Feathered and Furry Residents

I have to introduce you to our feathered and furry residents, very much a part of our family:

Firstly, there is Bentley, he is from Sydney, Australia and is a long-haired, short-legged Jack Russell. He is a very laid back character who thinks he is a human most of the time and comes everywhere with us.


In the summer of 2015 we bought a small bundle of trouble, a two month old Jack Russell puppy whom we called Evie.  She is a local French girl and loves to give Bentley the runaround!


When we bought our house in France we also bought two kittens, for the children they were playmates, don’t all young children want kittens? For me, I hoped they would see away any mice there might be; for a farmer’s daughter I have a strange phobia against mice, I cannot stand them! They are brother and sister, they adore Bentley and Rory and Evie have become very firm playmates – I have no idea if they have caught any mice, but I haven’t seen any which has to be a good sign. Rory on the left and Clara on the right (named from Dr. Who)

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Then there are the chickens, and with five children, the chickens naturally all have names! They have a vast area in which to roam, we call it the chicken garden, but it is more like a small field. They live in luxury, if they were humans it would be like living in a manor house surrounded by ancient parkland! They have ancient trees of several hundred years old, hedgerows and old stone walls form their boundaries, they have an antique stone bird bath to drink from and plenty of shelter from both sun and rain. In return they provide us with the most delicious free range eggs.

Cyrius is the leader of the pack being the only male, he is our Pekin Bantam rooster and he is joined by ten hens; five Pekin Bantams, a white Sussex, two Marans and two Araucanas. Each spring we let one of the broody hens sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch our own chicks, always exciting for both the adults and children here.

Our eggs come in all shapes and sizes quite literally; big, small, white, tan and deep chestnut brown.






37 thoughts on “Feathered and Furry Residents

  • The kittens I understand – the chickens, we had those when I was young – Bentley, well I am so glad to hear he is laid back, but another Jack, whew, you must have boundless energy as they seem to be born needing Prozac . My family is from St Paul and Nice and I enjoy your lovely blog.

    • Hi Emily, ahh the Jack Russell’s. I have to tell you that Bentley is Australian, as you will have read. He is incredibly calm and was actually imported into the USA as a stud dog specifically for his calm temperament. We bought him when we was four and his stud duties were over! Evie is French and also very placid. They are totally different to American Jack Russell’s, both very laid back and happy to just lie in the sun or by the fire! Do you ever get back to France? I do hope so, your family are from such a beautiful area. Susan x

  • Oh I could NEVER have chickens or any type of fowl as a pet, even if they do lay eggs for me to eat. As short of lives as dogs and even most cats have, the laying life of most hens is notoriously short. If I had given them a name and become attached to them I could NEVER do what needs to be done, even if I didn’t do it myself. This is one reason I would have made a lousy farmer’s wife. I can live on a farm, we’ve had numerous relatives with farms in our family over the years. In fact, right now I’m the only one NOT living on a farm. I don’t have a problem with the smells (most of the time anyway), I can shovel manure if I have to (don’t like it but I can do it). I can do most things. But when it comes to an animal dying, I loose it. As a teenager I nearly had hysterics while “babysitting” my brother’s turkeys (it was a Boy Scout project) while the family went camping for a holiday weekend. I was in college so I stayed home to study and I nearly had a nervous breakdown because on of the birds died. When I took it to my great aunt to “help” it she just tossed it over the fence. Now SHE was a farm wife. It wouldn’t matter if it were a herd of 500 cows or steers or whatever, I can’t deal with sending an animal off to their death. I know it has to happen, I know where my food comes from, just don’t make me do it or get to know the animal. My mother gets new laying hens every year. The Mennonites take the old ones to use for things. I’d be a wreck if I were in my mother’s shoes. I know it all sounds crazy, but that’s how I am. How you can keep them, name them, basically make pets out of them makes you FAR more brave than I am.

