My friend and I would go on road trips - a day-long adventure to our favorite garden center-shop ever - Terrain in Pennsylvania. We'd go once or twice a year, and to say that it fed our souls is an understatement. The drive was long, but the rewards (a beautiful lunch, that usually involved lots of cheese, lavender honey butter, sweet, warm bread baked in its very own terracotta flower pot, hours of chatting, and a few necessary, but completely frivolous purchases) far exceeded the almost five hours that it took us to drive there and back. It was on one of these road trips that I discover the pure joy of fresh, farm eggs. My friend asked if we could stop by the local market on our way home, wanting to pay far too much money for a dozen eggs. I honestly didn't understand why, until she opened the egg carton in the car to show me. Underneath the lid, sat one dozen miniature, pastel beauties, all lined up neatly in their gently-recycled egg carton. Did they taste better? Maybe? Did it matter? No. The happiness that they gave her was worth every extra penny.
From that moment on, I understood, and I was also hooked.
I started to search for farm eggs near my home, but even though there were farms, there were no fresh eggs on a consistent basis. I would find the occasional "fresh eggs" sign taped to a red cooler sitting on the side of the road, but it was infrequent at best, and most times it was empty, apart from a puddle of melted ice in the bottom.
My daughter and I once passed a sign, pointing down a winding, gravelly driveway, promising us fresh eggs and homemade cheeses when we got to the end.
A wooden shed greeted us, but the place was empty, and there was not a single egg in sight. I started to back up (as figuring out the u-turn was far more than I could comprehend) when a man came running out of the house, waving at us. I stopped the car, and he asked us what we were looking for. I said it was fine, we were just looking for some eggs, but we could see that they were all out. Without hesitation, he asked us to wait, and said he'd go and check to see if they had any.
Ten minutes later, I was going to leave (as I was starting to feel a little wobbly, sitting in the middle of nowhere, next to an old empty shed, waiting for a man) when he suddenly reappeared carrying a carton of eggs. I thanked him, gave him the money, passed them to my daughter in the back seat, and quickly made our escape back down the gravelly driveway.
As I drove away, my daughter asked me to stop the car. I pulled over and turned around to see if she was okay. She was, but her eyes were wide, as she asked me to take back the egg carton. I reached for them, and she smiled at me, not saying a word, but knowing that she had a secret. The cardboard egg carton was warm, and inside were a dozen, beautifully colored (mostly blue) eggs. We realized that he had raided the chicken coop to get us the eggs :-)
We loved them so much, that we only cooked one of them. The rest, we let sit on our counter, in a wire basket for months. I didn't care to think that they were starting to rot inside, because the entire experience just made me smile. Eventually, one by one, they started to crack and ooze, so we gathered them up and threw them out into the woods, watching them splatter against the old tree trunks.
After that, our search for fresh farm eggs continued, and in-between I reluctantly bought supermarket eggs. I drew faces and wrote words on them to amuse myself - not giving up, but also not very hopeful either. Until one day, we happened upon Chicken Nancy.
A nearby "fresh egg" sign on the side of the road pointed us to an enclosed, front porch. Through a screen door, on the floor, was a small bucket of money and a list. We were asked to write down our name and phone number, then someone called Nancy would call us when our eggs were ready.
I was very skeptical, of course, but it seemed so odd, that I knew it just had to be true. I put my name and phone number down, and a few days later I received a call from Nancy saying that our eggs were ready. I went to the front porch, and there they were, wrapped up in string, with my name (and a thank you) scribbled on the top. I left my money in the bucket and took the eggs home.
From then on, we'd get a call about once every two weeks letting us know that our eggs were ready. It was a reliable way to get our fresh eggs, of course, but the most fun thing about Chicken Nancy's eggs were that they were so unpredictable. She called me one day and asked if I minded duck and goose eggs in with my chicken eggs. Of course, I said, no, so from them on our egg cartons overflowed with the most bizarre combination of large and small, colored eggs. Almost too pretty to eat, but we did anyway. This went on for about three years, and then all of a sudden, she was gone. The calls stopped, and a quick drive by showed us that the home had been sold, and there were no more chicken coops in the back yard. Sadly, we had to go back to drawing faces on our supermarket eggs, until a recent commute took me by another homemade sign on the side of the road. Every morning, two coolers sit in front of an old farmhouse, filled with fresh chicken and duck eggs. I now stop whenever I want, and get a carton for my daughter and I. We marvel at the colors, almost too pretty to crack open, but we do.... because we now have a steady supply of fresh, beautiful farm eggs.