Sign of Spring: Pussy Willows by Hauser Pond

EGG-stravaganza…a Crossroads tradition—will be even more egg-stravagant this year because this April 19, we will collaborate with the Door County Library and the Door County Historical Society to celebrate the remarkable object known as an egg.  This is not a religious event nor is it an Egg Hunt.  It is an educational activity to help learners of all ages do what our parents told us not to do—play with perfectly good food.

Just like Crossroads,  the event will have three focuses–science, history and the environment. Learners of all ages will be welcome to attend all or any one of the parts free of charge.
We begin at 1:30 with EGGsperiments.  Families will have hands-on (or actually hands-in) opportunities in oology–the science of eggs.  Learners  will  crack, break,  and throw eggs, and even (yes, this is part of the tradition) drop them out the window from the upper level of the the Collins Learning Center. And each family will dissect an unfertilized egg.
It’s always amazing to observe people truly observing eggs for the first time. In past years, a number of participants have  confessed that they had always believed that the egg yolk somehow morphed into the baby chick.Well, you know,  yolks are yellow and the baby chicks are yellow….
Actually,  the yolk is  a 21-day food supply,   filled with  everything necessary to nourish the chicken embryo as it develops from a  few undifferentiated cells until it hatches as a scraggly-wet but soon to become fluffy chick. After all, there is no umbilical cord running between the hen and the egg. Any food the embryo will need must be inside the shell  at the time the hen lays the egg.
The yolk is suspended in the middle of the egg,  held in place by twisted bands of tissue called chalazae which act rather like  bungee cords  so the developing embryo won’t get smooshed by the yolk  when the hen turns the egg.
The chick embryo and yolk are cushioned by two clear liquids–the thick albumen and the thin alumen (commonly called egg whites)– which provides some nutrition, but also contains enzymes that  protect the developing bird from bacteria.
Very soon after incubation begins, the chick embryo develops blood vessels which reach  into the yolk to absorbe the   vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats necessary for  development. Any of the yolk remaining when the chick is fully developed  is absorbed into the abdomen.  Consequently, a  chick  can get along without food for a couple days after hatching.  A short video will illustrate the 21 day miracle.
Many Door County pioneers kept backyard chickens—for the eggs (and for Sunday dinners).  The  HERITAGE EGGS activities begins at 2:30.   Participants will step into the past by visiting the Warren House and the Schopf House in the Heritage Village at Big Creek, where eggs will be “hidden” in plain sight by members of the Door County Historical Society.  Young people who can locate the eggs among the antiques will receive a small prize.
The Door County Librariy helps us  conclude the activities by sponsoring  a free screening of the feature-length  documentary MAD CITY CHICKENS  The “mad” in the title refers to Madison, Wisconsin where a number of citizens are involved in  sustainably raising chickens. The film is informative and funny, and would be appropriate for children grade 3 and up (though younger kids would be welcome.)
According to the producers, Tarazod Films, “From healthy  eggs to the family’s new favorite pet, the chicken is forging a fresh place in the pecking order of human importance. From leading experts to suburban newbies, experience the humor and heart of what’s fast becoming an international phenonomenon–the return of the urban backyard chicken!”
With or without chickens, many folk are hoping to upgrade their backyards this year. For that reason, the Master Gardeners will be offering a two part series called Landscaping 101.  The first session at 7:00 on Tuesday, April 15 will be on “Choosing Plants Wisely.”  Tom Luebker will help gardeners understand plant basic so they use plants that grow in Door County and the very local conditions of their yards.

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