Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eggs of Distinction

When I was washing eggs this morning, yes, when the weather turns warm, into the low 40F, I especially have to wash eggs as the ole girls not only deposit eggs into their nests but mud at a rapid rate as well, I was doing my thing and my mind began to whirl and I wondered if you've noticed what I've noticed? A hen lays the same style of egg over and over again.
And further more I wondered if you, like me, come home in a rush and have to put your eggs into the refrigerator to deal with later. Deal with, I'm meaning wash if the ole girls have pooped on on one or gotten a few of them a bit muddy. Just in case, just so you know, the experts recommend using water 20F warmer than the eggs. Not hard to do when the eggs are chilled in the refrigerator, then again the chicken coop is rather chilly most days this time of the year anyway so I could wash them right away if I had the time. Washing your eggs in this manner prevents thermal cracks or blind cracks. I don't go so far as to use a anti-bacterial in washing my eggs like the chicken farms do. I can't tell you how much hm... barnyard germs I've consumed over the years. I'm not afraid of it killing me but I'm not confident that the chemical laden practices of the mass farmers won't.
While handling the eggs, it's the crinkly shelled ones that fascinate me the most. I know you aren't suppose to hatch the odd shaped ones but I like them. You'd think it would be the no yolkers that new hens sometimes lay or the double yolkers, but no, it's these funny wrinkly ones that I like best. Maybe it's my advancing age but I can really relate to those eggs, my skins a bit saggy and baggy too. I don't pay any attention to the claims by the University of Kentucky that their shells break more easily. I think they have real character.

And since hens lay the same shape of egg over and over again, because of the internal structure of their oviduct and pelvic bones, some years I have a fair amount of these sculpted beauties.
Because of this fact, that a hen lays the same type of egg, I can determine how many eggs a particular hen is laying. That is if I was willing to spend a great deal of time in my chicken coop. I wouldn't mind checking in frequently to say hello and observe what the girls are laying but my coop is 3/4 of a mile from the house - not convenient. I do chance upon a hen now and then who is in the middle of the process and if she has enough distinction in feather or body shape, I can pin down her style of egg. This allows me to count how many eggs she is laying per week. That is if she isn't laying the same style as five other hens in the coop. You know, the common shape, the kind you buy at the store.
Maybe to be more accurate I should say those that lay eggs of distinction, don't you like that, you can count how many eggs they are laying per week. Then again you could put them all in cages and you'd definitely know, but I think we're all trying to get away from the mass, factory style raising of livestock.

Yet, even though I don't know how many eggs most of my hens are laying, I still have this obsession of separating out the eggs after I've cleaned them.
If you are an M&M eater, you might have noticed how people divide the colors into groups before eating them. Some even eat the colors in a pattern, brown, then green, etc. I go beyond this to not only separating them out but eating all the odds ones. If green has six and blue seven, I'll eat a blue one to make the two even and so on and so forth. Yes, I know I'm an odd duck. Blame it on my Autism if you 'd like but I just have to put the eggs into rows of six so that I know how many dozen I have and how many cartons to go get from the basement and then if I've a spare moment, I separate the eggs out into to shapes too. Giving a quiet cheer, lest someone is listening, to the hen with the most eggs.
Now all those of you who have to buy your eggs from the store, don't you feel deprived? All those chickens who lay odd shaped eggs are eliminated and you miss out on the enjoyment of witnessing football shaped ones, elongated ones with a decided point end,

fairly short with a pointed end ones, and some which appear perfectly oval. Those last ones are the ones I'm left scratching my head over since I don't know which side to turn downward into the egg carton. You did know that the pointy end goes down, didn't you? Yes, it helps the egg to stay fresher.
As I was making sure I knew why chickens laid different shaped eggs. I came across this site that talked about the differences of eggs of all types of birds. Did you know that there is this bird that lives on the cliffs and it has a decidedly pointy ended egg so that it will roll in a circle and is therefore not as likely to roll off the cliff? Fascinating huh? Don't believe everything you read on the Internet though, because I found some discussion about whether egg shape could determine the sex of the chick that forms inside. Don't believe those that tell you that the pointy elongated ones will be roosters if you hatch them and the round shaped ones will be females. That would mean the same chicken would have the exact same sexed offspring. Wouldn't the hatcheries love that? They'd be producing almost all female egg laying breeds and almost all male meat breeds.

Then you get eggs like this with this speckled white appearance and those with brown dots on them that you can scratch off with your fingernail. Don't know why but I like the brown dotted ones. I do know that eggs have 8,000 microscopic holes in their shells. Yes, eggs breathe. That's how a baby chicks gets oxygen. You might have notices the inside of your eggs are rather dry when they get old.

Now I really must go and make an angel food cake to put in the freezer. Yes, the girls are starting to wind up and lay more eggs because of the longer daylight hours. The light goes through the pupils stimulating the pituitary gland which... Okay, we'll discuss this on another day.

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