November 18, 2005

Our lives have been so busy! This installment will qualify as the Great Turkey Update. I recently joined an online forum for people who raise heritage turkeys. This has been an amazing experience! In a matter of weeks, I have been able to make contacts near and far. We met and have already visited one amazing person who raises an impressive flock of unusual poultry. Their farm had Spanish Blacks, an extremely showy black (duh!) turkey. We traded a pair of Royal Palms for a gorgeous Narragansett tom, who we have named Ishmael. Today’s Narragansetts descend from the turkeys our pilgrim ancestors would have known, so we’re striving for names of old New England.We also met a farmer from southern Oregon, from whom we will be purchasing one or two breeding pairs of Beltsville Whites. In January we will travel that direction to pick them up at the farm. We hadn’t planned on this, but they are really a find. Beltsvilles are a sort of miniature turkey, and are very rare and difficult to obtain. So, by one means or another, we are gearing up to really raise turkeys next year, three breeds! We very much hope to be one of the many farms supplying the growing Slow Food movement, and the consumer demand for heritage turkeys to eat.

And, speaking of eating, it’s almost that time. Since it is important to breed for good characteristics, a certain Royal Palm hen that is a terrible mother will find its way to our dinner plates. And maybe a young tom as well….we’ll see.

Fall chores fit in somewhere. Digging out plants that are shot, rooting for the odd tomato or eggplant that somehow is still growing, digging up peppers to save for winter, planting seeds, planting bulbs, saving seeds,spreading hay, weeding, burning piles of unwated this and that, making grapevine wreaths, cleaning up for winter, repairing machinery, winterproofing housing and feeders for the animals…….all in our spare time.

Xerxes the wonder chicken is back inside. In less than 2 weeks I have tuned out his morning crowing, a new record. He looks good this year, almost….not ugly. The summer outside seems to have made him a little more robust. We allowed him outside time on the weekend until we found him fighting with 3 toms and 4 turkey hens all at once. Roosters are a study in attitude. Xerxes doesn’t care how big he is, because in his mind he is an elephant and they are ants.

Last tidbits: Our new/old tractor still hasn’t come home. Maybe someday Smiley We have a new roof now, so no more leaks. The caved-in section of ceiling still needs some work, we’ll get there. The Delawares continue to grow and be cute and friendly. We are sad for gimpy-leg chick, her left leg is useless. I wish we could do something for her, but it seems to bother us more than her. During the next week we will work on our treehouse some more, picking up where we left off last year. Our friend Robert can build anything, and construction happens when he is around. Conversely, no construction happens when he is not. At least, not of the treehouse variety. And, the price of sheet lumber is ridiculous. Good thing we have free exterior paint from my mom and dad! That’s all for now, ’till next time!

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