Every day, there’s a treasure hunt here at the farm.
The treasure? Fresh eggs.
Egg production varies throughout the year, depending on total hours of daylight and weather, as well as other variables.
The egg count drops steeply during summer’s high heat, and again in the shorter, cold days of winter.
Age of the laying hens is another factor. With a younger flock of hens, predominantly 1-2 years old, production is up. One summer, I gathered 12-18 eggs a day.
Other variables in the mix include all the egg-loving animals who, given half a chance, will grab freshly laid eggs before I do: Possums, raccoons, skunks. Rats and rat snakes.
Cream Puff, the livestock guardian dog, who helps to keep the varmints away, is himself an egg-thief. He will cruise the egg laying areas in his quest, and has been known to wriggle through small dog-proof “bird doors” to get to an egg. Once he scores, he’ll sit and savor the egg, rolling it around in his mouth like an all-day candy, until finally crunching it up and swallowing.
When you catch him in the act, he’ll give you his patented look of innocence (What?? Who, me??), spoiled ever so slightly by the yolk remnants dripping from his lips.
Even the chickens get in on the egg eating.
One Buff hen hangs out near the nest boxes, jonesing for raw eggs while one of the other hens is still in mid-lay. As soon as the would-be thief gains access – often because she’s routed the laying hen from the box – she’ll peck the egg open and gobble the contents.
Given all the factors in play, every day really is a treasure hunt: Will I find eggs, or not? If so, how many? Do we have enough eggs on hand for me to indulge in baking something yummy like a custard, a crustl-ess sweet potato pie, or chocolate mug cakes?
What’s really interesting is my inner response to the egg situation on any given day, the stories I tell myself about eggs, no eggs, or how many eggs.
When our initial starter flock came to live at Heartsong, having eggs show up within days of the chickens’ arrival was a Big Deal. My inner narrative was, “This is SO cool! Look what our chickens made!”
I attached a lot of positive meaning to having homegrown eggs.
During the first few years of low or no production periods, the story I told myself reflected dismay, as if something were wrong on those rare occasions I had to purchase eggs at the store. I attached negative meaning to the lowered egg count.
After the first rush of excitement from the over-abundance during the 12-18 egg days, my story changed from one of amazement and gratitude to feeling pressured to ensure no eggs were wasted by allowing them to spoil. Again, the meaning attached to the experience, changed – and that changed the experience for me.
A “one-egg day” at the beginning of our animal husbandry journey meant something different than a one-egg day years later….all because my inner narrative changed.
The first time we had a five-egg day, I was jubilant. When the count continued to rise to the highs of 12, 18 – even 24 eggs on one occasion – my response to a five-egg day changed as well.
When I began to find broken eggs as evidence the hens were eating the eggs, I was annoyed because my knee-jerk translation of the experience was based in loss, scarcity and challenge.
It should be noted: That negative narrative showed up even though I have never gone without food in this lifetime because of lack or scarcity.
My grandparents, on the other hand, did. Grammie Carrie told the story of being on the family farm in Missouri during the Great Depression, when the “old hen” as Grammie told it, hid her nest. No one could find the nesting site. Not being able to collect that egg for food was one more reflection of hardship for the family during an already challenging time.
A one-egg day for my Grammie was a big deal in those days. A 12-egg day would have allowed her to sell the extras to generate much-needed income.
So, what is the difference between a one-egg day a five-egg day, or a twelve-egg day?
Short answer: It depends.
Longer answer: It depends upon the meaning you assign to the situation, based on the story you tell yourself.
The story for a one-egg day can be, “Yay, this is the beginning of a new adventure in animal husbandry!” or it can be, “Something must be wrong; production is down.” It can even be, “My family will have protein today because of this one egg.”
By the way, my father, a little tyke at the time of the missing nest story, found the treasure that day and brought the egg to his mama as a birthday gift. That story stayed in the family, not as one of hardship, but my Grammie’s delight in her son and his thoughtfulness on that day.
Bottom line: What we experience (and feel) is shaped by the meaning we assign to events,….a.k.a. the stories we tell ourselves.
If you can surface old, unconscious stories that drive your perspective, emotions and behavior, you give yourself the opportunity to rewrite those stories.
It doesn’t mean challenges magically disappear but it does mean you can experience greater peace, resourcefulness and personal agency in meeting those challenges, which helps build resilience.
Take-away Tip: Notice what’s bugging you. What frustrates, irritates, annoys or dismays you? What is the meaning you’re assigning to the situation, and how does that meaning impact you?
When you use that frustration, etc. as a call to awareness, intended to help surface outdated, unproductive narratives, you’ll be less likely to get caught in “ain’t it awful,” and more empowered in how you meet the situation.
If you can see this call to awareness and the resulting exploration as an internal version of my daily treasure hunt for eggs, you are practicing narrative shifting in real time. You are rewriting the stories that shape your perspective and feelings.
The resulting treasures you find within yourself will help nourish your life just as the eggs I collect help feed my household.
May all of your treasure hunting be gently fruitful, and may you find delight – or at least, value – in all the treasures you unearth within yourself!
How I can help:
- Is it time to update the stories that shape your experience and emotions so they support you with the life you want to create? I’ve been helping people surface and rewrite the stories of their lives and work for 30 years. When you’re ready, let’s talk.
- Some of the most harmful stories we’ve been telling ourselves are focused on how we approach goal setting for success and achievement. If you’re ready to create goals that give you life vs. bleeding you dry – goals you actually love, you will want to see this.
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