Old Eggs Float

A brilliant Indian summer sun splashes through the living room’s south-facing windows.  I have just dipped my brush to start painting the trim when the Bearded One stomps up the deck steps and then sticks his head through the Magic Mesh screen door.

“Oh my love my darling,” he says, clearly aware that I am in the middle of something.  Am I in trouble?  I have heard these words before as a precursor to some kind of conflict.  But, no, he is happy.  Exceedingly so.  He says, “I would never interrupt and ask you to come see something if it really wasn’t worth it.”

This is true.  And what is my hurry?  I feel my age today and have the sore hip to prove it.  Summer is stretching out past its prime, and every moment and discovery is a gift of gold.  It’s what we do around here.  “I’m coming,” I say.

“Bring the camera.”  He’s knows I’ll send him back for it.

I wipe the paint from the brush, wrap it in a plastic bag, and head out very slowly.  “Where are we going?” I ask, limping after him.

“You’ll see,” he says and actually twinkles.  He is giddy.  We are going on a date.

I hear the water running at the base of the cedar tree on the southwest corner of the house.  We’re watering all the cedars.

They lose some greenery every year, but this year the flagging seems particularly heavy, this being Day 76 of a record-smashing dry stretch, now the driest in Seattle history.  Wildfires rage across the mountains in Eastern Washington, and we have a burn ban in effect here.

The seeming smokiness across our backyard is road dust.  The grass is Desert Tan, the color I’m painting our living room walls.

We trudge up the hill, taking our cautious baby steps, and I get a whiff of the meat bird pen.  Just a whiff.  Twenty-nine Cornish fryers.  They’re six weeks old now, just two weeks more to live.  We process them on October 20.  I’m glad their last days are sunny.

The Bearded One opens the gate for me, and we enter the upper pasture, also known as the barnyard.  The hens, except for Leah, ignore him as he walks toward the back corner.  “Over here,” he says.

“The burn pile?”  I follow at a coy distance.

On the ground is his upturned baseball cap, with 7 or 8 eggs he has discovered scattered close in around the back side of the tarp-covered burn pile, which is awaiting the return of rain before he lights it.  We’re both grinning and a bit dumbfounded, but he’s not done yet.

He lifts the blue tarp with a small, respectful flourish, and then directs my attention way back in the burn pile to a hollow at the base of the mass of sticks and brush.

I have to gasp.  Piled up, spreading out a foot in diameter and half-buried, it’s a nest overflowing with a mound of white, tan, and green eggs.

We are both enchanted.  When we speak we whisper.  It’s so secret, so private, so beautiful.

The Bearded One takes pictures.  None of the hens shows particular interest in the nest, and we wonder how old the eggs are.  Eggs can last a month if kept cool.

We are averaging around 6 eggs per day from our 10 layers.  There have been a couple of completely unexpected no-egg days these past couple of weeks, and the general egg count has been down, which is why we’ve started leaving a light on in the coop until 9pm.  It’s been pretty cool both days and nights.  The eggs all look pristine.  They look good.

The test is to gently drop the egg in a glass of water.  If it sinks, it’s still fresh.  If it floats, it’s old.  Eggshell is porous.  Hens leave a coating of “bloom” on them to keep bacteria out, which is why washing an egg reduces its shelf life because air gets in.  Over time, enough air and bacteria get in anyway, washed or not, and the egg goes bad.  It floats.

I crouch down and gather the eggs, 22 of them.  Just 2 are cracked.

It’s a magical discovery and a wonderful date.  The Bearded One’s gray ponytail glints in the sun.  I tell him he’s a good egg — he still sinks.

11 responses to “Old Eggs Float

  1. So, I have to know…Did the found eggs sink or swim? Were the hens protesting the night light? Love this story!


  2. They all sank, Terri! And it’s interesting whether they were protesting the light or not, but we’d only had the light on for a couple of nights when we found the eggs…so they’d laid them before. But we’ll see if the behavior continues… Stay tuned! (and thanks for loving:)

  3. I love the way you write Christi! Such a great little blog! 🙂

  4. Christine Widman

    “Eggcellent” love story. Yes, He is a “good egg” – that’s for sure. I especially like “the sinking egg” drawing…”the Egg and you” watching.
    Here too we are finding little treasures each day as we prepare for the wedding on Saturday.
    Like the Bearded One, my love came quietly into the kitchen, finger to lips….”Come see something.”
    An elegant young coyote was munching some old apple chunks that had dropped to the ground from a bird feeder.
    Walking the acres with our daughter and son-in-law to be, we discovered a barrel cactus – as tall as a young saguaro! – with a wizened head and its flowers blooming on the side like a corsage. Most unusual and much worthy of notice.
    Another evening our two-in-love took a twilight walk and arrived back at our large front gate to be startled by a mama javelina and her baby. The mama made a little huff and ambled away…baby trotting under her belly.
    As you so beautifully described – moments of whispering enchantment.

    • Good luck to you and the entire wedding party this weekend, Christine! I love the huffy javelina with the baby under her belly. And I love your weekly comments about your Tucson B&Blet, 5 acres on the Sonoran desert. Truly a fantasy world…:)

  5. I spy with my little eye…something beginning with terracotta coloured hot tub! That looks like something that would soothe your sore hip.We have certainly learned the value of floating your eggs. Our girls spend their entire lives trying to find places to lay their eggs that we can’t get to. I spotted one emerging from the top of a 15 foot tall pile of dead Photinia shrubs that we need to deal with soon and after pacing the outside perimeter I decided that she can HAVE her nest! I just hope that her sisters don’t decide to follow suite! I sometimes think that a good dunk in a sink of water might make our girls shake out their broodiness which is starting to get silly. One of them has been most determinedly broody for over 3 months! We put our “found” nests of eggs into the sink to check if they are good/bad or indeterminate. Indeterminate means the dogs get eggs for tea :). I LOVED this post, we feel your egg joy from the other side of the world 🙂

  6. Yes, that is a hot tub and it is wonderful hip and muscle therapy! What is it about hot water that is sooo healing? And….speaking of dunking in water. Yes, dunk those broodies in a tub of cool water and it helps snap them out of that hot, glazed space of parental ponderment. They will stay there forever otherwise, not bothering to eat or dust bathe. We also put them in a broody box — with a screen floor so they get air on those hot breasts — for a day, a night, and then another day, and they recover. Thanks for sharing our egg joy…especially since your own egg finds and pictures have been so large and impressive.:) It’s like finding treasure. Like finding your friendship.:)

  7. A wonderful chicken and the egg story, or should I say EGGS! What a find. Love spending a quiet moment reading about your adventures, thanks for sharing so brilliantly!

  8. Christine Widman

    Hi Christi,
    Giving myself an extra pleasure today by re-reading October 2012 and thus startled myself by realizing that in 10 days it will be our youngest daughter’s 1 year wedding anniversary. Time is so odd. The wedding seems eons ago and as if it just happened.
    A love story I can’t wait to hear and see photos of:
    A & J will be taking their honeymoon in November…to South Africa…at a Safari B&B…at a historic organic farm inn…and lastly in Cape Town for some city/beach time.
    I love re-reading your blog.

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