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Ventures of Blue Hen Eggs…

October 13, 2011



Since late May, we have been getting beaucoups of eggs. And when I say beaucoups, I mean, maybe, 15-20 a day? So in an effort to deal with all these eggs, I began to sell them here and there, to friends at church or at work or in the thrift store or down the road. I supplied the in-laws weekly with colorful gifts of nutritious bounty, and ate as many eggs as I could manage a day (something I can never tire of, but something that has already stigmatized Jason against the curious creation that bears both food and life). At one point, I told myself, I’m going to work on selling these eggs formally. So when Marta moved in, she asked, “Why don’t you? Why don’t you sell your eggs?” Well, I retorted, because! I have things to figure out. Things like the cost and the cartons and the ungradedness and the legality of the ungradedness…and…oh bolonie, I realized…I was just stalling. So I marched down the road to my butcher, Gore’s, (well, I actually drove the .4 of a mile–as a New Yorker, I should be ashamed), and went to Mr. Gore myself. Can I sell my eggs here in your shop? I cringed, bracing myself for the rejection of my backyard bounty, expecting a cadre of questions as to the cost, the safety, the delivery, the FDA blahdablahdablada. “Sure!” Sure. That’s what I got in response! And to boot, all profits were mine to keep, if I set up my own little money box. And that I did, along with a little sign advertising “Blue Hen Eggs.”

Since early June, the eggs have been sellin’ weekly like hot cakes. Well, rather, like eggs that might be beat into hot cakes and add a nice golden color with their nice golden yolks. Either bi-weekly or weekly, I slip into the shop, place 5-7 dozen on the shelf next to my little sign, and collect any money that is in the tin. However, a little over a week ago, I noticed a considerable drop in egg production. A couple less one day, a couple less the next. And finally over the weekend, I was down to only a few eggs! Something was wrong, and it was time to troubleshoot. My concern escalated as I trekked through the wet grass in my muckers. Were they laying eggs outside, in their daily free-rangin’ explorations? Were they too cold with the coming of fall? Were they eating well enough? And finally, after noticing a funny bump on the comb (the fleshy red part on a chicken’s head) of one of the girls, we discovered the culprit–CHICKEN POX! Can you imagine that chickens might get chicken pox? Well, apparently, I know it’s hard to believe, but they can! Although it is not the same strain as the human virus, it spreads similarly as it does in our kindergarten classrooms–physical touch, sharing of germs, you know, the normal kid stuff. Or normal bird stuff–most likely a wild bird brought the virus into the flock. Makes sense, since a multitude of barn swallows make the hen house home throughout the year. Well, apparently, the whole flock has caught it, and after reading up (and thanking God that my chickens hadn’t just up and decided to stop layin’ as some kind of protest or that they didn’t have some extremely dangerous illness), it appears that the ladies (and Spavaldo II, the rooster too) will have to let the virus run its course and should be back on track in about a week or two. So this morning at 7:30 am, when I got a call from Jerry, one of the butchers, alerting me that customers had been asking for more eggs since Saturday, I knew I had to do something. In an effort to alert my customers to the Blue Hen Egg shortage, I constructed the following note, which is taped up on the butcher shop wall along with a photo of the eggs in their colorful splendor:

Man, more and more these chickens feel like children! First you, raise them up from little peeps, caring for their every move, making sure they survive, watching in awe as they develop their own personalities. Next you help “push them out of the nest” so to speak, and send them out to their own little house, into the school of the world. You worry if they will make it, if they will brave the elements and stand up to their bullies. And now, they bring home the flu. Or chicken pox. But before you know the cause of their illness, you google frantically away, searching for any information as you sweat over whether or not to call the doctor. What care this little flock demands! But they give much in return. Much laughter, much joy, much nourishment, much help in consuming all kitchen scraps and keeping the front yard a bug-free zone. They continue to amaze me, as does the elegant colors of their bounty. And the few dollars in egg money doesn’t hurt either. It brings me back to a smaller economy, when a few dollars in your pocket is spent in more meaningful ways that the all-too-familiar swipe of our plastic. The tattered green bills speak of the people that stuffed their money down into the jar, and of the community that such sharing offers. It also makes me utterly value whatever I choose to purchase with those few purposeful dollars. Merci, beaucoup, mes poulets!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2011 8:12 am

    as always . . . . well written and beautiful pictures

  2. October 13, 2011 1:40 pm

    I love these chicken stories!

  3. Amy M. permalink
    October 13, 2011 10:19 pm

    So what do you do for chickens with chicken pox?? I worry about your ladies – and the rooster, too!

  4. Jewells permalink
    October 15, 2011 9:08 am

    Love it!! I’m eating a soft boiled blue egg for breakfast — glad the sick chicks still gave me some eggs and can’t wait till they’re layin’ at full speed again!

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