The Story of the Egg

There was a time when an egg was nothing spectacular to me. It was just a thing that you couldn’t toss around like a football. It wasn’t supposed to sit on a wall lest it have a great fall. It came from a chicken, magically it seemed. Just a squawk and suddenly we have an egg whilst the chicken beamed. This brings me to the age old conundrum of what came first the egg or the chicken? Regardless, both are here now, and an egg can grow up to be anything it wants, especially chow. It won’t ever hatch into a chicken unless there is a rooster in the pen. Otherwise it can be scrambled,poached , boiled, or fried. It can be devillish and at Easter, dyed. This doesn’t even touch the amount of cakes and goodies they make happen. Eggs are King Bacon’s queen in the Kingdom of Breakfast. Eggs, my friends, are pretty amazing, if you ask me, but how do they come to be?

An egg is all a part of a chicken’s reproductive cycle. A female chicken is born with as many follicles or ova as she will ever have in her life. The ova will turn into the yolks of an egg as the hen matures. As you can see in the picture below, there are larger and smaller ova. The larger ones, are the ova that are the most ready to turn into an egg.

 

Picture 1

 

So the egg starts its journey in the ovaries of a chicken, but it still has a ways to go. Here you can see the rest of the reproductive track of the chicken:

Picture 2

In each of these sections, different parts of the egg develop. It isn’t just the shell, whites, and yolk.

Picture 3

 

It typically takes 25 hours for an egg to develop  and be laid. Light and feed do affect the amount of eggs laid by a hen. The genetics and breed of a hen determine the color of the egg shell. It has something to do with the amount of proteins put in the shell. Chickens naturally lay shades of white, brown, and green/blue eggs.

I wish somebody made 3X3 egg cartons!
Picture 4

 

Most times the ears of a chicken can tell you what color eggs they will lay. Red ears are indicators of brown eggs and white ears mean white eggs. Pretty handy, huh?

This chicken has a red ear, so she lays brown eggs.
This chicken has a red ear, so she lays brown eggs.

Their genetics and breed also affect the size of the eggs. It is also interesting to note that when a hen first starts laying eggs, weird things can happen. Sometimes, they are extra tiny eggs or the shell may not develop fully. After a few weeks they get into the swing of things, though.

Is there a chick in there?

Any egg you buy from the store will not be fertilized. Those hens are not exposed to roosters at all. Local farms may have a rooster with their hens, but a chick will not develop unless they have been left out in certain temperature. If you have ever seen something in the yolk that you thought was an embryo, you are probably seeing a meat spot or blood spot.

Picture5

It is just a malfunction on the hen’s part. Most likely a blood vessel burst, and the egg was involved. It is completely fine to eat, it just might not be as pretty when you crack the egg open.

Egg Bloopers:

A hen is not perfect and neither are her eggs. You may be used to eggs looking the exact same if you buy them from the store, but they look the same, because they have been candled (a light shone through them to detect imperfections like meat spots). They go through a rigorous grading procedure. These imperfections do not make the egg bad to eat, it just makes them not uniform. Store eggs are uniform, because that is what the standard is. An egg may be rejected to go to a store, because it is too big, has bumps on it, has a meat spot, or is not the right shape. If an egg is too long or too big, it won’t fit in the cartons correctly and will be more likely to break. So, shape matters, and odd shapes will not go to the store. Sometimes eggs get little bumps on them. These are calcium deposits. Again, it doesn’t affect the quality of the egg, just the uniformity. Double yolk eggs are also rare in a store, because eggs are candled, and these are considered abnormal. Double yolks happen when two ova drop down and get enveloped by the shell simultaneously. A final blooper that can occur in egg development is a ridge. Eggs can break inside the hen. When this happens, the chicken repairs the egg before it is laid. This causes a ridge in the shell. Bloopers happen. You just probably won’t see them in a store.

And that my friends, is the story of the egg. They are as unique as you and I, and are quite the spectacle. I hope you will share the story of the egg with all as you color Easter eggs this weekend!

And you and eggs lived happily ever after.

The End


 

Picture Credits:

1,2,3, 4, 5

Tutorial Perfect for Decorating Brown Eggs

Easter is right around the corner. I can practically hear the Easter Bunny’s hops in the distance Fun fact: I dressed up as the Easter Bunny for several years for a local group. I feel that I have a closer bond with the real Easter Bunny, now. Anyways, back to Easter shenanigans.

My family’s tradition is to color Easter eggs on Saturday evening with normal dye. We are all given strict instructions to only take a certain amount of eggs; however, every once in a while, there is a miscount. The creative juices get going, and our math skills waiver. Things happen, you know?

Easter is the one time where we buy eggs. Our chickens graciously provide an abundance of eggs to our family and others. We will use a couple of their eggs for dying, but they are all brown, and the colors aren’t as vibrant. So, we buy big white eggs from the store. I did get a head start on the egg decorating this year, and thought I would share what I did with you.

I didn’t use any dye, just a bit of Mod Podge and a napkin. There is so many things you can do with this, and perhaps you will try it too. It was ideal for my home grown brown eggs for sure! Without any more waiting, here is the Non-dyed, Mod Podge Easter Egg.

