Thursday, August 14, 2008

waiting for eggs

Don’s quail have long been producing eggs. I posted this photo in May right after this first speckled quail egg was laid. The chickens growing in the coop since spring, however, are not yet of egg-bearing maturity. The white chicken eggs in this photo we bought at a store. Don's chicken eggs will be tan, brown, green and blue.

Don expects his chickens to begin laying in the next few weeks. He has placed a golf ball in a nest box to give the hens the idea where their eggs 'belong.' Um, eggs don't really belong in a nest box conveniently for the chicken farmer and farmette to gather them. They belong in a field nest somewhere. But if we say they belong there, then those hens ought to pay attention to the golf ball.

So the other day we got to talking about eggs being single cell organisms, and how amazing that is. An ostrich egg is the largest single cell organism at 4.5 inches x 7 inches, and weighing 3 lbs. (11.5 centimeters x almost 18 centimeters, and weighing nearly 1.4 kilos). This painted egg from is an ostrich egg.

While we wait for our chickens to lay eggs, did you know:
  • oology is the study or collection of eggs; isn't it cool that it looks like it has 3 eggs in it?

  • oviparous animals are ones that lay eggs - hey, it's another 'o' egg word (like oeuf in French); I think we could maybe change 'egg' to 'ogg'

  • the bee hummingbird has the smallest bird egg, around the size of a small pea: o

  • tiny pores in bird egg shells allow the embryo to breathe

  • October 10, 2008 is WORLD EGG DAY ; mark your calendar!

  • Sunday’s Zaman says, "According to the 'Executive Guide to World Poultry Trends,' Mexico led the world in 2005 with per capita annual egg consumption of 344. Then comes Japan with 330 eggs consumed per head annually."
My mom used to call one of my brothers 'Egghead' though I don't know why. Egghead is a term for a brainiac. I never thought of that brother as particularly intellectual.

Oh dear, there is too much information about eggs, this could go on forever. Kind of like when a single cell is joined by another and starts to multiply.

I leave you with a link to a wonderful short story (segment actually) called 'The Egg' by Sherwood Anderson. It's worth taking a little time to read it. Ah, the complexities of eggs and their effects on people, in spite of their single cell status.

Here is an excerpt of Anderson's story, linked above. Don, take heed!

One unversed in such matters can have no notion of the many and tragic things that can happen to a chicken. It is born out of an egg, lives for a few weeks as a tiny fluffy thing such as you will see pictured on Easter cards, then becomes hideously naked, eats quantities of corn and meal bought by the sweat of your father's brow, gets diseases called pip, cholera, and other names, stands looking with stupid eyes at the sun, becomes sick and dies. A few hens and now and then a rooster, intended to serve God's mysterious ends, struggle through to maturity. The hens lay eggs out of which come other chickens and the dreadful cycle is thus made complete. It is all unbelievably complex. Most philosophers must have been raised on chicken farms. One hopes for so much from a chicken and is so dreadfully disillusioned. Small chickens, just setting out on the journey of life, look so bright and alert and they are in fact so dreadfully stupid. They are so much like people they mix one up in one's judgments of life. If disease does not kill them they wait until your expectations are thoroughly aroused and then walk under the wheels of a wagon--to go squashed and dead back to their maker. Vermin infest their youth, and fortunes must be spent for
curative powders. In later life I have seen how a literature has been built up on the subject of fortunes to be made out of the raising of chickens. It is intended to be read by the gods who have just eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is a hopeful literature and declares that much may be done by simple ambitious people who own a few hens. Do not be led astray by it. It was not written for you. Go hunt for gold on the frozen hills of Alaska, put your faith in the honesty of a politician, believe if you will that the world is daily growing better and that good will triumph over evil, but do not read and believe the literature that is written concerning the hen. It was not written for you.

(above image used under the Wiki commons agreement)


Loring Wirbel said...

I do not like them in a car,
I could not eat them in a bar,
I do not like them on the train,
I do not like them in the rain.

