Canning sardines

In my quest to be more self-sufficient, I’ve started raw feeding my 5 cats and 2 dogs. We raise our own chickens and rabbits, but I have to source the fish. I’ve been able to find frozen sardines, and I’d like to raw pack them in water. Since the fish would be whole, would I follow the time you give for tuna?

Traci Stewart
Oakdale, California

All fish is processed for one hour and forty minutes at 10 pounds pressure. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary. Do be sure to completely thaw your sardines before beginning the packing so they aren’t still frozen inside. It would affect safe canning. Also, don’t add salt to your cats’ canned food. They don’t need it and it’s not necessary for the canning process. — Jackie

Raising turkeys

I have a pair of Bourbon Reds I want to let hatch the eggs and raise the poults themselves. Last spring the hen started laying about march 6. She laid a clutch of 11 eggs then decided to set. The weather can get pretty chilly at night here at that time. It did get just a few degrees below freezing a few times. The nest box is inside their house, so she wasn’t laying outside. Only one egg hatched. Out of curiosity I did crack open the other eggs and they had not even started to develop. I am wondering if they were just not fertile or if the cold got them? I have done internet searches and article searches but cannot find any info on how cold weather affects egg development. I prefer to let the hen do it if I can. Should I maybe take the eggs until the weather starts to stay warmer, or do you think she will stop laying after she lays so many? Not sure how to proceed this spring and the time is near!

I also saved a commercial white hen from my batch last year. What are the chances she will lay eggs and raise her own poults? The tom is interested in her, but I have not witnessed any actual breeding going on with her yet.

Gayle Rush
Eugene, Missouri

It may be possible that the tom had not bred her so that some of the eggs weren’t fertile. Sometimes breeding happens after the hens start laying. It is also possible that the cold got some of the eggs. I don’t let my hens set on eggs while its still freezing. I gather them and we put them in the incubator. This way I can candle the eggs to make sure I’m incubating fertile eggs. After the weather warms up a little, she’ll still be laying and you can let her sit on the eggs that, by this time, will be fertile after several breedings. Your white hen will lay and probably will sit on her eggs and raise her poults. It’s just the heavy commercial toms that seldom can breed like-breed hens without doing severe damage to them like tearing up their backs with their toenails.

Is your tom young? Sometimes yearling toms take awhile to get breeding in the spring. — Jackie