The days are starting to lengthen noticeably. I'm so glad to have the luxury of daylight after my 25 mile commute home when I change into my farm boots and begin my share of the evening chores. I know the chickens can sense spring is coming too, since I'm getting more eggs every day now.
A hen will only lay one egg per day, but her body tells her to knock that off as fall approaches and winter sets in, because that's no time to be raising babies! Even though the mothering instinct and the will to sit on eggs for 3 weeks has been bred out of the majority of laying hens, their bodies still respect the natural rhythms of the seasons. It's possible to trick the hens into thinking the dark days of winter have passed by putting a light on a timer in the hen house. During the shortest days in December, we set it so that it the hens have light for 12 hours- 7 am to 7 pm. (it helps me get the eggs collected when I'm running late as well!). It does make a big difference, but even though the light is still on, I'm noticing an average increase in my eggs as the weeks creep toward spring.
We actually eat more eggs during the winter, for although the chickens are not laying as many as they do in the summer months, I'm not selling near as many since the stand is closed. So it's egg salad to pack my lunch or a treat of deviled eggs with dinner. Having fresh eggs all the time, it's easy to forget what a treat they are compared to those white things in the supermarket.
When I went to North Carolina over the holidays to visit with my family, my brother Cory was so excited to have "real eggs." He wanted to know why brown eggs taste better, and what the difference was between brown & white. I told him that the shell color is determined by the breed of hen it came from. While the breed that holds up best in factory-farm type conditions lays a white egg, most barnyard breeds lay brown eggs. Since barnyard birds usually get more exercise, sunlight, and good natural food like worms and grass, the eggs do taste stronger, but it's a flavor most folks appreciate. Farm eggs are generally fresher as well, so that's why a common misconception is that brown eggs taste better. All my fresh eggs taste wonderful, and I have eggs that are dark brown, light brown, white, and even blue-green! The last ones come from yet another breed of hen, but yes, they really are chicken eggs!
I love having "rainbow" eggs.