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Saturday, 9 April 2011

Eggstraordinary!

I've been meaning to show you these for a while. As you may know, we have the older chickens, 'Ladies Who Lunch', and two of them, Peggy and Penny, hatched lots of babies last year. The babies are now just over six months old and have found an irristable urge to lay a daily egg. At first they watched the older ones, then you could see them thinking, 'Should I be doing that?' And now, one by one, they've started slinking off to lay an egg. Then they began laying them wherever the urge took them, but now quite a few of them make it all the way upstairs to the hayloft, where they've made some nests in gaps between the hay bales. Goodness knows why, there's a perfectly good nesting box downstairs. Some of them don't make it into the actual nest before laying the egg, so when I go up to collect them I have to tread carefully, as there are eggs scattered all over the place. One of them prefers to lay her egg downstairs on the haylage pile, and yet another likes to lay hers in Zak's stable. She arrives quite early, usually while I'm still mucking out, and looks daggers at me in her desperation, until she finds a quiet corner and lays her egg and gives a big, chickeny sigh. Of course, once you've laid an egg, you have to cluck loudly to all and sundry, so everyone in a five mile radius is aware of your achievement. What baffles us is why the cockerels get carried away and join in! If three of them have laid at the same time, the noise is unbelievable. The ducks have finally decided to join in with the egg laying too, so, frankly, we are inundated with eggs now (we have eighteen hens, two cockerels and six ducks, but only three seem to be girls). And this is the result: On the right is a duck egg, but on the left is one of the normal sized chicken eggs. It's not very clear here, but it's actually blue. This year's duck eggs are huge, they fill the palm of your hand. They're bigger than they were last year. I assume, as the ducks have matured, so their eggs have increased in size accordingly.

Above, you can see the duck egg compared to the size of the tiny eggs the pullets are laying. I keep calling them 'dolly eggs' as they're so small. One of them was so tiny, it was the size of a Cadburys Mini Egg, you know the sort you put on your Easter cake. You get two spoonfuls out of these eggs and they're gone. So cute. Here's another way to show you the size:

I think that puts things into perspective, don't you?

On another note, you may remember that last month I challenged myself to go for a walk, finding my way on the map and I got hopelessly lost and had to retrace my steps, much to the dog's amusement. Well, rejoice with me friends, for I have boldly gone where many people have gone before. Because I'm doing more TREC competitions this year, and Barnaby is good at it, I have decided I can't let the side down and must learn to use a map and compass properly. My kit list has come through for the competition in May and it definitely says I will need a compass. I thought I'd lost mine (the irony of having a lost compass is not wasted on me!) but found it down the back of the book case (not in the map box where it belongs). So on Thursday I decided to google 'map reading made easy' and see what it came up with. All I can say is, some of the explanations were so complicated it made me wonder how anybody manages to find their way anywhere. For goodness sake, Girl Guides can use these things, how hard can it be? Anyway, determined not to give up, I decided to look it up on You Tube. I instantly found a video where this guy says, "Lay your compass on your map pointing the way you want to go, adjust your orienting lines, take it off the map, make sure your needle is pointing North, and follow your 'direction of travel' arrow." Piece of cake. Why doesn't everybody explain it like that? So I got my map out, went out of the gate and followed the above procedure and it worked like a dream. I was so excited, I did it again and again and round I went on the route where I got lost last time. It was a doddle. I still didn't take 'Er Indoors with me as I wasn't entirely sure I was going to make it and didn't want her to have an opportunity to gloat a second time. I came back full of the joys of not getting lost. Now I just need to work out how to do it on a horse. I can't wear the map case round my neck, as if it twizzles round it'll strangle me (never a good look) so normally I strap it to Barnaby's breastplate (even if it flaps about it doesn't frighten him) so it sits on his shoulder, but to orient myself properly I'd like to be able to turn the map round, so we'll see. I also asked some facebook friends how fast a horse walks and what trotting speed is. It turns out a horse walks at four miles an hour and trots at eight miles an hour, so I need to incorporate that into my calculations. So my next aim is to train Barnaby to stand still whenever I say so, so that I can concentrate on reading the map. When I did my first comp, Missis had the map and I didn't see it throughout the orienteering phase. She got us hopelessly lost. She has since admitted that she can't read a map! Fab. Then last year, Mr O took the map and he only got us slightly lost. But as you may know, he likes to do everything at lightening speed, and it turns out, we were too fast! So I am doing some competitions on my own this year and I've got to know what I'm doing. There is a torch on the kit list, but surely they don't think I'm going to still be wandering about the countryside at ten o'clock at night, do they? Oh they of little faith! Mr O would have come and got me long before that happens and I'll have slunk home with my tail between my legs (and Barnaby's, presumably, between his!) Watch this space...!

3 comments:

  1. How cool!! Sounds like such fun.

    Around here some people do orienteering using a GPS to navigate. There are little cache places along the way they need to find with little things. I guess in some cases you take what's in the cache and leave something for the next person who comes along.

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  2. Oh it does sound busy in your home, what the with the ducks and chickens laying eggs and you learning how to use your compass and map, I do hope your treks turn out as enjoyable as you make us readers feel when you describe them. with hugs Shirleyxxxxxx

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  3. I loved seeing your eggs and their beautiful coloring. WOW....that's a big egg! Having them sit in the stands certainly DOES put their size difference into perspective!

    Blessings~
    Laura

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