« Got a Tiger in Your Tank? | Main | Ye Olde Greene Card »

Shell Shocked, or No Yolking Matter

I cracked open an egg for this morning’s breakfast. It had two yolks, seemingly conjoined, but there were definitely two separate globes of unfertilized chicken DNA in the shell.

I thought that was weird, and not because I’m so farm non-adjacent that I don’t realize chickens might have twins (how often does that happen though?). The weird factor came in because the same thing happened when I was making yesterday’s breakfast.

I’ve never seen a double yolker, let alone have the two eggs come in the same container. Did it come from the same mother, I wondered. One with a genetic propensity for 2-4-1? Makes sense … I’ve seen plenty of hens who are drawn to that, at least at their shrill fests*.

I learned somewhere that a chicken lays one egg a day. If that’s true, then did the eggs come from the same mother? I’d think that the daily collection would be just that … Tuesday’s eggs get packed and shipped with the rest, and we do it all over again on Wednesday. So maybe my eggs came from a hen house of multiple embryos. In which case they farmer should switch them from egg-producing hens to breeding hens, eh?

And then my mind boggles at how many chickens there must be to lay enough eggs (one a day) to keep the world in omelets, pastry dough, meringue and fried egg sandwiches.

Think about it … next time you go into a Waitrose, Kroger’s or Piggly Wiggly, look how many eggs are there. Then think how many supermarkets there are in your neighborhood, city, state, etc. Then start thinking chickens. That’s a lot of clucking poultry. One egg a day per hen.

I get this way about bananas, too. How many banana trees do you see in a day? Here in London I see about … um, none. Now go look at the stacks and stacks of them at your grocer. Where do they all come from?

But back to eggs. Yesterday’s twofer has re-hatched a little fear that used to bother me. What if you cracked open an egg and it had been fertilized but not quite made it. There you are, cracking open the makings of some scrambled eggs and out plops a half-formed chick … pink little eyes, spindly threads of what would be legs, the beginnings of a beak, all encased in a gelatinous goo of non-meringue. It would totally freak me out.

On the other hand, I guess if it was a boy half-chicken, it’d be no problem to prepare it sonny side up.

* Note to US readers: A “hen night” is the UK version of a bachelorette party.