As a child, I enjoyed gathering eggs with my grandmother and seeing whether or not the hens had left eggs for us to find. There is no comparison to well-kept farmyard eggs and mass-produced store-bought. I loved having the banty eggs fried up for my breakfast – their dimunitive size seemed tailor-made for someone my size.
I liked comparing them to the giant eggs the turkeys laid and I’ve made bite-sized pickled eggs out of fresh quail eggs. It’s difficult to find fresh farm eggs now, and I often wish I had a larger place where I could gather my own.
The following demonstrates the care that should be taken in keeping laying hens and gathering their eggs for personal use or for sale. It is good sound advice even today.
While there are a few egg producers who take the best of care of their product, the average farmer considers the eggs produced on the farm a by-product and makes very little provision for their care, aside from gathering them. A large loss is caused by dirty eggs, the number being enormous, and according to the estimate of Secretary Wilson of the Department of Agriculture this money loss to the farmers in the United States amounts to about $5,000,000 annually.
This loss is very largely brought about by not gathering the eggs often enough. In wet weather more dirty eggs are found than at any other time. This is caused by the fact that the hen’s feet are often covered with mud or other filth, and in going on the nest to lay she soils the eggs already in the nest.
An insufficient number of nests is often the cause of many of the dirty eggs found. Eggs are laid on the ground and around the hay and straw stacks, and becoming stained, are classed as ‘dirties’. Again, when too many eggs are allowed to remain in a nest some are broken and many of the others become smeared with broken yolks. This condition is often brought about by allowing the broody hens to use the same nests with the layers. On a farm where one nest to every four hens is provided and the nests are kept clean and well bedded, it is found that very few dirty eggs are produced.
After gathering the eggs, care should be taken not to put them where they will become heated, or near oil, onions, or other vegetables as they readily absorb odors.
Although dirty eggs may be perfectly fresh, they invariably sell as ‘seconds’, and when but a few dirty eggs are mixed with an otherwise fresh, clean lot, they materially decrease the price of the clean eggs. – Southern Planter. Jan. 1912.