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 they pick up on their wanders around the garden.
On Saturday – two weeks after our (supposedly) point-of-lay pullets arrived – there was great excitement when the Husband discovered a little egg, still warm, on the bottom of the hen house. Unfortunately, by the time he found it, it was already cracked, proving that our chickens still haven’t got the hang of things. The chicken that laid the egg managed to do it from her perch, rather than the nice cosy nesting box. Still, the cat was delighted to get an egg for her tea and hopefully it won’t take too much longer for the rest of the girls to follow her example.When you take the cost of the hen house and run into consideration, this is, as the Financially-Orientated Brother pointed out, the most expensive egg ever in the history of egg-laying. When the chickens get the hang of the egg-producing life, we are hoping that the average cost of each egg will come down quite a bit.
My Nana always kept hens. As a child, I spent a lot of time at her house – just the other side of the hill from where we now live – and hens were an ever-present, taken-for-granted part of growing up. Previously my Nana, a trained and skilled poultrywoman, had kept flocks of hens for breeding; by the time I came along she just supplied Dwanes, one of the local shops, with fresh eggs for sale at the counter. But there were still jobs for the grandchildren to do. One of the dreaded chores was that of collecting the eggs. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the straw-lined wicker egg basket banging against my Wellington-clad bare legs, I would go through the gate in the far corner of the yard, wander past the haggart with all its fascinating bits of rusty farm machinery, turn right on to the lane the cows ambled along twice a day for milking and, keeping close to the less muddy inside side, come to the old wooden hen house. After taking a deep breath of clean air, I would twist the old bolt across, opening the door into the musty fug of the hens’ world and prepare myself for the egg search.