Snowball laid an egg today! She is my only bantam hen, and the only one who lays white eggs. Here is a photo:
The large, roundish one on the left was laid by the Buff Orpingtons, Buffy. The one in the middle is, of course, Snowball’s, (it’s whiter than it looks in this photo) and the blue one on the right was laid by Perrie, the Araucana mix.
I will not be cooking with Snowball’s egg. It will be saved for a photo shoot for a children’s book, called, appropriately, Snowball Lays an Egg. It is a silly work of fiction in which Snowball has decided not to lay her eggs in the coop. I won’t give the story totally away, but I will tell you that she will be posed in tableaus filled with vintage chicken items and that in each photo, her egg will be hidden somewhere on the page.
How will I get her to pose for the camera? In the next few weeks, I’ll be training Snowball to stand on a post-it note. Yes, this is easy to do with chickens! They are so food motivated. I’ll be using clicker training. (This is the same technique used to train dolphins to jump through hoops.) You’ll be hearing more about this in the future.
It takes about 25 hours for a hen to produce an egg. The process starts in the ovary, when an ovum gets layered with yolk. Then it is released into the oviduct. As it travels down, it gets coated with egg white, wrapped in a membrane, and sealed in a shell. Usually, a hen produces a uniform product, although it can be unique to the hen. Ginger, for example, lays eggs that are pointy on both ends!
Sometimes, though, something goes awry. Yesterday, someone, I think one of the Australorps, laid a teeny-tiny egg. Here’s a picture of the eggs collected on Thursday. Note the small dark one in the center:
Sometimes, small eggs don’t have yolks. But this one did.
My little puppy, Scooter, who at 12 weeks old is only 5 pounds, ate that egg for breakfast.
(Notice the blood spot. Sometimes a speck of blood attaches to the egg as it makes it’s way down the oviduct. Unsightly, but edible.)
My daffodils aren’t blooming yet, and patches of snow remain in the shady areas of my yard, but I am absolutely, positively, sure that Spring is here. The sun has warmed the earth in the chicken yard enough so that today the girls scratched out hollows in the packed-down pen, and took the first dust baths of the season. Here is Buffy luxuriating in loose, defrosted dirt.
My friends, the talented LaReau sisters, came to visit last month. I sent them each home with a dozen eggs. Kara had tasted them before, but this was Jenna’s first time eating eggs from my hens. This is what she says about them: “I’m going to have to come up with a new name for those other things I’d been frying up with my bacon in the morning, now that I know what real eggs taste like. Bleggs? Dreggs? You spoiled me!”
Thanks, Jenna. I’ve been trying to come up with another word for those factory-farmed supermarket eggs, and I think that dreggs is perfect!