtonHen

Quite.

The same lovely, affectionate personalities of my Buffy and Trixie, and broodiness, too, but much larger than hatchery birds. It will be like having feathered basketballs strewn about the yard.

So, now you are up-to-date with my insanity. The Man is in support of this insanity, by the way, but I don’t think he’s quite put together that two more breeds, if we’re , you know…breed them, means…two more roosters