Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Letters From The Barn: First Egg Of Spring

Letters From The Barn: First Egg Of Spring

We got the first egg of spring the other day. Now, if I had the lights all hooked up in the coop, we’d get them during the winter, too. But, I plead to laziness (and a strong fear of fires) as well as an idea it might be nice to take the winter off from duty if I were a hen. There must be a reason that shorter days bring on less eggs. If nature thinks they should take a rest, why should I  interfere?

Truthfully, most of the chickens get put into the freezer in the fall. Financially, I can’t afford to feed them over the winter when they need more food. Plus, the joys of fresh eggs kinda wind down when you first have to unfreeze them before you can use them. (Not to mention trudging through the snow to get them in the first place.)

So, most of the hens overwinter in the freezer inside, rather than the frozen temperatures outside. Having a meat freezer stocked for the winter gives me a sense of safety that probably only my grandmother could understand.

This winter, though, I was feeling rich enough to keep a couple of the hens who’d been around long enough to earn names over the cold spell. I won’t tell you what those names were on the coldest, bitterest mornings. But, on other days, at other times, they were sweet names that not only fit their personalities but which they, in their amazing chicken like ways, actually answered to.

So, when the biggest one, an orange-brown color, gave me the first egg of the spring, I was tickled. She hadn’t come down for feeding time that day and at first I was worried. Had she gotten eaten by a fox? Or decided to take a vacation to a warmer area?

Later, I checked the laying box more to rule it out than because I was expecting anything. There was a large, brown egg waiting there in the hay. It was still warm in that way only a fresh egg can be. Over the next week, the other chickens came back on the job, too. But, that first egg of the season which seems like it’s never going to come but always means that winter is over with, or at least on the way out, is always the best handwarmer I know. 

Author: Meriwether O'Connor