Not so long ago, springtime was a difficult time on the farm. You had spent a lot of your cash during the winter, but harvest time was many months away. Spring faced you with your biggest expenses of the year: getting equipment back into shape, hiring extra labor, plowing, and planting.
On top of that, meat is hard to come by, since you thinned your herds in late fall to match the level of fodder you could store over the winter, and all the animals that you could spare are already gone. And you’re even worse off where vegetables are concerned. Anything that doesn’t keep for five or six months is gone.
So there you are: strapped for cash and with an inadequate diet. You can’t even plant a garden yet, let alone harvest from it. What’s a farmer to do?
But do not despair! A miracle is at hand to rescue you from your plight! It’s called — the egg!
Well before planting season, the hens perk up and start laying eggs like crazy. They have to start laying early so that the baby chicks will hatch during a season where the living is easy. And this means that your flock of chickens transforms your farm from an operation where you make money only once a year, at harvest time, to one where you have something to sell every day. And peak production happens right when you need cash the most!
On top of this, eggs are nature’s perfect food, and provide your family with nutrition that was sadly lacking once the cow dried up and the last of the greens were gone. Imagine going from the lassitude of empty pockets and borderline malnutrition to the vitality of cash flow and health! Eggs did that.
And, as if that weren’t enough, in a typical farm family, eggs provided a degree of social equity. Field crops and large-animal operations were considered to be a manly business, while the chicken flock was usually the wife’s domain. She’d tend the flock, market the eggs, and spend the money. Every general store and feed store bought eggs, so eggs were as easy to spend as cash. The humble hen built a lot of equality into a system that didn’t have much otherwise.
You’ve probably guessed already that Easter is associated with eggs because that’s what’s plentiful during the Easter season. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of spring eggs in the old-time farm economy.