Happy 1 February! Some people find this a dreary month, but not henkeepers. The countdown to Valentine’s Day, when pure breeds traditionally come back into lay, starts now!
Despite the impressive egg yields from our 13-strong flock of hybrids (above) and the many subtle variations in the shape, shade and size of their eggs, it’s those stunning pale-blue offerings from the Araucanas that excite us the most. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re limited edition that makes them so desirable – Audrey and Mabel down tools in autumn and much of winter, so the production period is between mid-February and September. Around this time each year, James and I lift up the nesting box lid of their henhouse to see whether they’ve back in the swing. The inseparable girls do everything together and the first year they began laying, 2011, they did so simultaneously. We discovered two tiny pullet eggs (the diminutive early prototypes rustled up by young birds) in the straw one morning. I can remember running in to the kitchen with them in my hands, still warm. Naturally, we didn’t lose any time in poaching the beauties for breakfast.
It was such a lovely experience hatching out Audrey, Mabel and Rhodie, our Rhode Island Red who lives with the hybrids, three years ago. James is thinking about buying some fertile Rhode Island Red eggs and doing the same this year. Being utility birds – good for the table and laying – they’re an obvious choice. Even if all your chicks turn our to be cockerels, at least they can be raised to eat. I’m also rather taken with the idea of keeping a few Silkies, especially after seeing the cute specimens in the feature on p104 of Country Living‘s new issue (on sale this Wednesday 6 February)! There was also the rather beautiful picture below in our December issue. Definitely my latest chicken crush.