June 6, 2005

Turkeys and eggs, eggs and turkeys. Chirps, honks and trills. I have heard it said that parents of very young children learn to "monitor" the child’s well-being by sound. Mothers know when the noise isn’t right, and investigate. A neurotic poultry owner works the same way, except at five times the complexity. Because I fuss incessantly about birds (even though I often wish I didn’t) my day starts at about 4:45am. I wouldn’t seem awake to the onlooker, but it’s the time of day that my brain wakes up, listening. Nine six-week-old turkeys have a range of calls that mean everything from "the sun is in the sky" to "I’m about to get eaten". Adult turkeys have another set of sounds in lower tones. They have different issues, like "I don’t want to fly out of the tree" and "where’s breakfast" and "here I am, look at me." Then there are the chickens, hens and roosters, chatting away. Lastly are the peas, with honks and screams and the rattle of the tail fan outside the window. Lastly, Xerxes crows away in the next room. I don’t hear Xerxes anymore, just like I stopped hearing the train when I lived near the tracks. Sifting through this symphony of avian sounds gives a wealth of information on the State of the Yard. Too many noises of agitation get me out of bed to look outside and check on them, whereas relative quiet punctuated by intermittent gobbles lends to drowsy sleep.

The new Narragansetts are doing very well, all THREE OF THEM emoticon. The hatching rate from these eggs was abysmal. I called the hatchery to express my unhappiness, and they made a fair offer. I purchased another dozen eggs, and they reduced the price 50%. It’s a hard call–paying $50 for three live chicks doesn’t seem fair, but the hatchery has a point of view as well. Once the eggs are shipped, they have no control over the Post Office, the skill of their customer, or a number of other factors. They should (and do) have very limited liability for egg sales. All this is because I didn’t want to pay $96 for a dozen live chicks….ah, the irony.  A hopeful scenario is that we get at least another 3 live birds (and preferably many more) out of the next batch. We don’t want to find out in the fall that after all this work, we have all toms or all hens. My opinion has not yet formed about purchasing from commercial hatcheries. I still have issues, but it may be the only affordable way to acquire relatively rare birds.

At the moment, we are having a hard time with the vegetables. The potatoes love this unseasonably cool weather. The okra, beans, tomatoes and everything else do not. Insect populations are high, and so is my aggravation level. Whole swaths of flower seeds were eaten the moment they sprouted, which leaves us having to re-seed a lot of stuff. The sweet peas, after a stunning display, are dying back fast (to my disappointment). More to do, more to do….

Leave a Reply