French Hens And Scrambled Eggs

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Which came first the chicken or the egg? It’s a question that is guaranteed lengthy debate around our table at supper. All of our children have strong opinions and know their own minds and no one is shy in making their thoughts be known!

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In our garden the chicken most definitely came first; it’s now just over a year ago that we bought our first four hens. Within a month we had added another three and later a couple more somehow sidled in from somewhere to join the fray. Happily though, since then there has been many times when we have asked ourselves why we’d never kept chickens before. They’re a riot! There’s been a lot to find out, with chesty coughs and sore feet to learn about amongst other things, but that’s where our French neighbours have helped so much; there’s not much they don’t know about chickens, although they do struggle to come to terms with how our chickens are part of the family while their’s are part of the larder. Certainly we have a better understanding of some subtle differences between French country animal husbandry on one side of the fence and children’s pets that lay eggs as a bonus on the other.

In addition, Roddy has become a dab hand at administering the necessary potions and drugs in the dead of night with a torch between his teeth – he’s found that the flock are better treated then when they are all half asleep. He’s remarked on more than one occasion that it’s easy to see how a fox could kill a whole hen-house without any trouble at midnight.

As those of you who have followed the blog for a while know, our chickens are often the star of the show.

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However, I have to admit that for a time they fell into second place, with our Muscovy ducks claiming the centre of our feathered stage; not because the ducks were ducks or because they were enormous; no, it was because of their antics around the garden. You see it turned out that Penny and Adrian (who arrived as a couple) were in fact, not a couple. No, not for them was there the simplicity of being a male and a female; instead there emerged the complexity of having two large testosterone-laden adolescent males in our quiet rural space.

Now this in itself did not bother me, Penny was still called Penny and I simply forgot my plans for free range duck eggs; I liked them, we all liked them and they were here to stay, until that is, they started chasing each other whenever the urge took them. They hurtled around the garden whenever they felt the need, and anything in their path was sent flying; nothing would stop them, for neither wanted to be caught by the other; whoever made a false move lost and then the loser had to succumb to the other’s, er, desires (let’s just leave it at that). It became known as the ‘sex run’ and it was all quite hilarious until it became really quite dangerous for small creatures and small girls, and that’s when we decided they needed some girls of their own. Luckily we knew where there were plenty; some friends of ours who live thirty minutes away were very happy to have two drakes to replace their aging champion, and now our two boys each reside over a harem of females, extremely content.

That brings me back to our chickens and our two roosters; Fritz, our original bantam has been joined by Falafel, our young Faverolle rooster who hatched at the end of May last year. These two have never fought, the result I suspect of them being surrounded by women. There has been the odd squabble at times, but now it all seems to have evened out – Fritz has the small bantams as his consorts and Falafel has the bigger girls. This just leaves Constance the Silkie, lets just say Constance is a bit of a floozy, and she just hangs out with whoever she feels like!

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Our little flock are free to roam where they please

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On rainy days they seek out the wood shed

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and the barn where we keep the mower.

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I am told that several decades ago, when new people moved into the village, they would always be given two or three laying hens as a gift from the Mayor. No one seems to know when this started or indeed when it ceased, but what a wonderful welcome present. Just about everyone in our village keeps chickens, ducks and geese – for the pot.

Talking of pots, we are not going to kill our chickens of course; the only cooking involved is with the eggs, and of course free-range chickens mean fantastic eggs! Ours are really  fabulous jewels with deep, dark, rich-orange yolks and hard thick shells. We have eggs of all sizes; tiny ones from the smallest bantams all the way up the size scale to the double yolkers delivered by Chuckles a couple of times a week; she was one of the original four we bought in 2014 and is now the reigning matriarch. We have near white eggs, pale creamy-colored eggs, and deep brown eggs; in fact we have all sorts of eggs.

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Lots of eggs means lots of egg dishes and sometimes we have to be a little inventive, but it’s amazing how many different recipes and ways to use them Roddy and I come up with. Eggs are of course the perfect quick lunch or supper; easy to cook whether you fry them, boil them, poach them or bake them; we also add them to homemade pizzas

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and we sometimes serve them hard-boiled with a little steamed kale from the garden, which is just about the only vegetable still going strong in the winter weather.

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I also love scrambled eggs with a few herbs, a dish that most of our French friends cannot understand; they call them œufs écrasés which literally means ‘squashed’ eggs. It’s a wonderful way of cooking eggs for us, but our friends look at the results with much ridicule, and there is much muttering about the English and their strange ways of doing things!

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Of course, our eggs also make the best cakes and our little chefs are slowly turning into egg snobs. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but baking certainly has a different hue when the girls start talking about egg quality from our garden!

