Here is Lucy the Rhode Island Red free-ranging the backyard yesterday afternoon.
The days are growing longer, the snow is islanded in white patches, temperatures are well below freezing at night but climb into the 30s or 40s during the day and the sun, when it shines, is distinctly warm.
When I let them out of the chicken run to free range, the chickens are roaming and digging and pecking and finding things to eat again. (I’m not sure what.)
Yesterday was a five egg day.
Most days in winter I have gathered three or four eggs from the nest boxes. From what I’ve read, it’s not unusual for chickens to drop below even these numbers in the shorter, colder days. But my birds are well-fed and doted on. We are clearly not running a money-making operation here. My cost per egg? Don’t ask.
But I do love the way leftover human food can become chicken food (which can become eggs).
Yesterday, I made them a special chicken salad – as in salad for chickens.
It was chopped up old iceberg lettuce and cabbage, wilty spinach, overly-soft strawberries, cooked beets, and a toss of goat cheese on top just because I’m nice.
Every good food thing like this is eaten as fast as possible, because they are in competition with each other. There is no room in a chicken brain for the concept that “there’s enough for us all, I don’t have to gobble my food.”
We also had leftovers…
March 16: Spinach with golden beets, strawberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette
The beets had been boiled for dinner the night before and there were a few left, so I saved them for salad. Otherwise, it was the same salad as the day before.
The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. – Calvin Trillin