27 December 2009

On The Third Day of Christmas

On the Third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  Three French Hens.  At the time the carol was written to enumerate the twelve days of celebration from Christmas to Epiphany.  In the liturgical calendar, this was the Feast of the Holy Family with the readings dedicated to "Honor thy father and mother".  On a private scale, this was a day devoted to family and food and the feasting included these three domesticated chickens:  Crevecoeur, Houdans and the La Fleche.

The Crevecoeur

Crevecoeurs are a beautiful, black crested breed from France that is widely thought to have developed from the Polish breed. They were developed for meat and egg production but aren't great on either and are today kept purely for ornament and show. Crevecoeurs are critically endangered but can be purchased at a few of the major hatcheries.

HOUDAN - Introduced into England in 1850 from France, it takes its name from the town of Houdan and has been developed for table qualities. It is a heavy breed and is one of the few breeds carrying a fifth toe. Other distinctive features are the crest, leaf-shaped comb, muffling and beard and there is but one colour standardized. This is mottled which is black with pure white mottles, evenly distributed.

La Fleche Chickens have been bred for many years in the Valley of La Sarthe, where the town of La Fleche is located. The La Fleche Chickens originated from crossing of Black Spanish, Crevecoeur, and DuMan blood lines as evident by its high carriage, activity, large white lobes, V-shaped comb and the trace of crest on its head, which crops out on specimens of the French breeds.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Well I'll be darned - three actual French Hens! I always wondered if the song meant three French Hens of the same variety or three different type. Thank you for the clarification!