    • Perhaps we are a little different to the average French chicken keeper, we don’t dispose of our chickens once they have stopped laying. We have one very old girl, she just potters around, she’s as happy as anything, and long may that last, it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t lay any longer. They have nearly an acre to roam in so their lives are pretty easy! We don’t eat our chickens and we don’t replace them each year for fresh laying hens, I know it might sound crazy but they are as much a part of the family in a way as everything else. Xx

  • hello susan, I’m Delphine, I’m french and new in Charente, more precisely Cognac, I want to tell you that’s a good idea to chat and share anecdotes … I don’t work at that time and I would like to discover the region, take pics , What would you recommend?

    • Bonsoir Delphine, what has brought you to Cognac? Have you always been in France? I hope you are enjoying living here, take your camera and go and take lots of photos, it is beautiful at this time of year and the weather is perfect. Discover as much as you can, Cognac, Saintes, Royan, Port d’Envaux, Rochefort, so many fabulous places! Have a great weekend xx

  • thanks for answering Susan, I lived mainly in the South of France, AIX EN PROVENCE, NICE, and the last place was LA CIOTAT. We wanted to leave the crowdy south and come closer to the west coast, my husband has found a job in Jonzac and we ‘ve chosen to live in Cognac for our teen daughter. For my part I’m a nurse, but I don’t work by now, I take a little time to settle down and time for me!!!! Was it easy to make new friends for you?
    By the way I found you on the LIVING mag!

  • You certainly are busy…I hope you have help in caring for all of the feathered and furry friends. It looks as if you are all fortunate to be in such a lovely place…enjoy!

  • There would be so so much to read and love – Hero Husband’s iPad opened up on this page instead of the latest post so I’m feeling coupelles to add my little Chicken Story to your entertainment.
    On December 23rd we stopped over in a lovely B&B with a brilliant English couple as our hosts. We talked a lot and she told us that their chickens had names too (I only know friends with chicks who name them….). Anyway, they said that they had two they had received from Swiss friends and therefore they were called Heidi & Klara…. (from the Heidi stories by Johanna Spyri). I was baptised Heidi and was a bit peeved – and than I learned that Heidi had once dark brown feathers and now she was sort of turning blond…. This nearly did me in; I was a true blonde with a head absolutely full of wild curls but my hair turned grey/white when I was not even 40…. Our African friends always need to touch my hair because they think it’s so lovely (I in turn envy them their ever changing wigs…. – so a certain justice is established!). LOL – Thanks for the description of your ménagerie…. Such fun.

    • Oh how funny, I laughed, perhaps I shouldn’t have but I did, I always thought of you as dark, no idea why! But I suppose in our minds we always imagine subconsciously how people look, I never gave it a moment’s thought until I read this and then I had to reread it because I was certain you were dark! We had French friends for lunch today and they were telling us how their parents of course named all of their chickens too, we told them our chickens had names expecting them to laugh, but they thought it was quite normal!!! Xx

    • instead of replying to naughty Roddy, I have re-read my former comment here and had to see that ‘auto-correct’ had its itchy hand on my comment once more: …… I’m feeling coupelles …. should, of course, read felt COMPELLED to…
      I DO apologize for my rude and uninformed iPad’s behaviour! 🙂

  • I’m glad to see I’m not the only one driven nuts by the auto correct feature on all this electronic gizmo stuff. I hate to shut it off because it does catch real mistakes but I would the computer would remember that I have the final say on what goes out, not it. There have been times I’ve corrected things 3 or 4 times before it would leave it alone.

    • Pamela, you are certainly not the only one, it drives me insane half the time, but then the other half I love it! Just can’t win. The worst part is on my phone because I constantly text in both French and English and it automatically flips between the two languages on auto correct, but sometimes it gets itself in a complete muddle and English friends get French words complete with accents thrown into the conversation. xx

    • Pamela & Susan;
      I KNOW…. same thing here – and this is my Hero Husband’s iPad which I’m allowed for this fun-pass-time-game but for which I haven’t got the technical know-how to correct the auto-correct. HH says: YES, it can be entered to react better (but he doesn’t do it nor show me how and where to go about serious business!!!)
      And Susan, pay attention to those details – it IS quite important WHERE your money is located…. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (says the Swiss woman without a penny in the world, and certainly none in Switzerland!)

