May 11, 2023

Homestead Turkey on the Menu

The addition of heritage breed turkeys on the homestead has given us a new source of eggs and meat. So many people told me how they prefer turkey to chicken eggs, that I was quite curious about them.

We first tried them as scrambled eggs. The biggest difference was in how creamy scrambled turkey eggs are. Delicious. I thought they would be excellent for French toast.

I make cinnamon bread in my bread maker just for French toast. It's 
50/50 homegrown whole wheat to white flour, with 2 tsp. cinnamon.

We weren't disappointed!

Of our three female turkeys, we planned to keep two and so Dan dispatched one. I asked him if he wanted me to freeze it for later or roast it now. He wanted to try it now. 

Our heritage breed chickens don't produce much breast meat, so we were pleasantly surprised at how much we got from our 10-month-old turkey hen. Though it wasn't Thanksgiving, I couldn't resist making a traditional Thanksgiving style meal!

Lots to be thankful for here: homegrown turkey and sweet potatoes,
with cornbread stuffing made from homegrown corn and sage.

It was tender and flavorful. Dressed weight was ten pounds. That's a generous amount for a company meal, and lots of meals for just the two of us.

Our two remaining hens both appear to be broody. Jenny B disappeared in the bushes a couple of weeks ago and Dan discovered that she had three eggs in a nest. We didn't like that she was brooding outside the chicken yard, but birds have minds of their own and the humans' opinion doesn't count. Unfortunately, something got them, leaving only scattered egg shells. She recently disappeared again, and I found her in the pasture hedgerow. We'll count eggs when she's on her daily visit to the poultry yard. 

Jenny J also started setting, but she chose the chicken coop. We feel like she's safer there, but there are still problems. For one, the chickens won't leave her alone. They continually peck her on the head, trying to make her to get up so they can lay their eggs in her nest. Why they want to lay their eggs in somebody else's nest is beyond me, but that's chickens for you. 

The other problem is that one of our Muscovys has gone broody too. That in itself isn't a problem, but when Jenny J gets off the nest to get food and water, Mom Muscovy steals her eggs! Seriously! The two nesting spots are near one another, and Mom rolls some of Jenny J's eggs over to her nest. Dan puts them back, but she isn't too happy about that. 

UPDATE: This morning, Mom Muscovy was out getting feed and water, so Dan went to check the eggs in her nest. Turns out Jenny J's nest was empty of eggs, so she had moved over to Mom's nest! Mom came in and was in a dither over that! For us humans, it was a "what did you think was gonna happen?" moment, but birds don't think like humans. 😂 Dan reckons there are at least five duck eggs in that nest, plus Jenny's three.

Mixed nests could create another problem because of the variance of incubation days. Muscovy incubation is 32 days, turkeys is 28 days, and chickens is 21. The concern is that the mama will leave the nest with the early hatchlings and abandon the eggs that need more time. We did have a Buff Orpington chicken raise some ducklings once, but I think it's better if each species raises their own babies, if there's a mother willing to do it. Keeping it all sorted out, however, is an ongoing chore. 

Never a dull moment.


SmartAlex said...

Ah nesting drama! They ought to make a reality show. Did you keep both black hens or one of each?

Ed said...

A really fowl blog post! As someone who used to have chickens living on our farm, I can confidently say that it is impossible to rationalize them!

Leigh said...

Alex, one of each! So we have a Jersey Buff hen, a Spanish Black hen, and a Bourbon Red tom.

Ed, lol. Yeah, critters all have their own opinions!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Yet another real life story instead of the "picture perfect" farm that most people actual think exists.

That turkey breast looks delicious!

Leigh said...

TB, I never realized how much we didn't understand animals until we lived with them like this. Pets are a little different, in that they're tuned in to their humans, but livestock are altogether different. Quite fascinating, actually. :)

wyomingheart said...

How entertaining, Leigh! I just love this saga… updates requested, please. Lol !

Leigh said...

Thanks, Wyomingheart! Entertaining, to say the least. :)

PioneerPreppy said...

Oh how I remember broody bird fights!! Bet you are having fun but I admit I am too old for such entertainment now. Best of luck with you hatching though baby chick of any type are almost as cute as baby goats IMO!!!

Chris said...

I always learn about keeping different kinds of poultry, from your blog. I know ducks get hissy and chickens get pecky, when they're brooding, but turkeys for me - is something new entirely! 😁

I hope it all goes well for both mama's. If I ever get the chance to try turkey eggs, I will. I probably would have turned them down before seeing your experience with them being favourable.

Leigh said...

PP, yes, it is entertaining! Gives me something to blog about. :) I don't think the cuteness factor will beat baby goats, but they're a great addition to the poultry yard.

Chris, turkeys are entirely new for us too! We're learning as we go. :)

Nancy In Boise said...

Anyway you can create a separate turkey coop? Eggs souns great, never heard of that

Goatldi said...

This silliness makes the brainless things my goats have done look down right normal!

Next installment please.

Leigh said...

Nancy, we originally put the turkeys in their own yard. But at the time, all our birds were allowed out to pasture and the turkeys insisted on following the chickens around, including back to the chicken coop. The ducks were the same way. For some reason, all our birds think they're supposed to be in our chicken yard, roosting in the chicken coop.

Goatldi, better than a soap opera, isn't it!

Quinn said...

Since the hawks put us on their Visiting List, I've had to confine my hens to a suite in the barn and an attached yard with 6-foot fencing and a roof of netting. I really miss having them roam around, supervising my chores and making their own (sometimes baffling) decisions about where they will do what they do. But as I tell them every single day when they try to rush the door, it is For Their Own Good. And it does make it much easier to find the eggs, but I'd be willing to go back to the Egg Hunt system, if only there weren't hawks waiting to take more full-grown hens from right under my nose.

Leigh said...

Quinn, having lost a few chickens to hawks, I think you came up with a good solution. We mostly get hawks during migration seasons, and the are a worrisome predator.

Retired Knitter said...

Wow, the challenges seem to multiply! Who the heck knows what goes on in a bird’s head!

Leigh said...

RT, there's always something going on! We try to reason with them, but they just don't listen. :)