Spring has come to Chook Cottage. And the chooks neither know, nor care, if this is Real Proper Spring or Pretend Spring With Surprise Hard Frosts/Snow Later.
They are bounding out of the coop like spaniels on Red Bull, rushing to stuff their wee chops before shooting back in to lay, then spending the rest of their leisure time soaking up the sun – dust-bathing, lounging against tree roots snoozing, and generally enjoying the good weather.
As the days grow longer and Real Proper Spring is just around the corner, the happiness of chooks can be measured by egg production which, as many of you will already know, is a subject I hold very dear to my heart.
If my hens were on performance-related pay they would be raking in big, fat, RBS-style bonuses.
Suddenly, a run of fine days with real, live, actual sunshine (whoop!) has increased egg production overnight. They are fair popping them out now.
As a result, I have had to fit an egg label ‘print run’ into my day today. And then stick said labels on about 40 boxes. That should keep me going for, ooooh, a week... maybe.
And with spring on the way, another of my favourite chook tasks looms – will we get any broody hens and what will we do with them this year? It may sound odd, but when you put your hand in a nestbox to take out freshly-laid eggs then have to retract it immediately with an angry chicken attached to the end of your finger, I am extremely happy. It means we have a broody hen, ready to sit on some eggs and raise some chicks.
We are no strangers to hatching and raising our own chicks in this way, but this year Gamford – the chief chicken-wrangler – and I have been in deep conversations about getting in some new breeds (and therefore some lovely new egg colours).
Methinks as soon as a sweetie turns nippy and goes broody, we’ll be getting some eggs of the breeds we’d like and hatching those.
Of course, there will be a Mrs Merton-style ‘heated debate’ on this. And, of course, I will (pretend to) take others’ views into consideration before I have the final word.
(Miss Piggy voice) Autocractic, moi?
Will it be Scots Grey? Cream Legbar? Araucana? Ostrich? Hyacinth Macaw Parrot? Only joking, we already have Cream Legbars.
l’ll keep you posted, loyal readers.