Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And then they were few...

The great terminal turkey adventure is complete - and what an adventure it was!

Because the weather was iffy, I went to Sue's and picked up her birds on Monday afternoon. Between that and errands and gassing up, I didn't get home until after dark. I managed to sort my turkeys with the aid of a flashlight and head lamp, so that they could be loaded into the truck in the morning.

Mr. Big objected to me grabbing him off the roost, and clocked me a good one, but he got to stay home, even so, with a bronze hen, a chocolate hen, and the royal palm hen. These will form the nucleus of a breeding flock (I hope!!). The broadbrested whites will be processed at home in the next couple of weeks, and ground into sausage. I'm looking for good, interesting recipes, if you know of any...

After loading my birds in the morning, I started down the driveway - but, there was a small problem. My windshield wipers weren't working. There is a problem with the switch - during the summer, and dry weather, it works just fine. When it rains, it doesn't - how very inconvenient. However, because this appointment had been made a year ago, and I had already sold most of the turkeys and had to meet the purchasers, I continued on. In the past, the wipers had come to their senses and worked after a bit of time on the road...

They didn't.

We drove over the mountain, into increasingly heavy snow, which without wipers was rather difficult. I ended up pulling over in a brake check area to get out my ice scraper (long handled, fortunately), and periodically, until we cleared the snow, rolled down my window and scraped off the snow in the lower corner of the windshield so that the snow would flow off of it.

We got to Salem and it dumped - poured so hard that I really couldn't see - Sue could see out of the passenger window and was great support for continued onward progress.

We had anticipated the weather and left a little early, and even with the trials and tribulations, we made it to our destination about an hour early. It was quite the hopping place, with trailers, trucks and people everywhere. They have also, in the past year become USDA certified, which adds a level of complication that required the construction of an office to handle paperwork, but also provides a place to sit and talk while waiting.

Our mutual friend, Belinda, lives not far away, and since we hadn't seen her in ages, came to sit with us. She also brought ice, which saved us a trip out in the weather to get it (Bless Her!!). We had a lovely time, with discussions all over the map, to the amusement of other people waiting! Eventually, even though our birds got started late (due to some schmuck being 30 minutes late for the first appt. of the day), we were only 1/2 hour behind our scheduled time to leave.

I had sold 8 birds through Central Oregon Locavore, a first for me, having a middle man/woman. I had arranged to be in Bend for the drop off at 6. I called my contact and explained that I thought the earliest I would be there was 6:30.  The weather was better on the way home, fewer showers, no snow, and wet pavement all the way. The lighting at dusk with the oncoming head lights were a challenge, however.

We made it over the mountain and within about 30 miles had dry pavement and no precipitation, and best of all, a dry windshield!! We got to the drop site at 6:20, and by the time we had all the coolers in and set up, people started showing up.

It was really fun to meet and talk with the purchasers of my birds. I gave them my spiel, gave them the "instructions" - heritage birds cook WAY faster than the broadbreasted, and I don't want anyone to say that they are dry, when they don't have to be - and were finally down to just one left. The time window was from 6:30 to 8, but I needed to get Sue dropped off, and get home to feed Tang and get Lyra out of dog jail.

After those chores, I called one of my privately sold contacts, and I will be delivering hers and the other one today.

So, overall, I'm a bit disappointed in the sizes of the birds this year. The range in weights were from 5 lbs. to 20 lbs (Mr. Almost Big). The average was 11 lbs., but 6 were under 10 lbs., and 4 were under 9 lbs. Some of these were not raised by me until later, and their early feeding (or lack thereof) stunted their growth severely. I knew that one would be about 5 lbs., and she was - she was always a dink.

So, next year:
  • Home-raised poults (if there are any) will be given the high protein ration from the beginning.
  • Any purchased poults (I'm thinking some midget whites would be good) will also get the best food they can. 
  • If I purchase any additional turkeys past the poult stage, I will be more selective about getting them - checking condition, etc., because now I know that I can't make up for inadequate feeding early.
  • I will get greenery into their diet more. They had grass through their early growth, but then Summer hit, and they were eating dried grass - still good, but not as good. This means putting in some alfalfa hay, or seeing if I can get them to eat rabbit pellets, and experiment that hasn't show much promise so far.
Last night, it snowed... but it's clear, and I'm headed off to deliver the remaining birds. I have 3 small birds (large chicken-sized) for me, which is perfect.

