We have tried all of these varieties before. Last year all of our potatoes failed - partially due to the soil I used and partly due to the chickens not leaving them alone. None of the strawberries we bought came up last year, I'm not sure why. We didn't plant onions the last few years because I've never been able to grow them. I plunk the starts in the ground, wait all year, and at the end of the year they've gone from as thick as my thumb to smaller than a golf ball. I've tried them in different soil, different sunlight, checked and rechecked to make sure we were using compatible varieties. This year Tony said he wants to try them in a mini raised bed, like the potato towers we use. It's worth a try anyway.
We got eight eggs from the hens today. I believe that may be our highest total for one day so far this year.
I've been thinking more and more about the possibility of ordering more birds from the hatchery this year. In a perfect world I'd get a dozen guineas, three Bourbon Red turkeys, three broad breasted meat turkeys, some Ancona ducks, a couple Toulouse geese, and some Dark Brahma chicks. The total is somewhere in the field of $200. Because we've decided not to keep a full sized brooder in the house (ever again), it means we will need to invest in a new heat source for the brooder out in the barn if small chicks will be in it. Last year it was really more used to contain the babies once they were fully feathered while they acclimated to being outdoors and to give our bigger birds time to integrate a little easier before we released them. If it's going to be a brooder from hatch to flock introduction, it's going to need a heat plate ($100) so we don't burn the barn down on accident. That's a pretty big investment. Considering we lost half our chicks last year due to what I assume was toxicity from eating the potato plants, and a couple just vanished (thanks bald eagles), a $300 investment doesn't seem wise right now. Alas, as much as I want more birds in new varieties, right now I don't think it will happen this year.
We will still be hatching out small batches of eggs from our own birds. Most will be for sale, some will be held back to add to our flock. We will have to see what comes of it.
Today I had two eggs that were ready to move from the regular incubator to the hatching incubator for hatching on Friday (22nd). I candled them both and one was a dud. One egg, into the hatching incubator. No chicks today from the botched eggs. I did attempt to candle them without shifting their position. Two were clearly duds and I removed them. One still has what appears to be a moving live embryo inside, and the rest were too dark or at an angle I couldn't see. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. No pipping, no peeping, I think my best odds will be the one egg set to hatch Friday. I figured that chick would be joining a clutch of slightly older babies, but now it may just be all alone. I have one egg set to hatch the 27th (why did I set one egg??), and then a group of eggs set for hatch 3/31 and another small group set to hatch 4/2. I'm collecting eggs now to put in for a hatch date closer to Easter. I'm planning to set the next batch of eggs either Thursday or Friday of this week. That will put hatch date a week ahead of Easter.
The spring exotic auction in the 29th and 30th of this month. It's 50 miles away, they charge an $8 seating charge per person, and spring prices are usually way more than I am comfortable paying for animals with no known history and sellers that can't be contacted to answer questions or be held responsible for misleading information (selling bucks as bred does, selling roosters as hens, claiming animals are bred when they aren't, claiming animals are younger than they actually are, all to try to get higher bids).
Part of me wants to go just to see if anything interesting comes up. I honestly don't need any new rabbits, I'm not likely to find the breeds of birds I am looking for at the auction barn, and we can't have goats or pigs or sheep or anything because we're not fenced in. So why do I want to go? Because it's fun to see what goes through. Years ago I saw a wooden crate full of African geese with their heads sticking up through the slats, all honking like mad. I fell in love with them. I knew I couldn't have them then, and I didn't want a whole flock of them, but I told myself then and there, one day I will have one. And wouldn't you know, just a month after moving to the new property, we brought Josh, our African gander home. Sometimes the auction serves as much to be an inspiration place as anything else. I just hate the spring prices. It seems impossible to get a good deal on anything in the spring.