  • I’ll give you a clue on any further kittens in your life. Believe it or not, contrary to belief, cats are NOT natural mousers. Kittens must be taught by their mother to be mousers or anything else they catch. If raised together kittens and mice can be best friends. Many people don’t know this. But I know what you mean by them keeping mice, etc. away. The rest of my family lives on a farm. About 10 years ago my parents rebuilt a HUGE new farmhouse and they gave the big main part of the house to my brother and his family. My parents have the section on the back (it makes an “L” shape) we call the Granny House. Everything they MUST have is on the ground floor and guest rooms, etc are on a second floor. My mom actually made her second floor into a type of apartment so if they need in home care at some point, (my parents are now 77 and 74) since my mom, who is in nursing herself and STILL works on call, can have live in care for them. Anyway, she always insists on having at least 10 or more cats on the farm because when they do you never see rats or mice or even snakes. I don’t know about France but at least where we live in the western Maryland area, if you have a farm people think for some reason it gives them carte blanche to dump cats and kittens on the farm any time they want. I don’t think they’ve ever had to go out searching for cats. Then of course, cats can multiply at a great rate if allowed, almost as fast of those infamous rabbits. Once they reach a saturation point then they have everyone “fixed”. Unfortunately there are a lot of cats they can’t take people want to give them as they’ve lived a life as an inside cat and that’s the big “no-no”. My golden retriever is the only critter allowed inside and I know those cats wonder all the time why that big furry monster gets to go in and they can’t. But some become so tame they curl up on my dad’s lap on a warm summer or autumn evening enjoying the view over the countryside. So next time if you want to make sure you have mousers, check and see if mom was a good mouser. If mom was, then you know the kittens should be also.

    • Stray cats and kittens can be seen here too, the problem is that a lot of locals don’t like to neuter their animals and as you say they then breed like rabbits. I grew up on a farm and we always had three or four cats, but I always saw mice in the barns too! When we chose our two kittens, they were just being given away by someone who lived on an old farmstead and who had more cats than I have ever seen in one place in my life before, there were at least three different litters of kittens. We got them when they were 7 weeks old. They are both incredible hunters, the only down side being that they do occasionally kill a bird, blackbirds and pigeons seem to be the number one target, which I hate to see, but it is their natural instinct. We have a house in the village, we lovingly call the “cat house,” there are always at least ten cats sitting on the old stone wall outside. xx

  • I’m not a dedicated cat fan but I’m easy and tolerate them. I just wouldn’t go an extra mile to have one (or several). I’m the only one of the whole family who is totally into dogs. But I’m also the only one who took a kitten home from work after said young cat came into my office every day for a full working week and asked ME to feed and water her. NOBODY seemed to know her/own her and I took kitty home for the weekend. It jumped on the most comfy leather fauteuil and every time, my dachsie marched by (it was HER chair …. after all!), the young kid on the block gave out clips around my darling-doggie’s ears…. I brought young monster back on Monday and suddenly, the ‘owner’ was found too!!!
    We don’t have mice which is a wonder seen the size of our garden AND the age of our house. BUT we do have plenty of neighbouring cats taking shortcuts across fences and walls to get their fill ‘chez nous’… So again, we tolerate them (and the occasional bird kill) and they provide us with a mice-free surrounding (and – when I anger the one or other of them – with cat’s toilet leftovers for me on our ground…. YES!). But not to worry, I laugh and they pretend not to see me when they’re annoyed! It’s quite fun.

    • I am more of a dog person, but I do love our two cats, probably mostly because, touch wood, I have never seen a mouse here, except a dead one (thank you cats) and that is amazing and I know I owe it to them completely. Love the story of the kitten, at least you gave it a great home for the weekend! Xx

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