Monday, 28 January 2013

A Squeeze of Lemon

Third on my list of introductions is Lemon. Lemon is large and fluffy and relatively tame, but nowhere near as calm as Frog or Pepper. It took a while for Lemon to trust us, but she is now happy to come and eat from our hands - and she'll never miss an opportunity to raid an unguarded corn pot (see footage of Pepper for a prime example). She also particularly loves fruit (even more so than the other three), and is quite willing to beg, borrow and steal in an attempt to get a mouthful of something sweet.

Why not also watch my introductions to Pepper and Frog?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Mash 'em up

About a month ago I regaled you with my thoughts on looking after our hens in frosty weather. I mentioned that one way to help them stay warm is to mix their food with hot water, and promised that once we had tried it I would come back and tell you all about it. Following that post the weather became increasingly mild, which rather put the idea on the back-burner for a while.

This week, however, all has changed. We had 6 inches of snow on Friday and another inch on Tuesday and the temperature hasn't been higher than 1C for many days. The time had come to put the plan into action.

First things first though - the fruit netting that we use as a roof to the run was bending dangerously under the weight of the snow and threatening to drag the whole run down with it (sorry, no pictures). We removed it. We'd have to take the risk for a few days, and hope that chickens wouldn't get out and foxes wouldn't get in (so far, so good).

Now we could get in and out, we mixed up some layers mash (a finely ground mix of chicken food for adult hens) with some hot water to make a porridge like mixture and popped it in an old bowl. They have tucked in with gusto, and have done so each morning. It has been a massive hit. Hurrah!

Unfortunately its been about the only thing they have enjoyed this week. The girls have not been impressed with all this cold weather. They've been tending to spend most of their time tucked up in the coop to keep warm and have avoided walking on snow if they can help it.
In contrast, we've been having great fun and turned a large portion of the snow in our garden into a snow chicken. I mean, why not?

How has everyone else been finding the snow? 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Ribbit, Ribbit

The next in my series of chicken introductions brings you the quiet and unassuming Frog. She is the little'un of the group - shyer than the others and less likely to fight to the front in an attempt to get corn. In a British "love of the underdog" way she has a special place in the group - but she's also quite capable of standing up for herself, and it makes us smile whenever she forces Lemon or Pepper (easily twice her size) to back down.

Wondering what Pepper is like? Catch up on her introduction here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

St Clements Curd

Now we have two hens that are regularly laying eggs I find myself wondering about all sorts of imaginative ways to use them. We've had spaghetti carbonara, Yorkshire puddings, poached eggs and omelettes but we'd probably have done all of those anyway. I fear that in a very short time we'll be fed up of poached/boiled/fried/scrambled eggs if we don't quickly expand our egg recipe repertoire . Joe has recently been learning to make crème patisserie and eggs seems to disappear by the dozen when he gets going on a cooking spree which definitely helps the cause!

What I'm really looking for are recipes that use eggs in a way that doesn't leave them looking like eggs. Cakes of all kinds are a great example of this, and one of my favourites at the moment is this spiced apple cake. I found this recipe on a website called Tastespotting. I enjoy baking and often find myself browsing the brilliant site that is Tastespotting for inspiration. Tastespotting brings together recipes from food bloggers around the world and they're picky in what they allow to appear, so you can guarantee that recipes that tickle your fancy will be clearly laid out and accompanied by photos that lure you into just having to give them a go.

Another recent find was this recipe for St Clements Curd. It seemed fairly simple to make, we had all the ingredients in the house and it used six eggs for a win! As it didn't seem to last too long (two weeks in a cupboard, or four in a fridge according to the recipe) I decided to just make a half batch to see how it came out - if it proved moreish and disappeared quickly then, I reasoned, I could always make more.

As it happens, it is very tasty and has a good zinginess to it. Being orange and lemon curd I keep veering between whether I would rather it was more lemony or not, but I will definitely be making something like this again. Its just a question of whether I go hunting for similar recipes - or start to tweak this one.

What are your favourite egg based recipes?

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Peppery Post

I have had requests for some video footage on this blog. As one particular request specified that I should be attempting to catch a chicken I suspect that the person in question was looking for a good laugh. However, I decided I would oblige. Not once, mind you, but four times.

I am going to give you a chance to see our girls in the flesh, and this week it's the turn of the lovely Pepper. Pepper is one of the easiest to catch and one of the calmest too. So without further ado I'll let me do the rest of the talking:

Friday, 4 January 2013

Mystery egg-layer number two

Good things all come at once right? Not only did we have a Christmas day egg from the lovely Pepper, who has continued to lay an egg about once a day ever since, but we have also had a couple of eggs that are certainly not Pepper's. These are much smaller and are almost certainly laid by one of the two bantams, but which - we do not know!

Will the mystery egg-layer please step forward...
Frog or Fizzy? Any guesses?