World Egg Day

Here's an anniversary that may have passed you by. October 12 is World Egg Day. So many people keep a few chickens in their gardens these days that you can hardly go 100 yards without falling over a Buff Orpington - not literally, hopefully.

I grew up on a farm in the UK in the 50s and 60s and in those days there were hens running around the farmyard all day and shut in at night away from the foxes. Most laid their eggs in the boxes provided or made their own nests out of the straw in the chicken coop but occasionally one went “rogue” and decided to lay her eggs in some random corner of the farm.

So occasionally you'd come across a nest in a hedge containing a clutch of eggs. If we kids found one, I don't think we could have been more excited if we'd found a chest of gold.

Then Mum would dump them all in water - if they sank to the bottom, they were fresh enough to use, if they floated to the top they were probably stale. These were cracked one by one into a dish and subjected to the sniff test. If they smelt OK they were used in cakes, if they made you step back in horror they were thrown out.

We very much let nature take its course, allowing hens to stay broody and hatch out chicks. At one time we had a hen called Harriet who for some reason never laid an egg of her own even though she made plenty of nests. If she found an egg in another hen's nest in the chicken house she'd push it with her beak into her own des res. We always left her to it and when she'd gathered about half a dozen eggs she'd go broody and sit on them until they hatched.

But most of the eggs produced by our hens were eaten. What's not to like about an egg? It's the perfect food item, versatile, easy to cook and packed full of goodness. As with most foods, a health scare pops up occasionally. There was the "don't eat more than three eggs a week or you'll die of a heart attack" scare, with claims they contained too much artery-clogging cholesterol. As is the way with most dire health warnings, this was recently proven to be a load of rubbish. In fact the opposite is true.

It seems the type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries isn't present in eggs and eggs are, in fact, low in saturated fat. And they are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. One warning from the British Heart Foundation was to pay attention to how you serve your eggs. Obviously poached eggs on wholemeal bread is going to be healthier than fried egg, bacon and sausage (damn!).

Notice how I have spared you all the eggcellent egg puns that abound. That was eggstraordinarily kind of me. But you'll have to eggcuse me if before I make my eggsit, I leave you with this joke:

Where can you go to learn more about eggs?

The hen-cyclopedia.

(Sorry, not sorry!)

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  1. All of my great nieces and nephews have urban chickens and none had chickens growing up. Love the story about Harriet. She was meant to be a mama.

  2. Ah yes, I do remember when eating eggs was considered bad. So glad we're over that now.

  3. "hen-cyclopedia" That's new to me :)
    I love eggs, usually scrambled with grated cheese added in the mix.

  4. I appreciate your description of keeping chickens. :)