It’s been a poultry-filled few weeks. turkey chicks

You may have twigged by now that I like my poultry. We have chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese here on the farm. We’ve had guinea fowl in the past but found these to be very fragile, not to mention noisy, so they’re no longer included in the team. I’ve been to not one but two expositions d’aviculture, or as I call them, Chicken Fests. The first one was in Montluçon, in a part of the city I never knew existed and will possibly never find again! All I know is that it was the coldest building in France that day. I’d been lured by the promise of 3000 chickens. Now, who could resist that? The majority of these turned out to be suspiciously pigeon and rabbit like, but that still left a good load of chickens and ducks, and just the one truly enormous turkey. I’d never seen so many different breeds, and both Chris and I were very taken by the emerald ducks. Emerald Duck

The second Fest was Boussac’s annual do, and it was very enjoyable. Again there were more pigeons than anything but I have to say I don’t think I’ll ever be a pigeon fancier although some of them are rather wonderful looking creatures. I browsed the exhibits several times, studied my catalogue and bought some turkey leg rings before finally being driven back home by frozen feet and a rumbling stomach. Which meant I missed the fight that broke out later. A friend who visited the Fest reported that two fellas were squaring up and someone had called the gendarmes. I have a suspicion who these two pugilists might have been. There were five rabbits in a row, all the same breed and owned by the same person, who’d all been disqualified because of the wrong coloured hairs on their tummies, as noted on the marking cards hanging on their cages. I imagine that would be very frustrating to discover, after all the effort and expense in bringing your exhibits to a show, that the judge has slagged them off. Actually, I don’t imagine, I know, as I used to show cavies (guinea-pigs) with Dad when I was little. Our guinea pigs were huge, healthy specimens and as a result were sometimes disqualified in the ‘under 5 months’ and ‘5-8 months’ classes as they were suspected of being over-age. That was REALLY annoying! So, although taking a swing at the judge is not the right thing to do, I can sympathise with the feeling-hard-done-by exhibitor in this scenario. Back to topic. In the last few weeks, I’ve had two sets of hatchings which include, or at least I think they do, a Rouges Ardennes turkey chick. One of the babies Momma Turkey – I gave her a proper name the other day but I’ve forgotten what it is already, possibly Miriam – hatched is yellow whereas the others are black and yellow. And it’s definitely not a chicken chick as it has a turkey head. The five I hatched in the incubator are sadly down to one, Pilgrim (hatched on Thanksgiving Day) but so far he’s doing well. He spends time each day in the bottom of the budgie cage, to give him a change of scene from his brooder box. He cheeps endlessly which makes the budgies shriek so it’s all rather noisy, but he seems to enjoy himself pottering around! Pilgrim

And I now have three incubators, the one I’ve had for about a year and two whopping great new ones. I wasn’t meant to have two, just the one, but the first supplier, a German company, sent the wrong model. We reported this via Amazon (we got it through their Marketplace) and asked for a refund. However, the supplier replied saying that a new one was already on its way and they’d arranged for the wrong one to be picked up. By now, though, we’d already ordered another incubator from a different supplier, in the UK, as we hadn’t expected such a response and I had eggs that needed to start being incubated sooner rather than later. By the time we discovered the Germans were sending another incubator, the UK one was in the post. Telling the Germans off for being overly effusive and efficient in replacing the faulty one would be like kicking a Dachshund puppy so we decided we’d keep them both and I’d just have to raise more chickens. Smiley face! As it turns out, the German one isn’t working so it’s going to have to go back, but I’ve got used to the idea of an array of incubators ‘hatchery’, a spare bedroom in the gîte, so we’ll get it replaced. There will be a lot of feathery arrivals at Les Fragnes next year!