To appreciate where we are, you must first know where we started…
A small .54 acre plot in the middle of a suburb in Augusta, GA is where our story begins. We had just made a leap of faith to start homeschooling our son, Blaze. His first science project we had planned was to make an incubator out of an old upright freezer. Once Blaze had all of the pieces put together, a friend of ours gave him 12 quail eggs. He chose quail eggs because of their high fertility and short incubation of only 17 days. Those next two weeks seemed to crawl…
But 17 days later, 12 little, no microscopic, quail chicks popped out of their eggs and Blaze moved them to a small brooder box (it was more like a cardboard box back then). Over the next few weeks, Blaze made sure they had food and water and checked on them daily. Meanwhile, Jason built a nice roomy quail cage. We told our friend of Blaze’s incubator success and he handed us 12 chicken eggs, saying, “See if these will hatch.” You see, chicken eggs are lower on the fertility scale and take 21 days to hatch.
Well, 3 weeks later, there were 12 little chicks peeping in the incubator! Since the chicks were bigger than the quail, we upgraded our brooder box to a tupperware container and a heating lamp. We got starter feed for the chicks and monitored them over the next few weeks. We knew a tupperware container wasn’t going to hold the chicks for long, so we started planning a chicken coop in the back part of our property. An old outhouse building was quickly converted into a coop and a chicken yard was fenced.
By now it had been about 6 months since we started our poultry project and things were looking good. Until the day we heard a loud ruckus coming from the carport. It sounded like our quail, but much louder. Jason and I went to make sure that they were OK…..nothing could have prepared us for what we saw next. The once roomy quail cage was now full of quail! When we finally counted, there were over 200. Immediately we called for Blaze. He told us that not long after the chickens hatched out, the quail began laying eggs. (We had NO IDEA that a female quail reaches maturity at 6 weeks.) So each day, he would collect the eggs and put them in the incubator. He then showed us a calendar of all the different dates he had set up for hatching. Once those were mature, he collected their eggs as well. Quickly, 12 had turned into 200.
Now the question was, what to do with 200 quail? First we tried to sell some. That offloaded about 25….So then we figured we should see why people raise them. We found a recipe for smothered quail. Jason dispatched the birds and Blaze and I prepared them for cooking. At the time, it was just me, Jason, Blaze and Carol Ann, who was only a year old, so we only needed 6 birds(according to the recipe.) After a surprisingly delicious dinner, we knew right away that getting rid of 175 birds would be easy! No wonder these birds were considered a delicacy!
When spring came around, we decided to try out a tiller we had recently acquired from Jason’s PaPaw. Jason and Blaze tilled up a large area of grass, only to find the prettiest brown dirt in all of Georgia. (For all of you that don’t know, Georgia dirt is more commonly called Georgia clay!) We bought some seeds and began to plant a row garden, complete with squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, okra and beans. That year we grew zucchinis the length of a watermelon! Also around this time, our chickens started laying eggs. If you ask Jason, this is where “the hook was set.” Carol Ann and I walked out to check on the chickens and found one lone brown egg in the coop. After doing the happy dance, I went inside to cook it! I FREAKED OUT. First of all it almost took a hammer to crack the egg. When I finally got it in the pan, the yolk looked like an orange ping pong ball. I screamed for Jason, thinking that our chickens were ill, since there were always stories on the new about sick chickens….. He informed me that this is the way an egg is supposed to look and taste.
And that is when it started….the veil had been lifted from our eyes, never to be returned again. For the rest of the story, you will just have to check out our other pages on chickens, rabbits, pigs, cows, turkeys, ducks and sheep!