Wednesday, I was looking out the library window and saw a gosling scampering among the geese. Yes, Mama Goose's month-long vigil on her nest has had a somewhat happy conclusion. She had nearly a dozen eggs, and I have no idea what happened to the others, but only one hatched. Mama Goose certainly gave it enough time though, because the nest is stinky! We need to remove the eggs from the little coop and pitch them before one of the dogs decides they'll make a nice snack. Sorry I don't have a picture of the little downy wonder, but my camera was having problems again.
Yesterday, our turkey poults (above) arrived from Privett Hatchery in New Mexico. I finally decided to overcome my aversion to white turkeys, and I ordered 20 white Holland turkeys, which are a heritage breed. We've raised almost every heritage turkey out there except for the white Hollands, because I was always worried that people would think that they're the modern mutants as soon as they saw the white feathers. White Hollands are one of the rarer breeds of heritage turkeys. Maybe a lot of people have an aversion to white turkeys? Or they figure that if they can choose a heritage breed, why not choose one of the beautiful colors?
I have also been averse to having any kind of white poultry because they are a blinking beacon for predators when free ranging. One of my daughters insisted on getting white rock chickens one year, and few survived. However, for the past four years, when we raise turkeys for Thanksgiving, we have them in movable pens, so they're safe from predators. Not having to worry about predators, I decided it would be fun to try a new breed. Plus, I always like to encourage the hatcheries to hatch the less popular breeds.
These little birds are definitely nothing like the mutants. They're the spunkiest poults I remember receiving in many years. One almost jumped out of the box when I opened it! They're practically hyperactive. Every single one survived the trip from New Mexico. Privett is my favorite hatchery, because they have the healthiest turkeys. We originally ordered turkeys from McMurray and Cackle, but the Privett turkeys impressed us from the first order about five years ago because mortality was lower upon arrival and for the first couple weeks.
Privett is also one of the few hatcheries in the U.S. that actually hatches heritage turkeys. I know that sounds weird, but a lot of hatcheries are drop shipping birds that were hatched by someone else. Privett was even featured in a recent edition of my newsletter from the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. The only thing I don't like about them is that they've discontinued their online ordering. The catalog is not online either, which I'm afraid is going to negatively affect their business.
Hopefully we will also have some home-hatched turkey poults this year. One of the slate hens is setting in a brush pile behind the garden. I think she's been there for a couple of weeks, so only another couple weeks to go, since incubation is 28 days for turkeys. Mike informed me yesterday that it appears she has been joined by a bourbon red hen. Turkeys are interesting with this co-mothering thing. It happens at least once a year that two hens will claim the same nest. Once the eggs hatch, the babies will be back and forth between two mamas.
If you want to know more about the difference between heritage turkeys and supermarket turkeys, check out Let's Talk Turkey from last October. And if you just can't wait to see pictures of the poults that will hopefully hatch in a couple weeks, check out Turkey Surprise from last May.