How Do I Love Thee

I don’t know what it is about this guy.  He’s probably difficult in the morning, full of himself, birdbrained, cocky, but I can’t help but love him.

Actually, it’s a bit of a contest.  Who did I love more?  The Orange Wyandotte rooster, or these Royal Golden Pheasants?

Or maybe I gave my heart to the curly beauty of a Hungarian Grison Rouge pigeon, looking like she just emerged from the salon de coiffure, freshly curled and ready to party.

Or possibly this German Havane bunny is my new main squeeze, with his impossibly pinchable puffy cheeks and crinkly ears.  He’s the only one of my new loves that I have a hope of ever seeing again, after our first date, because he belongs to our friends Alice and Christian.

When we saw her last, Alice had pried herself away from the birds and the bunnies and was cooking a giant pot of stew for the hungry spectators at the National Exposition of Animals of the Basse-Cour (which I’d translate as barnyard) in Vergèze last weekend.  There were 1200 cages of pigeons, ducks, geese, chickens, pheasants, and rabbits on exhibit, and while the smell of so many animals cooped up together was intense, we were there to fall in love with them all.

If you wanted to send a love note by a method more discreet than Twitter, there were carrier pigeons, which I’d never seen before.  They looked a lot like, well, pigeons.

I’ve never been in love with a pigeon before, but now the world’s changed. This one’s got a head in there somewhere, but I defy you to find it.

This Blue Capucin is peeking out coyly from a fantastic fringe

vying with her neighbor the Red Capucin for Best in Ruff.

Here’s a White Peacock Tailed pigeon in the running for Miss Flamboyance

while the Silvery Cauchois gets my vote for quiet beauty.  Pigeons, I’m telling you, turn out to be endlessly beautiful.  I actually have about a dozen more I’d like to show you, but if I did there’d be no room for the other animals.

And I wouldn’t want to leave out the chickens, like this Black Java,

or this Orange Wyandotte hen,

or this Thousand Flowers Sabelpoot, who wins, hands down, the award for Best Name.  Not to mention that she looks a lot like Zazou, all dressed in calico.

I’ve always liked chickens, and there was even a brief time in my life when I had a couple of Silkies like these.

But I sure never had anything like this Spanish Fighting rooster

or this Brahma,

or this White Yokohama.  This exposition was devoted to saving the rare and vanishing breeds of barnyard animals, which is why we need not worry about recipes that go with these chickens, and also why we don’t see them very often.

There were also rare geese like the Guinea Goose

and the French Bagadais, which looks, as Shel put it so aptly, like it’s put together out of spare parts.

On the duck front, this stunning Mandarin caught my eye

but I have to admit that I fell head over heels for this Cayuga, probably the most beautiful duck I’ve ever seen.  

But lest all these feathers stick in your craw, there were also some sweet interspecies moments

like this Black Cauchois pigeon regarding its neighber the Fauve de Bourgogne bunny.

Because yes, there were also rabbits, like this elegant Chamois de Thuringe

this busy little Viennese Blue,

Shel’s personal favorite the Giant Butterfly, which is as large as a small dog,

another Zazou lookalike, although this Tricolored Rex was about twice her size,

and this lop-eared Dwarf Bélier Chamois, a pocket pet if I ever saw one.

There was even this poor little Rex Castor who was disqualified from the judging because, oh the shame, his ears were too long.  I was ready to take him home on the spot and whisper into those furry ears that it’s ok to be different, but then I’d have had to take

this other Peacock Tailed pigeon who wasn’t white as snow

and this Silvery Pheasant with the impractically long tail and…and…and…you get the idea.  For the first time I regret living in a rented house, where having a full complement of exotic barnyard animals would definitely not do.

So for now I guess we’ll have to stick with a more usual sort of calico pet, less exotic, more adapted to town life.  But believe me, if we ever live in the country, I’m having a pigeon cote, and maybe a few bunny hutches.  And possibly an irridescent blue duck to shimmer like sun on the water.  As for a pheasant, well, we’ll have to see about that.

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9 Comments on “How Do I Love Thee”

  1. zuleme Says:

    Those pigeons are really something. I had no idea they were so beautiful.

  2. John DePaula Says:

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    Such exotic and beautiful creatures! I’d surely be hard pressed to pick a favorite.

  3. Lori Says:

    (laughing) After seeing the picture of the first bunny and then a great big full pot, I assumed that the bunny went into the pot – this is a cooking site after all! 🙂 Glad to see that he was safe and belonged to your friends.

    Your pictures are always so beautiful, I always look at the pictures and then go back and read.

    Have actually considered getting some silkies myself even though I understand that they are not good layers. They’re just so darn cute. Every time I bring up the subject of getting a few chickens, my husband talks me out of it.

  4. Abra Bennett Says:

    But silkies are friendly and affectionate – mine used to come to be petted, even when it wasn’t time for them to be fed.

  5. Corine Says:

    Abra,

    I love this post. I did not even know so many varieties existed. I want one of each 😉 It would be difficult to pick indeed!

  6. Margaret Says:

    Abra, your photos rival that collection from the National Geographic and the animals themselves are glorious. Thanks for sending a real pick-me-up.

  7. geri Says:

    truly fabulous to behold…thank you for bringing them to US!

  8. Wolfgang Says:

    May suggest Cap Ferret as an early spring retreat
    Les Pins, Monsieur Rohr, if you go there give me a note, they will take care of you 🙂

  9. elaine Says:

    Wow. What a treat. Great photos!


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