Eco-friendly eggs and salt pork, Sam-I-am.

Ruth said...

Would you, could you, on a boat?
Would you, could you, in a coat?
Would you, could you, in a box?
Would you, could you, with a fox?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ruth! You have done a real big paper for your egg post today!
And together with my post it could be a good publication in the Science or Nature or New Science or perhaps nevertheless could be best to create "RuthLeena`s publitacions", what do you think!

Rewarding Day to you! :)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Teacher. Do I get an A+?

I almost consulted with you about a biology question. Can a single cell multiply on its own? Or does another cell have to be introduced?

Ruth said...

Oh, and Leena, I mean Ms. Leena, we would call yours the cultural arts/art history lesson, and mine the um all-over-the-place-as-much-information-as-I-can-fit-into-a-relatively-small-blog-post lesson.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I have to tell you, that every cell in your body has an unique code built inside. Cells of your liver are renewed after 4-6 months, but cells of your small intestine are renewed every fifth day.
Unfortunately cells of our skin has got code, that they are renewing slower and slower and slower every year, but we do not think it just now.
Are you content with my teaching.

rauf said...

Ruth, everything is new to me.
Never heard. Hope the information stays. Actually human brain records all the information, useful or useless. visuals sounds, memory actually doesn't fade. Its never erased, it goes dormant in lower or deeper layers of our memory. later, the information is triggered by smell or visual and it all comes back, i think. i am not an expert, i am not sure.

Do you want square tomatos Ruth ?
They are already here i think. i mean in US, not in India. More room in transportation, perfect for your sandwich. Square eggs are not far behind. i have seen pictures of square watermelons. Not sure if it was a photograph or good illustration. Those are the shapes of things to come. Please don't be surprised to see a square egg in some supermarket.

Anet said...

Eggcellent post Ruth, You are quiet
the eggspert on eggs! I have learned a great deal about
the 0(egg)today. Thank you!

Ruth said...

Ms. Leena, do you know why skin cells are renewing more slowly?

You can give me lessons any time. I might have enjoyed biology class with you as much as I did with Mr. Heath, who was ten riots of dry deadpan humor.

o o o

mr. rauf, another good teacher you are. It makes sense what you say, it must be true that the brain records everything. I've heard something about deja vu that the brain is actually delaying the message to your cognition as you receive it, so it feels like a memory.

No, I don't want square tomatoes or eggs. Isn't it lovely that nature's bounty does not fit conveniently on a store shelf? I hope it will stay that way.

o o o

Dear Anet, let's see if, like rauf, I will remember anything I wrote here about oggs, I mean eggs. Thank you for your eggcellent comment!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth, I love all this egg delight and your photos are wonderful ...but...
Can't figure that Sherwood fellow out. I have never been disillusioned by a chicken.. How could anybody be? I must be missing something.

I think I'll go back to my cave now

Loring Wirbel said...

Gwen, I'm glad you mentioned that. You could make a case for someone being disillusioned about most any animal/person/place, but this Sherwood fellow seems like he might have been pecked as a toddler or something.

Ruth said...

Ah, Gwen and Loring, I think you did not read the whole story. From thhis excerpt it is admittedly hard to understand his perspective. But if you read the child's fictional experiences (maybe they reflect his own real ones, I don't know) you will see . . .

Ruth said...

If you're interested to know more about why he hates chickens, follow the link in 'The Egg.'

Loring Wirbel said...

You're right, I didn't read the whole story until now. My thinking was that, even though it was published in 1920, it was very late-Victorian-era in the mild neuroses of all the characters, the days when all women had "the vapors" and all men got Oedipus complexes. I still don't understand the ADD/OCD tendencies of a large number of people in that era. They needed to be told two things:
1. "Life is nasty, brutish, and short - get over it."
2. "Everybody poops."

Ruth said...

hahahahahahahahaha . . .

