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Archive for the ‘Poultry’ Category

 

Clockwise from right: Amaracana, Buff Orpington, Black Giant and the first Narragansett Turkey egg

I was looking for a book on poultry health care so I checked Poultry Health and Management by David Sainsbury out from the library.  When I got it home, it turned out to be a book about commercial poultry production, and it had pretty much nothing in it dealing with our sort of farm.  It did have a some very interesting data however, like this chart which the author offers in the introduction. (more…)

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The array of eggs from our hens, from blue-green to white and cafe brown.

 

I had to do something this week that is thoroughly depressing and demoralizing:  I had to buy eggs.  Now that might not sound like such a big deal to many of you, but you have to understand that I have 21 chickens and 12 turkeys on my payroll and I do expect something in return for providing them with food, water and keeping the eagles and raccoons at bay.  Since the cold snap, however, and with the number of hours of daylight having dwindled to a precious few, the chickens have just plain stopped laying.  Each time I go to the coop and open the door to the laying boxes and look in with eyes full of hopeful anticipation I find a hen staring back at me with a look on her little chicken face that can only mean “It’s cold and dark out here.  If you want eggs, you lay them!” (more…)

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Here is a video of the four remaining Narragansett Turkeys we have here at our home on Whidbey Island.  We got a dusting of snow and the temperatures have been below freezing for several days, but the turkeys are unfazed.  So what?  Well, 99.9% of all turkeys produced for food in the world are not heritage breeds like these birds, they are one particular hybrid breed called broad breasted white, and those birds would be turkeycicles under conditions like these.  The Narragansetts have the option of hanging out in their coop with a heat lamp, but they choose to forage and frolic and play in the snow.  They are just more vigorous and healthy than the hybrids. (more…)

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Seasoning the legs and wings, prior to pressing.

Late night, last night I pulled out the two turkeys I had harvested on Saturday and started preparing them for thanksgiving.  The thing that was so striking about them was how beautiful the birds are.  I have prepared heritage birds for a number of years, but those came from other producers.  As a result they had been killed a couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving and arrived to me sealed in plastic.  While they were perfectly fine, and certainly better than frozen, commercial birds, nothing benefits from being sealed in a bag for a couple of weeks.  (more…)

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The final product: Two young Narragansett hens that dressed out to almost 10 pounds each.

My family is about five months into our first efforts at raising turkeys for our own table.  An experienced farmers of heritage breed turkeys might be thinking something is a little wrong with my math because these turkeys take 30 weeks to reach maturity.  Ours hatched out on June 5th, so that puts them squarely at the 24 week mark.  Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is Thursday and we had to make a decision:  kill ours or find some one else’s to buy. (more…)

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Our 2010 crop of Narragansett Turkeys, the oldest breed of turkey there is.

While I have been buying Heritage Breed turkeys for the past eight years, this is the first time that they are making the very short trip from our back lawn to the oven, never having left our sight.  We got a bit of a late start, the birds having hatched out in the first week of June, so we will be culling two of the smaller hens rather than the big toms, which we will retain for breeding next years crop. (more…)

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The New Coop

And there was much rejoicing.

Here is a little photo essay of our new draggable chicken coop.  We are pretty psyched about it.

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