Sunday, 2 December 2012

Chocolate eggs

The egg skelter is looking a little more colourful today.
Sunday 2nd December 2012
Life and death go hand in hand here on the farm, as indeed do fortune and misfortune. The events of yesterday serve to illustrate this better than I can explain.

For it started with the startling discovery of piles of feathers leading to a bloodied, beheaded goose. But it was not long before a positive counterbalance came along. For while I was spending some icy minutes observing the chickens, I chanced upon a chocolate brown egg lying on the floor. Of late, only one hen has been laying. I'm not even sure which one it is, but she has been laying a large, pale egg almost every day. But this latest was most definitely not from her. In fact, it was clearly from the French Copper Marans hen, a breed which we deliberately sought out for their dark eggs. Along with the other young hens, they've been a bit late coming into lay. But I guess they reached laying age just as the nights started to draw in and the short, dull days of early winter took hold.

I must admit that I've not been carefully checking every nest box daily, as our one laying hen has consistently laid in the same house. But this new egg, carelessly deposited on the icy ground outside, led me to check the other houses and there, in the high rise, lay three eggs, a pale one and two medium browns.

So it would seem that at least two of our young hens have started laying. With a bit of luck, the early winter dearth of eggs is about to come to an end.

I started this post by saying that life and eath go hand in hand here on the farm. And today was not to be without a final twist. This morning, while I was checking that all the chickens were present and correct after the fox's visit, I had been unable to find Elvis or any of her brood of ten rapidly growing chicks. After twenty minutes of searching I finally headed up beyond the orchard and found her pecking about, with her whole family. They obviously had fancied a bit of a wander today.

But as I now observed all the poultry, I realised that I had not seen Claw, that poor, friendless Cream Legbar with the deformed foot, the one which would trot over and stand next to me whenever I appeared, the one which Sue had adopted.
Unfortunately, Sue has a habit of taking under her wing the weakest, despite my warnings that nature will not be so kind to them. And true to form, the sharp frosts of the last two nights had found the weakest, for I found Claw lying dead in one of the chicken houses.

RIP Claw

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