Tag Archives: Easter

An Easter delivery

Easter chickWith spring flowers, chicks and eggs both chocolate and hen, Easter is certainly hot on our heels.  A little rabbit even crept onto the table too (thanks to Pol Roger Champagne for inviting me to share a dinner party favourite), leaving Poppy completely appalled that Mummy and Daddy might have kidnapped the Easter bunny and eaten him!


However, Easter just wouldn’t be Easter dear Reader, without lambs.  Bouncing little bundles of spring joy.  In fact, Poppy, Primrose and I have been reminiscing about our orphans from last year and wondering about a few more.  Since I don’t have any grazing of my own to speak of, finding willing landowners happy to part with a field for six months is pretty tricky.

Lambing2015-2 So, missing my three bleating little ones, I decided to offer my very inexperienced services to a lovely local (very patient) shepherdess whose flock was about to triple within a matter of weeks.  The maternity wing was already full of triplets when I got there and in the biting wind and driving rain, the shed was by far the best place for lambs, ewes (and Margot) to shelter.  Keen to put me to work, the shepherdess had me learning the ropes in no time – docking tails, castration (cross your legs – it’s all about the rubber bands)….checking feet and monitoring newborns.   Even the polytunnel had been cleared out to be used as a makeshift intensive care unit for difficult births and struggling lambs.  Such a lot to get done before the next birth and all that while you’re on red alert for any ewes who look as though they might be going into labour.  Scanning and dating I learn, is no real guarantee of just when lambs might make an appearance and the shepherdess has her trusty notebook with her at all times, referring to notes on when each ewe is due and how many babies.  Some are first timers, others are old hands at lambing and will be giving birth for the third or fourth time.  First timers are always more of a worry, the shepherdess tells me.

Lambing2015-1Lambing is a curious thing….much like giving birth to human babies.  A lot of waiting around, a bit of action, a lot more waiting around and then everything happening in a matter of ten minutes.  Reading my sheep husbandry handbook was no real preparation for witnessing my first live lamby birth – it was amazing.  Even more wonderful to be there ready to assist when one lamb got a bit stuck in the process and the ewe had to be helped out.  Oooh, dear Reader, this was truly Lambing Live and I was standing by like James Herriot in the middle of a field, with a bucket full of delivery essentials and a shepherdess sporting a long plastic glove.  I think that the shepherdess was rendered quite dumbstruck when I got out my phone and starting taking pictures…..  Oh the shame, dear Reader, I am a complete total farming amateur!  Too good to miss recording it for the children to see later that day though!


When the second lamb popped out unaided fifteen minutes later, all hands were on deck to get the newborns and ewe into the trailer before the wet lambs became too cold up at the top of the field.  All this care, love and attention for something that will eventually reach the table.  I am in awe of the work all our farmers do and how much effort goes into bringing meat to consumers.


Keen to get more practice in, I popped over with Poppy and Primrose to see how the rest of the ewes were getting on a day or so later.  Tons more naughty scampering triplets and happy ewes!  Anyone who thinks that sheep don’t have much personality couldn’t be more wrong.  You can see just what kind of mothers they are by watching them for five minutes.  Poppy and Primrose spent an hour running up and down the fields with lambs following and gambolling, their mothers watching on or trotting behind.  Definitely what Easter in the countryside is all about!

Much to the girls’ delight, there was even a spot of newborn cuddles to be had.  One of the shepherdess’ more troublesome ewes had given birth to her triplets just the night before our visit and one of her babies had really really struggled to perk up following the trauma of birth.  Dubbed Minnie, we found her in the kitchen in a cardboard box.  A tiny little thing and destined to be fed by bottle for the moment as she hasn’t had much strength and is considerably smaller than her siblings.  Snuggling up to a newborn lamb has to be the highlight for Poppy and Primrose this Easter – much better than a chocolate egg any day they told Jerry and I afterwards in the car on the way home!


Looks like little Minnie may well be needing a foster home too………….the prospect sent me scuttling to the garage to get the huge bottle of Milton and lamby bottles out again.  Despite  Jerry rolling his eyes, there may well be a cardboard box with a lamb in it in the kitchen very soon!  Well how could we resist such a darling little face, dear Reader?!!!  Happy Easter!


And then there were three more….

Flowers for church on Easter Day

Flowers for church on Easter Day

Easter has departed for another year, leaving behind the most obscene amount of chocolate that I have ever seen.  Spoilt rotten by so many, Primrose and Poppy seem to have a chocolate Everest stashed in the cupboard.  CUE the serious choc-induced madness at church on Easter Day, resulting in Poppy screaming most of the way through the first few hymns and then half of the sermon.  With disapproving glances from some villagers, I made a point of praying for a large gin and tonic when the vicar asked us to call to mind any matters private and personal that could be offered up during the prayers.  Perhaps I should remember to put a hip flask in my handbag for such occasions…?