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Tell me how do you prefer your eggs? and which do you think came first – the chicken or the egg?    Have a wonderful Sunday x

 

46 thoughts on “French Hens And Scrambled Eggs

  • I loved this, I live alone, well, not quite alone as I have my adored JR Tinker …..and your posts make me feel like one of your lovely family. Funnily enough I cooked two eggs this morning, one I had boiled with toast for breakfast, and the other for egg mayo on crackers for lunch!

    • Hi Susie, what a lovely comment thank you, it would be nice to think of everyone as one big extended family, I certainly have so enjoyed meeting so many new people through the blog, even if it is only virtually, I am really loving meeting new friends, yourself included and of course I love Jack Russell’s as you know! Breakfast and lunch sound perfect, I adore egg mayo – with a little cress! Susan x

  • What a lovely post. Love your birds. It is amazing what characters they become and how their little personalities evolve. Hubs had a duck once, I gifted to him. Long story short…he lived in the fraternity house until some of the brothers were asking “just how does one cook a duck?” He came home to live a long happy life guarding the family suburban home.

    • Hi Lucy, ducks are gorgeous, I really do miss ours and I am very much looking forward to getting another pair, and hoping they will definitely be a male and a female this time. These were given to us by very dear friends and they were told they were a male and female! Susan x

  • Hahaha…we’re ‘squashed egg’ fans too! Your blog is bringing me into France with your English twist and it’s so fun to read about the differences. Sunday is just starting for us in the Midwest of the US, so I’ll wish you a good evening.

  • What a lovely post and lovely chickens!! I LOVE eggs and I do think that Eggs Benny are my fave. Lately, I pair it up with a good shmear of seasoned avocado on top of my toast or toasted english muffin, place a thinly sliced small cocktail or campari type of sweet tomato on top of the avocado and on top of the also seasoned tomato I place the glorious poached egg. Oh how delicious it is – everytime. I am not sure which came first regarding chicken or egg, but I will say the chicken only because the chicken is the one that has to create the egg in her ovaries. If there is no chicken then there is no egg.

    • Hi Fran, very wise words! Eggs with avocado – I have read so much about these lately, I am going to get some Avo’s tomorrow and have this for lunch, thank you for inspiring me. Susan x

    • Hi Susan, thank you so much. Eggs really are such a fabulous thing to have in the house so I do agree with you. I can happily have an egg every day. It’s my go to when I am on my own, quick and simple! Susan x

  • Good day to you…..
    We love eggs in our family here in US, I just cooked some nice brown ones this morning from our farmer friend. But I have difficulty with fresh hens eggs when I flip the egg for sunny side up, over light, my yolks break. Yet, store bought do not break. I do think farm fresh is the best for baking. my favorite is scrambled eggs with chopped ham mixed in while cooking.
    Jambon, to you. I wish I could have hens but we have a huge fox population. Enjoy your Sunday!

    • Hi Patty, sunny side up, not an expression I have heard since I was in the States, but it’s one of the best cooking expressions, I love it! But alas I have never tried cooking our eggs sunny side up so cannot help there! We are fortunate in that we do not have a lot of foxes here, although we are vigilant at dusk. I remember foxes taking chickens on the farm when I was growing up, my Father bought guinea fowl to roost in the trees to try and solve the problem because they apparently make such a noise if a fox approaches! We had a lovely sunday thank you with friends, hope you are enjoying yours. Susan x

      • Yes, a wonderful Sunday here with snow on the ground, but a surprisingly warm winter day which allowed some nice time outside…..Patty

      • Hi Patty, I would take your snow any day, we have just had such a wet grey January, rain, rain and more rain, the ground is totally saturated and after such a fantastic December it has come as quite a shock! Susan x

  • What beautiful hens, and fabby food – Our chicken’s too came first, the house and garden are still a state, but our hens, tho standard brown Rosie the Hen’s, who also love the woodshed, are just beautiful and we love them for their antics and their eggs.

    • Hi and welcome to the blog, it sounds as if we both love our hens and our hens all love wood sheds! I find them quite relaxing, just watching them about their daily business, they are such fun!

  • Such a lovely post. You have a way of living, and of writing about your life, that delights me every time. For those of us who have, or want to have, chickens, you might consider sharing some of what you have learned about keeping them healthy. I have wonderful memories of raising a flock, with my brother, when I was a child and teenager. Unfortunately, every one of them eventually succumbed to a paralysis that started in their feet and slowly progressed through their body. We think it may have had something to do with how wet it used to be here from November through May. Anyway, your posts remind me of how wonderful it was to let the flock run free with us whenever we gardened or were otherwise outside (to guard them from the neighborhood dogs). These days, local coyotes would prevent us from letting chickens run free unless we were right with them. If I thought we could keep them safe without having to keep them penned all the time, I would have a small flock in a flash. Please continue to write about yours, Leslie in Oregon P.S. I think the answer to the question about the chicken and the egg is as unfathomable to human beings as is the answer to the question of what heaven is like. P.S.S. I like to eat eggs in every way possible!

