The Gathering of Eggs
For nearly 60 years my father, Ross, kept a few hens and other poultry on the family farm near Koorawatha, New South Wales. He'd gather the eggs and pencil the date on their shells. Occasionally bad weather, foxes, errant pups and other upsets would put the hens off laying, but there were bounteous times when eggs were given away by the dozen. Sometimes chickens would be hatching in the electric incubator that stands in the living room, beside the chair where Ross liked to read in wreaths of pipe smoke.
These pictures were all taken during the years when he was living alone at the farm. On my visits home I'd see eggs disposed about the house in various configurations. Often there'd be a solitary one on the coffee table, carried from the coop in a shirt pocket over his heart: you had to be mindful of that when you greeted him with a hug. He said that the hens were "company", and I felt that I should visit more often. Soon after his 90th birthday in May 2008, Ross moved to a house in town, where he smokes his pipe and broods about constructing a chicken run in the back yard.