Supplies:

  • Paint brush
  • Modge Podge or equal parts craft glue and water mixed together
  • Egg
  • Napkin or paper (the napkin works best with its flexibility)supplies

Instructions:

  • If you are taking your egg straight from the fridge, it will probably sweat a bit, so be sure to dry it off well.bunny
  • Cut your napkin into whatever pieces you want to put on your egg.
  • Next, brush a bit of Mod Podge onto the egg. Not a lot at all. Take your piece of napkin and lay on top of it. Brush another layer of Mod Podge on top of the napkin. glue egg
  • While we are letting it dry, let’s talk about some egg statistics:

Statistics:

As of December 2014…

  • There are about 306 million layers.
  • They averaged 79.9 eggs per 100 hens
  • Iowa is the top producer of eggs
  • There are around 175 egg producing companies that have flocks of 75,000 hens or more and these represent 99% of all layers in America.
  • 66 egg producing companies have over 1 million layers which represents 87% of total egg production.
  • 16.6 million hens are cage-free and organic producing layers.

Instructions Cont.:

  • If it is dry, then you have a completed egg. Enjoy! Come back to the blog on Friday for more facts about eggs. They are certainly interesting.eggegg doen

    Source:

http://www.unitedegg.org

Bringing Palm Sunday to Life– Taking a Donkey Inside the Church

When they brought the colt [donkey] to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Mark 11:7-10


Today, for this Palm Sunday, I was able to witness and take part in making these words come alive.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by First Presbyterian Church for a special request. They wanted to know if I would be willing to bring my donkey to the Palm Sunday service. I had done this once before for another church several years ago, and really enjoyed it, so of course, I said yes! We worked out the details, and April and I were set to go to church.

Yesterday, I caught April and washed her. She was none too pleased at being wet. I must admit, it was a little nippy. aprilShe did enjoy the scrubbing part, though. I made sure to hit all of her itchy spots.  After getting all of the hay and dirt out of her coat, I tied her up to dry. Her friends, (Mirage, her grown daughter, and Firefly, our little rescue pony) lined the fence to watch what all was going on. Every now and again, April would stomp her feet in protest at the indignity she was enduring. Don’t let her fool you completely; she got treats galore. I locked her up in a stall for the night, so she wouldn’t get dirty.

wash

The next morning was showtime. Garrett graciously agreed to drive down to be my chauffeur and assistant (he’s a great boyfriend). I was a bit nervous for the day, to be honest. I didn’t doubt that April would behave, but at the same time, she is an animal, and they have a mind of their own. I was just praying she wouldn’t relieve herself inside the church. Yes, April would be going inside the church–in the sanctuary. Now you see why I was a bit nervous (even though, the last time she held her bowels).

Upon arriving, Garrett and I met with various members of the church. They made us feel right at ease and were incredibly enthusiastic about us being there. That made me even more excited and definitely less nervous. They handed me a Biblical costume and asked Garrett if he wanted to dress up too. Garrett, being Garrett, is always up for anything. Amazingly, they found a costume that went below his knees (he is 6’7″ tall). After getting dressed, we walked through the route that we would be leading April down. She would walk up a ramp, through some doors, into the sanctuary, down the aisle and back out. Simple enough.

Garrett and I went outside to take April for a walk to get the jitters out of her. She let out one bray to announce her presence, but was very quiet otherwise. We slipped her carrots here and there for reassurance. I think she thought it was worth it for the orange sticks.

donkey and g and m

Soon, it was time for her grand entrance. I walked her in the doors to a foyer area. Inside were a lot of excited children dressed up, holding palm branches. April took it all in. She wasn’t entirely sure about the slick marble flooring, but didn’t make a big deal out of it, especially with carrots on her mind. Garrett stood behind her and slipped me carrots to give her. Music began to play, and our cue for entering began. We followed Rev. Leigh down the aisle as she laid palm branches as she went. April made me tug a little bit to get her in the large room filled with people, but soon pranced on. She cracked me up in regards to the palm branches. She dodged every single one, weaving in out of them, avoiding stepping on them. Who knew she would prefer red carpet over green leafy stuff.

The children filed in behind us and went to their places at the front of the church. April and I stood in front of them so parents could get a few pictures. One little girl came over to love on April while everyone was singing. When the song ended, Garrett, April and I walked back out the way we came. I breathed out a sigh of relief that I hadn’t needed to use the shovel in the trailer. No poop today. Hurrah!! We put April back in the trailer and slipped back in the church to hear the lovely sermon and the kids sing. It was really nice, and the sermon went perfectly with the presence of the donkey and it being Palm Sunday.

After the service, we took April back out so everyone could meet her. I could not ask for a more patient donkey. She was surrounded on all sides by people and a multitude of hands touching her at one time. She just stood there, looking left and looking right. Even when her tail got grabbed, she only took one step forward. She really was perfect.

palm

kids and donkey

I was so glad the day turned out to be such a success. I had faith in April (otherwise I wouldn’t have brought her) but she being an animal, you never know. I was most worried about stinky accidents. All went well, and she smelled nice from her bath. She made a lot of people smile, and made a timeless and poignant story come to life. She even got a few carrots out of the deal.

palm sun

I think one of the things that resound with people most is the presence of the cross on April’s back. Legend says that the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, loved him so much that the little donkey followed Jesus to Calvary. Filled with grief at the suffering of his Lord on the cross, the donkey turned to leave, but could not. It was in that moment that the shadow of the cross fell upon the donkey’s back. Ever since then, donkeys have borne the mark of the cross as a reminder to us all what Jesus did for us on that day–died so that we may go to heaven. April, like many other donkeys, share this same symbol of love.

I hope you all had a wonderful Palm Sunday; however, I’m not sure it could get much better than mine. I am so grateful for the folks at First Presbyterian for making us feel welcome and exhibiting such excitement. I am glad I got to be a part of such a special day.

pa

I hope you remember the legend of the donkey, especially as Easter approaches.

Best,

Marisa