Friday, 1 April 2016

Gookeys

I guess it's no coincidence that Easter has become associated with eggs and chicks. Here on the farm we have eggs everywhere at the moment and some of the girls are starting to sit.
A few weeks ago we came across a stash of blue eggs laid by one or more of our Crested Cream Legbar hens. We removed some of the eggs and marked the others up with big black crosses. We do this whenever we find a secret stash of eggs. The girls keep laying in the same place and we know where to collect their eggs from. We just don't take the ones with crosses on.
A Cream Legbar hen sits tight.
Last week one of the girls decided to sit on all these eggs with big black crosses and not to budge. She had gone into full-blown broody mode. Not particularly wanting to hatch out a bunch of old blue eggs, we took the opportunity one evening to lift the hen, remove all the blue eggs and replace them with a dozen eggs collected from our Ixworth hens. Two weeks from today, with luck, we'll have a dozen Ixworth chicks being looked after by our Cream Legbar hen. These chicks are destined for the table.

All the poultry are laying eggs in abundance at the moment. We're getting plenty of chicken eggs, duck eggs, our first Muscovy eggs and three or four goose eggs a day. We really can't keep on top of them, despite Sue's best cake making efforts - they make delightfully light sponges.
I've managed to sell a few to people for hatching out, but we have no plans to hatch more geese at the moment. Instead it's giant fried eggs and boiled eggs like you've never seen before.
That's either a giant egg or a tiny woman.


But I've something even more exciting to report today. Our stag turkey has been strutting his stuff for a good couple of months now. He inflates himself and rustles his feathers like a giant pompous pom pom, huffs and puffs and even sometimes does a little dance. It really is quite an effort, but all to no avail.
For this year we have kept our stag well away from our turkey hen. This is because we wanted to cross her with one of our ganders.
This is a relatively new innovation and the resultant hybrid birds are known as gookeys. They are, apparently, much friendlier than geese but the meat is not so dry as turkey meat can be. It is slightly more gamey. I've never had the chance to try it, so thought that this coming Winter Solstice we'd give it a try for our celebration meal.
Other benefits are that they are much easier to pluck than geese and they eat insects and seeds as well as grass. They are also capable of roosting up high so they don't need overnight housing.
Traditionally the aim is to get the turkey hen to start sitting on her eggs on April 1st. The incubation period, bizarrely, is longer than both goose and turkey eggs, at 42 days. The birds are then ready for the table in 7 months. They are then hung for ten days and consumed on the winter solstice.

So far the plan is working perfectly. Our turkey hen has chosen to lay in a planter by the front of the house. We didn't even find the eggs for over a week, by which time there was quite a cluster of gookey eggs nestled in amongst the tulips.


As if by magic, today our hen started to sit. As far as I know there are twelve eggs under her, one for each month of the year.
We'll probably only raise one gookey for ourselves and will aim to sell the rest. They fetch a very good price, costing close on £80 for a roasting bird. As they are hybrids, the offspring are incapable of breeding which is why they are so hard to get hold of.
Presuming they all hatch and survive, we will be selling them at 3 months old (mid July) when they will be perfectly capable of foraging and looking after themselves. We are only charging £35 each for birds this age or £60 for two. If anybody is interested, please leave a comment at the end of this blog post and I will contact you.

3 comments:

  1. Nice one John.

    Wouldn't be anything to do with the date would it!


    Pattypan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all true. Honest. Won't be long before you start seeing them on supermarket shelves. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Yes John - Nice one!

    Regards

    Pattypan x

    ReplyDelete

Please leave comments. They are really valued.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Click here to follow my blog

Follow by Email