Poultry Science…Eggs-actly

By Marla Boone
Contributing columnist

You know it’s been a long winter when the highlight of your week is a discussion about how eggs are laid. (And if you think I’m going to start a conversation about which came first, the layer or the layee, you’re crazy.)

Here is what I know about chickens: (1) they have the very worst manure in the universe and (2) they have weird anatomy. I used to live in Versailles, Ohio where the first “s” is pronounced as a zee and the second “s” is, you know, pronounced. At one time, Versailles touted itself as the chicken capital of the world. This is a fairly modest accomplishment, seeing as the chickens did most of the work, but you take your accolades wherever you can find them. Poultry Days is an annual celebration in Versailles and is a pretty big deal, especially if you’re chosen to be Miss Chick (feathers optional). They serve about a zillion barbequed chicken dinners (again, the chickens making the biggest sacrifice) in a finely orchestrated operation that makes a shuttle launch look haphazard by comparison. Poultry Days began in 1952 and the organizers chose the first weekend of June for the event. Little did they know that twenty-five years later, another group of organizers, looking to celebrate strawberries in Miami County, would choose the same weekend. In a flash of genius, the Versailles people countered this competition by opening a beer tent. Because the activities of Poultry Days are held on the grounds of the high school and most (but certainly not all) school officials frown on beer sales on their property, the poultry purveyor people just pitch a tent in the middle of a state highway and sell the beer there. Right there is the kind of can-do attitude that makes America great.

But back to the eggs. My understanding of chicken anatomy is that these birds, and for all I know, all birds, have one orifice for egress, no pun intended. Everything that comes out of their bodies (including eggs) comes out of one opening. They use the same opening for trying to conceive little baby chickens. This seems like poor planning at best and a plumbing nightmare at worst. It takes every bit of my will power not to think about this when I’m eating an omelet. Because I have the type of brain that remembers every word to the theme song from “The Beverly Hillbillies” but cannot recall which slot in an electrical outlet is the positive, I know that the one opening a chicken has is called a cloaca. When spoken aloud, cloaca sounds lovely. It sounds like a beautiful flower or a graceful Hawaiian dance. It’s not.

I wanted to learn more about this, but I’m afraid to enter “cloaca” into Google. I might need a security clearance someday, or even more unlikely, I might apply for a job in a childcare facility. When they do the background check, right there in my phone history will be my interest in the private doings of chickens and I’d be sunk.

So I’ll have to resign myself to not fully understanding precisely how all the baffles in a chicken work. Small consolation can be taken in knowing a story ‘bout a man named Jed…….

And, BTW, I tested the outlet thing with a multimeter. Again. It’s the small slot. (But you might want to check for yourself.)

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today