Qurna update. December 2015.

We had some good news this morning! Our turkeys are finally hatching! We are so excited as this is our first experience of turkeys and their offspring! We also have a goose sitting on her eggs so hopefully soon we will have little goslings running around too!!!

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There are more eggs ‘pipping’ too, so hopefully we will have around 9 or 10. The turkey mother is also sitting on chicken’s eggs and a couple of Pekin duck eggs and we were also give a few ‘ready to hatch’ Muscovy’ eggs by Nagat, Omar’s older sister, who is lovely!! They all hatched last week and are now under the lamp in a box in the hatching room. Omar built a couple of Hassan Fathy-style ‘sitting-quarters’- for the birds, so that they can lay, and hatch, in safety. They love them!!! There’s even room on top for another storey! So, in good Egyptian fashion, 2015-11-23 08.46.39we will have multi-storied turkey housing! 

The first egg was laid around a month ago, followed, pretty much every day by another and then another, until she had quite a number in her nest. Naturally a few duck eggs and hen’s eggs were added for good measure. We have two turkey hens and both were laying at the same time, in the same place! But one was finished laying so she decided to sit on them.

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Turkey eggs are narrower at one end and quite speckled and usually take around 28 days from the start of sitting to hatching.

We originally bought 4 turkey poults from the guy who comes every week on his truck. He sells lots of different types of birds, but they are not always in the best shape! Out of the four only one was male and he was the first one to die. We don’t know of what, but Turkey’s tend to be quite sensitive birds and get infections easily. Then there were three! Omar bought another male at the souk but it was too young so he bought another one for 200LE. A lot of money!!! He was an adult male and managed to fertilise a few eggs before he too ‘bought it’! The young male was now mature enough, and judging by his offspring was certainly up to the job!!! 2015-12-07 08.13.27

Omar went to check on the eggs and the little ducklings which hatched from Nagat’s eggs, and which Omar had put under the turkey a few days before they were due to hatch, were communicating with the unhatched turkey chicks! The ducks are in a separate box under a lamp! Omar had left them for a day with the Turkey, but didn’t want the turkey to think that she could get off the remaining eggs, so we decided to put them in a box beside the turkey’s nest so that they could still hear them.

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We want to leave the turkey chicks with the mother but Omar is going to keep his eye on them, as there are still eggs underneath her. They may end up in the box with the ducklings, so that the ducklings can teach the chicks how to eat. But we want them to gain the immunity from disease that staying with their mother gives them, so hopefully they will be OK. The ducklings are also allowed out into the house so that they to are exposed to bacteria and when the eggs have all hatched they can hopefully run with the turkey chicks. That’s the plan anyway!!!

Winter is usually the best month for turkeys here as it is not too hot for them, so hopefully by the end of the season we will have more turkeys than we know what to do with, although I think a couple of them will go to Nagat!!! I do love the turkeys and their noises but they are very bossy birds and tend to pus2015-10-31 10.08.01h all of the other birds out of the way when it comes to feeding time, so Omar now feeds them all in different locations. They also sell for a lot of money, so if we can get them past the danger point, which is usually about three months old, then we can sell them.

All of our birds live together, geese, chickens, turkeys and ducks and seem to manage well enough. Shame the people of different races can’t manage to do it as well as they do!

Qurna Homestead Update. April 2015.

Its been quite a while since I posted here and quite a lot has happened, even though it still feels as though nothing has! Much of the change has been on subtle levels, creating change within the house, so that for people looking in from the outside, it still looks the same. But every little shift here is important. People are so stuck in their old ways of doing things that it takes much healing to bring any change at all.

