Tag Archive for eggs

Pick The Best Day For Hatching Eggs

I’m a great believer in agricultural traditions and folk wisdom.
That’s because much of what I learned about homesteading was passed onto me by the two generations of garden farmers that came before me. Heeding their advice enabled much success and fewer homesteading failures.
One bit of advice that was given to me by those far more experienced than myself was regarding the best time for setting or incubating eggs.

The most favorable time for setting eggs under a broody hen or in an incubator is 21 days before a waxing moon is in the zodiac sign of Cancer.

New Hatched Chick

A Buff Orpington Chick Hatched During A Waxing Moon in the Sign of Cancer

In order to determine what day that would be you’ll need an almanac for the current year. All good almanacs have tables or charts that map the course of the moon though the zodiac.
If we use chicken eggs as an example here’s how to find the best day.

Chicken Eggs Hatching

A Clutch of Chicken Eggs Hatching In The Moon Sign Of Cancer

Chicken eggs need 21 days to hatch.
So a quick look in any current almanac will find days that the moon will be in the sign of Cancer, and will also be waxing.
Most years there will be a couple of days that this will occur during the light (waxing) of the moon.
All that is necessary is to pick a Cancer, and then count backwards 21 days. Whatever day that happens to be is the day to begin to incubate the clutch of eggs. That day counts as Day 1.

If for some reason a waxing Cancer day is inconvenient for setting eggs, a day that a waxing moon falls in the signs of Scorpio or Pisces would be a second best choice.
Chicks that are hatched during a waxing Cancer moon tend to hatch with fewer problems and grow faster.

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a favorite around here. My husband likes it for breakfast and I like it anytime. It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover rice.
There are many different variations of rice pudding found around the world. The recipe below is classic American farmhouse cuisine.


Ingredients For Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

  • Heaping ⅓ Cup of Cooked Rice
  • 6 Eggs
    • ¾ – 1 Cup of White Cane Sugar
  • 1 Quart Whole Milk
  • ½ Cup of Raisins
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Pre-Heat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar and milk. Beat well with a rotary mixer, whisk or by hand vigorously. Take care that the sugar is well blended.

Blend Well

Blend Eggs, Milk & Sugar Well

Place the cooked rice in a 1 ½ – 2 quart casserole dish or into small custard dishes. Sprinkle raisins over the rice.

Pour the milk mixture over the rice. Stir rice and milk mixture very gently with a fork to help unstick any clumps of rice. Evenly sprinkle nutmeg over the top. Place casserole or dishes in a shallow pan of water to bake. Bake for about 1 hour or until a table knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Rice Pudding

A Bowl Of Rice Pudding

Too Many Eggs & Impossible Pie

For people who keep backyard chickens or ducks, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing – especially in the spring.
That’s because this is the time of the year when small poultry flock owners are positively polluted with extra eggs.
But it’s a good problem to have.

A Slice of Impossible Pie

Impossible Pie

Early spring brings with extra eggs a wonderful opportunity to plan ahead.
When I have “too many eggs” I bake for the freezer or lay down eggs in a crock of water glass.
Pound cakes are one of my favorite ways to fill the freezer as are different types of cookie dough and baked cookies. Most cookie dough will freeze well and last up to 3 – 4 months when properly wrapped and frozen. Baked cookies when packed properly will store in the freezer about 2 -6 months without any change in flavor or texture depending upon the type of cookie.
So that means that the ginger snaps cookies I make this summer will be ready and waiting for me to defrost and serve at Halloween.

One recipe that uses eggs and is a favorite with my husband is Impossible Pie.
Impossible Pie is a quick mix dessert that is made in one bowl.
The recipe makes its own crust or bottom (not exactly a dry crust) and the center is a sweet custard with a coconut topping.

Impossible Pie reminds me a little of Coconut Cream pie or Rice Pudding made with coconut instead of rice.
It’s too sweet for my taste but many people like it.
Give it a try.
Maybe you’ll like it.
Either way you’ll be down 4 eggs – until you gather eggs again tomorrow.


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • In a large bowl combine

4 eggs
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut

  • Mix well with a hand beater or electric mixer.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a buttered 10” or larger pie plate or casserole dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when inserted into the center.Don’t try to use a smaller pie plate or dish with this recipe, because you’ll be sorry when you’re cleaning the bottom of your oven floor. The “pie” will puff up while it is baking and if the plate isn’t large enough it will spill over the sides.

Remove the pie when done and allow it to cool. I think Impossible Pie tastes best after it has been refrigerated.

How To Preserve Eggs With Water Glass

Did you know that are a few different old-time ways to preserve fresh eggs for many months without electricity?
It’s true.
Freshly laid eggs have been successfully preserved by being kept in a “water glass” solution, in a lime water solution, by being coated with mineral oil, Vaseline or paraffin wax, and by being buried in sawdust, sand, oats and in salt.

Of all the old-time methods of preserving fresh eggs the “water glass” method gives the best and most dependable result. Fresh, unwashed eggs kept in a solution of water glass will remain good and usable for 4 to 6 months (sometimes longer) when properly collected and stored.

