We haven't seen eggs from our hens since November. It has been a long, hard winter (it still is!) and we have been reduced to buying store-bought eggs. We've kept an eye out in the barn where the hens have been for the winter, but we had not yet found any evidence that laying had commenced.
Today, Kelly was cleaning out the lambing pen where Leslie the blue-faced Leicester is currently housed. She's due on February 16th. Yup, one week today! Anyway, he gives Leslie her grain in a bucket each day, and we have quite a few buckets, so he'd been putting a new bucket in whenever she knocked one over, so there was a line up of buckets along her stall. Finally he went to retrieve them all today, having run out of buckets. Lo and behold, he found the stash!
Eight beautiful hen fruits were sitting in a bucket! And they really are hen fruits. The store-bought ones just don't qualify for that name, but these are beautiful, deeply coloured, smooth, heavy fruits that hold such richness. They are so much more than just eggs.
When you have your own free range chickens, you are spoiled rotten. Not only because they are entertaining, and at times even affectionate, but they are the producers of the best hen fruits ever. These little gems are not like store-bought eggs. They have much harder shells (because free range birds eat a very broad diet and supplement it with calcium that they obtain from a wide variety of sources) so they are much harder to crack open. When you do crack open a real hen fruit the yolk is usually a deep golden yellow, making the store-bought eggs look positively pallid in comparison.
Unfortunately, one of the hen fruits had frozen solid and cracked. We are not sure when they were laid, but they are not older than a week, because we don't have that many buckets! So finally, our darling hens have begun to put forth goodness, and we are so thankful that we will not be buying eggs now. Hooray for the hens!!