We have two hens called Sel and Poivre (Salt and Pepper). We bought them in the hope of being able to teach Hugo, our dog, that chickens are to be admired from a respectable distance and not eye-balled viciously, whilst sinking sharp canine teeth into their necks. He had taken to sloping off to the neighbouring farms to ‘play’ with their hens in a way that would have earned him an ASBO if he lived in the UK.
Six weeks on and the hens are still alive, which is nothing short of miraculous when I think back to the way he greeted their arrival. But the hens’ biggest passion is the horses; they preach at the alter of all things equine. If the horses are lying down in the sun, so are they; if the horses are eating hay in the grange, the hens will be pecking away next to them. And when the horses gallop around the field, they follow as fast as their little legs will carry them.
Anyway, we moved the horses down the road a couple of days ago to ‘mow’ a neighbouring field, and the hens (who live in the horses’ stabling) went into a sharp decline. To such an extent that one of them (Salt) stopped laying. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I’ve been assured by People Who Know that hens, contrary to appearances, are really quite emotional beings. We brought the horses back this evening (I was getting hungry!) and they were met by two very very happy ladies. They’re cuddling up as I type.
The original aim of this post was actually to point out the fact that eggs are Very Good News from a nutritional point of view, and not go into our poultry’s state of heart in such detail. So, eggs contain substantial quantities of high-quality protein and most vitamins (with the exception of vitamin C) and minerals; valuable components in a healthy diet. From a culinary point of view, as well as being healthy and delicious, they are incredibly versatile – they can be boiled, poached, fried, scrambled or made into omelette, quiche, tarts, sauces, mousses…
From your point of view as well as the hens’, please buy free-range.