I was reminded today, by something I read, of my own father enticing me to eat eggs when I was three years old. I was very fussy about eating. Eggs had to be just right, no runny whites, and soft yolks. My Dad would place the soft boiled egg into my special egg cup and nick off the top with a spoon. If the egg was just right, finding the golden yolk was a grand prize.
When Easter came close that year, my dad and I walked down to the end of the street, to the poultry supply store. It must have been the last one left in our growing city. Chicks hatched in the window, under a warm light. Eggshells had broken open in jagged smelly pieces.
I made my great discovery at that moment of seeing new life. By eating eggs I had stopped the potential lives of new chickens. I was horrified. The next time an egg was put in front of me, I wailed and refused it. I remembered those baby chicks hatching out. It took a very long time for me to eat an egg after that.
Coming full circle to when I became the mother of a young child, and we moved to the country. I thought what could be healthier than our own chickens, ducks, and eggs? So began the flocks, one of layers, followed by meat birds, and finally duck. And. so began rituals of gathering morning eggs and feeding at 6AM while the world was still dark. We next procured ducks. They were delightful to watch. The ducks would rise with the sun, hop into the stream, paddle downstream for the day, and return home for supper.
The difficulty came with the meat birds. They are not as smart as those layers. But the morning we planned to grab them, one by one, as they strode out of the chicken coop into the morning air, We planned to put them into cages, drive them to Adams Farm to be returned to us in packages. That morning, they didn’t come out. The sun brightened, we cajoled them with food, but somehow, they knew their number was up. We had to peel them from their purchase, one by one. My heart was heavy, I felt terrible. My daughter shed tears. They weren’t even nice chickens, this lot. Off I drove with them. When they returned, they were wrapped in plastic bags, freezer ready. t took several months before we were ready to eat them. Not long after, my daughter Jenny decided to become a vegetarian. She remained so for 20 years.
I reflect on this during this new time of COVID, when my daughter has her own daughters, far from me, up near Augusta Maine. In these days of cocooning I am happy to have a couple of small farm stores close by. You open the door, face mask, and gloves on, and there isn’t anyone there. You pick up your eggs, chicken, some greens and yogurt, pay by leaving your money or check in the box, and you’re done. Full circle in my life, back to a deep appreciation of the chicken and the egg.
Is there some simple thing you’ve found yourself appreciating, much to your own surprise, as our lives have distilled? I’d love to hear what that may be.