It was a fool-hardy decision to travel without wipers, but with caution and care, we made it.

I'm thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winter Prep

Before I left for Portland last week, I had to take care of some winter preparation for the birds - Snow was coming!

My neighbor had agreed to pick up eggs and make sure the turkeys didn't run out of food, so that wasn't an issue. The problem was the mid-20's temps that were predicted. I have 2 heated bases for waterers, but you can't use plastic water fonts on them. I had acquired a couple of 3 gal. metal fonts at a feed store closing, but the turkeys were going through 7 gal. of water in about 2 days - I was to be gone for 5.

I have two 8 gal. metal fonts, and the two 3 gal. and assorted plastic fonts. I have 4 pens and 2 heated bases... How was I going to make this work?

The ducks got their 50 gallon stock tank cleaned out, the waterer removed from their pen (one of the 8 gallon ones), and a ramp up to the stock tank. I wasn't sure they were actually getting in there, and since this would be their water source, I decided to make sure they could. The duck is much smaller than the drake, and I wasn't sure she could get up to it, even standing on her tippy-toes!

The peafowl got a heated base and a 3 gal. metal font. They are very, very thrifty birds. They go through about 3 gallons in a week and I fill their feeder even less than that!

The chickens got one of the 8 gallon metal fonts on a heated base, along with their 7 gal. plastic one set out where the sun could hit it and perhaps melt any ice that developed. They also got one of the 3 gallon metal fonts as a back up.

The turkeys got a new heated base, one of the 8 gallon metal fonts, and 4 other fonts, a mixture of plastic and metal - 21 gallons available, all told.

The reason this is such a pain is that there is only one faucet for outside water, and it's in the pumphouse. With the weather freezing, there would be filling of waterers and then draining of hoses to be done. I didn't want my neighbor to have to deal with all the walking up and down the hill (she's in very good shape, but it's just a bother).

After returning home early because of a 2nd snow storm predicted to hit on Monday (which it did), I'm now, a week later, finally having to fill waterers again. Since the turkeys' date with destiny is Tuesday, I'll take all the extra ones out of their pen, and go back down to the single, heated one. Everyone else will continue with what they have.

Some gratuitous turkey pictures:

Mr. Big

Mr. Almost Big

some of the flock

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The project that I wasn't planning...

When I moved in, I was told that I could use about 6 x 8 of a 8 x 16 shed. There was a tarp dividing "my" area from that used by the landlord for stuff that he basically had abandoned. Since I have lots of tools, and need to have a place for the feed, I had asked that it be cleaned out. Back in August, my landlord and his helper came and got some of the stuff out, but said they'd come back and get the rest. However, 2 months have passed, and nothing had been done, so I called, and got his wife (he was in town) - she promised to get him right over to get it done!

I now have the use of the full shed. I have installed 2 shop lights, my air compressor is home, and I still need to move the feed out of the trailer. However, I have a deadline - The Portland Handweaver's Guild Sale is next weekend, and I have a space. I have gotten new dye, more fiber and yarn, and need to get some dyeing done.

The weather has been blustery, and I didn't want to set up the dye production line outside. So... I set it up in the shed! With the lights, I can work later after the time changes tonight, and it's out of the weather, should the gray skies produce something. I'm also out of the wind!

The roaster (steamer), dyes and plastic roll go on the smaller table - the dyeing happens on the big table. I can take it down when I'm done, and store the tables on the opposite wall. The feed trash cans will actually go where the big table is, but I can still set it up on the other side if I need to. I'm really excited to have this space available!

I'll be drying things in front of the wood stove, but that's actually pretty efficient. Tomorrow, I'll start dyeing first thing, and I should be able to get it done in one day. With the lights, if I get up too early, I'll start then!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Picture, as promised

Here is a picture of Laura and I (I'm in front on Tang) heading out to our obstacle, after backtracking up and down hills, which is why Tang is so sweaty!! This was taken on Friday, 10/26/12, at the ACTHA ride at Brasada Ranch in Powell Butte, OR.

On Facebook, a friend commented that Tang was the "Great Red Hoover" - that she is...

We were called "Laura Squared" - Laura's mare is a Welsh Cob, who has lived her life in an arena. She had never tied to a tree until this day. Laura was a bit worried, but I told her that Tang would just stand there, and it would be fine. After all her exertions, Tang took a nap, and Chloe was a very good girl.