B’dazzled blue, cedar chest, Egyptian blue, Harvard crimson, metallic sunburst – the names of colors is endless. Here’s one more: Svenda Sandstone, the color of Svenda’s eggs. She lays eggs that not only have a sandstone color, they even feel like sandstone when you rub them. One was laid February 24 and the other today, February 26.
Each egg a hen lays is slightly different from the one before it, and different enough from the other hens, that it is often easy to tell whose egg it is. Svenda will never lay a white egg. She’ll never lay a dark egg. She only lays sandstone colored eggs.
Hens like quiet, sheltered nests. They are modest and like to lay eggs without being exposed to prying eyes. This is 雲月 (Ungestu – Moon Cloud). I have several of these very refined, gray-black hens.
I read about some farms which produce a million eggs a day, which means they have more than a million hens crammed in very noisy, crowded warehouses. Not one of those hens gets to lay an egg in a quiet nest. What they have are more than a million very frustrated, crazed hens. I would need 50,000 acres, a farm about nine miles by miles, or nearly twice the size of San Francisco, to house that many hens. Chickens need lots and lots of space.
Hens also like to peck at daffodils. Not a single hen on those farms with more than a million hens ever gets to peck at a daffodil. They live their entire lives without ever seeing a single flower bloom.
Arugula and Ruby Streaks overwintered in the hoop house and with all the recent sunshine, they are exploding. Which means plenty of fresh salads. Happiness is picking greens moments before you eat them. The best food doesn’t come from the store, it comes out of your own garden.
It’s always fun to get naked. Whether alder logs find it as exciting to strip down as we do, maybe not. Alder logs do have a sense of shame. When they get naked, they turn crimson with embarrassment. Either that, or they tan easily. See how red the log at the top is, and it’s only partially naked.
Which looks nicer? The clothed or naked alder logs? I used a blade knife from Lumber Jack Tools to peel the bark off a future log post.
The bark curls make great mulch and path beds. Cover a path with them, and they sop up the moisture, and make a fresh fragrant path.
Yesterday it was nettles popping out of the earth. Today it is rhubarb pushing out of the soil. Rhubarb unfolds like a monster rising from a deep sleep. At this early stage, it looks like an alien fungus threatening to take over the world. The leaves don’t look like leaves. They look like deformed, wrinkled green stones. But once they shake the soil out of their folds, they will quickly rise and become bold, fragrant, massive leaves.
Few things are as satisfying as sauce made from just-cut rhubarb stocks. It’s a staple here from spring into early summer. You can put it on most any dish from rice to roasted potatoes to meats to vegetables to ice cream. During hot summer days, the chickens seek shade under their tall, spreading leaves.
Each week there is something new to celebrate. This week it is nettles. Yesterday I saw some nettle nips for sale in the store, so today I went to check on our nettle patches, and discovered many nettles sprouting. Tonight’s dinner will be a celebration of the first nettles of the season.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. The Bottle Inn in Dorset, England, has a raw nettle eating contest. That I will leave up to you to try.
Japanese celebrate many firsts during the year. The excitement on yesterday’s weather report was that the first strong wind of spring might blow. Today, February 22, it was official. Parts of Japan recorded the first 春一番 (haru ichi ban) of the year, which translates to “the first one of spring”. It is not any strong wind. It has to meet these conditions:
- It has to blow at least 8 meters a second (nearly 18 miles and hour).
- It has to blow from between the east south east to west south west.
- It has to blow on a day warmer than the day before.
- It has to blow between the start of spring (February 4 this year) and the spring equinox (March 21 this year).
There are many wonderful “firsts” to celebrate each month. Tonight it will the first nettle soup of 2015. Soon it will be the first rhubarb of the year followed by the first asparagus. Those should be national holidays.
Miasa has been a mother for over three months now. Her chicks are mostly on their own, but occassionaly they spend time together. Here she is with one of her sons, enjoying the sunshine yesterday. Of all the hens who have reared chicks, she has spent more time raising her chicks than any other hen.
I delivered some eggs at Slough Food in Edison today. One of the cartons has an egg laid today by Snowflake. All the eggs were laid yesterday and today. They are in the cooler at Slough Foods. If you’re in Edison this weekend, pick up some super fresh eggs. Each egg has the date it was laid, so you don’t have to guess how old they are.
If you’re wanting to make fluffy omelettes or a soufflé, use them right away. To make boiled eggs, let them sit in the fridge for a week.
After several dark, misty days, the sun god is out in force, filling the air with its brilliance. At first I wondered if I had a dead chicken on my hands. Not by a long shot. She’s found a warm spot in the dirt and has laid down to soak in as much of the sun’s rays as possible. She’s just dead to the world, off in dreamland, dreaming what chickens dream.
See, she’s opened an eye to peek around for a second before drifting back to sleep. With other chickens nearby preening themselves, she doesn’t have to worry about any approaching danger. They’ll alert her if she needs to make a run for it.
Chickens love the sun. One of the cruelest things you can do to a chicken is not let them spend hours outdoors in the sun.