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Chickens & Turkeys Oh My!

No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.  ~L. Frank Baum

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Chicken peeps, getting settled in the Piper household. Kyle was already growing attached to them… 3/2015

Believe it or not it’s that time of year again to begin preparing for summer, even though it was snowing on Wednesday and I awoke today to a thirty-two degree morning.  Still, summer is around the corner.  How much planning and preparing is there you may ask?  Plenty.

Let’s begin with the garden.  Sometime in February we ordered seeds.  About a month ago Kyle and I planted the seeds into small containers, to later be transferred to the garden.  Besides some flowers, Kyle and I started the tomatoes, broccoli and squash.  Once the garden is prepped, meaning the peat moss, manure and sand is added and plowed,  we’ll plant the cucumbers, pole beans, peas, sunflowers, watermelon, pumpkins, cantaloup and lettuce.  This year I decided to plant asparagus, which is a perennial and will come up year after year.  I can’t wait!  That’s another item on my spring list, to prepare a section of the yard specifically for the asparagus.  YIKES!

Last week dad got a dump truck of cow manure from a friend of his.  Yep, it was juicy and pretty ripe.  Guess who had to shovel it on the section of the garden we’re expanding to accommodate my extra interests?  That’s right, yours truly.  Do I mind?  Not really, it’s not the best job, but once it’s done, it’s done.  Although, I almost had another story to tell.  While slopping around getting the cow dung off the truck, I nearly slipped and face planted right in the middle of the smelly action.  That would have been a bad day.  My catlike reflexes saved me in a big way.

Now let’s discuss the big topics of the Piper household, the peeps!  We’re coming full circle from when I was little, with chickens and turkeys!  Yep.  I’m helping dad raise chickens for the fresh eggs, and then later for the meat, as well as turkeys for the meat.

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Kyle back at the Live Auction in Maryland…he always gravitates towards the goats. This time dad bought another pig to butcher. 3/2015

On a side note, I don’t know if it’s out of interest or the idea of making money, but Kyle decided he wanted to continue to raise chickens and turkeys to sell year-over-year.  That’s what he said.  Since that topic came up, and of course we like to encourage Kyle with projects such as this one, to be responsible and to learn to be self-sufficient, Dad added to the list, quail.  Dad’s logic?  He said, “I like to hear them talking in the morning and if you see one, you can shoot it for dinner.”  Yep, that’s my dad!  We’ll see if Kyle’s desire to put forth actual work is still present after taking care of the turkeys and chickens all summer.  Personally, I hoping so, but not putting money on it.

With our first batch of chickens, we lost one.  Naturally, we went back to the store to replace the one, with three more.  Why three?  Dad wanted to replace our down peep that didn’t make it, understood.  On the other hand, Kyle decided he wanted to get a few yellow peeps.  Dad originally purchased some sort of black and brown peeps that both produce brown eggs.  Does it seriously matter?  To dad it does!  According to Dad, the brown eggs taste better.  Upon hearing that, Kyle gave me an inquisitive look, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.  Personally, brown, green (yes there are green eggs) or white, they’re all the same to me.  Kyle concurred, but made sure he didn’t diminish his pap’s excitement over his choice of eggs.

After getting the chickens situated in their box, Kyle said, “Hey Aunt Heather, wouldn’t be funny if we got all roasters!”  That was kind of funny and his pappy simply smiled.

During this second trip to the Tractor Supply store for peeps, Kyle almost made me fall over a display when I heard him speaking to the peep wrangler.  Luckily, I nipped the fiasco before it happened.  What could he possibly have done?  Kyle ordered another dozen peeps!  What were we going to do with two dozen chickens? (A dozen the first trip and then Kyle’s second order)  We wouldn’t even have room for them once they grew.  I explained to Kyle that we’d have to eat chicken day and night to consume that much poultry (a little exaggerated but it got my point across).  As fast as my feet would carry me, I stepped in, stopped the transaction and gave Kyle his pick of two.  I picked an Asian peep (I thought dad picked previously but didn’t) that produced brown eggs for dad, to fill the void.  Begrudgingly, Kyle, who wanted to get another dozen, chose two fluffy little yellow peeps that everyone’s accustomed to seeing in advertisements around Easter.

Both trips with the peeps, Kyle insisted on holding the box of peeps, but would never stick his hand in the box for fear of being pecked.  Only Kyle!

Okay, now funny story.  As Kyle and I were checking out, Kyle asked me,

Kyle:  “Why can’t we just get all  yellow ones?  Why do we have to get ones that make brown eggs?”
Me:  “I don’t know, that’s what your pap likes, so don’t burst his bubble.  He’s excited about raising chickens again.”
Kyle:  “Why did you get an Asian peep?”
Me:  “So we can make General Tso’s chicken .”
Kyle:  His eyes rolled, not sure if he got my joke or not.
Check out girl:  Bouts of giggles.
Me:  Totally cracking up, finding complete humor in my own wit!

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Turkeys in their new home… they’re about a month old 4/2015

It’s always been extremely important to dad, to ensure he raises the next couple generations of self sufficient, independent individuals, a.k.a. me and Kyle (dad doesn’t have patience for Nicole, nor does she care about such things).  That’s why we butcher our own cows, pigs, deer, chickens and turkeys.  He wants us to know how to raise them and harvest the meat, as well as build needed structures to house the animals.  Good thinking Dad!  That’s great information to be passing down through the generations.  I appreciate it big time!  One never knows when a crisis will happen to force our softened society to revert back to the days of survival and basic harvesting of food.  I’m ready!  Soon I’ll be feasting on farm fresh turkeys and chickens to accompany my home grown vegetables.  It’s a lot of hard work, but worth it.

It’s always nice to know exactly what’s in the meat you’re eating and how it was treated and handled, same goes for the vegetables.  No hormone raised anything in our household.

On another side note, dad saw on the news how we’re going to be having a shortage of chickens and turkeys.  They’re being destroyed due to an illness.  I guess even China has closed their doors to the United States poultry trade.  I didn’t hear that information for myself, but that’s the word on the street.  For once, we’re ahead of the game and the Piper’s won’t be affected by the news.  Dad’s already thinking about giving a turkey to close family and friends for Thanksgiving.  He sayings, “It’ll be so expensive to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving or worse, you won’t be able to get one.  That would be a shame if someone couldn’t have turkey for Thanksgiving.”  I agree!  I hope if someone we know needs help, we can assist.

Published inCommon SenseCooking with KyleEducation & LearningFamilyFarming & PlantingHunting & FishingNewsObservation & ImaginationPatiencePets

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