That’s part of a Mark Twain quote; here it is in its entirety – “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.” Well, excuse me, Mr. Twain, but if you’d just produced the world’s most perfect food, packaged within such a beautiful case, you’d be cackling, too!
This post is just a shameless offering of gratitude for the wonderful gifts my hens give every day. Having a regular and affordable supply of organically produced eggs was one of the main reasons I started my adventure with chickens one year ago.
Theoretically, a hen can lay an egg every 25 hours, so in optimum conditions, my flock should be good for 5-6 a day. Optimum conditions don’t occur every day. Here in North Carolina, our summers get really hot and humid, and the hens feel the effects just like we do and production drops a bit when the temps approach 100.
Egg laying is also directly related to day length, so in the fall, production drops significantly. Adding light in the coop to extend daylight to sixteen hours has helped, but I added light after they’d already slowed down, so it has taken weeks to get back up to more normal production and it’s still not quite there. This coming fall, the light’s going on October 1st!
Here’s the haul from one day last August, our biggest egg day so far, labeled with the hen’s breed – eight hens laid nine eggs, most unusual – Since only one of my hens lays the light blue/green eggs, I knew who was working overtime! Here, I think Sweet Thing is telling me not to get used to it – They’re beautiful, with hard shells, tall, plump, orange yokes, and they look pretty fabulous in a pan. These were still warm from the nest when I cracked them open this morning…
Here’s a typical dozen from my gang –
and here’s one of my favorite meals, with some Cherokee Purple tomatoes from the garden and homemade hash browns – The taste is better, brighter, and richer than the factory eggs from the grocery store. I want to make sure that whatever my hens are producing, be it eggs, or manure for compost, is as pure and nutrient-rich as possible, so I’m careful what they eat. I use soy-free, organic feed from a farm in the area.
Of course, they also get veggie scraps from the kitchen and anything left in the garden. They particularly enjoy special treats like pasta, oatmeal, and apples, too. Good stuff in, great eggs come out!
Over the holidays, I was baking quite a bit and needed extra eggs so I bought a dozen large eggs at the grocery store for a few recipes. I hated to do it but it was a good opportunity to be reminded of the difference, even just in appearance and size. Here’s how the eggs from my girls, on the left, look in comparison to the ones from the store… Not too shabby, eh? Not all eggs come out perfect, though. I’ll never forget the first time I grabbed one of these, with the shell only partially formed. It looked normal; the indentations you see were from my fingers grabbing it. It must have been a welcome relief for the hen, but was a shock to me! I had to do some research! Sometimes, particularly with a young hen, new to laying, this will happen. If it happens regularly, something’s wrong with the diet or health of the hen, but usually, it ain’t nothin’ but a thang. Sometimes, again with a young hen, an egg will be quite small, but that’s rare, too – I’d always liked eggs, but had grown a bit weary of them. Now, I’ve fallen completely in love with them again – AND – study after study is coming to the same conclusion – that there is no evidence of a significant correlation between the cholesterol in eggs and an increased risk of strokes and coronary heart disease. The lecithin in eggs actually serves to reduce cholesterol levels.
Eggs are full of protein, vitamins and minerals, and most of the fat found in eggs is unsaturated.
Couple that with their versatility – what other equally nutritious food can be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes?