The Last Windrow: Back on the farm, we sold eggs for 30 cents a dozen
And it was a lot of work to get those eggs
"I'll take two eggs over easy with a side of hash browns and toss in a couple of slices of bacon."
In today's egg world, I'd probably just have a muffin.
Someone remarked to me the other day that the only thing folks remark about is the price of gas and, as of today, the price of a dozen eggs.
I couldn't argue with his logic. I would also toss in the fact that we do take it serious when the price of a gallon of gas or a postage stamp goes up a penny.
But, let's get back to the egg part of my opening. Who would have guessed a year ago that we would see shoppers peering into the egg cooler at the local grocery store with a bewildered look?
They stand there with their cart handle in their hands, mouths agape and seem frozen in time as they gaze upon the price sheet stuck on the inside of the window.
How did it come to this?
My long ago history found me riding into town with my parents and in the trunk of the 1951 Chevy sat a 30 dozen case of farm fresh eggs.
Dad would pull into the produce building, open the trunk and lug that case of eggs to the sidewalk-level window where some unseen human being would grab the case and make it disappear into the black cavern under the business.
Dad would then trek up the steps to the office and shortly return with a check in his hand.
"The price is up today, Millie!" he would exclaim to my mother waiting patiently in the car. "Got 30 cents a dozen! Better than last week!"
I wasn't very good at math but 30 dozen eggs at 30 cents a dozen didn't seem like much to me. In my mind I computed that the total amount of that check for 30 dozen eggs was $9.
That amount seemed rather paltry to me because I knew what it took to get those eggs to that produce building.
I remembered the new chicks coming home from the hatchery. They were housed in our farm's "brooder house." Since the weather was still cold in the early spring, a heat lamp had been hung from the ceiling, a cardboard fence had been installed inside and peat moss had been scattered across the floor.
A couple of watering pans and feeders were set out and my brothers and sisters stood guard for at least a day or two, holding the yellow, fuzzy chicks in our hands.
The chickens grew fast and soon they were allowed to run around the outside pen, and then as they feathered out, they were allowed to roam free for a time until the hens were herded into the chicken house where nesting boxes were lined up across three inside walls of the building.
The egg laying began and soon the eggs were being pried out from under pecking hens and brought into the house for cleaning.
In the end, the 30 dozen egg case was filled and off it went.
Somehow to me, the labor that followed all these exercises seemed to outweigh the price that was received at the feed and seed store. I thought about chasing chickens, catching chickens, installing fences, feeding chickens, cleaning the chicken house, cleaning off the eggs and paying for the gasoline that took the eggs to the market.
All those activities for a lousy $9.
Of course, we never suffered from the lack of eggs to eat ourselves and we did get them "wholesale." I still thought the produce place got the best of the deal.
And so now we are hearing the laments of those who seek to purchase a dozen eggs.
There are numerous reasons we are given to justify the price. The bird flu, the COVID-19 situation when people stayed home and cooked their own breakfasts, freight charges, lack of employees and who knows what else.
I've read from reliable sources that the cost to produce an egg right off the farm today is 29 cents each. That makes it $3.48 per dozen cost.
If you were to start from scratch to raise chickens to sell eggs today, well, let's just say you must want to do it just for the recreational value.
One of my theories is that instead of hundreds of farmers raising chickens and selling eggs, we now have giant egg factories and when something goes astray, such as the bird flu, the whole works takes a tumble and the price takes off like a deranged skyrocket.
So, instead of those two eggs over easy, at least for the time being, I think I'll just have a muffin and think about the price of eggs, a gallon of gas and maybe the price of a postage stamp.
Things that really make a difference in my life.
See you next time. Okay?