"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Soft Shell Eggs

There are things that you get to experience in farming that you just never can when you live the urban or suburban or faux country life. There are people who have their summer vacation get-aways up here in the mountains, but that's nothing like living here full time and trying to create a place that can survive if "the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it" (TEOTWAWKI) takes place.  When you've always gotten your milk from the grocery store, you've never experienced milking a cow or goat and the immense difference in taste of raw, unpasteurized milk. I've had people tell me they didn't like tomatoes and then after I got them to try one of my home-grown, vine ripened tomatoes, they said, "OMG! That's what they're supposed to taste like?!?"
Golden Comet Hen with egg

You probably didn't know that from the moment they are picked, many vegetables, especially peas and corn, begin to deteriorate in flavor.  This is because the delicate sugars and the enzymes start to break down. That's why eating peas right off the vine in my garden is like candy. After they've set around in transit from some farm in California or Chile or Peru, or wherever, they just aren't going to taste as good.  I bring this up because not only do most people never experience how food ought to taste, they also don't experience a lot of the challenges that come with growing their own food.  When you get that burger or that fried chicken, or whatever, it is extremely far removed from all the steps it took to get it to your stomach. Those pretty white eggs come in a nice little carton after having been dropped by chickens fed a factory produced feed out of a machine, the chickens themselves fed by automated feeders, and the eggs are automatically sorted by size. You never get to see what happens when things don't go perfectly.

In reality, about 1 in 30 or so eggs fail.  You might get a longer streak with no problems, or you might have several in a row where the shells fail. Most of these cases, the parts that you eat are perfectly fine if handled carefully. A complete failure is when you open the door and there's just a busted egg laying in the bedding material. If the shell is all gone, this is a bad thing, because it means the chicken(s) ate the shell, which means they need calcium and aren't getting enough.  Time for crushed oyster shell.(BTW, humans can only assimilate decent amounts of calcium from vegetable sources, so don't waste your money on supplements from non plant sources). Otherwise, you can occasionally get an egg that is soft, as if the shell were made of thin leather.  Such an egg will be quite translucent, as the photo shows.
Translucent Egg

One of the problems with taking pictures is that they can't always relate to the viewer certain aspects. It is very hard to tell that there really is an egg between my forefinger and thumb in this picture.  I even turned the dimmer switch down on the halogen light to improve the view, but it didn't help as much as I hoped.

When you get such eggs, there is nothing wrong with the contents. You simply snip the end with scissors and empty the shell.  The resulting collapsed shell looks like the third pic.

It is fairly common for the first eggs from the chickens to come out soft like this.  Since they've begun laying, we've had about a gross (144) of eggs, and in the last half of that group there have only been about two or three softies.  What has really been amazing is how many huge JUMBO eggs and double yolk eggs we get.  I will try to remember sometime in the near future to buy a dozen eggs from the grocery store and  post a picture that shows a side by side comparison of our eggs versus theirs.

When we went to Asheville, NC to get rhubarb from Pauline, she showed off her chickens, and she also had some Golden Comets and some Black Sexlinks. She told us she had given some eggs to somebody and when she offered them more, they refused them.  Their reason?  "They were too rich."  Now THAT's rich!

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