My grandfather sometimes had a fever blister on his lower lip. His remedy was to peel the thin membrane from the inside of an eggshell and plaster it over the area. As a child, I didn’t ask questions about this, only observed. Lately I’ve read that raw eggshell membrane was a common home remedy, used also on minor skin injuries and warts.
Whether of not the eggshell lining helped to promote healing, we couldn’t have made it without eggs. They were as much a staple as flour for biscuits.
When the laying season was in a slowdown period, real planning had to be done concerning meal preparation. My mother made sure that enough eggs were kept in reserve to make cakes and pies and we substituted something else for scrambled eggs on the breakfast menu.
Anticipating slack laying periods, my mother would “preserve” fresh eggs in water glass mixture in a big crock jar in the cellar. They worked fairly well for cooking purposes but did not taste normal for eating from the skillet.
To entice the hens to lay their eggs in the nice nests built for them inside the henhouse, we placed a nest egg in them as a fooler, to make the hens think that they had laid there before. Old doorknobs and white rocks that resembled an egg were used.
When we wanted a hen to set and hatch out a dozen or so baby chicks, we marked the setting eggs with circular pencil strokes. Then if another hen caught the setting hen off her nest and laid a fresh egg there, we would be able to spot and remove it.
Invariably a hen would have a mind of her own, no matter how nice the henhouse quarters. She would steal her own nest in the barn or under dock leaves by a stump in the orchard. We would hear her cackling around high noon—a dead giveaway—and be led to her nest. Sometimes she was successful with her plan and the first we knew of it was when she came across the yard followed by a few chicks.
The shells of eggs were saved, “toasted” in the Home Comfort oven as the fire was going out and crushed to provide grit for the chickens’ pecking. This worked as well to make the future eggs have strong shells as the grit made from mussel shells that was sold at the feed store.
Extra eggs were a blessing for the farm woman making-do in hard times. She would sell eggs to the peddler and feel comfortable using the profits for her very own spending money. It was often turned into “print” fabric and sewing supplies, and maybe even a new box of face powder.
Once my mother invested her profits in a heavy-duty wire egg basket that I have kept through the years in open display. It brings back associated memories that last for a lifetime.