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Sometimes You Have to Break a Few Eggs

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

    I dropped and broke an egg today.

     I felt so bad. I'd gone out to the garden to check the nesting box. We always try to collect the eggs promptly because sitting on the eggs for too long can induce a spell of broodiness in a bantam.

     I found Delia sitting there looking fairly comfortable. I slid my hand under and felt not one but four warm little eggs.

     A four egg day. Fairly unusual for us as bantams are delightfully unpredictable in the egg-laying department.

     As a result perhaps or maybe just because I love everything about our chickens, the discovery of every single egg is a moment of pure pleasure. A miracle that I never have nor will ever take for granted.

     When Delia was ill a few weeks ago with a rancid crop we brought her inside. We fed her yoghurt instead of pellets. We kept her apart from the flock and the garden and the familiarity of the hen house. We induced vomiting in her poor chickenly self and even then, throughout this trial, darling Delia was stoically, as we later discovered, building an egg.  We know this for a fact because she laid it within an hour of being returned to the outdoors.

     The Small People came for tea today. They couldn't be less interested in the boxers, who are bit too bouncy for them and besides dogs are dull: everyone they know has a dog or two.

     But the Small People adore those chickens.

     When Beloved Sister suggested they all, including Go-Faster, pop round for tea I had a rush of blood to the head. I made egg mayonnaise sandwiches from bantam eggs and then unleashed a frenzy of baking upon the unsuspecting kitchen.

     I used large eggs from the Co-op for the cakes as the bantams' eggs are too small.

     I like baking. Sporadically. But I'm not a natural. I have to double check and weigh everything twice. The sponge itself was rather nice. Just that I over estimated a bit and made 48 mini orange and choc chip cup cakes for 6 people all based, as was the icing, on a Mary Berry recipe. I came a cropper with the icing and succeeded only in covering 24 mini cup cakes in a translucent, lemony gloop.

     As soon as they arrived The Nephew, followed by Little Niece, demanded to visit the hen house where they found a haul of three eggs which so thrilled the Nephew that he ran back across the garden clutching his fragile booty precariously to his chest and shouting for us all to, ‘Quickly come and see!’

(Oh dear God I sound like F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am awash with adverbs).

     The Aunt called, 'Be careful, it's very slippery. Don't drop them.'

     The Nephew knows better than to drop an armful of eggs. Better than his aunt who, as I said,  had already broken one earlier on...before artfully putting the other three back ahead of tea-time.

     Because  the Small People intuitively grasp how precious is each single egg; they derive such pure and boundless joy from the discovery of a solitary egg in the nesting box, never mind triplets. It would be such a shame, almost a crime, for them to come round to tea and find only wood shavings and a bit of the dry stuff from the day before.

12.05.2013
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The Test in February
Going Fishing 
The winning Australian exhibit at The 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show
No Nettles at Chelsea
Poor, kind Mrs Harris
Working From Home

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