Will my La Bresse best Mr E’s rasps?

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After the Great Raspberry Takeover of last week, when Mr E decided my raspberry canes were a) being neglected (they weren’t), and b) that he would take over their care and claim the glory of the crop (which he did), I am claiming back my spot as resident smallholder.

This year’s chicks are going great guns.

The La Bresse Gauloise (aka The French Eatin’ Chickens) chicks are now five weeks old, and are turning into very big babies.

The kind of babies that, if they were human and you stuck your head in the buggy for a peek, you would be quite taken aback and have to say something neutral like: “Gosh, little Johnny really is going to be a very big boy,” when what you really want to say is: “Lord, that baby is FAT. Back off the rusks, mummy.”

Nice words for this chunkiferous state would be roly-poly, big-boned, bonny (as in the Lancashire meaning of the word = fat, not the Scottish use which implies good-looking) or sturdy).

Our La Bresse are all of these.

They are very independent and very curious, and the more they feather up the more they leave Mum and do their own thing.

Often, she is at one end of the run and they have wandered to the other. Squat down to watch one and you’ll find another one watching you. Nonchalantly. Head cocked to one side. Very French.

At night, when I go to lock them up I find a couple of them perching away from Mum, like proper little grown-up chooks.

The warm days and nights are, of course, helping this. Their beautiful white feathers are replacing their off-white, yellow-ish down, and I can now see why they are so loved in France.

It’s not just their delicious meat, it’s also their colouring which makes them as French as stripey tops and garlic (spot the National stereotype) – blue legs, white feathers and red combs. Red, white and blue – a chook version of the tricolor, the French flag.

Never having raised them or eaten their meat before, it will be interesting to see what weights they grow to and how they taste.

But however delicious they are, in Mr E’s eyes they will never equal the taste of ‘his’ raspberries, two large punnets of which were picked and handed over for conversion into jam (strangely, this is Mr E’s favourite jam. I notice he didn’t rush to look after the chard, or the courgettes ...).

Having stayed indoors on one of the hottest days of the summer, boiling them in a jeely pan with a ton of sugar, and feeling like I was about to burst into flames, I was hoping they might not be all Mr E hoped they were. But they are. The jam is delicious.

Typical. Smallholder 0, husband 1.