When I was in elementary school, we sang a song in music class about an ant who thought he could move a rubber tree plant. I loved that song and with gusto, belted out the refrain about the ant’s “High apple pie in the sky hopes!”.

The picture of optimism: 3,750 brand new egg cartons!
Spiffy new egg cartons and labels

That song came to my mind yesterday as I loaded my pickup truck to overflowing with egg cartons. 3,750 egg cartons to be exact. You see, we have decided to upgrade our permitting from just a regular business license (which allows us to sell eggs directly to customers) to an Egg Handler’s Permit. To have this permit, I am required to use only new egg cartons and follow special labeling rules.

I also need to clean and store my eggs in a designated spot that is not being used as a domestic kitchen. As luck would have it, we have a kitchen in our empty guest cottage that fits the requirements for these purposes, including a designated egg refrigerator.

Designated egg fridge in our empty guest cottage

Our Egg Handler’s permit (and this is where the High Hopes come in) will allow us to sell our eggs at the Farmer’s Market and local retail food stores down the line. We currently have 80 happy laying hens and sell about 20 dozen eggs each week. In the first week of April, 100 day-old layer hen chicks will be arriving at our farm, and by fall, I hope that we will be able to sell around 60 dozen eggs each week.

There are two parts about the Egg Handler’s Permit that make me sad, though. First, I am required to include Safe Handling Instructions on the label of each carton.

Safe Handling Instructions are required on every egg carton, but they imply that my eggs are unsafe.

This makes me sad because these instructions imply that my eggs are somehow unsafe. So please know that I take every step possible to ensure that the eggs that I deliver to you are handled with care and attention to safety.

The second thing that makes me sad is that I can no longer reuse egg cartons. I love that you will be able to enjoy our eggs in spiffy new cartons every time now, but I hate the idea of all those egg cartons ending up in a landfill. I will no longer be able to take your gently used egg cartons, but I urge you to recycle yours, or better yet, compost them.

Thanks for helping us grow! If all goes well and my High Hopes become reality, once our new layers join our current flock in producing eggs, we should be able to churn through the tower of new egg cartons in a little over a year.  Oops! There goes another rubber tree plant!