Friday, November 21, 2008

In Praise of Eggs

In a previous post An Egg! I said there would be time for larger eggs and more colorful eggs. That time has definitely come! Right now, we are averaging between eight and ten eggs a day, and each one is more lovely than the last.

Here's a recent sampling.

The speckled one and the dark, dark brown one are from Cuckoo Marans. The blue, green, and olive green (my favorite) are from the Ameraucanas. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly who is giving us the pale pink eggs.

Most of the eggs weigh in at a standard "medium" weight, but what they lack in size, the certainly make up for in color.

We did go through a short spell of double eggs. These weren't ordinary double yolked eggs, they were completely double--double yolk and double white. Essentially, there were two separate eggs in the one shell. Here's an image of one of the blue doubles.

And for comparison, here's a medium sized speckled one:

The speckled ones are interesting, too. You can feel the little specks, and if you examine them carefully....sheesh...examining eggs...I really need to get off the farm more often, don't I? Anyway, when you examine the specks, you can feel that they are raised. In effect, they are little globs of dark brown stuck all over the egg.

With so many eggs, we have instituted a new rule: All visitors must take eggs. It doesn't matter whether you want them or not--you can't leave without them. The UPS man was a bit taken aback by the new rule, but when I explained how Bessie the Rottweiler felt about the situation, he suddenly developed a craving for fresh eggs.

OK. The truth is the UPS man was thrilled with the eggs, but that doesn't sound half as interesting, does it? And it doesn't give me a chance to include an image of Old Bess.

Here are a few things I've learned from my chickens:

  • Gathering eggs never gets old. From the last day of September when I found the very first egg through to yesterday afternoon when I found the 372nd one, it's always a thrill to find some eggs in the nest boxes.

  • It pays to buy good stock at the beginning. I ordered my flock from Ideal Poultry and couldn't be happier with them. They are big and healthy, and I only lost one a couple of days after they arrived.

  • I can eat quiche for lunch for three weeks in a row. To clarify this isn't the same quiche--same recipe, but not the same quiche.

  • There is no such thing as an ordinary egg. It doesn't matter whether it's tan or brown or blue or green, speckled or solid--every egg is as special and unique as the hen who laid it. The variety of color, texture, size and shape never ceases to amaze me.

  • Chickens are hardy and forgiving. This is my first flock and therefore very much a learning experience. They have suffered through my experiments with feed, lighting schedules, and everything else without a single incident.

  • There are few things that feel as nice in your hand as an egg that's so fresh it's still warm. Not only does it fit neatly into the palm of your hand, there's something about the texture and weight that makes it feel very precious.

  • One of the best things in the morning is to hear the hens singing their Bok-Bok-Ba-Bok laying songs. Like finding eggs, this never gets old. It's a sweet little confirmation that everything's ok.

  • And finally, a rooster can serve many purposes. Not only does Idiot wake up the flock in the mornings, he alerts them to any perceived threats such as hawks and high flying aircraft. He helped a hen who had gotten out of the run find her way back, and in one very unusual situation, he even came to the aid of an egg-bound hen. (As this is a G-rated blog, I'm afraid you'll just have to use your imagination on that last one.)