Eggs In Water Glass

Eggs In A Crock Of Water Glass

“Water Glass” or “liquid glass” is sodium silicate and is the generic name for sodium metasilicate (Na2SiO3).
Nowadays water glass has become very hard to find. At one time it was readily available in drug stores, hardware stores and building supply warehouses.

Eggs & Water Glass

Preserving Eggs With Water Glass

Water glass is alkaline in nature and has the taste of washing soda. It is used for general cleaning purposes, to seal unfinished cement floors and as an adhesive. Water glass is a clear, slightly syrupy liquid that comes already dissolved in a gallon bucket.

Water Glass On Fingers

Water Glass Is Syrupy But Not Sticky On Fingers

It has been within my lifetime that the “water glassing” of eggs has fallen out of favor due to the availability of refrigeration in most American households; and because of cheap eggs due to factory farmed hens kept confined in battery cages and under constant electric lights.
If you don’t know already, hens will naturally cease egg production once daylight hours are decreased during the winter months. Many people who have electricity will put a light in the hen-house during the winter to force hens to lay. Lighted hen houses and long-term cold storage are the reasons that there are eggs in the grocery store during the winter months. Without electric lights most hens will lay hit or miss during the winter.
Before refrigeration became commonly available keeping fresh eggs in a crock of water glass was the preferred method of egg preservation.

For many rural American families before the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, water-glassing eggs was the only way that they could manage to have eggs during the winter months when hens are discouraged from laying due to the cold and dark days. By saving surplus eggs during the spring and summer when eggs are plentiful, farm families were guaranteed a steady supply of eggs through the winter months.
Sadly, within the course of 2 generations what was at one time everyday household information has been lost and forgotten. Water-glass has gone the way of curtain stretchers and wire bail canning jars.

How Water Glass Works
Eggshells are porous. That’s why an incubating chick embryo can breathe.
Eggs will spoil and lose freshness due to bacteria passing through the shell and by moisture evaporation leaving through the eggshell. The way that water glass preservation works is simple and straightforward. The water glass blocks and fills the pores of the eggshell thereby preventing bacteria from entering inside the egg and moisture from leaving the egg.

Eggs For Water Glass Preservation
DO NOT USE WASHED STORE BOUGHT EGGS FOR WATER GLASS PRESERVING – they absolutely will not keep properly or for as long as a fresh egg. Quality will be lost rapidly.

Coparision Eggs

A Washed Grocery Store Egg Verses A Farm Fresh Egg Stored in Water Glass For 113 Days

Eggs that are to be used for water glass must be completely fresh and clean and they must not ever be washed. By washing a fresh laid egg you will remove the protective coating. It is permissible to lightly wipe an egg with a dry cloth if it is a little soiled.
The best eggs are collected from fresh clean nest boxes and will have no cracks or imperfections. One cracked egg will spoil the entire crock of eggs.

Fresh Collected Eggs For Water Glass

Fresh Eggs

If has often been said that the best eggs for water glass are collected during the spring months of March, April and May. I think the reason for this it that the weather has not turn too hot and the cooler weather keeps an uncollected egg fresher in the nest box. That said I will be collecting eggs this year during May, June, July and August for winter storage.

Old timers would not permit the rooster to run with the hens for up to a month before eggs are collected for water glass for fear of a fertile egg beginning to develop. I don’t think this is a real concern as long as the eggs are collected daily and stored properly. But no matter what I think, the practice of early 20th century housewives was to always crack eggs that had been stored by any method into a separate bowl for examination before cooking with them. After all who am I to argue with experience?

Water Glass Eggs
Water glass coming straight out of the bucket needs to be diluted. I use the 11 to 1 ratio recipe – or 11 parts water to 1 part water glass (sodium silicate) or 11 quarts of water to 1-quart water glass or 11 pints of water to 1 pint of water glass – you get the idea. It works out to 1 quart of water to 1/3 cup of water glass
And just so you know some recipes will give a 9 to 1 or 10 – 1 ratio. I have no experience with them.
The water should be measured out, boiled and then allowed to cool completely. Many older recipes recommend rainwater.

Measuring Water

Measuring Out Water For The Solution

Sterilize a clean ceramic crock, plastic bucket, wooden keg or other container with boiling water. You want to destroy any possible yeast, enzymes or bacteria. Almost any container will work but metal should be avoided.

Boiling Water Sterlizes Crock

Boiling Water Is Poured Into A Ceramic Crock To Sterilize It

Pour the cooled water into the crock and then add the water glass and stir well. It is important that the water be completely cool. You don’t want the water to cook the egg.
Place the fresh eggs pointed side down into the crock.

Egg Goes Pointy Side Down Into Crock

Place The Egg Pointed End Down In The Crock

You can fit many eggs into a crock; and eggs can be stacked on top of one another until the crock is filled.
Make sure that at least 2″ to 3″ of liquid covers the eggs at all times and the crock should be tightly covered.
The best success is obtained when the crock is stored in a cool dry location. A fresh, clean root cellar, spring house or cold basement storage area is ideal.

