Christmas is Coming

Start decking the halls
Start decking the halls

 

As part of a unrelated side-line, it’s worth mentioning that my preparations for Christmas have begun. Buying hatching eggs on eBay is an extraordinarily mixed bag – I’ve had 100% hatches and I’ve also had nothing to show from a clutch of a dozen. Sending eggs through the post is a hit and miss business, but I couldn’t resist bidding on some turkey eggs when I saw them for sale last month. My eye was caught by Crollwitzers – a striking black and white breed of turkey which has become rather rare over the past few years – sidelined by heavy and more productive commercial breeds. Attracted by their rarity and the possibility of making some fantastic Indian head dresses out of their tail feathers, I clicked the “buy it now” button for a dozen.

As can be the case with posted eggs, the parcel arrived in a gooey custard of yolk and egg-white. Three eggs had smashed and I didn’t hold out any high hopes for the survivors. After five days, I candled them and found that the majority were clear. The four eggs which were showing signs of life had broken air sacs, which can often mean that the chick will develop perfectly and then be unable to hatch. Feeling pretty gloomy about the whole thing, I put them at the back of the incubator and concentrated on my partridge eggs (as much as a stuttering electrical supply from Scottish Power would allow – although more on this later).

I was quite impressed to find that one of the four eggs had pipped on day 27, and was extremely pleased to find a huge chick wriggling around on the floor of the hatcher the following morning. Another two hatched with some assistance and the fourth egg simply gave up the ghost. Having grown used to partridge eggs, the sheer size of the turkeys was quite impressive. Not only are they large, but they have a manner about them which can only be described as “extremely spunky”. They fight, leap, squabble and bound around the brooder, and when I took one of them out for a photograph (above), it ran up to Scoop the dog and pecked her soundly on the claw. Being a labrador, Scoop was profoundly apologetic and looked at me with an expression of pure embarrassment.

Not particularly related to grouse, partridges or heather moorland, but very interesting nonetheless.

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