    • Hi Leslie, I am far from any form of expert, we have lost three chickens, one was old age, the first we actually took to the vet for a PM as we wanted to know why she had died, but it seems she maybe ate something and choked, it was quite inconclusive really. We just make sure we have a clean coop, fresh straw in their nesting boxes and they roam everywhere which is fantastic, so they do have a great life. When they have had coughs we are able to give them a pipette of medicine in the evening which we get from the vet and last summer we had to paint some liquid on their feet as some had sores, probably, the vet thought, from walking on stones, rose thorns etc., the problem of free range chickens, they do go everywhere. But I know no more than that, I am learning as we go along. Fortunately we do not have many foxes around here at all and no other predators and so we are lucky as I would not keep chickens if they had to be penned up all the time. By the way I totally agree with you, I will eat eggs any which way! Have a lovely week, it’s very wet and grey here! Susan x

  • Reading your post helped me figure out what to have for breakfast this morning – a lovely boiled egg with “fairy fingers” — that is what my British mother called the pieces of sliced bread (Hovis was good for that) that we dipped into the egg. Now my grandchildren ask me to make it for them. Love your chickens and envy your availability of fresh eggs, but do not envy Roddy’s midnight medical treks to the hen house!

    • Hi Mary, so glad to have helped!!! We spread marmite on top of toast (that all English spread you may have heard of) and we always have called them marmite soldiers, but just like your fairy fingers, for dipping in the egg – yum delicious! Susan x

  • It’s so wonderful to read about your chickens! My dad and step-mom kept chickens and the eggs were SO delicious. We’ve sometimes talked about keeping a few backyard chickens, but that’s a project I’m only willing to tackle after I’ve retired from my full-time job.

    • I would highly recommend keeping chickens, I had resisted for so long thinking they would make a big mess etc etc., but they don’t, and they roam everywhere and it is true that the eggs are fabulous, I have never tasted anything like them! Susan x

  • Hi Susan
    Well, we’ve finally ordered our 3 hens who will be ‘ready’ in the summer. We are having aone standard Buff Orpington as we have loved those from our first experience on a henkeeping course, but due to our small garden, the other two will be orpington bantams, one gold laced – beautiful and the other Lavender Silver. I’m very excited about getting them but also a little nervous. They will have to be in their run for some of the time but we will let them out as much as possible. We have already got the henhouse and run settled into our garden and very posh it is too! When they arrive, I’ll send you a photo! My only concern is whether it will mean no more holidays for us!! Do you get to go away now you have the hens? But I’m going to have them whatever, I’ve waited long enough and If we don’t do it now….! I can’t wait for those lovely eggs too!! Have a lovely rest of the week and I hope the rain stops for you – it’s the same here!

    • Hi Marian, I am so excited for you, I read your comment out to my husband and he was thrilled too! When do they arrive? Can’t wait to see photos. We have never looked back, we just love having our chickens! Delicious bantam poached eggs on avocado today for lunch – just the best. With regards to going away, we are very lucky our neighbour shuts our chickens in and opens the door in the morning when we are away and we do the same for them, so it works rather well 🙂

  • I loved all the soft colors of the eggs in the bowl—some looked to be a pale, pale pink, pretty! I love yard eggs–they’re the best! I live in the US and in my town—citizens can’t own chickens inside the city limits so I go to the Farmers Market each week to buy fresh eggs and other goodies from local farms. I’m with you that I couldn’t eat a chicken that I’d watch grow, it would be my pet then… Thanks for sharing your beloved and lovely chickens with us!

    • Hi Christi, firstly sorry in my previous reply to you the name auto corrected to Christian, I only just noticed and I certainly didn’t notice then! Anyway onto eggs, we used to go to our local farmers market before we moved here for our eggs and still now if ours are not laying so well and I need a few extra I buy them from the lady who sells vegetables are our local market, she keeps hens at home and always has some free range eggs for sale. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is so appreciated, Susan x

    • Hi Sharon, thank you. I spread some homemade tomato sauce and then a sprinkling of a mixture of cheeses, really to your choice and then a little jambon sec (like parma ham), some mixed herbs and an egg on top! Very simple and very yummy!!! Enjoy your eggs, I love ours! Susan x

  • Discovered your blog through Lou Messugo. Well done on the Chateau, so brave! We love eggs too, we wish we could have chicken and an unlimited supply of free range organic eggs! How about your oeuf a la coque and mouillettes? What’s better when the eggs are super fresh???

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