Boy, what a long, tough winter! I’ve been watching from the view of my front window as the snow finally has begun to pull back into the far shadows of the woods. Relief!
I am gleefully amazed at the strong burst of spring that is upon us. Through the view of my window I can see the bird feeding area of our home. Wild birds have come to feed, along with our layer chicken flock. For the past four months we have dutifully ”fed the birds.” Daily seed and suet have brought numbers and varieties of birds like we have never seen before; from woodpeckers, finches, chickadees, blue jays, sparrows, junco to the rare Carolina wren, with our sweet chickens feeding happily below them.
Our chicken flock is two years old this spring. From a nice variety of a dozen chicks in the spring of 2013 we still have 11 alive. This is no small feat, as any chicken owner knows! It takes a huge commitment and dedication to foster their well-being throughout the year. There are daily chores of opening, watering, feeding, cleaning, and closing up. We combat the constant threat of loss; by dogs, hawks, and cars. (One of our chickens got hit by a car, after a moment of being stunned she got up and kept on clucking. From that point on she was called Lucky.)
My husband mans the daily care. He includes opening, watering and feeding as part of his and our Jack Russell, Otis’s, morning routine.
Yesterday he walked in the door exclaiming, “8 eggs!” That is the most we have seen since last fall. It’s funny how we’ve used the daily egg count as a barometer for how severe the winter weather was. One egg, two eggs, and finally no eggs hit an all-time low.
One day I came home to the conversation “should we keep the chickens? Was their daily winter chores worth the spindly half-dozen to a dozen eggs per week?” We concluded that, this too shall pass. We must take care of them through the lean months, and they will reward us come spring and summer.
So I am happy to say that the local egg production is increasing at a nice steady rate along with the length of the days. I was checking out my farmer’s almanac and noted that we are increasing an average of 2 ¾ minutes per day of sunlight. We are up to a 13-hour day! Bring it on!
Nature is bursting around us, and responding in amazing speed. Take a bit of time and bask in the glorious sun!
It is an amazing rhythm of life we live in. Us and our chickens.
Here is a lovely recipe that uses the burst of egg production locally, tender fruit from the freezer, sweetened by the seasonal maple syrup.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Generously butter an 8 cup baking dish
Serves 6 to 8
½ cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup milk (you can substitute nondairy)
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup flour (or gluten-free substitute)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups tender fruit such as cherry, plum, blueberry, or rhubarb
In a large bowl whisk egg, ¼ cup butter, milk, ¼ cup maple, flour, vanilla and salt. Place fruit in buttered baking dish. Pour egg batter over fruit, arranging fruit evenly in dish. Place in oven to bake.
Bake 45 minutes till top is just golden brown and center puffed. Pour ¼ cup melted butter and ¼ cup maple syrup over top. Place in oven for 5 minutes to finish. Serve warm and enjoy!
Seize the day!