What I called “Eternal March” may be passing away into winter. Finally. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mind having to run my air conditioning for Christmas. Besides not being able to wear my Christmas sweater, I hadn’t one complaint to having coffee outside on the porch for the holidays. This spring like weather has been very confusing to man and beast, alike. Oh and plants, too!
While daffodils blooming wasn’t wild enough, for December, a few days ago we heard one of our hens doing her egg song out next to the chicken run. I went to see if she had indeed laid an egg over there to find, instead, one of our turkeys hiding away in a nest made under the cascading honeysuckle. When I peeked in to look at her, she ruffled up looking like a pinecone and looking, well, I’ve seen that motherly posture before, broody!
Now, some say Turkeys don’t lay eggs all year round. Our had started laying this fall and never quit. I did notice that there weren’t any in their nest box so I suspected there would be a clutch of eggs under her. I also suspected some were chicken eggs, since hens are very “monkey see, monkey do.”
Waiting until night time lockdown, I found her still on this nest and knew my suspicion was correct. This seasonally dysfunctional turkey had begun setting on eggs. We grabbed the camera and I put some gloves on to inspect what treasure awaited us. You can view the video. Sorry I didn’t know that holding the camera vertically creates slim videos. :/
Chris got all hissy and pecked me but was incredibly gentle. I lifted her to find a dozen eggs from, I think both turkeys, under her. I say that because the Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys are a different color.
We discussed whether to leave her do her thing with the eggs and knew that hatch time would be right at the time we are expecting a major snow storm in the south. The chicks may hatch but would certainly die trying to trek through the snow. Those little toothpick legs are not fit for such artic plunges, which is why most turkeys begin to lay in May and hatch in June or July.
After wondering if she would lay on them in the nest box ( I really knew better) and that failed, I grabbed the eggs into my winter coat. She paced back and forth wanting to get back to her now absent eggs. As I walked into the house with the still warm eggs, I though, well, what if, just what if some were viable? What if they hadn’t been bitten by the cold each night while she was setting up a clutch? They were laid next to an old rubber tractor tire that held a good amount of heat, so we could be in luck. So I did what every homesteader would do: hugged those eggs tight to her body for an hour and cranked up the incubator for a turkey egg rescue!
I had four eggs in the house, waiting to be eaten but at the correct holding temperature for hatching. I added them to the clutch and marked those four from the others. If anything, the last egg she laid before setting and those four may hatch. Or we may not get any chicks at all. Time will tell.
Some will be Narragansett / Broad Breasted Bronze mixes and some full Narragansett. Frankly, the crosses would make some great white meat producers. We will see. I’ll keep you posted.
If we are lucky we will have baby chicks for our anniversary. Rhett couldn’t be more excited.
Stay Warm! ~ S