Vic and I headed off to the western edge of the Red Kite Empire today, another return trip of 220 miles and as its almost the end of the financial year the spend fest on road works, seven separate sets on one section of 24 miles, has reached fever pitch with councils having to empty the coffers or face reduced income next financial year. The constant stop go routine added 45 minutes to an already long trek but the company and lunch at the other end was worth the effort. My colleagues obviously feel I need feeding, or I time my visits to mealtimes, either way I have been lucky enough to be given vast quantities of home made breads, soups and cakes over the last week and the best thing about this is that as its out of county it totally calorie free! Win win or what?
Fed up I was back behind the wheel and heading home when a hand scrawled road sign interrupted progress.
Quails eggs, £1.25 a dozen.
Ever keen for a bargain and having enough for two dozen in lose change I approached an old man holding a bowl of water. He identified himself as a purveyor of quails eggs and was keen to show me what was in his garage. Forgetting all warnings from Charlie ( the ginger cat from days of yore, as in meow meow meaoww! "Charlie said...") who strongly advised following strange old men into confined spaces like vans, cars or in this case concrete garages on the pretext of "come and see my puppies/kittens/quails" (delete where needed) I eagerly followed. Once my eyes adjusted to the light the oldster showed me what was in his hand, a tiny chick (what else? this is a wholesome story!) that had just hatched. He had got 45 eggs in the incubator, 10 had hatched so far, he wasn't expecting many more, still 1 on 4 was ok.
Were the eggs he was selling me fertile, well yes, no, maybe, it was worth a go he said. I looked at the eggs. Huge. Almost bantam sized. 3 times the size of our quails eggs. I peered at the chicks in the box resting under the heat lamp, I made what I thought was a very intelligent comment demonstrating my vast knowledge of quail, "so these are what, three days old?" he shook his head, no, fresh out of the egg this morning" But they were massive. Would I like to see what he had in the shed, confident it was nothing sordid I followed.
In the shadows birds the size of small ostrich were lurking, "They are massive!" I said out loud (now at this point there is lots of scope for double entendre, but as I said, this is a wholesome tale with intellectual undertones of natural selection) The old man beamed, what he was showing me was not exactly his life's work, but certainly an obsession.
He was breeding giant quails, for the last seven years he had selected the largest birds and bred from them. Quail experts had scoffed when he told of his plan, the birds would lose their fertility, they wouldn't get much bigger, he was wasting his time and money. Yet here in his aviary were some very large quail, some lay two eggs a day so he scoffed back at the nay sayers. Hence the cheap quails eggs as he was somewhat egg bound.
He told me about his breeding programme, how any bird that doesn't make the weight at six weeks they are for the pot, those that grow the best are kept and so every year the flock grows in numbers and stature. Suitably impressed I left him to it feeding his hens, forgoing an invite to stroke his giant cock I headed home with a clutch of eggs which are now safe in the incubator.
Day 6 30 30 lvl 12 hill 12.2 km (Skull and Bones disc 2 Cypress Hill)