On a recent trip to Pewaukee, WI, James ignited a poultry passion inside himself. He was The Egg Collector. He marched fearlessly into the chicken coop and looked high and low for eggs. He searched every nest box. He made Jessie wait what seemed like hours to check out ever corner and “Wait for dat chicken to way he’s egg.” And, no joke, that chicken did “way he’s egg” while James was waiting. He quickly scooped it up, still warm, and nestled it in the bucket with the others. James did not always wait for chickens to get off of the eggs, either. He stuck his hand under their breast feathers and lifted until he could see if there was an egg there or not. Two more times chickens laid eggs just for James. One laid an egg on the floor, after being chased from her next box. He was very proud to show Grandma Mary all of the eggs he collected. Then, he sadly watched as the bucket of eggs was destroyed by the hungry dogs on the front steps.
I did explain later that all the chickens were girls and that only girl chickens lay eggs. The conversation went something like this:
Me: You know, James, only girl chickens lay eggs.
James: No. Boy chickens lay eggs.
Me: Only girl chickens do.
James: How do you know that?
Me: My dad told me. (First thing that came to mind, where did I learn that anyway?)
James: Well, my dad told me that boy chickens lay eggs (no doubt he did).
Me: Well, they don’t. Boy chickens…. boy chickens… um (What useful non-sexual thing do boy chickens do that would make James proud?)… Boy chickens protect the girl chickens.
James: Yeah. Boy chickens protect the eggs so that they don’t get broken.
Sure. Sure they do – in a roundabout way. I guess…