After the excitement of our first – albeit cracked – egg, three out of four of the chickens have been earning their keep. We’re still not sure who’s holding out, but most mornings, when we go out to the run to feed and water them, there are three eggs waiting in the nesting box. They’re small – I’m using two instead of one at the moment – but perfectly formed and, I didn’t expect this, have an incredible flavour. It must be all the Ballyvoddy slugs that the girls pick up on their wanders around the garden.
Mornings working from home are enlivened by frequent checks on the foursome as they free-range around our half-acre. We live alongside a busy road so would like to keep them towards the back of the property. That’s not what they think as they make their way towards the front of the house where the best of slugs seem to live, judging by their determination to make it there. I’ve taken to moving the computer to an outside table so that I can keep an eye on them (and on the cat, watching carefully as they scratch about), until they get too naughty and I have to herd them down the length of the garden towards their home. They like to take the scenic route, through some of the less-mowed parts of the garden, and our travels are enlivened by my swearing as they lead me through yet another patch of hidden nettle stalks and my bare ankles suffer.
With a half-dozen eggs arriving in the kitchen every two days, I’m turning to my recipe books for more ideas and Michel Roux’s Eggs has already proven itself invaluable. My small cast-iron pan is getting used for regular omelettes and a couple of eggs poached on a bed of spicy lentils was very successful. I’m looking forward to making mayonnaise this week and we’ve also baked a couple with blue cheese in the heart-shaped ramekins we got from the Sculptor last June. I remember my Nana making Lemon Curd when there were lots of eggs to spare so I’ll have to dig out her recipe. Then, with whites left over, there’ll have to be a Pavlova some day for tea. Who would have thought that having hens would be so much fun?!