Water Glass Crock In Cellar

Covered Crock In Cool Cellar Store Room

Clean fresh eggs can be added daily as the season progresses. If water ever needs to be added make sure that it has been boiled first.
When the eggs are needed for cooking remove them from the crock. Water glass is cold and slimy so prepare yourself before you stick your hand into the crock.  Wash the eggs and break them into a separate bowl to check for freshness by smell and visual examination. If at any time eggs float in the crock dispose of them carefully because they have gone bad.

2 Eggs Floating Because They Are Bad

2 Eggs Floating Because They Are Bad

Eggs that have been stored with water glass may break when they are boiled so use caution if you intend to cook them by that method.
Fresh collected eggs will store very well for between 3 to 6 months without too much loss of quality. The viscosity of the egg white will have changed somewhat and sometimes the yolk will take on a very dark orange-red color. But the color change is harmless and the flavor of the egg is still good and acceptable for general cooking purposes.

Pound Cake Recipe

I’m swimming in eggs. It’s a great problem to have especially after a long cold winter. During the winter my hens get discouraged from laying due to the short dark days and cold weather. I spent most of the winter scrounging for eggs. This past winter I actually pleaded with the hens to try a little harder to help out with my Christmas baking. But to no avail. Eggs are just naturally scarce in the winter. But come the spring – voila!
More eggs than I can handle. It’s all a part of the natural rhythm of agrarian life.
One of my favorite ways to make good use of lots of eggs is with rice pudding and pound cake.

Pound Cake

Sliced Pound Cake

Pound cake freezes very well and makes a wonderful last-minute hostess gift or quick dessert. If you need to use up lots of eggs here’s my recipe. I’ve provided 2 recipes – one for “normal” baking and one for “batch” baking.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 sticks butter softened
  • 6 eggs room temperature
  • ½ pint of yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and dust 2 loaf pans with flour.
    2. Sift flour twice onto wax paper before measuring. Measure out 3 level cups off flour and set aside.
    3. Cream the softened butter and sugar with an electric or hand mixer in a large bowl. Light and fluffy is what you’re going for.
    4. In another smaller bowl mix the baking soda into the yogurt and stir very well and set aside.
    5. Now add the eggs one at a time into the butter and sugar mixture (3 at a time for larger recipe) and mix well after each addition.

  1. Next, alternating add the sifted flour and yogurt into the creamed butter and sugar.
  2. Mix well between additions. Add the vanilla extract and mix slightly until well incorporated. Do not over mix.
  3. Pour into loaf pans and shake and tap sides of pan to level batter.

Bake for 1-½ hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool for about 5 – 10 minutes before removing from pan. This recipe makes 2 loaf pound cakes or 1 angel food or bunt pan type cake.

Pound cake will store well in the freezer for about a year – maybe a little less. Sour cream may be substituted for yogurt. Sour cream makes for a richer cake.
If using an angel food cake pan grease only bottom and funnel of the angel food pan. Do not grease the sides.
Below is the recipe using 2 dozen (24) eggs. It yields 8 regular size loaf cakes or 4 good size tube cakes.


  • 12 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 12 cups of white sugar
  • 2 lbs or 8 sticks of butter
  • 24 eggs
  • 1 quart of yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Prepare and bake as above.

Heritage Breed – Rouen Ducks

A couple of our Rouen hens have decided to set a clutch of eggs. Most domestic duck eggs will hatch in about 28 days.
The hens are working as a tag team and taking turns sitting on the nest.

Sometimes both of them will try to sit on the nest at the same time.

 Rouen Hens

Two Rouen Hens On A Nest

Often the drake or another hen will come into the nesting area to check out the egg progress and to give encouragement to the setting hens.
28 days is a long time to be sitting in once place. The hens will get off the nest maybe once or twice a day but they never travel far. They are off the nest just long enough to eat, drink and to stretch their legs.
I’ve noticed that the hens have rolled some of the eggs out of the nest and have discarded them. They must be bad eggs.

Rouen Drake and Hens

Rouen Hens With A Drake

I can’t remember how long ago the hens started setting the eggs so I have no idea when to expect ducklings. I would think within the next 10 days or so.
Broody ducks get treated with lots of respect around here. Ducks are in my opinion the most helpless and docile of all farm animals except when their maternal instincts kick in.

Rouen Ducks

Rouen Ducks In April

It has been my experience that a duck setting a nest or mothering new ducklings can be very aggressive and will attack humans if they feel threatened.
I wouldn’t dare try to move the above hens without wearing long sleeves, gloves and something covering my face.
When ducks attack they explode into action. Ducks will hiss, peck hard, grip onto clothing or skin with their bills and won’t let go when alarmed. They’ll also try to beat the perceived threat with their wings.
A duck attack can leave a human bloody.

Rouen ducks are a heavy and large breed of duck that originated in France. They have a color pattern similar to mallard ducks and are popular with the Slow Food people and gourmet chefs.
Rouen ducks are listed with the American Breeds Livestock Conservancy and they have a breed status of “Watch” .
When we first started raising Rouens they had a “Critical status” and were definitely not as popular as they are today.