Things are greening, I’ve been planting, the windows are open, and there are more animal calls to be heard-it is definitively Spring.
I could not let my one surviving chick from my first attempt at incubation grow up alone, so my youngest and I drove over to the feed store and bought 3 more Barred Rocks (or Plymouth Rocks, depending on where you live). I chose that breed for a number of reasons: they are lovely to look at, good foragers, great layers, dual purpose (meaning they grow to a decent size for butchering), and I have two hens of this variety, currently. I took the time to pick through the babies and try to select males; this is done by looking at their feather development (the males do not develop their feathers as quickly). I like the idea of breeding my own future stock, so I am trying to keep the same breeds, it will be several months before I know if I made the right selection, so its a good thing I am patient.
When my four chicks were about two weeks old, the gobble of turkey poults I had ordered in January arrived. I have thee breeds of those: Spanish Blacks, Blue Slates, and Bourbon Reds. These are a special project, as I ordered a large batch and I will be raising several for friends and family. My goal, after the holidays, is to have a tom and two hens of each variety wandering around to ensure future turkey supplies. I have been very happy with my purchase, as I have had no starve outs (when the chicks never eat) or issues with timidity that leads to death (the older chicks are not unduly pushy to the little poults). This constitutes my best chick purchase, ever. We did lose one to an accident, my daughter stepped on it, but I managed to convince her that it was alright, as it was the “extra one” sent to cover loses in shipping. She was still pretty traumatized, however.
The other additions include a portion of a litter of piglets that a gentleman posted on Craigslist. They are mutts of pigs, but at two months old they are nearly the same size as our 6 month old pig. We plan for them simply to be feeders, and are raising them on pasture inside a moveable electric fence, which is really fun to watch. Also, we are expecting rabbits any day now, and my husband and children are practically vibrating with excitement over their arrival.
Even though we didn’t have proper fences or much in the way of experience, I feel like we are well on our way to providing ourselves sustainable food options.