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The Curious History of the Egg

queen


Queen Victoria,

Mother of Modern Chicken Fancying


In the late 1800's Queen Victoria of England became a very avid chicken fancier.  Among her favorite breeds were Chittagongs, now called Brahmas, and Chinese Shanghais, now called Cochins. She had chicken coops and breeding facilities added to all royal properties. 

Once the Queen raised chickens for pleasure, it become fashionable to do the same.  As a result, creations of new breeds, exhibitions and shows sprung up as a new past time and have continued to today.

This British chicken fancying tradition has passed down through the generations.  Present day, Prince Charles boasts a prize-winning flock.

wykka
Wykka is a Dark Brahma hen.
The Brahma breed was among Queen Victoria's favorites.

 

plant

Where would you lay?

With three acres on which to scratch, peck and lay eggs, there are days when "the girls" make gathering eggs truly an egg hunt Grab the basket and join the fun if it suits your fancy.

fern

Fern, our most unconventional egg layer has laid in many places, the window wiper well of the car being only one of them.

 

mavis

Livestock Breed Conservancy

Did you know that there are breeds of chickens whose history is threatened and some breeds that have become extinct?

The Livestock Breed Conservancy works to protect nearly 200 breeds of livestock & poultry from extinction

Mavis, above, is a Mottled Java hen. The Java is considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Its ancestors were reputed to have come from the Far East, possibly from the isle of Java.  Their breed status is threatened.

octavia

Meet Octavia
Octavia is a Silver Gray Dorking hen. The Dorking is an Ancient Roman breed that was named after British city of Dorking where Romans invaded/introduced the breed nearly 2000 years ago.

The Dorking breed is one of only five breeds that have five toes instead of four   They are good layers of cream eggs. Quiet, friendly and docile, dorking hens make  protective mothers.  Cold hardy and large birds - 7pound hens and 9 pound roosters , they are a great addition to any flock.

They are one of Suzanne's favorite breeds, but they are are also a threatened breed and hard to come by.  If you want to add this breed to your flock, find a hatchery, such as Ideal Poultry in Cameron TX that carries them and get your name on the waiting list very early.

 

lisa
Winters Off

Mother Nature is very kind to hens. 

A hen lays eggs based on the hours of light on her retina - the back of her eyeball.  She needs at least 12 - 14 hours of light on her retina to stimulate her endocrine system which control her reproductive cycles or egg laying.

When the days get shorter than 12 hours of sunlight - or during the winter months, a hen slows down are stops laying eggs. This is Mother Nature's way of giving a hen's body an opportunity to rest and restore itself after laying eggs during the rest of the year.  

Pretty cool, huh?

roo eggs

EGGSQUISITELY BRIEF TRIVIA

 

Often considered common and mundane, the ubiquitous chicken egg has a long and at times, spirited history. Here are some interesting points in egg history that will have you well prepared for your next trivia contest.

Throughout recorded history, the egg has been a symbol of fertility, creation and new life. Many egg traditions have ancient roots that have carried forward in various forms through the centuries of religious conversions, conquering armies, and changing cultural norms.

While there are at least 200 officially recognized chicken breeds today, all chicken breeds today are decendants of the original domesticated breed, the Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, Domestication began between 3000 and 4000 BC. 

Around 3000 BC, Ancient Persian and Celtic cultures celebrated spring equinox with gifts of red-dyed eggs. In the Pagan world, the egg represents the world and the color red the "force of life". Exchanging eggs was a token of goodwill and a form of thanking the sun for warming the Earth in the spring so new life could sprout anew. The Pagan egg gifting rituals during spring equinox were the foundations from which the Christian celebration of Easter grew.

The Egyptians 4,000 years ago built brick incubators which could hold 10,000 chicks at a time using decomposing camel dung for incubator heat.  It was an honored position to tend the incubators and turn the eggs.

In Germany one hangs red eggs in evergreen trees as a powerful ancient symbol of rebirth and renewal. 

Ninth century Christians were banned from eating eggs during Lent. Since eggs couldn't be eaten for six weeks, they were saved. When Lent ended with the arrival of Easter, the saved eggs were given as gifts to children and servants at the end of Lent.

Egg wars were popular throughout Medieval Europe on Easter Sunday. They were known to last for several hours during Easter services. (Maybe that's how the Easter bonnet gained it's fame - to protect heads from hurling eggs. ha ha)

Eggs reached their height of popularity in the Czar's court in 19th century Russia. The court's jeweler, a man by the name of Faberge, started designing and creating what are now internationally known and acclaimed as the Faberge Eggs. Examples of jeweled eggs are shown in the strip to the left.

It was the Pensylvania Dutch who brought the custom of coloring eggs to the United States in the early 1700's.

Household records of Edward I of England show that in year 1280 he paid 18 pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gift-giving. Centuries later, Queen Victoria of England became a very avid chicken fancier.  Present day, Prince Charles boasts a prize-winning flock.

