Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday encore ~ Sneaky Chickens

It was Friday around 5 o'clock and I was finishing up the evening chores. I opened the door 
to the nesting boxes and collected two lovely white eggs, gifts from Lady Mary and Edith. 
Egg production has tapered off lately, as the days get shorter and a few of the girls have begun to molt, 
so I was delighted to know that I would have a couple for Saturday's breakfast.

I scattered the girls' evening ration of chicken scratch on the ground and they all came running ...
except for Mrs. Hughes. Hmm. I hadn't seen her in the coop, so I took a stroll around the front yard 
to find her and let her know her dinner was ready. The stroll turned into an extended hike, 
and 15 minutes later, there was still no sign of Mrs. Hughes. Where could she be? 
Now desperate, I went back to the barn and looked in the last place I could think of – 
Wynonna's abandoned pig palace.
Sure enough, there was Mrs. Hughes in the far corner, and there were two white eggs nearby. 
I opened the lid to the pig palace to get a better look.
Was Mrs. Hughes sick or was she just being broody?

Johnny wanted to find out what was going on as much as I did.

A notorious biter, Mrs. Hughes might take off my whole hand if I tried to remove her from the pig palace,
but I really didn't want her hanging out in there, so I picked her up...

...and got quite a surprise.

Me: Don't count your chickens before they hatch, Mrs. Hughes. 
You're not keeping any of them!

I collected 26 eggs and boarded up the pig palace. 
The girls have three perfectly fine nesting boxes in their coop – they didn't need a secret stash.
Judging by the number of brown eggs I found, which I was certain were Mrs. Hughes',
I guessed that the girls had been pulling the feathers over my eyes for about two and half weeks.
Were these 26 eggs safe to eat? I turned to my favorite chicken whisperer, Danni, for advice.
Danni had never tried it but had read about it often enough to believe it had merit.

You place the questionable egg in a bowl of water. 
If it stays on its side at the bottom of the bowl, it's fresh and safe to eat. 
If it stands upright at the bottom, it's still safe but should be eaten soon or hard boiled. 
If it floats, throw it away.
The science behind this test is that since eggshells are porous and absorb air, 
the older the egg, the more air it has absorbed and the more it will float.

I was pleasantly surprised by my test results 
and even more so by the fact that something on the internet proved to be true.

Since I didn't have any floaters and still want to witness that part of the test, 
I stashed one of the eggs in the cupboard and will retest it in a few weeks.
You will remind me, right? A woman who loses track of 26 eggs is not to be trusted.

Meanwhile, I'll be having egg salad sandwiches for lunch every day this week.


  1. Maybe you should get a rooster? Start your own little flock?

  2. wow. this is quite a story... egg hoarder chickens, they might be RARE

  3. Here in the U,S,, the Federal Government says eggs must be washed before being sold. I understand that in England, the government doesn't require eggs to be washed before being sold. People don't ofter refrigerate their eggs in England, but leave them out on the counter. Washing the eggs removes an invisible protective film that allows air to pass thru the shell. That is why we refrigerate eggs in the U.S.

  4. The "bloom" is the antibacterial that the chicken produces to protect the developing embryo from bacteria present in the vent as it passes. A chicken only has one out. The oviduct closes after the egg passes into the same out as the poop. Without the bloom, the developing embryo might draw the bacteria in through the shell, which is nothing but a bunch of tubes. It expires and can draw in through those same tubes. In the U.S. we refrigerate our eggs because we buy so many and use so few. A fertilized egg can last 21 days at room temperature and still produce a chick. Now, for those of us without roosters, they are just food! They could still sit out and be fine. We just don't as a matter of habit and fear of food poisoning. Very icky.

  5. I can't recall - how did the test on the other egg come out?

    1. Here's a link to the post with the results

    2. Thanks! Weekends mean no time to enjoy looking through the blog for it!

  6. One of my favorite posts...Mrs. Hughes is quite a character and loves to peck at your feet.

  7. Obviously, this wouldn't apply in your case where you do not have fertile eggs .. . BUT an egg that sinks may not be fresh but may have a developing embryo. (Ask me how I know this is true.)

    Anonymous - it is illegal to sell eggs in Europe (including Great Britain) that have been washed. Therefore it behooves egg producers to keep the nesting boxes and areas clean. Producers in the US aren't so careful because the government does require eggs to be "cleaned". However, if washing temperatures drop below a certain temperature, what actually happens is that the porous eggs pulls in the material on the shell (usually fecal) and contaminates the inside of the egg. Since commercial eggs are often stored for up to six months before hitting the store shelves, eggs are refrigerated. The same rule applies to these eggs - if the outside temperature and egg temperature are dramatically different the egg will develop condensation and will "pull" in any outside contaminants; hence commercial eggs need to be refrigerated (and the consumer should just hope that condensation doesn't occur between the store and refrigerator.) There are a lot of reasons why it is safer for a consumer to buy locally from a farmer that they can trust to keep the food clean and safe - our government's rules and regulations that often create problems is just one of those reasons.

  8. You are quite a scientist. Your one egg experiment.

  9. Haha, I missed the "repost" part of the title and was thinking, "Didn't she already learn this?" Well, hopefully it's good to know some of us readers are paying close attention.

  10. Bless Mrs. Hughes' fierce mother's protection of her brood. You will need to change the name for the Pig Palace to The Hatchery.

  11. Haa! It's a good thing I read the other comments before I asked about the experimental egg that you put in the cabinet. The blog, "The Kitchn', also has some good tips on eggs, as well as some tasty recipes!


  12. Oh your sneaky hens want to have some chicks. Good thing you found those eggs.