One of the great joys of hen keeping is having lots of lovely fresh eggs for breakfasts and baking. Last year we reared 10 chicks and since earlier this year the females have been laying. During the cold winter our hens conserved their energy but currently in the long daylight we're getting between 6 and 10 eggs per day. I've always been aware that the eggs produced here are large but hadn't ever investigated what the size categories actually mean. I was prompted to check after Molly came back from collecting the eggs with this super sized offering...

According to Omlet an extra large egg is over 73grams; so you can only feel sorry for one of our poor hens who laid this monster 120grams egg. Yes it had a double yolk and yes it made a very fine and tasty omelette for lunch with a few salad leaves on the side.

The title of this post? F U N E X - well if you're not familiar then may I take you back to the early part of January 1975, I believe, British comedy in the form of the Two Ronnies and their sketch which I remember being about M N X, that'll be ham and eggs.

Welcome Back

I made you a cake in honour of the East Cambusmoon return to blogworld. Partly inspired by the new BBC2 series The Great British Bake-Off, which was easy watching TV last evening, and partly by some thoughts of entering the Gartocharn Flower Show this weekend, I used Mary Berry's Victoria Sponge recipe from the TV programme and it turned out a treat. Now if I get my act together and make another one for the show I realise that putting cream into the middle is not going to cut it with the judges on Saturday, apparently thats a big no-no, but today is the last day of our school holidays, we've had a bundle of people around and this sumptuous wonder is just about gone. The man of the house suggested more jam would be appropriate....but he caveated his comments in advance with plenty of praise. Hereabouts its traditional to use raspberry jam - is that the same everywhere? Here is another new project for us - 9 chicks, this photo was taken when they were about 3 weeks old. More of them another time.
Thanks for those of you who keep checking back in with this blog. Your patience has been appreciated.

Ex Battery Hen - 7 weeks on

Apologies for posting this photo again of 'scabby hen' as she's known by the children. When we first got hens we sweetly named them individually but after a fairly short while to be quite honest it was difficult to distinguish one from the other so the practice was soon dropped. Anyway here is scabby hen 7 weeks ago, very pale, fairly bald and with a very red sore chest and undercarriage. ...and here she is now....with lots of new feathers and a good appetite for the worms, grubs and greenery in the recently cleared potato bed. Nice happy hen story but its still sad to think that 85% of all eggs used in cafes, restaurants and pubs etc still come from battery hens.
Glad they and we are enjoying some sunshine for a few days. We got 8 eggs today, hurray!

The Good Life

Meet one of our new hens. Yesterday we went to collect and rehome some more ex-battery hens via the Battery Hen Welfare Trust. This bunch were in quite good form with a bit of strength and 'perkiness' about them despite the sorrowful state of their bodies. We first rehomed 10 battery hens 2 years ago and I'm pleased to report that some of those are still with us and have enjoyed a good quality life with considerably extended life expectancy.

The girls below are just venturing out of their transport box, somewhat bewildered at the concepts of sunshine, grass and fresh air. Before too long their combs will change to a more healthy red and their feathers will fairly slowly come back too. In today's rain showers some of them noticeably shivered so we popped them into the hen house to keep warmer as their bodies start adjusting to the variable temperatures of the outside world.

Today's weather was so much better than the forecast of storms and humungous rain so a bit of gardening time was presented. We're currently picking salad leaves, spinach, chard, sorrel, peas, broad beans, radish, onions and new potatoes. Plus one courgette so far. Very exciting! Well we're pretty chuffed anyway. Not too long ago this area was a bleak concrete n mud mess so the change is very inspiring. Most crops are thriving although the french beans are looking a bit peelywally and something ate all but one of the young courgette plants (mouse?). Thoughts and plans already abound for next year - more peas to be grown as they're just totally gorgeous; the potatoes are going in the bed which seems to have an awful lot of weed seeds in it to help clear those out; more beds will be under construction before too long and as usual I haven't really got my head around succession planting.

It has rained since Sunday.

A bit of an update although I haven't taken any new photos recently. I'm sure the many many rainy days we've just had have limited such creativity. Actually we had sunshine at 5am this morning, a glorious start to the day, it held such promise!

After great angst on the hen front we may well be back to normal service as we've had a few days of unpecked eggs. I can't lay claim to any secret weapon, we checked the eggs so frequently that the number of pecked eggs reduced which may have helped break their bad habit, we kept the hens to their pen rather than give them completely free range around the farm, we moved the grit closer to their house just in case they weren't getting enough. General experience from others indicates that you can't always cure them of this habit but we're hoping the bad spell is over...

Last weekend I went to the Wee Green Market in nearby Killearn, this was recommended by Caireen of the patchwork dress who I met through the blog but who lives just down the road. The WGM is a monthly market held in a village hall, partly for community fundraising and partly as a means of supporting and promoting local businesses. There were some super crafters such as Lynn of My Baboo who I have met before so it was really lovely to catch up. I'll certainly go again - especially for birthday presents.

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