I’ve discovered over time that not all the hybrids are hard-working and reliable. The most productiveof our crew is the Bovan’s Goldline which is one type of the basic brown hens available. These creatures are healthy birds with a wonderful work ethic and heaps of character to boot. They lay decent-sized eggs on the whole – and plenty of them. Then there are the more colourful hybrids that have been developed. These include the Heritage Skyline, a pretty bird with tawny-like feathers, a large showy comb and impressive tail feathers.
We picked up two of these birds what must be around four years ago from a breeder just over the border in Suffolk. We’d only wanted a couple more brown hens, but as if often the way when we stock up on chickens, we came away with another two – we couldn’t resist the prospect of the pale blue eggs they were said to lay, imagining them boxed up in among the buff coloured ones. These two birds turned out to be the flightiest, least friendly fowl we’ve ever come across and seemed to regard themselves as distinctly superior to the existing rabble. Needless to say, the pecking order soon put paid to that.
However, the most disappointing thing about these two is the fact that one laid pale-brown eggs and the other’s – a beautiful sky-blue – were distinctly thin on the ground. No doubt we’ve simply been unlucky and other Heritage Skyline birds are better performers, but after just one season, there were no eggs at all from the pair of them. So, essentially over the past three years they’ve been getting bed and board for free, while the others (apart from those in retirement who are welcome to a nice, quiet life after all their hard work) more than earn their keep. That is, until yesterday when James came back from the coop rather puzzled. After shutting the pophole, he opened up the nesting box lid as usual to collect the offerings and there in the third bay was a gigantic, torpedo-shaped pale-blue egg.
How long was that one brewing up? Three whole years and then an enormous offering! I know it’s rather ungrateful of me, but I think that one’s going to be enjoyed by the dogs on their breakfast at the weekend. Its odd shape and peculiar delivery I find somewhat unappetising! The old girl will, however, be rewarded with extra corn at the weekend – after all, it’s quite an achievement following an egg-free 36 months.