Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hens and eggs and black grouse

Today we had four eggs from our five hens.  I am busily eating poached eggs for breakfast every day but we have now got to the stage where I can't keep up.  Tomorrow I shall bake lemon drizzle cake, one for us and one for the weekend's visitors to the cottage, and that will use up a few more.
Here is today's collection: the dark brown one on the right is from our Welsummer hen.  The little white one is from our little white Wyandotte bantam.
The paler brown egg at the back is from one of the Frisian bantams. She is a little larger than the Wyandotte but the eggs are way bigger.  With Wyandotte eggs you need a couple to even notice they are there.
And the brown egg on the left is from our new hen, the Buff Orpington/Welsummer cross who is intended to be our broody this spring so that we can hatch some more chickens.  
She is lovely, a real old farmyard hen, and I am looking forward to seeing her clucking and fussing with chicks in tow.
I always use the dark brown eggs when I am having boiled eggs.  There is something about the way they sit in my blue and white striped eggcup which is as comforting as a blanket.  I love eggs in any fashion really.  Probably my absolute favourite is scrambled eggs made with our own eggs, so strongly yellow as to be almost orange, cooked in a little butter so that they are done but just a little creamy in texture and piled on toasted homemade bread. 
They have been burning heather on the hill today.  You can just see the plume of smoke rising on the other side of the oaks.  It looks like wanton damage but is actually carefully managed to look after the moorland.  You can't burn after 31 March.  Careful burning of heather is fine and sometimes gorse is burnt too but it is often better to cut gorse than to burn it.  Heather regenerates slowly in a way which encourages wildlife; burnt gorse grows even more strongly and can easily take over tracts of land.
Soon, in April and early May, the black grouse  will be preparing for mating by "lekking", a sort of dance to impress a potential mate.  Like the red kite in other parts of Wales, the black grouse is a conservation success story.  Up on the hills above us there are now at least sixteen males where only ten years ago numbers had shrunk to a single male.  A friend who lives a couple of miles away along the ridge saw one cheerily strutting about her back garden in the autumn amongst the cabbages.

After another clear and sunny day it is cold again here and we need another log on the fire.  I might even knit.  That's it: I have written about birds and knitting in the same blog.  I am officially past it.


24 comments:

  1. If you're past it, then I must be old before my time! See my post about going to Portmeirion, and the egret.

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  2. I've been past it all my life if that's the definition!!!!

    I love scrambled eggs too!
    Celia

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  3. Hurray! Not just because you've blogged but because I've been able to comment - got shut out previous post!

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  4. Haven't seen a grouse before. Hadn't realised they are this attractive.

    Your header is like Easter.

    Children near where I live set fire to gorse bushes in a very un-managed way. This can be a bit alarming, especially where fire-engines can't get to the blaze. Having burnt, it becomes quite stark and dramatic - like a setting from another planet.

    Lucy

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  5. I guess I am passed it too.
    The Chickens are beautiful.
    I had a grouse at the farm and didn't know what it was. Aren't they pretty..


    yvonne

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  6. I guess I am passed it too.
    The Chickens are beautiful.
    I had a grouse at the farm and didn't know what it was. Aren't they pretty..


    yvonne

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  7. "Officially past it" according to whom? Me thinks not!!

    Loved your post Elizabeth, loved the photos of the eggs, the grouse, reading about your chooks and the fact you like scrambled eggs. Loved every tasty morsel.

    I make my scrambled eggs with a little cream, cook them so they are still soft but hold their shape and if I'm feeling extra decadent serve them with some smoked salmon. but if the truth be told I can't go past a good eggs Benedict.

    Wish I was the weekend visitor in the cottage, lemon drizzle cake sounds mouth wateringly delish.

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  8. That grouse is lovely, I didnt realise they were so attractive. I wish we had seen some when we were in Wales.
    I have just been scolding my hens as out of 5 (I know some are old) only one egg today, I think I will buy two more, I saw some at the feed store this morning.
    We are thankfully moving in to autumn with winter and knitting and being past it to come.

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  9. What an interesting post, Elizabeth. I didn't know that heather was burnt off the fields. Over here we have a terrible problem with Broom. It is very invasive and chokes out other plants.
    Your favorite way to eat eggs is mine too - fluffy scrambled on thick toast....morning or night!

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  10. You have a beautiful blog and I really enjoy reading about your life in the country. It's such a contrast to my own where I live an urban life at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

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  11. 'Past it' seems to depend on where you live, I reckon. Standing in the street shouting at drunken students at 3 in the morning is my marker for having passed whatever 'it' is. Birds and knitting sound like a very pleasant intermediate stage to have reached!

