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It's a red letter day here on the hill. We have an egg. Actually, we have seven eggs as I bought six yesterday at the supermarket but the seventh egg is the important one. It was discovered this morning in the nesting box of the chook shed. A place that had been checked daily for weeks with no reward.

I think the first freshly-laid egg of the season tastes better than all the others that follow but it's not just that. The first egg of the season is a harbinger of spring, a sign that although it's mid-winter that things are about to get better. If the chooks are laying then kidding can't be far behind.

Chickens moulting and going off the lay is all part of the natural cycle, driven by the length of the days. But as day length doesn't match the seasons the days are already lengthening, at least enough to convince one of my girls that it's time to start laying again.

With a bit of luck the other three will soon join in and with even more luck they will also decide to lay in the nesting boxes. We have had a few interesting alternatives from clumps of long grass, in which we once found a clutch of nine eggs, to the seat of the tractor which was the favoured spot for a while last year. The chooks free range which means that instead of roosting in their custom-built, luxurious chicken coop, they roost in the three-bay shed and cover everything in their droppings. We've had to build a seperate barn for the hay as the chooks ruined so much of it!

I am reminded of the scene in the 70s TV sitcom 'The Good Life' when Tom and Barbara served the first egg from their newly-aquired hens on a silver salver and carved it as if it were a joint of meat. We won't go that far with our first egg of the season but it will be eaten with great delight.

The other six eggs I have are also special in that they are hopefully the last eggs I'll have to buy until next year!

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