The Pekin Bantams that we hatched towards the end of last year have now been moved down to the allotment and are laying well. We have 3 lavender hens and a lavender cock, as well as a black frizzle hen and a black/white frizzle cock. Most lay most days and it is surprising how quickly the eggs build up. The little egg holder we had in the kitchen was nowhere near big enough and we realised that we needed something else to hold them safe in.
Maybe it was too much Springwatch or seeing the birds at Katie’s school on their nest camera, but it seemed to me that the very best thing for the eggs would be a nest. We had in the garage some heather cut last year, as well as a little willow and birch. All of it had dried out and so I soaked in a warm bath to make it pliable (which made one of the biggest messes inside the house that I have ever achieved...). My intention had been to photograph the stages and provide a step-by-step photo blog on how to make one, but I quickly realised that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!
At first I started with two willow rings, made in the usual way by winding willow around in on itself, one smaller than the other. But these were green willow and I would never have been able to hide it within the darker material, plus how was I going to connect the two? So I abandoned the willow and went straight for the heather, again making a ring and then sort of building it up from there. I cannot provide any instructions – it was highly frustrating and fell apart more than once. In the end I used some fine brown cotton, which you can just about see looking at it, to bind it up a bit. It might well be that now it has dried you could cut this off and it would still stay whole, but I don’t intend to find out. I lined the inside with a mix of pillow feathers (much finer than I had imaged) and some craft feathers we had (look like pheasant to me).
What I took away from making it more than anything was a genuine deep respect for nest making birds. Here I was, with ten fingers and cotton thread, struggling to make something that they could construct, far more perfectly than I, with their beak and maybe some spider web or mud. It was only by actually trying to replicate nature’s craft that I understood just how hard it was and how skilled these birds are. It was an experience that has radically changed my perspective and I cannot recommend trying it highly enough – just be prepared to be very frustrated along the way...
With 24 eggs needing to be used up we decided to have a pasta making session. 100g of organic Tipo ‘00’ flour per egg (or two bantam eggs), mixed and kneaded and then rolled out in the pasta machine. We made lasagne sheets, tagliatelle and spaghetti, drying the latter two on a long pine dowel we got from the ironmongery, suspended between two chairs. It dried over night and could then be wrapped up in brown paper for use over the coming days.