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