Still spring in the village is a fantastic sight to behold and everywhere we look there are signs of rejuvenation all around.  Wild garlic in the hedgerows, the crazy cawing of rooks and their babies can be overheard in the trees all around us and we even spied some baby deer from afar up near the woods.  With so many baby animals about, several trips have been made to the local lambing sheds to see the sheep equivalent of a maternity unit.  Truly marvellous to behold. Continue reading

Chick chick chick

Chicken Licken

Chicken Licken – he’s a little on the ‘egg’centric side….

chicken…..Lay a little egg for me!  Primrose and I adore that silly ditty and were busy singing away when the phone rang and it was Barbara with news of  her 4 new Henny Pennies.  Very soon it will be eggs all round for their little corner of countryside when the weather warms up and the days start to get longer.  (Apparently chickens tend not to lay all that much in winter).  There is nothing that says living the good life more than keeping chickens!  Recounting Tom and Barbara’s news, I did suggest to Jerry that perhaps the perfect moving present for us would be a pair of hens.  Dear Reader, I am sure you can imagine what the response was.  It turns out that apparently, I will have enough on my plate with finding a house to move to and house training a new pup without adding chickens to the mix.  Jerry may have a point but I would hate to admit it….  I might just have to settle for booking myself on a henkeeping course with the lovely Sara Ward from Hen Corner who makes it her mission to spread the Good Life in the depths of urban living.  She really would give Tom and Barbara a run for their money!

With all this talk of chickens and eggs, Primrose turned her attentions and mine towards Easter and eggs of a certain chocolatey variety.  Images of fluffy chicks and daffodils have surrounded us suddenly despite the fact that spring seems to have mysteriously disappeared and we are still dressing for outings in the Arctic Circle.  Primrose has been somewhat perplexed by tales of the Easter Bunny and got very upset when a child at nursery school said that the bunny laid the eggs.  Primrose quite rightly pointed out that eggs and bunnies did not go together and from what I can tell, all dreams of Easter bunnies were dashed to pieces.  Oh dear!  After much cajoling, we settled on the Easter Chicken laying the eggs and the Easter Bunny fulfilling the Postman Pat SDS (Special Delivery Service) end of the role.  Fingers crossed, the Bunny has more luck than good old Pat does on his travels!  That postman is more calamitous than Margot and that’s saying something!  In a bid to while away the long hours endlessly waiting for spring, Primrose and I decided to create some special eggs of our own since we have no chickens to lay some for us (for the moment anyway).  Dear Reader, I have to confess that this quite un-Margotlike burst of craftiness was also prompted by Primrose’s sudden ability to sing all the various theme tunes from CBeebies cartoons off by heart……

How to make your own Chocolate eggs

So here’s how you do it!  We used the most beautiful pastel shaded eggs laid by lovely feathery ladies of the Cotswold Legbars variety from Clarence Court eggs (@ClarenceCourt).  They were really rather gorgeous to look at.

Oooh such pretty eggs!

Oooh such pretty eggs!

1. Pierce the egg with a needle and then carefully peel a tiny bit if shell away so you have a small opening.  Use a chopstick or other long thin object (knitting needle, skewer etc) to burst the yolk and allow egg to drain away into a container.  (Afterwards, we indulged in glorious scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with delicious discarded yolks and whites…waste not, want not)!

2. Once all the egg has drained away, wash the shell inside and out with hot water to make sure that all traces of raw egg have been banished.  Leave the egg to dry ensuring that air can get into the inside so it dries thoroughly.

3. Decorate your egg once dryPrimrose and I used watercolours but you could use poster paints.  Use an egg cup to keep your egg steady as you paint. 

(I must warn you – keep it simple and don’t get carried away with lavish designs if you are utterly useless at painting as I am.  Primrose is so very arty and thoroughly admonished all my efforts.  Apparently, what I thought was a reasonable attempt at a chick was more like a duck)!

A dead ringer for Faberge...don't you think, dear Reader?

A dead ringer for Faberge…don’t you think, dear Reader?

4. Melt the chocolate.  One can do this the traditional bain-marie way (bowl over pan of hot water or use a double saucepan) or melt it in a bowl in the microwave.  If you are using the microwave method, be careful not to scorch the chocolate.  Check and stir at intervals. (I must warn you that filling the eggs takes a fair bit of chocolate so make sure you have at least a few hundred gram bars to hand)

5. Once the chocolate is melted, then spoon it into a piping bag.  Alternatively, I use a small freezer bag (use one corner, spoon choc into the corner and snip the very end of the corner off et voilà, a homemade piping bag).  Working with chocolate is a messy business and I can never be bothered to wash out piping bags!

6. Pipe the chocolate into the egg shell carefully and fill to the top.  It takes a little bit of time so be patient.  Finish with a blob of chocolate to seal the hole and leave to stand in the egg box in the fridge.

7. Once the chocolate has solidified, turn the eggs in the box so that the hole is on the bottom (and noone can see it!).

And there you have it, REAL eggs filled with chocolate.  I can promise you one thing, dear Reader, almost anyone you give these to won’t fail to be impressed and will think that you have worked slavishly on these ‘eggs’elent creations (sorry!).  Primrose and I were pretty pleased with our efforts despite my inferior painting skills and will definitely be making some more in time for our traditional Easter egg hunt.  Poppy was happy to join in too and glancing over to the kitchen table, I can tell you, dear Reader, that she is well and truly busy with one of the most important parts of the whole operation – scoffing the leftover melted chocolate from the bowl!

Happy Easter chickens!

Happy Easter chickens!