Thursday, July 21, 2016

On Peaches and Eggs

An artist friend and neighbor stopped by a day or so ago.. He has both a peach tree and a mess of critters called chickens. They lay eggs pretty much one a day per hen almost like clock work. It apparently is one of the few things hens do, eat, poop and lay eggs. His peach tree is pretty amazing. It produces peaches and oxygen. The tree doesn’t appear to eat anything and it pretty much doesn’t poop. It isn’t quite as prolific as his hens but the peaches he brought by were really good and sweet. Well one of them was. The other two are being carefully cared for so they can be a later joy. Anyone growing up in California has to know the joy of summer time California peaches and the absolute joy of fresh peach pie on a summer eve sitting on the porch listening to frogs and crickets and nighttime song birds.. Try it. I think you will like it.
The peaches reminded me of a John Prine tune Spanish Pipedream

We blew up our TV threw away our paper
Went to the country, built us a home
Had a lot of children, fed 'em on peaches

  I started thinking about chickens and eggs. Yes I do have a lot of time on my hands. It occurs to me that from what I can gather the average hen (whatever average means) lays one egg each day until the bird croaks. Occasionally chickens will get broody and stop laying for a few days but basically it’s one a day per hen forever. If you have a little land you can build a henhouse for a couple of hens, say ten thousand or so. Over a week’s time you are going to have a whole bunch of eggs. What if you have a million hens laying eggs? In that event you are quite simply a big egg farmer and all is automated even your government subsidy is direct deposited into you bank account.

      When a chicken builds an egg the last thing it builds is the shell. During this process what becomes the shell is coated with some kind hen body-fluid. This fluid hardens around the shell and seals it from outside intruders such as pathogens. Remember the egg inside the shell is pretty much sterile. There really is no need to refrigerate a chicken egg if the coating is intact. Commercial egg farmers wash the eggs to remove the coating and bleach them so they are white (subliminal association: white = clean and pure) Because of the resultant porousness of the shell the egg now has to be kept refrigerated.
      What this quick guide to being an egg farmer really brings to mind is the degree of control over the “free market” that can be exercised by the egg farmers by manipulating the flow of eggs to the retail markets. The retailer has to move his newly perishable egg inventory while the egg farmer can sit on his stock of non perishable eggs. That gives the farmer more economic power than I care to see.


  1. Vewwy Intewesting~! (The Peaches ARE great this year...especially on 100-degree plus days like today...& in a Margarita.

  2. Nice! Love the peaches, one of summer's better benefits. But no, chickens do NOT lay eggs forever. They stop, depending on the breed, after a few years. For instance, my Welsummer's laying peaked at two years old and will start slowing down until she stops laying, probably at about five years old. But a Welsummer has an average life span of nine years. Some breeds will live as long as 15 years, but only lay for five or six. In short, they do stop "paying rent" after a while and we need to decide at that point just how much we actually love that hen.

  3. Please wash the eggs and your hands carefully! You are vulnerable. Keep eggs in fridge, just in case.

  4. Please wash the eggs and your hands carefully! You are vulnerable. Keep eggs in fridge, just in case.


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.