Other long-standing egg customs have passed from generation to generation.
Ninth century Christians were banned from eating eggs during Lent. Since eggs couldn't be eaten for six weeks, they were saved. When Lent ended with the arrival of Easter, the saved eggs were given as gifts to children and servants at the end of Lent.

Egg wars were popular throughout Medieval Europe on Easter Sunday. They were known to last for several hours during Easter services. (Maybe that's how the Easter bonnet gained it's fame - to protect heads from hurling eggs. ha ha)

Eggs reached their height of popularity in the Czar's court in 19th century Russia. The court's jeweler, a man by the name of Faberge, started designing and creating what are now internationally known and acclaimed as the Faberge Eggs. Examples of jeweled eggs are shown in the strip to the left.

Greeks dye eggs a symbolic scarlet and bake them into sweet breads. 

In China, at the one month birthday of an infant, the infant is presented in a Baby Naming Ceremony. At its conclusion, the parents of the newly born and now ceremoniously name baby, hand out red-dyed eggs at the end to symbolize happiness and the renewal of life. 

Eggs have even played a role in wedding ceremonies. In earlier centuries along the Indus River, the wedding ceremony consisted of the bride and groom tossing an egg back and forth between their sleeves. 

In Java in the 1700's, the groom walked around raw eggs. The bride was expected to clean up after him and to wash his feet. The degree to which he remained as unsoiled as possible was considered to be an indication of his love for her. 

And, we close with a custom that you can check out each year for yourself. It is said that eggs laid on Good Friday and eaten on Easter Sunday are said to protect one against fever for the whole year through. 

Next time, someone tells you to "Go lay an egg" you can think of this long tradition and history and you will now have some great egglectic trivia with which to answer in reply.

henstory
Can you cluck your way through a little Henstory?
Now that you've cracked open the history of the egg, how about scratch and pecking with the chicken throughout history in our matching game, Events in Henstory.

anat..

Egg Anatomy 101

Did you know there a many parts to an egg.  Among them the yolk and the albumen or egg white.

For an egg to become a chick it needs 3 things:

1. To be fertilized - you need a rooster in your flock for this

2. A healthy blastoderm - the single cell on the yolk that starts cell division and the development of a chick

3. Warmth - either from a hen sitting on the egg for 21 days or from equipment called an incubator.

If these 3 are present, the albumen will develop into the new chick and the yolk provides it with enough to sustain it for 3 days after it hatches.

 

nog
Eggnog - A Spirited History

Eggnog is an English creation, it descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consists of eggs, milk, and ale or wine.

The recipe for egg nog (eggs beaten with sugar, milk or cream, and some kind of spirit) has traveled well, adapting to local tastes wherever it has landed.

In Puerto Rico it is made with rum and called coquito. In Germany it is made with beer and called biersuppe. Icelanders celebrating Santa Lucia Day serve an eggnog soup (less the alcohol) that is served as a hot dessert.

Read about other interesting chicken and egg traditions...

hide
On the Farm Fun!

Each year we offer Art on the Farm egg hunts here at My Chicken Diaries.  Children ages 3 and older join in the fun.  

Our busy volunteers, Kaitlyn, Madison and Victoria have to work very hard to find creative places to hide eggs.  This looks like a great spot, provided the egg stays there and doesn't fall down.

Learn about chickens, eggs and Queen Victoria
and earn the Girl Scout Egg-Ceptional Observations Patch or the Egg-Ceptional Eggs-Perience Boy Scout Patch.

Available to scouts nationwide. 

 gs  bsa

 

med
Eggs have Blooms

Freshly gathered eggs have a natural protectant on them. The last thing a hen adds to an egg before it passes through her vent (cloaca) is the bloom.  The bloom is a natural lubricant that covers the egg.  Eggs have very tiny pores through which oxygen can pass. The bloom prevents the airfrom entering the shell.  

When the bloom remains on the egg shell, eggs stay fresher longer - as long as 3 or 4 months and do not require refrigeration.

trix
Mama, is that you?

Did you know that older baby chicks cheep inside the shell?

A few days before they hatch - around day 17 or 18, baby chicks start to scrathc and cheep while still in the shell.Their mothers respond with low soothing clucks letting the chick know she's there.

using the cheeping and scratching as a guide, the mother hen can tell whether the chicks are going to be strong enough to hatch and or survive if it does hatch.

Because the mother hens usually have other chicks to also care for, they generally won't be able to tend to a ailing or weak chick and still keep up with their active healthy ones.  Hens are very efficient that way, and will focus their attention on those chicks most likely to survive.

While in the shell, females or pullets have a greater chance of surviving, but once hatched, odds favor the males or cockerels.

Eggs-Ceptional Crossword Puzzle

Apply your new eggcentric knowledge with an Eggs-Ceptional Crossword Puzzle

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click on image for a larger puzzle

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My Chicken Diaries

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10725 Leslie Ln

Manvel, TX 77578

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info@mychickendiaries.com

281.756.0616


eggs

People are a lot like eggs.

On the outside they are all different shapes, sizes and colors,

but on the inside, they all have a heart of gold.

2015

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