This year we have expanded big time in the area of livestock, mostly into poultry, Turkey's and Guineas and moving a bit away from our Chickens which will be replaced with the natural breeding jumbo Guineas which are larger than standard types and similar to the French type guinea, but that is work still to do.
Here you will see some photo's of our Turkeys (the few which were ranging close enough to the house to get a picture of) intermingled with some of our guineas. These turkeys have been mentioned in the past in regards to future breeding work, below there are some pictures of some Spanish Black tom's, Blue Slate Toms, and a Bourban Red Tom as well as a picture of 3 of the young Royal Palm's that I purchased about a month ago locally. The emphasis with our turkey breeding will be in searching for new color combinations, better feed to meat ratio, and two seprate size classes. We will be soon setting up a second coop for our second class of meat producing turkeys. The first selections will be of a traditional larger sized, naturally mating type genepool of Turkeys with maximum genetic diversity. Hens being 15-20 lbs and Toms up to 35 lbs. Of course a lot of folks don't need birds this large since families are smaller now days (an anolog of this can bee seeen in our work to breed smaller and more family friendly Hubbard squash types and cheese pumpkins along with maintaining our large lines as well). The second genepool of turkeys will be selected from a genepool containing broad brested bronze, royal palm, midget white, and some off type small mutts, once again selecting for maximum diversity and feed to weight conversion but this time selecting for sizes along 8-10 lb hens and 14-18 lb. Toms.
Within the next year we will be expanding our Turkey operation in order to provide poults locally as well as meat. Plans are underway for maintaining two flocks of 100 individuals each, one hundred for each of the two genepools with the 20 best individuals (4 toms and 16 hens) to be retained for breeding every season.
This past Thanksgiving weekend we had the pleasure of learning to slaughter our own birds, chickens and turkeys. A task which wasn't near as hard as I had been led to believe. We culled two turkeys from the flock, a standard bronze tom that dressed our to a massive carcass from which I'm sure we will be eating for a week and a second hen of the red variety which I gave to Kim's family. Both were delicious and of a quality not seen anywhere in a local store in Indiana in many, many years. I will at some point in time put a tutorial or even a video up here for slaugtering ones own birds. If you are a vegan, I apoologize in advance but know that these animals are all well taken care of and their life isn't taken without some amount of trepadation and thought, it is just the way of the world.
My interest in turkeys only keeps deepening, as pointed above, to the extent that I will be liquidating the chicken flock within the next year in favor of supporting more turkeys and jumbo guineas (which produce eggs year round). I plan on maintaining a flock of 50 standard guineas and 100 jumbo types for egg and meat purposes as well as selling keets to the local public, the standard varieties are once again in my characteristic style a "genepool" of many colors and types. Beautiful and good watchdogs and bug eaters.
The flocks will hopefully be feed mostly from things grown here on the farm. I have noticed that the turkeys and the guineas consume much less feed during the season than what the chickens do, prefering to spend their time free ranging over our agricultural and pasture fields for worms, grasshopers, butterflys and moths. From my observations it appears even that after the two month stage of feeding a mixture of cracked corn, oats, millet, and dried worms as starter feed they become easy to raise on nothing more than cracked corn, a commodity which I can and am able and willing to produce here on farm.
I have plans to grow close to four or up to six acres of four seperate dent/flint/flour corns next season for feeding the livestock as well as selling at the local market to those who wish to use it for home use or feeding livestock or squirrels (of course we too also use it in the kitchen for many things). I will be growing the four sacred colors of corn (red, blue, white, yellow) in the tradition of the Anasazi who quite possibly may have been the first Americans to domesticate the turkey (The Rio Grand is the decendent of these first domesticate ancestors). Of course the manure/bedding from the poultry houses makes for a wonderful manure which when fully composted can be used to once again grow this special feed for my brids.
The next meat related project on the docket is more of a personal one as the rules and inspection in Indiana regarding meat rabbits are quite strict, but I have found myself expanding to meet the needs of my family and friends meat consuming lifestyle in a healthier example of such than raising cattle. Once again I have a breeding focus here, below you will see some of our breeding stock. We have one Harlequin buck and one English Lop Buck, one pure bred Harlequin female, two large meat type mutt females, and two females which are the offspring of a cross between and english lop and a Californian. For our purposes we are selecting for a mid sized type meat rabbit with good bone to meat ration resembling our Indiana wild rabbits, as such the Harliquen types are good selections along with the young brown female you see in the picture below. We hope to incorporate a system which is self sustainable for the rabbits as well by growing many of our own feedstocks including their hay and feeding them with some amount of the produce grown on the farm, we feel that by doing this we will have healthier animals that taste more like and resemble more the wild rabbits we all grew up eating in Southern Indiana.
Of course the rabbits will also provide us with another source of much needed humous in the form of their manure which can be spread directly on the gardens or around the plants since it is low in N, but will most likely find it being used as a feedstock for our composting worm operation further refining it for the purpose of soil building and or as a constituent in our custom made soil mix for potting and seed starting purposes.
The hutches you see here were mostly scabbed together for bits and scraps we had laying around the farm in the old tobacco barn and so far they are working out quite well, I know some people don't like the idea of eating rabbit and I respect that but please refrain from leaving nasty comments here on the blog.
Anyhow, enjoy the photos.