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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Egg and I

Glorious Cleo the Egg Layer

I've never felt the need to Twitter any chicken news, until today. What could be so important that it had to be instantly shared across the world? Well, today I witnessed something that I wanted to immediately tell everyone I knew: Today I watched Cleo lay an egg!

This afternoon when I went into the coop to collect the eggs, there was Cleo sitting in the nest cooing and making all sorts of soft maternal sounds. She didn't seem bothered by my presence, so I settled down in the coop and proceeded to wait and watch. It can take a chicken 20 to 30 minutes to lay an egg, so I had no idea how long I'd have to wait. In the meantime, I patiently sat there wishing I'd brought the camera.

She cooed and wiggled her butt, used her head to throw nesting material around and a few times repositioned herself to get the perfect position, all the while keeping up a low gentle murmur. Finally, when my legs were starting to cramp and I wondered if I should leave her to it, she raised her legs and rear keeping her head low, and in an instant out popped an egg. The egg was shiny and wet with the bloom that dries quickly but keeps bacteria from entering the shell. She instantly went to work moving the egg with her beak into the corner of the nest, presumably to protect it and keep it safe.

At that moment, as I watched her gently and carefully move that unfertilized egg that would never hatch into anything, I felt an overwhelming sadness that maybe I shouldn't be snatching her precious eggs and eating them for breakfast. But of course, they will never hatch and tomorrow she will lay another one and such I guess is the life of a chick. However, her gentleness and care was a good reminder to me of the precious gifts my chicks give.

Cleo's Egg

I do personally thank each of my chicks every day for the eggs they lay, but I especially thanked Cleo today for letting me witness her miracle. I'll eat that egg with extra blessings and wonder.

Cleo's eggs are beautiful. They are olive green on the outside, but blue on the inside! The color of an egg will not change the flavor, but it does make it more interesting to peel. Lulu's eggs are light blue inside and out, while Roxanne's eggs are brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Sometimes the best way to enjoy backyard eggs is the simplest. Today for lunch we had egg salad sandwiches. added a touch of spring to this sunny winter day.

Backyard Egg Salad Sandwiches
Print This Recipe

6 eggs, preferably at least 1 week old organic, free-range eggs
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
sliced artisan bread
mixed baby greens

Place eggs in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer very gently for 9 minutes (the water should lazily burp and bubble occasionally, but the eggs should never bounce or rattle; adjust the heat as necessary). Place the eggs in a bowl of ice water until cool. Peel and chop the eggs.

I usually chop them in my hand just as my grandmother did and mother still does. Does your mother or grandmother do this too? I know it's not the safest, but I fall back into old habits when making this recipe. Just for the record, it's safer to use a cutting board.

Toss the eggs with the shallots, pepper and salt.

Gently stir in the mayonnaise.

Makes 4 huge sandwiches or 6 normal-size sandwiches


  1. That is really cool for you to see. Although I thought maybe she had laid a golden egg! Maybe I just read too many fairy tales. I also used your chicks eggs to make egg salad sandwiches this weekend. The yellow part of the egg is such a bright vibrant yellow! Gayle

  2. mmmmm....egg salad sandwiches! They look so good!

  3. They were great, especially because it's been awhile since we've had any.

  4. Hi Janice, thanks for sharing this wonderful story. After reading it, I won't take my eggs for granted any more. I empathize how you felt kind of sad when you saw how she wanted to protect the egg...

  5. That's nice of you, thanks Leny.

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed the eggs Gayle! You're right, the color and taste is so different from supermarket battery-laid eggs. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Janice,
    I admit it. I have taken eggs for granted. I’ve overcooked them, I’ve undercooked them. I've painted them, hidden them and I’ve created wonderful pastries and enjoyed countless egg dishes and never once have I stopped to consider that each and every egg is a labor of love. Thank you for sharing this story.

  8. Thanks Dianne. It's true, we all need reminders now and then.

  9. Hey, If I move to Minneapolis, can I get fresh eggs from your girls? It's reading things like this that I wish we were all closer.

    (But don't get excited,not even thinking of moving.) :)

    Thanks for the great story Janice!


  10. Tim,
    Even if you just come visit I'll give you fresh eggs! It's been much too long since we were last together.



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