At last. I lifted up the nesting box on Sunday and discovered a stunning pale-blue egg. More than a fortnight later than usual – and is traditional for pure breeds like our lovely Araucanas who are meant to begin laying again around Valentine’s Day – it was even more keenly anticipated than in previous years.
A slightly rough shell suggested production was a tad rusty after the long autumn and winter period off and since then we’ve had some smoother offerings. But never mind the packaging – the beautifully orange, large yolk more than made up for this. As soon as I saw it I knew which of the girls had laid – a rounder shape and deeper blue told me straightaway that it was Audrey’s. Mabel still hasn’t followed suit sadly, but I’m hoping any day now that her diminutive, pointier, paler eggs will be waiting for collection in the nesting box.
It’s that time of year again when drafting in some new birds is most tempting. The flock of hybrids are doing great – I’ve another dozen eggs to sell today – but we’d like some more pet chickens like the Araucanas. I’ve had my eye on a pair of Silkies for a while now, but during my research for an article I’m writing on rare livestock breeds (see the June issue of Country Living, on sale 3 May!), that I realised I should be seeking out some of those endangered native kinds and helping their survival (see the list from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust by clicking here). The Marsh Daisy (pictured below), developed in Lancashire in the 19th century, is one of those most under threat. Of course, the trouble is that obtaining hens of this kind is difficult due to their scarcity. I’ve emailed the Marsh Daisy Breed Society secretary and am hoping she can suggest a source. Anyone else keeping rare breed chickens?