Laying an Egg…Idioms and Reality

Have you ever wondered about the phrase, ‘laid an egg’ which implies that one failed or screwed up somehow? Why is a goose egg considered to be a negative?  Where the heck did this come from? I’m trying not to be offended by this nomenclature since I’m so enamored with my egg laying chickens!

I do not want to seem defensive here since I still find each and every precious egg laid in our nest boxes (and elsewhere!) to be a small and personal gift from our hens, but I did want to find some answers to this question so of course I turned to the internet. I’ll spare you the links and just give you a quick quote I found that describes a couple of valid origins.

“Throughout my search, it seems that the majority of “goose egg” references is in the world of sports. Referencing a scoreboard and seeing the number zero that has a similar “look” as a round, elongated egg of a goose. Sample scoreboard references: “The home team got a big goose egg on the scoreboard,” or “At the end of the game there was nothing but goose eggs next to our name,” and even used as a verb sometimes “I played a tennis match and was goosegged, I lost 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.” Some believe that the term is an Americanization of the British term “duck’s egg” and that even that originated through sports – in 1870, in a game of cricket, a “duck’s egg” denoted a score of zero; and around the same time in baseball, the “goose egg” reference came alive. In tennis, a score of zero is known as “Love” in the USA, which “sounds” like the original French term for the score “l’ouef” which means… you guessed it – an egg!”

So, please disregard the negative aspect when I continue to describe our current egg status which I find to be pure success! We are thrilled that after 3 weeks of the initial hen laying we have recorded a total of 90 eggs with our highest single day of 9 eggs and our highest weight of 54 grams. Yeah, progress!

But I’ve been on the lookout for something called a ‘strange egg’ and we were on the receiving end of that for the first time this morning – perhaps a little Christmas present?

So I ventured out to the coop at first light and found what I can only describe as a strange egg! ‘Strange eggs’ are recognized as those that are laid by very young hens before their reproductive systems have been fully developed. Sometimes they are ‘bumpy’ looking due to a partial shell, but they can also be shell-less and encased in their membrane alone. This is what I found today sitting on the drop board of the coop. It looks pretty normal, right? IMG_1603.JPG

Well, it is a good thing I was not surprised when I picked it up and my citizen scientist persona got right to work on this!  A photo doesn’t tell the tale but hopefully a video does.

Given the research on this type of ‘egg’ I was curious to cut into it and see if there was a yolk inside. Here is the answer!

Yes, there was a yolk inside but the entire egg package was on the small side, also indicative of a hen that is newly laying.

We took great joy this Holiday Season in dropping off wee packages of eggs in small containers to our friends and neighbors. But this brings up another question: do we wash the eggs we are gifting to people? FYI, anyone who received eggs from the farm: Yes, we washed the eggs and they need to be refrigerated just like eggs you would buy from the grocery. But here is what some of the eggs look like before we washed…just a couple are less perfect looking.  IMG_1590.JPG

We are learning more and more about the egg industry and want our facts to be correct when it comes to egg freshness as well as egg safety.  Do you ever wonder why you see racks of eggs sitting on the kitchen countertops in foreign films? or the same in outdoor European farmers’ markets? There is a very interesting difference in how these commercial eggs are handled.  This  is a really good article that details much of the issue at hand.

So again, all eggs ‘gifted’ from the farm have been washed according to the USDA standards but I’m seriously interested in the issues presented by the author of this article and want to keep safety first and freshness next in all that we do here at the farm.

Our holiday celebration with little Coulter was very fun. He played the piano…img_1572

Greeted Gramps at the front door…img_1601And helped decorate the Wise Old Owl tree in memory of my dad (‘hoot’ owls were the centerpieces of his 90th birthday celebration)…img_1512He gladly helped with all the present unwrapping this morning but interpreted each and every bundle to be a TRUCK!

Hoping for Peace in the New Year!



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