Winter is tap, tap, tapping at the door – officially, still a couple of days away, but the temperatures here suggest that it has arrived already. As the daylight hours decreased and our layers molted, egg production dropped off. Way off. While I’m sad that the days of bountiful eggs are over for the year, our French Black Copper Marans have resumed laying (apparently not put off by the freezing temperatures) and I think you’ll agree that their eggs are cause for celebration.
You may already know that it’s part of a hen’s natural cycle for her egg production to drop off at certain times of the year, like when she molts (a very resource-intensive process). During spring, summer, and into early fall, though, we have all the eggs we could wish for (and more): pink eggs, green eggs, cream eggs, olive eggs, dark brown eggs. A rainbow of seemingly endless eggs. Though I know that the girls will stop laying each year, it’s a bit of a shock when it actually happens.
Hens may be encouraged to continue to lay at higher levels by providing additional light during these darker months, but we choose to honor their natural cycle and not provide artificial lighting. Sometimes, that means we don’t have many eggs to eat, and that’s just fine. There are plenty of other plant-based foods that can stand in beautifully for eggs in cooked meals, like tofu in a tofu scramble or flax “eggs” or aquafaba in baked goods.
But back to the girls….we also don’t reduce the protein content of their feed during this time of the year so that when spring rolls around, they’re healthy and in prime laying condition. And the girls will lay their plentiful eggs – eggs we can scramble, add to ramen, cook with tomatoes and oyster sauce, or incubate.
French Black Copper Marans are prized primarily for their striking eggs, so it’s a treat for some of ours to surprise us with eggs now. We’ve noticed that very dark-shelled eggs, like those laid by our Marans and our Olive Eggers, also lose moisture more slowly than lighter-shelled eggs, so they keep longer. Bonus!
In these lean times for our farm fresh eggs, I don’t think these beauties will last long. While I always appreciate how delicious and nutritious our hens’ eggs are, I will savor these, in particular, knowing that they’re not guaranteed. And I’ll be thanking those ladies who worked so hard to provide these winter eggs!