Wednesday, February 15, 2006

They're laying again!

I hope you don't feel like this is going to be a chicken based blog, but they are the only things in the garden that are doing anything at the moment.

In the autumn, my hens go through the moult. For the non-chicken owner, this is where the old feathers fall out, making way for the new ones. When they go into moult, they stop laying eggs. I don't blame them. I would too. They don't really start laying eggs again until the days get longer. The days are noticably longer now, the extension of daylight hours has gotten through to their tiny chicken brains and told them it is time to start laying eggs again. So, in addition to the beautiful red tulips and pink roses from The Man of the Place, I got three eggy Valentines.

There were three eggs in the hen house when I fed them before work this morning. They must have been laid the day before. Small, brown and perfectly formed, they mark the end of the season of having to purchase eggs. I hate having to buy eggs when I have my own flock of hens. Something about getting a dog and barking myself comes to mind. Not only are the eggs puchased in supermarkets not nearly as nice as ours, the chickens still eat when they're not laying. Hmmm

Store-bought eggs have a very pale yellow yolk and the albumen or egg whites are runny. I'm talking about free-range, organic eggs here because I won't buy any other kind. The Whitelees egg yolks are orange and the albumen stands firm and doesn't run.

I'm also getting ready to do a cull of excess male chickens. The cockrels that were hatched in the summer, have reached a size suitable for the table. As they were fighting the other day and will never lay an egg, it is time. I really must gear myself up for this job. Its a mess with all the plucking and cleaning.

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