When I opened the fridge in the break room of our office one particularly rainy morning last May, I was shocked to find it packed with carts of eggs that had taken over the space without order nor remorse. I gently left my lunchbox on the table and before I had a chance to ask the ladies for an explanation, one was promptly delivered by our manager who had seen in my face the unmistakable sign of a question mark.
Dear Mrs L left the carts in the office for the caregivers and friends who had agreed to buy them at a risible price. As I learned right then, apparently I too had agreed to buy a cart myself.
Mrs L, it turns out, is devoted to her pets. Three cats, a dog and four hens greet her every evening when she gets home after her long days of dedicated and extraordinary caregiving to our clients.
Born in Nebraska and growing up in a farm near the State’s Southern border, among Mrs L’s earliest memories is walking with her sister the six miles that separated her family’s farm from Kansas, even if that invariably meant being reprimanded for such daring and premature adventure. Or sitting at the wheel of their ’65 red International Harvester tractor well before she was 10 to help her dad unload bails on the field. “Steer straight!” would be the only indication. And, by God, did she follow it every time.
It is estimated that over 10 million people keep laying hens in their backyards in the US making them more popular than hamsters as a pet. This number has been increasing at spectacular rates since the Covid pandemic began last year. Searches for baby chick supplies were up by a whopping 758% at the beginning of 2020 according to Amazon. Hatcheries nationwide saw their sales increase fivefold or more in 2020 over the previous year. “People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper,” a hatchery’s vice president told the New York Times.
Not Mrs L. She got her first brood in Arkansas almost 20 years ago, before she moved to Whitney to take care of her mom. Since then, Mrs L has gone through a few sets of them and has perfected her own style and routine. Her hens get up at 5:30 and go to bed around 8 every night after their group hug. More importantly, they learned to get along just fine with her cats and dog.
I like my eggs over easy if fried, and right at 4 minutes if boiled. I tried Mrs L’s eggs both ways and they were amazing. Their texture, their flavor and their bright orange yolk suggested happy hens. I doubt I’ll be able to go back to the “factory eggs” again. And with a well-stocked fridge at work, why should I anyway.
Eduardo Berdegué owns Divine Home Care Services, an independent home care agency serving the elderly in Texas. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org