As I told earlier, we try to regulate the length of time the artificial light is on in the henhouse, during mid winter. This is so that the hens understand to take a break from laying eggs and have a holiday instead. All but Lina did this and now she is the only hen that looks overworked and a little run down. She is now on a diet containing extra cottage cheese portions, to get more calcium into her small body.
As we can't really switch the sun on and off, we have now an egg laying festival, every other day. The light is back and so are our hens...
It's a pleasure to watch them figure out new, clever places for the nests. Today I found two eggs, one brown and one light blue, in a hessian bag full of wool. It looked like something out of a country magazine, the artistic touch and comfort, all in one. Two eggs were found in the sheep breakfast hay and they were a green one and the beautiful dark brown egg - that is Lina's trademark.
|Credit: Dasha Dimitrova|
While I collect them the hens inform all and everyone about what they have done and Monty and Eric fly back and forth. Why the cockerels have to do that, no one knows and as it is indoors it all gets a bit too much. The sentiment is there, it's just that flying inside a stable makes everyone else a bit surprised. And it's a bit drafty, says Lina. The sheep just stand stock still, staring, wondering where that rabbit moved to and if he could take them in for the winter. I just duck and hope for the best.
We do not have a single hen that would produce a white egg so the basket, when filled, looks beautiful with shades of brown, blue and green. Someone is now laying a very blue egg, which is a new colour for us.
Outside the hares have gotten into the spirit of things and are chasing each other around the yard at nights. It looks like someone has made a weaving pattern in the snow, most mornings. Spring is arriving, slowly but we stay hopeful.
I have now left one, smaller, manure heap to settle. We will not touch it and as it is in a sunny spot, I hope the grass snake will return next spring and lay it's eggs in there. It would be nice to have them back. The hens will probably make them move after they are hatched, but the maternity ward is ready and waiting, if they want it.
But for now it's just to enjoy winter and to do as Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My do when the sun comes out. They turn towards it, close their eyes and sigh deeply, sounding like four happy sheep should sound. I must admit to joining them, now and again. Nothing beats the first warm rays of sunshine. It goes straight to the heart. Mr. Chip believes in sunbathing too, he just prefers to do that from indoors. Still a bit warmer, all in all, he tells us.
I just learned that eggs contain the highest quality of protein one can buy and the yolk contains vitamin D. Not bad work from a small hen that produces this almost daily and still has the energy to sing about it. Loudly!
And an extra bit of good news; at Durrell, Bahia, their five year old Andean bear gave birth to a tiny, healthy cub on the 3rd of January this year. I saw her last summer and she seemed like a very nice bear. Good luck to them all and congratulations! There is a video of them on their web site, do have a look.
Text by Nina
Next blog post on the 21st February.