Chickens covered in yolk and plastered with straw

Audrey and Mabel take the opportunity to drink from the dogs' bowl while taking a turn about the garden

Thankfully, after several egg-less weeks, due to the moult (from which I’ve gathered some pretty feathers), the Araucanas (AKA Terrible Twins) and Rhodie, the Rhode Island Red, seem to be finally swinging back into production. Mabel laid much to her and our delight on Sunday morning when I discovered her tiny blue delivery in the nesting box (I’m sure she must be a bantam, she and her lovely eggs are minuscule). She promptly performed her own unique announcement, clucking wildly – at a volume that more than compensates for her diminutive size – and dashing skittishly about the run. Then she spent the next few minutes protesting at the gate to be let out, as if she knew that laying meant she was entitled to range freely around the garden.

Rhodie, looking a bit bare but beginning to feather up nicely after the moult

And it would seem Audrey is trying her best, too. On Saturday, I let them both out, quite a bit later than on a week day due to indulging in a lie-in. Evidently, they’d been waiting right by the door as they burst out of the pophole and practically ran down the walkway. I noticed something rather unusual about Audrey’s left leg: it was covered in a yellowy-orange substance and plastered with straw sticking out at all angles. I looked closer and realised what this liquid was: yolk. I nipped round to run to the nesting box and sure enough there was Audrey’s soggy attempt. I’ve discovered that the first eggs that hens produce on coming back into lay after a sabbatical look like collapsed baloons and have a strange translucent, soft quality. It must have been quite a surprise for the girl.

Audrey's attempt at an egg for breakfast on Sunday. I didn't fancy this one much.

 Thank goodness the flock of trusty hybrids continue to make up for the shortfall – while pure-breeds such as the Araucana make very pretty pets and produce some stunning pale-blue eggs, you can’t always rely on them to come up with the goods for a cooked breakfast.   

White and black feathers shed by Audrey; auburn and black from Rhodie, our Rhode Island Red

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