Gwen Buchanan said...

oh you are so right Ruth, I cannot tell a lie, well I can but not right now... I did not read the whole story.... just the excerpt on your post.. I'll have to go give it a read...

I burst out laughing when I read what Loring wrote.. funny !! and true!!!

You guys keep me so amused..

Ruth said...

hahaha, Gwen, I'm still laughing, and now you're making it better.

Oh man I'd like to sit down in someone's studio - yours or mine - and have a good long afternoon with everyone.

Sharon said...

Hi Ruth!
I hope the chickens get the idea about the golf balls. Our pigeons always seem quite surprised by their first eggs and leave them laying in all kinds of strange places or drop them smashingly off of high shelves.

I love the excerpt by Anderson. Loring summed it up perfectly albeit a bit less poetically. I'm off to read the entire thing.
And Rauf, I certainly hope your are right that all of that info is still in my brain somewhere because sometimes I think it is nothing more than a sieve!

Ruth said...

Hi Sharon!

Don and I laugh a lot when we discuss what it must feel like as a hen to lay that first egg, like: 'Whoa! what was that all about??'

I'm glad you like that excerpt, me too. I read it out loud to Don, and he thought it was funny.

I hope you liked the whole short story - although what I've linked to is apparently still only a segment.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh... I am up for having a studio gathering Ruth.. I've 6 chairs, 2 long benches and time...

Ruth said...

Road trip, road trip!

Let's see, how many days would it take to drive up there?

Don said...

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten oology lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chicken coop door;

Only HENS, and nothing more."

Poe's first draft, 1844.

Ruth said...


Amy said...

I do like green eggs and ham!
I do like them Sam I am!

Best book EVER, right next to "The Lorax". So what are we supposed to do while we are waiting for our teenage chooks to suddenly start producing eggs. Have an egg watch party? I think they purposely torment us by making us wait a few extra days. Those evil chickens!

The poster showing all the different kinds of eggs is really intriguing. Wow! I never stopped to think about all the different types out there in the natural world!

I'm all for calling "eggs" "Oggs" if you do too. Chooks lay oggs, and that's the way it is!

Ruth said...

Amy, we had an LP of Dr. Seuss when I was a kid, and I can still hear Sam-I-Am and the other guy in their rhyming dialogue in my head.

How about we call each other on our red phones when we have an ogg?!

I think those eggs on the poster are gorgeous.

And hey! 'Chooks' has two oggs in it too! Oh! so does 'too'!

Loring Wirbel said...

Hey wait, Don, isn't that Hen thing more of that Victorian-era crap? Oh, that's right, Poe was always on laudunum and absinthe, so it doesn't count. Absinthe makes the heart grow fondle, after all. Ba da bing.

sandy said...

ahhhhh great post. Enjoyed everything you wrote and that excerpt was great! Had a good laugh today over that. Love the idea of the golf ball in the next....hilarious!!

That poster of eggs if visually inspiring I have to say. Inspiring and also made me want to go out and buy big gawdy rings and other jewelry.

this was fun....

Ruth said...

Loring - OUCH.

o o o

Auntie Sandy, let's see if the first egg appears next to the golf ball.

I love that poster too. Glad to spur you on toward jewelry! Something about those speckles . . .

Bob Johnson said...

World Egg Day, wow who knew?

Lol, love the post, and especially the banter in your comment section.

We crack eggs at Easter,and we name them,because we love our eggs, last year mine was called "TheTerminegger", get it, any hoo it lost the first round.

Ruth said...

The Terminegger lost???? Is it a competition between names or how the egg is cracked? I'm starting to get punchy here - you crack them? I need more details.

You must have had tough competitors.

Ginnie said...

Who ever would have thought, Ruth! So much information. And to think some of us have the chance to get our education at your expense! :) I love it. I will never be the same after this year's Farm Day!

Ruth said...

Oh Boots, that's good. What was it about this year's Farm Day that did that for you, do you think?