Monday, September 12, 2011

Gertie's Big Egg

Gertrude is easily the biggest hen. It’s always been that way, even when she was a little peep. We got her the same day, from the same batch, as Marigold, but she just was always a little bit bigger. At one point, we were afraid she was a rooster, and waited to see if she started crowing.

I think she's outdone the other hens.
Thankfully (since we were all pretty attached to her big self) she is not. She’s just a big hen, and she lays big eggs.

Yesterday I heard Gertie noisily giving the “I’ve laid an egg” announcement, so I checked the nesting boxes and found one small bantam egg, with a giant brown egg overshadowing it. I picked them both up, and was amazed. The small egg fit easily in my palm, a little smaller than an average sized grocery store egg. The other egg more than filled my palm, and I glanced over at Gertie, knowing just where that egg came from. “You are an overachiever, aren’t you?” I said to her.

I carried it inside and put it in the refrigerator egg bin. It was huge. A double yolk egg, no doubt.

Curious, I looked up egg sizes online. There are six sizes, based on weight. Peewee is the smallest, at 1.25 ounces. Jumbo, the biggest, weighs 2.5 ounces.

As I was reading online about eggs, I decided to look up the nutritional content of “backyard” chicken eggs. I remember hearing that free-range eggs tend to have lower cholesterol and higher Omega-3s.

According to Lara Jackson’s article on Associated Content : “Backyard eggs have approximately 25 percent more vitamin E, 75 percent more beta carotene, and as much as 20 times the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids as do factory farmed eggs. Perhaps best of all for those who avoid eating eggs due to worries about cholesterol, backyard eggs contain only about half as much cholesterol as factory farmed eggs.”

Backyard eggs definitely taste better—and the color is a very deep orange compared to the paler yellow of even “free range” grocery store eggs. But I wondered where Gertie’s egg fit on the grading scale.

I pulled my kitchen scale out and carefully placed a bantam egg on it. It weighed in at 1.3 ounces—just a little over peewee size, but not big enough to be a small egg, which weighs 1.5 ounces.

I tucked it back in the egg bin and pulled out Gertie’s egg, balancing it on the metal surface. It tipped the scales at a hefty 3.0 ounces. Twice the size of the bantam egg, and a full half-ounce beyond the jumbo weight.

I glanced outside. There was Gertie, our extra jumbo hen, fluffed up and happily taking a dust bath in the garden. No wonder she’d been clucking loudly over that egg.

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