Last year when we got Charlie, I didn’t even know what a Black Copper Marans was. Oh sure, I knew that it was a chicken but other than that, I’d be hard pressed to pick one out in a police lineup.
But of course, then I came home from the Poultry Congress with Charlie – a tiny Black Copper Marans chick who because of her medical (and my parenting) reasons ended up living as a house-chicken in our home for 6 months.
Black Copper Marans are striking birds. The Marans is a rare breed of chicken originating in France. It is a medium breed compared to others, popular for poultry shows and is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs as well as for its very fine meat qualities. (Note – no fork full of Marans will ever pass these lips.)
To add to the allure of Marans, the character James Bond (from the Ian Fleming books) demanded that his omelets were made only with Marans eggs, all other varieties considered to be of lesser quality.
And who are we to argue with James Bond?
I know, you’re probably thinking? Really? All this fuss over an egg? What’s perhaps most interesting about these eggs is that Marans have the unique ability to secrete a dark pigment that coats the egg just as it’s ready to leave the chicken. The egg comes out with the pigment still wet which is why it’s difficult to get a “perfect” unblemished egg. Straw, wood chips, and cleaning can all remove some of that pigment. Next time you go to a Poultry Congress check out the Marans egg judging and you’ll have a new appreciation for these precious eggs.
The color of Marans eggs is a dark brown which makes them rather look like chocolate Easter Eggs. It’s where Charlie got her name. As a chick, we didn’t know if she was male or female (we eventually figured it out) and so decided to give her a name based on her eggs’ characteristics. She became “Charlie” of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s also why Violet is named after another character; Violet Beauregard, of the same book. (Beau if she’s a male?)
But with Violet’s name we’re also using a little bit of magical thinking, very much hoping that if we named her with a girl’s name that she might just turn out to be female and we could keep her in our flock as a sister-mate to Charlie.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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