For many years now, we have dreamt of having our own free-range eggs to serve guests for breakfast at umSisi House. But the obstacles seemed overwhelming when looking at the pros and cons of safeguarding laying hens in the African bush.
When we bought umSisi House back in 2009, we inherited a 200 square-metre chicken house perched above our meadow with exceptional northerly views down the Peebles Valley towards the Kruger National Park. We have unfinished plans to turn this into a Chicken Run Eco-Gallery one day. At the same time, we also inherited a chicken hatchery that sits perfectly under red-leaved Fig and Mobola Plum trees. For years, we used this as our recycling house. But with time on our hands since lockdown began, we have upgraded this and built a 5 Star chicken house to welcome our soon-to-arrive laying hens. Our chicken house will safeguard our hens from the most common predators found in the air and on the ground around here including eagles and buzzards, snakes and mongooses, and our two Boxer dogs!
Using mock window frames from our re-build in 2009 plus several sheets of plywood from old shower door crates, every screw, washer, bolt, thread bar and old pine latte poles we could find (the hardware stores have only just re-opened having been closed since 27th March), Paddy has painstakingly raided his workshop to create two chicken hotels that will nestle side-by-side in the chicken house:
We have rescued 6 battery laying hens who will need to be rehabilitated to a life of freedom and pecking space. They will be joined by another 6 free-range laying hens who will hopefully act as their mentors! All of the hens will arrive around the 26th May. We are so excited!
While we have endless uses for free-range eggs here, it is breakfasts on the veranda that we are most excited about as this meal has always been one of the highlights of our guests stay at umSisi House, and an important part of our gourmet getaway theme.
The first breakfast recipe we are planning to serve with our free-range eggs as soon as our doors open for business again will be Fasolia (Middle-Eastern Spiced Kidney Beans) with pitta bread and poached eggs.
This bean dish is made with a base of tomatoes and spices. It benefits from as much chilli as your breakfast palate can handle! Please try this recipe at home and don’t be surprised when you never want to have baked beans on toast again!
We will write a follow-up post when our chickens are happily pecking away and enjoying their free-range life at umSisi House and we are enjoying their eggs!
This post is another in our series on zero food waste at umSisi House. If you have any questions you are welcome to contact us.