Over on the American Egg Board web site, they have a great Egg Facts page which helped me to learn that our girls are producing real "free-range" eggs:
Free-Range EggsThere's also this great illustration showing the various parts of an egg and what each of them do:
True free-range eggs are those produced by hens raised outdoors or that have daily access to the outdoors. Due to seasonal conditions, however, few hens are actually raised outdoors. Some egg farms are indoor floor operations and these are sometimes erroneously referred to as free-range operations. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, free-range eggs are generally more expensive. The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations.
Now, compare the illustration above with the real thing in the pan to the right (rotated 90 degrees), and you can see both the thick and thin albumens (whites) and the chalazae on both sides of the yolk.
What's most remarkable to me still is just how prominent the thick albumen is on these eggs. When making pancakes yesterday morning, I cracked open a couple Large Grade A eggs bought at the local Whole Foods, and there was no difference in consistency in the white... it was all the same thin albumen.
The last little bit of egg trivia helps explain why our girls' small eggs are so tough to crack:
As the hen ages, egg size increases. The same amount of shell material which covers a smaller egg must be "stretched" to cover a larger one, hence the shell is thinner.Enough trivia for the night... now back to figuring out why ZsuZsu made that weird sound.