DSCN9923We are still looking after our animals, a bull, a cow, a pregnant ewe, a ewe and lamb, lots of ducks, turkeys, geese and chickens. Some of the chickens we now have were incubated by Ruby Tuesday on the East Bank, which was a godsend as all of our other chickens were wiped out by a particularly nasty cholera outbreak. Normally we lose a lot but never all of them. We were lucky that we managed to save the young Muscovy ducks and geese. Our Pekin ducks seem to be impervious to it! Even our turkeys managed to avoid it, once we used the right anti-biotics. Pretty miraculous really, as nearly everyone around us lost everything. We try to keep the place disinfected, but it is so difficult when all of the birds and animals share the same space.

It has been a very trying few months. Last November I finally thought we could escape Luxor. A British woman, converted to Islam, advertised for a job on her farm in Alexandria. We lasted a month before returning to Luxor. Lovely place, but terrible working environment, and completely lacking in integrity. But I did do much personal healing while we were there and so it was  not wasted. All we did waste was a lot of time, energy and money! It was a very emotionally challenging month. DSCN9659

When we returned, we found that our animals, who were supposed to be looked after by Omar’s brothers, were as thin as rakes. Even the bull looked more like a calf again. MIL had taken over the hen house, even though I had given the care of the birds to one of the other women, and it was in a state. We quickly put it back into shape and fed the poor birds. None of them were laying because nobody fed them properly. I bought a large bag of feed and within two weeks they were all laying.

Omar sold two of our sheep and bought a new ewe with her twin lambs. Within a month they both had died. We had no idea why, until the second one was dying. They were riddled with fleas, which were just sucking the life out of them. We tried to save the second one but it succumbed. We had to dip all of the remaining sheep and spray the pen. Then Ginger, my sheep with the lovely wool, gave birth to Paschal, on Easter Sunday. He is the spitting image of his mum, and the first ‘boy’ that we’ve had since we got the sheep.

2015-04-05 14.53.56But then we noticed that he was scratching. More de-flea-ing, but we had to be so careful as he was less than a week old. We got rid of those and three days later he had even more. So all of the animals had to come out, while we turned the place out and burned everything. Then we discovered the bull going nuts, scratching! Lice! Once again we had to race to the vet to get an injection. Omar had sold the cow, bought a bull, changed his mind and bought another cow instead. She brought lice with her; just as the two lambs had brought the fleas! It was getting a little crazy! All of the chickens had already died, plus one of my young geese; then the Muscovy ducks were ill and one of those died. Next it was the turkey’s turn. Having treated them for Cholera they developed a Vit. B deficiency! It was one thing after another! Then we discovered, that although the other young goose had managed to survive the cholera, she was blind! So she has to be taken more care of and we have to make sure that she gets enough food and water.

However, in the midst of all this chaos, our Muscovy hen hatched lots of eggs, so we ended up with more Muscovy and, Pekin  ducklings, plus 5 chicks. 2015-03-03 12.48.45They are all huge now and our first new chick from the latest hatching is now in the brooder. The Muscovy hen started laying again, but after two days we had to stop her being with the drake, as he tore her back to shreds. We put one hen’s egg underneath her, not thinking anything would come of it, but it hatched two days ago. In a few days hopefully we will get a few more ducklings to keep it company. It spends a lot of time sitting (put an ‘h’ in there and it would be more appropriate”) on my lap for now!!!

We have brought in the wheat harvest, which Omar’s brother planted, but harvested too early, and the onions have now been pulled. Omar is definitely the best one for the job. His wheat and onions were brilliant compared to this year. But his older brother thought he could do better; he has now changed his mind! But Omar has influenced the way that they think. They planted wheat in the sugarcane field too, so now even with the Gov., wheat shortages, we have enough wheat for the year.

We have stopped everyone from going into the garden as they kept taking all the tiny, pea-sized lemons from the tree. Everything is nabbed before it even ripens on the branches. So this year we are taking care of it and no-one has the key to the garden anymore. Everyone will get their fair share and no-one will go without. Plus, I am slowly convincing everyone that duck eggs are actually delicious! Two of them now eat them regularly! Small successes!!!

Although Omar did get bitten by a snake, while planting Okra in the dark, but that’s another story…