It was 6:30 pm. I was sticking my head in the chicken coop to see what was doing. For a couple of days I had been finding yellow patches of wood chips under the roosts, and was unsure of what to make of it. Looked a little like egg residue. I decided to look for some clues. So there I was, eye to butt with six chickens, and one of these butts decided to dump an egg without a shell right there in front of me. You know, white, yolk, the whole nine yards, except for that tenth yard – the shell. I have seen some things since I started raising chickens. I have seen chickens attempt to maim one another over a stale piece of bread. I have seen frozen masses of chicken poop bigger than my head. I have even seen a chicken eat its own egg. But this – this was new. But maybe it explained why there seemed to be eggs without shells winding up in the wood chips. Something had to.
I was completely at a loss, so I posted a question online for my internet chicken snoops to see what the chitter chatter and the jibber jabber about this sort of thing was. “Eggs in coop without shells,” I said. “What gives?” The wizards were pretty much as confused as I was. One of the louder theories about this was that I had a shell-eater. I couldn’t understand why a chicken would eat the shell when the egg itself was the obvious prize here. On top of that, I have never seen one of my chickens eat anything so thoroughly that there wouldn’t be some evidence of it left behind. Unless they had suddenly gotten real conscientious, I wasn’t buying this theory, but like many conspiracy theories, it was hard to make go away.
My having witnessed the actual exiting of an egg with no shell from the chicken itself caught some people’s attention. No one seemed to have seen anything like this before, and they were as puzzled as I was. But then an idea appeared: maybe the shell was stuck inside the chicken, and only the innards of the egg were able to escape. I had thought of this myself, but since I had seen evidence of the shell-less eggs on multiple occasions, I figured the shell would have come out at some point, but I also realized I had to rule this out if I was going to make sure the chicken was o.k.
I went into the living room and told my wife, “I have to do something awful. I need you to hold the chicken while I do it.” That’s not something you want to say, much less hear, but she came into the kitchen. She’s a good dame, that one. Gams from here to Kalamazoo. I went out and brought in the chicken. I instructed my wife to hold it like a baby, so it would lay still. And then I stuck my finger up the chicken’s butt. It was weird, and it was warm, but it was also free of any eggshell fragments. I put the bird back into the coop.
You’d think there might have been some awkwardness in the household after something like that, but not in our house. After washing my hands, I sat down next to my wife and said, “You know, I’m not even sure that’s the grossest thing I’ve ever done.”
“I don’t think it is,” she said. Then we agreed that there’s a chicken finger joke in here somewhere, but maybe it was best to leave it be.
The weird mystery eggs stopped coming shortly after that. No one could ever figure out what it was, and I had to close the messageboard thread about it without a good explanation. The coop snoops who had piped in with help were glad she was o.k., but also a little disappointed in the lack of closure. Often real life lacks satisfying endings. Since then, however, anytime I open the coop door, that chicken makes a beeline for the farthest point away from me. I can’t say I blame her. Case closed.
(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Trumpet: waldhorn33 – Paloseco Brazz Muted Trumpet Blues Samples)