Since having chickens in the back garden, I have noticed how the recipes that I associate with the colder months use fewer eggs than those definitive summer offerings. My gingerbread recipe uses one egg, while the meringues I make, use three egg whites. Steam puddings which are a family favourite in the winter, use one or two and sponge cakes take three. Quiche and ice cream are on the summer menu.
There is a pattern. Hens traditionally lay far fewer eggs in the colder months. Its just not efficient to raise chicks when it winter. These cold weather recipes probably trace their roots back to a time before all year around, large-scale egg production. It makes sense.
So far so good.
Each winter we let our hens wander around the garden. In summer they are confined to a smaller area in order to protect the kitchen garden. Each winter, I search the whole garden for the few eggs that they do lay. One year I gave up and bought a dozen eggs, only to find a clutch of 12 eggs in the pampas grass the same afternoon.
This winter is no exception. I’ve found them up under the box hedge, in the children’s play house, at the top of the children’s play fort and in the old greenhouse. I kid you not! This week I couldn’t find any. I stalked the hens when I could. Nothing. I checked first thing, as I let them out, and under the hens every night. Nothing. I put it down to the cold weather.
Yesterday, I had a break through. I checked under a cockerel, when I shut them up. Sure enough they had hidden the eggs in the darkest corner, where one of the cockerels roosts. A clutch of fifteen. The cockerel watched each egg disappear from underneath him, as if he was counting them out. (He really is a cockerel.)
Result! I suddenly have lots of eggs. Time for an out of season cake. Victoria sponge sandwiched with chocolate spread and covered in powdered icing sugar and rainbow edible glitter. My attempt to make a summer cake look wintery!
Today the chickens have found a sunny part of the garden, where the snow has thawed. The light sussex cross is new. Friends had one hen left, so we said she could join our flock. Introducing one chicken is always more difficult. Not fully integrated yet, but this is photographic proof that she is getting closer to them.
One of my other jobs this weekend, is to darn a few home knits. I’m hopeless getting around to other mending, but for some reason darning is fun! I think it is the wooden mushroom. The darning threads are hand-me-downs from my mother and grandmas. Stash busting again! They must be old as most of them are priced at 12p or 13p and made in England.
Even at 12p, I don’t think I’ll ever, ever be using the stockings and tights mending thread for its intended use. Apart from not wearing tights that colour, I think life is too short to be mending stockings. Got to draw the line somewhere!
Hope you are enjoying your weekend!