I like to check for eggs around 5 times a day. It’s my thing. Because I work from home, instead of screwing around in the office break room, I walk downstairs, put my disgusting bile green Crocs on and head out the back door. Which is exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago.
The weather hadn’t turned yet so it was warm and beautiful and I remember thinking that it was going to take a lot of self discipline to go right back into work instead of spending the next hour outside frolicking. For real, genuine, spinning in circles through the fall leaves, frolicking. It was a frolicking kind of day.
But when I blindly reached my hand into the nesting box and grabbed what felt like a knee cap I knew things were not so frolicky anymore.
Different sized chickens lay different sized eggs. Bigger chickens lay bigger eggs, smaller chickens lay smaller eggs. You may have guessed this based on your higher education of grade 2 math. Take my little chicken Sweetie. She’s an Ameraucana but she’s small for her age. If Sweetie were in a class photo she’d be the little chicken asked to sit cross legged on the floor in front of everyone else. She lays tiny eggs.
Josephine on the other hand is a larger chicken; full, robust, hefty. Back row material. She lays big eggs.
When a chicken settles into laying eggs at around the age of 6 or 7 months they’re all pretty much the same size. No big changes.
But that day, the day the frolicking died, there was a very big change indeed.
Josephine was the only chicken laying at the time due to the great chicken moult of 2016. All the other chickens were under the weather, feeling like crap and spending all their energy and protein reserves on growing new feathers.
The thing I grabbed from the back of the nesting box was like no egg I’d ever seen outside of Wilma serving Fred breakfast on the Flintstones.
It was huge. Not normal. Possibly painful. Probably laid by an Ostrich.
To the left as you can see is a regular egg from Sweetie. To the right, is the bomb that Josephine laid.
To put it into perspective here’s Sweetie’s 38 gram (1.3 ounce) egg in a small frying pan.
A decent sized yolk with whites that don’t even come close to filling the pan.
Josephine’s mammoth 96 gram (3.4 ounce) egg?
It fills the frying pan about halfway up the sides.
From another point of view. Sweetie’s yolk in the palm of my hand.
And the yolk of Josephine’s 2 hours of back labour.
It was the size of a tennis ball. You’ll notice (and forgive) the few blood spots on the egg. I mean, seriously it would have been a miracle if she was able to get that thing formed and out of her without a complete haemorrhage. She’s lucky she didn’t require episiotomy stitches.
So what does one do with an almost quarter pound egg? I scrambled it and fed it back to the chickens.
It’s the best thing you can do for moulting chickens, feeding them protein. And not a lot of things have more protein than a dumpster sized egg.
I still take my 5 or 6 egg checking breaks a day. Nothing’s really changed after this shocking little episode in my life.
Other than Josephine having suddenly developed a bit of a limp and a very pronounced Australian accent.