Turning Eggs, Sweet Cicely and the Hungry Questions

For the past twenty days I have been turning eggs.

eggs being collected - turned each day

To be more accurate, I have been turning eggs for at least ten days more than this, as they require turning once a day even while you are collecting them to put in the incubator, but these twenty days are the ones that count as the eggs incubate.

Incubator - eggs on view through window




We lay them out on trays of sawdust, marked with a O on one side and a X on the other with an arrow on one egg per tray to remind me which way to turn them*.  Over twenty years ago we bought a large, second-hand paraffin powered 100 egg incubator. This old beast has been temperamentally incubating our eggs each year ever since.

eggs in the incubator tray - thermometer held at top of egg level

Modern, and expensive, incubators automatically turn eggs for you, each of our eggs has to be turned over, morning one way 180 degrees, evening back the other way the same, gently by hand, rotated not flipped. *(Though this is to prevent the yolk from settling on one side of the egg it’s not a good idea to keep rotating in the same direction as this can create a ‘spiralling’ effect on the contents)

Though there are about 80 eggs in the incubator they are not all from our own flock, which we have reduced to just seven laying hens, as the maximum premium collection time is just 10 days and they don’t lay quite that many! So a number of the eggs are from a friend’s flock of mixed hens giving a wide range of shell colour (and eventually, we hope, chickens)

And that is it – not counting your chickens until they have hatched! One thing you learn in doing your own incubation of eggs is that the number you get out bears little resemblance to the number of eggs put in. So, we wait to see …


Rhubarb and fronds of Sweet Cicely

Another harbinger of spring for me is eating the first rhubarb of the year – slender, tender stalks of fresh rhubarb sweetened by laying a few fronds of Sweet Cicely over them as they cook.   If you have never come across this amazing natural sweetener then be prepared to be amazed, I was! A friend at the market gave me a couple of uninspiring looking roots, which I planted and which took (I am not green fingered, so this was a bonus) and grew these delicate cow-parsley-like fronds. A few of which, laid across rhubarb or cooking apples, will lend them such a sweetness that no added sugar is necessary! You just lift the fronds off after cooking and dispose of them (into your compost bin of course).

Now for the Hungry Questions  – then a little goat-kid video about it …

If you have been following my Fat Woman Thinning? posts you’ll know I’ve said you shouldn’t go hungry between meals – I know – counter intuitive isn’t it.. I mean, what diet ever said you shouldn’t feel hungry. (BTW if you are following the results from last week are on the FWT? drop-down – 1lb down!)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking how you know when you are hungry.

Fact is half (or more) of the times that you think you are feeling hungry; you are actually thirsty. Doing the resistance weights course you are advised to make sure you drink plenty of water anyway – it helps metabolise the fat your body is burning. And I have said I always drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before I eat a meal, it cuts out the ‘thirst’ part of ‘feeling hungry’ and perhaps helps you feel full earlier so you don’t tend to overeat. So, first stop when feeling ‘hungry’ is to check you are not thirsty. (NB. it is possible to over-do the water – be sensible about it)

Then there is the ‘bored’ sense of feeling hungry. Yes, if you are bored sometimes your brain suggests that you might feel peckish … So, if this is the case you need to ask yourself – do I feel hungry just because I am feeling bored? And if answer is ‘yes’ then go and do something well away from the temptation. (difficult, I know, if you have to be working in the kitchen) My main ‘bored’ time for ‘feeling hungry’ is often while I am occupied – with doing the boring work of cleaning, but now I recognise the signs I can easily fight them and will have my ‘safe munchie’ (safe for me – as one is usually enough) of a cube of plain chocolate and a brazil nut with some hot water and milk to drive away that hungry feeling.

Ok, so you are not thirsty and you are not bored, and there is pudding on offer after your meal. Do you eat it? Are you still hungry or is it just ‘habit’. Do you ‘always’ have a dessert?  Now, I love a dessert – especially with fruit – and cream oh and sometimes meringue too! So, if it is just habit but you don’t want to cut out your lovely puds then pop it away for an in-between meals snack. No, you wouldn’t want to do this everyday with a high carb pud – but a plain yoghurt or stewed fruit (with sweet cicely) would be great.

Lastly there is the ‘am I hungry or am I just tired’ question. Yes, feeling tired can trigger a feeling that you are hungry, that you need a ‘quick-fix’ and you will crave the sweet high carb foods. Ok, so you may not be able to take a ‘power-nap’ (ten minute shut-eye) but if you can this may sort the problem. Otherwise resort to the drink and your safe munchie solution, combined with doing something that occupies your mind happily and you may get through until you can get enough sleep not to feel tired.

I guess these two might be hungry! They nearly have lift-off!

and maybe you might just be hungry too, look it’s lunch time already!

But before you go and eat – have you entered my great Draw to win a Kindle or 1 of 4 other great prizes, including ecopies of my three novels … and if you have, have you made sure all your friends and family have entered.. there’s only 398  places left so don’t delay click here for all the details.
And as always – I love to read your comments on whatever part of the blog interestes you!


7 thoughts on “Turning Eggs, Sweet Cicely and the Hungry Questions

  1. Thanks for the lesson on egg-turning. Do the chickens do it this methodically if left to their own devices? And if I don’t have any of that sweetener plant to put on it, what other suggestions to do have for rhubard? I tried to cook some last year and it didn’t turn out so good.

  2. Hi Julie, Yes, apparently hens do turn their eggs on a regular basis, hooking their beak under them and rolling them round, they probably move them more than twice a day and some guides suggest that they should be turned 3 or 4 times a day.
    Rhubarb can be cooked with a sprinkle of sugar if you have no sweet cicely. How much depends on how sweet your tooth is 🙂 Generally, I always cut it into short lengths – that way you don’t get long strings of rhubarb, and I cook it in a oven-proof glass dish in the microwave until tender but not gone to a complete mush.

  3. I miss my girls! We had chickens for the last few years, but somehow last summer the neighborhood raccoons got sneakier (or something) and they’re all gone. My husband wasn’t a big fan, so it’ll likely be a while before we get them again, if ever.

    • OH Racoons kill chickens?? I met racoons when I was a camp counsellor at an American Summer Camp (in New Hampshire) back in the mid 1970s – sneaky – yep – loved to try to get into the camp kitchen! Here we have to deal with foxes (as last year when one killed and maimed a number of our layers)
      I would miss the real fresh free-range eggs most if we stopped keeping hens!

    • Thank you Cora, for a lovely response! Sweet cicely smells slightly of aniseed, but only seems to impart the sweetness. The flowers are edible too, but if you leave them to flower it does not grow such nice leaves…

  4. Oh Ann. Memories here. My dad had 4 of these paraffin incubators and I loved going down every evening when my dad got in from work, to help ‘turn’ the eggs. Like you ‘O’ on one side and ‘X’ on the other. I loved watching the eggs hatch and the little chicks breaking the shell and slowly emerging. Dad used to hatch, chicken, duck and geese eggs. I loved the goslings as when we had to hand rear them, they would follow me around as I became their ‘mother’ figure. Memories, you can’t beat them.
    Plus of course the poultry had to be dealt with and plucked before Christmas! Another job that I was always involved in and all part of the life-cycle.

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