All winter Marge has been quiet. Nary a cluck or a chuckle or a cackle. This is a hen who has created a constant racket ever since I got her as a chick. I’ve worried about her. She hatched October 6, 2004, which makes her almost six years old.
Today, though, I happened to be in the coop when Marge strutted through the pop door and announced her presence. Then, she continued to chuck-chuck as she checked out the nesting boxes. I am going to sit in one! she told me. She looked just like a hen that’s going to lay an egg. She was as loud as a hen who has laid an egg. She didn’t lay a thing, but I didn’t care. My Marge is back.
Quite a bit of snow is expected tomorrow, but the goats say that spring is on its way. The wooly bear goat boys are shedding. It seems to me that goats have several types of hair – short, fine and dense; short and coarse; and long and fine. Give a goat a scratch and you’ll have all three on your clothes. I’ve pulled my horse curry comb and brush out of storage.
Meanwhile, I noticed that Caper had a slight limp. I think that he bruised a hoof. Possibly a pebble got stuck between his toes. In any event, it was time to clip his hooves. I have a pair of shears especially designed for this job. They work great for trimming the overgrown nails. Too bad my back is not made for the job. While Steve acted as a human stanchion and fed sweet feed, I bent over and clipped. I think we need to build a stand. For now, I’m going to take a couple of ibuprofen.
I’m a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, which means I get to hang out with some amazing, talented, accomplished women in the food world. Last night, my local chapter had a Chocolate and Caramel event. We met at Kelly Delaney’s Cakes for Occasions kitchen. Lee Napoli, one of the most inventive chocolatiers in Boston, showed us her truffle-making technique. It’s all about very good chocolate at the right temperature.
Next, Denise Baron, of Burton’s Grill, made caramel. I’ve struggled for years to get caramel right. The step where you boil down the sugar is so tricky! It seizes up. It burns. It boils over. It doesn’t get dark enough. Do you use a spoon? Wooden or metal? Wipe the sides down with water? Denise had a trick. Add a tiny amount of lemon juice to the sugar, and let it boil. There was over a hundred years of food experience in the kitchen last night, and none of us had ever heard that one before. It works! Here is a photo of the perfect, fresh ginger-infused caramel.
Next, Kelly taught us how to make buttercream roses and sent us all home with our own cupcake cake hearts.
When I got home, my husband got a truffle, a cupcake and a spoonful of caramel. After all, he closed up the barns so I could make sweets. This morning it was cupcakes for breakfast!
Every year, just when I despair that the winter is going to go on forever, and that my hens are never going to lay again, I get a glimmer of hope that spring is around the corner.
Yesterday, for the first time in months, one of the Bantam While Leghorns laid an egg.
And today, Tina Turner laid an egg! Her first one!
It’s well below freezing, and the winds are gusting at 20 miles per hour, but Spring is in the air. Thanks, girls!
These are my friend Marjie’s mini-Sicilian Donkeys.
I am VERY jealous.