Forget growing your own vegetables – keeping chickens in the back garden is one of the fastest growing hobbies in Ireland. But how easy is it to make sure you have your own fresh-from-the-hen free-range eggs for breakfast? Caroline Hennessy shows you how on SilverCircle.ie.
With Little Missy turning one on Friday, we thought it was time for a few pets. Four pets, specifically, of the clucking, squawking Rhode Island Red variety. Between foxes and disease, we said good bye to the last of our original four hens in November and have really missed having our own delicious, fresh, free range eggs. Now, with LM getting to a stage when she can eat eggs for herself – the younger pair in my family were brought up on daily lunchtime “guggy” soft-boiled eggs – it was time for the next round.
Mornings have gotten spicier in recent times, not to mention more chocolaty, as I’ve been using some of Carluccio’s hot chilli oil to fry my breakfast egg (ah, maternity leave: time – Little Missy willing – for a full breakfast!) and grating lots of the birthday cacao over. Mouthfuls of intense, savoury yumminess, and plenty of lovely runny egg yoke to mop up with homemade fennel-aniseed-caraway bread.
My latest baking project – one that even takes longer than the three-day Sourdough Bread-making event! – is almost completed. All going well, the Husband and I hope to welcome a small new inhabitant to the cottage early next month, to join our family of two humans, three hens and one cat (yes, we’re back to one again – sadly the road by the cottage claimed Large, our big tom cat earlier this week).
It’s looking like summer has already arrived in North Cork and the hens, although their numbers were reduced to three of the original four after a run in with a fox during the winter, are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine. No matter what weather we’ve had, they’ve still managed to produce a steady source (especially after I found their secret stash!) of dark yellow-yoked eggs for baking and cooking, as well as being entertaining company in the garden.
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.