Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Christmas dinner arrives and piggy worries

I must admit I was a little distracted this weekend and my focus was not here. As I participated in a local Triathlon; so pretty much avoided doing anything too strenuous Saturday and spent the rest of Sunday feeling sorry for myself and resting my sore muscles.

So I now have a list of jobs to do before the excavator (and driver) arrives to move the tanks on Friday! Including climbing inside the one currently lying on its side in the garden- to fit a new seal. So there will be an update on the tanks soon.  
Saturday did see the arrival of our Christmas dinner preparations. I think I can say in all honesty that I have never began planning my Christmas dinner this early before. Christmas is just over 18 weeks away (scary thought) . And turkeys are apparently table size between 20- 30 weeks.  So we bought 3, 7 week old ‘self blue’ turkeys (sometimes called lavender). They were unsexed from a local guy, though I think the one is a male- as the horn-like bit on its head is alot larger. Am yet to find out what this appendage is called- if you please enlighten me!

We have not reared turkeys before, so this should be an interesting experiment. Reading up on them, there are so many people who do this differently, and have had different experiences. I have read horror stories of aggressive males chasing people (especially women and children) or that you shouldn’t keep males with chickens, as they’ll die of exhaustion!
(Last year) I did ask my Mam to ask her friend (back in Wales) about how difficult turkeys were to rear; as she has raises turkeys every year.  And her answer was “if you can keep chickens, you can keep turkeys”.  And the family we bought them from also allow their turkeys and chickens to free range together.
I had heard these kind of scare stories about ducks and geese with chickens (and ours being Muscovy’s are a bit of both) but we have had no trouble- they “cohabitate”, and I have no intension of the turkeys being any different. Though I am away that chickens can carry some diseases that are fatal to turkeys- so will have to keep an eye out for those.

Well as it has been unseasonally cold this winter and prolonged- for the tropics. With temperatures dipping to 3 or 4 degrees over night, I made the decision to place our new arrivals in the small run and chicken coup with our month old chicks and ducks. The chicks and the turkeys are fully feathered, and our original ducklings lived outside from the day we had them (approx a week or 2 old- though it was summer). So I’ve placed the work light in the nesting box (via a timer and extension lead), so they should be more than warm enough at night.
First night we placed each bird in the nesting box, closing the sliding door- to keep them and the heat in. Hoping they would learn to roost there, as they had all huddled around the food dishes in the open run. Last night they had all had the sense to huddle inside the coup (in the light), though none had ventured into the nesting box. So I may end up moving the light under the box… But so far the birds appear to have accepted their new environment and housemates.

On the other birds, the Rhodie x's, 2 little ducklings, duckling with the bad leg and last weeks arrival; appear to be getting along fine in the brooder box.

One thing I will point out about birds sharing thier living quaters- it to clean them out regularly and change thier water daily. Alot of bird related diseases come from poop. So I treat my young ones for Coccidiosis for thier first week, even though we use medicated feed. Although this is something that really doesn't affect backyard, free range birds. As we're keeping different species together- I'd rather be safe than sorry. 

Our 4 pure Light sussex are also looking good. I am now confident we have 2 roosters and a HEN! But the other, we'll just wait to see if it starts crowing (I suspect it will).

Pig worries- we had a few concerns about our gilt Streaky. We are watching her very carefully at the moment. There were some strange noises Saturday evening and late Sunday that we eventually pin pointed to be her. It was strange as it was a low call, where pigs squeal when stressed or excited. So we had ruled them out pretty quickly.
But Sunday afternoon I heard the sounds and realised it was coming from her, as she was lying down, heaving. She and the noise stopped, she got up, look at where she had been lying down and lay back down.  So we were really confused.  We’ve both examined her and she was not too bothered (no flinching or anything that felt odd), she’s eating. She did appear out of sorts Sunday (sort of uncomfortable, but not agitated). Though this could be me seeing something that wasn’t there.  I haven’t heard her do it since and she has seemed her bright self since; happily trotting up to the fence with the other two, eagerly awaiting their food.
So whether she ate something that disagreed with her- though she hasn’t had access to anything unusual, or was just having an off day, I’m, not sure… But am watching her closely encase of any other changes. So if there are any I’ll update, but have not really had a scare about the pigs health before.  

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