Sunday, April 16, 2006

Turkey Dreamin'

This year, I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner on Easter, which is to say I set 18 Narragansett turkey eggs in the incubator. Narragansett turkeys are listed as "critical" on the ALBC site and are one of the oldest American breeds, developed in New England during the Colonial period, though they weren't officially recognized until after the 1830s. Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have owned Narragansetts at one time. Heritage breeds like the Narragansett are touted by the Slow Food movement as a delicious choice for Thanksgiving birds, as mentioned in this fun article on the Food Section site.

In preparation for the eggs, which shipped from a small poultry keeper in New York, I borrowed an old hovabator from my neighbor, as I was not eager to repeat my experience with our homemade incubator that used an incandescent bulb as the unregulated heat source. Unfortunately, however, the bottom of the 'bator was pretty chewed up, so Jim retrofitted the heater and thermostat onto my homemade 'bator and voila!

The eggs arrived all in one piece, though shipped eggs are still a bit of a crap-shoot. Until we candle them at around day 5, we won't know whether we have fertile, viable eggs or not. The incubator is doing a great job of holding temperature and staying pretty steady, and having a remote thermometer/ hygrometer is a godsend if you're anal about monitoring the 'bator temps like I am. I can wake up in the middle of the night, click the illuminator and reassure myself that all is well.

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