I check the nest boxes every morning, lunchtime and evening for eggs. No matter how many years you've been keeping hens it's still a great feeling spotting an egg in the nest box!
It's important to collect the eggs regularly so they aren't damaged by the hens. If an egg is cracked it should be removed immediately to prevent the hen from eating the contents. If a hen does begin to get a taste for it, it's a difficult habit to break and the hen may even try to intentionally break the egg for its' contents.
Soft shelled eggs can be produced by pullets as the egg may have passed through the oviduct too quickly. A coople of weeks after the hen first starts to lay, the eggs should be normal. If you experience a regular occurrence of soft-shelled eggs, this often indicates that the hen is lacking calcium. There are products on the market which help boost the hens calcium levels but also vitamin D helps the absorption of the calcium. I use a product called 'Davinova C' if I get an increase in soft-shelled eggs and it doesn't take long for the quality of the shells to improve.
I sometimes find that if it's muddy around where the hens roam the eggs tend to end up with mud on the shell. It's important not to wash the eggs by running them under water. As eggshells are porous any bacteria that may be on the outside of the shell could seep through into the contents inside and could make you ill. If you do have a dirty egg wipe it clean with a dry/damp cloth.
The Right Way to Keep Chickens
by Virginia Shirt
Diatom - Effective treatment and prevention for Red Mite
When selecting eggs to hard boil, choose eggs which are over 3 days old to avoid the egg white clinging too much to the membrane (which can make peeling more tricky).