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  12. Oh dear, I seem to be past it too - although I have suspected this for a long time, as have my children. Like Rachel, I also stand on the street shouting at students at 3am, so it seems that I am done and dusted ;-)

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  13. They seem to burn gorse over on this side of the hills. There is a lot of it, so I suppose its a quick way to deal with it but not best in the long run by the sound of it. Your eggs look so tempting and your description of scrambled eggs made my mouth water!!

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  14. I really enjoyed your post and reading about your chickens and the goings on!
    I also enjoyed reading about the Grouse--It's always good to hear about the recovery of something that is interesting and beautiful in nature!

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  15. I'm past it too then - all I talked about yesterday was knitting and red kites! If this is 'over the hill' I quite like it!

    Gorgeous eggs. I just love the dark brown ones.

    I've really enjoyed reading your previous posts too, but haven't been able to comment until now. Anyway now I can, so I can tag you and also let you know there's an award waiting for you at mine. xx

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  16. When I look at those eggs, I can feel how they would sit in my hand... what a wonderful thing, to have eggs from your own chickens!

    Looking forward to future posts with pics of chicks!

    My secret recipe for the fluffiest, lightest scrambled eggs ever:

    Melt some butter in the frying pan.

    In a bowl, put the eggs, a dollop of half'n'half (or heavy cream), and a teaspoon of cooking oil. Whip it all together until it's unified.

    Pour into the buttered frying pan and cook over medium-low heat, using a spatula to softly lift and fold the eggs from the edge of the pan to the middle as they cook.

    You won't believe the high-rise on these eggs!

    As a special treat, sometimes I add in grated parmesan cheese to the mix... yummy!

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  17. still only via the homepage.

    But never mind, here I am and definitely not past it because I can boast neither hen nor knitting skills!
    A pat on the back for me there, I think.

    Hens and their eggs, is there anything cosier? You are a lucky lady. Who looks after them on your frequent absences from home?

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  18. I do envy you having the space for hens.

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  19. I want some chickens. They look so cute. And I love poached eggs, too.

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  20. Deepsea - I read about the egret, clearly knitting and birds are the pastimes of youth, some youth that is.
    Magic Cochin - I just love your avatar. Every time I see it I want to have it on my wall.
    Chris - still don't really get what is going on with the commenting. Now seems ok for some people and not for others.
    Lucy - funny with the grouse isn't it? It is not a lovely word but is quite a lovely bird.
    Yvonne - don't know what colour grouse you get where you are and whether they are rare? Here the common grouse is brown and common (!) and the red and black are quite rare.
    Claire - mmm, smoked salmon with your scrambled egg is a real winner.
    Penny - seems funny to me to be glad to be moving into autumn as we in the UK get ever more desperate, after the coldest winter for years, to move into spring.

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  21. Pondside - sounds like your broom is a little like our gorse, although the most invasive plant in my area is bracken which looks lovely as it unfurls but totally dominates and knocks out other plants pretty completely, except perhaps for a bit of determined grass.
    Val - hi and good to meet you. I suspect there have been times in the snow this winter when I would have loved to be in South Africa in the sun.
    Rachel - that is a funny measure of the difference between city and country life. There is just no-one around to shout at when it's 3am. I suppose I could berate the badgers for digging up my bulbs.
    Sue - well you can't win if you are both knitting, looking at birds and shouting at drunkards! Definitely past it!
    Twiglet - I think some areas burn a lot of gorse. I suppose it depends on your wildlife as to the preference. I think not burning it here is something to do with the heather and grass being a better terrain for black grouse but I might be making this up!
    Kim - the chickens are great to have around. I would really miss them if we didn't have them any more, and not only for the absence of scrambled eggs.
    PM - glad you can comment. It feels a bit odd when you blog and don't get a response, like shouting down a hole! thanks for the tag. I shall do it.

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  22. The grouse are wonderful to see.

    Reading this post has started me wondering "shall I get chickens again?"

    K

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  23. Mmmmmm - you are making me hungry with all the talk of eggs and homemade bread. Like the new header and layout Elizabeth - the font is clear and the frames round the photos really make them stand out. Must do some spring cleaning to my blog soon:)

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  24. PM - well if you aren't past it there is some small hope for me. Thanks for the tag. I will do it next!
    Marcheline - oh yum yum and double yum. Are you slim then? and if so, how?
    Friko - hens are surprising accommodating of being left. You wouldn't leave them for a week but for a weekend they are fine, much finer than a cat and way finer than a dog, who loves you which hens don't. They know you and even like you if you feed them, but love? maybe not.
    LWB - they are such good value. Would hate to be without them now and don't need loads of space, but as you might expect, more space less work, less space, more care.
    Fran - they are cute, there is no denying. Not much use if you don't like eggs but a total winner if you do.
    Karen - go on then. But where? However chicken manure from the house if a great accelerator for the compost heap - you pays your money and you takes your choice.
    Anna - thank you. I am just playing about a bit.

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