The Chicken Park! This exhibition, situated at the end of the great alley which runs from the Palais to the École militaire, attracted and retained most of the visitors to the Champ de Mars. I don't need to describe it; our drawing is enough. But I can speak about it.
If one were to calculate the cost of barnyard birds in relation to what they bring in, gallinaceous birds would soon be back in the wild. When poultry are fed, either in a henhouse or in a closed enclosure, this food is very expensive; if they are allowed to take it, it costs even more. For a few grubs and insect pests which the gallinaceous
For a few grubs and insect pests that the gallinaceans destroy, what damage they cause in the orchards, vegetable gardens and yards they invade!
The appeal of breeding must therefore take precedence over the calculation of yield. Nothing is more interesting, in fact, than the habits and ways of being of this feathered gentry; and I am not surprised at the success of the Chicken Park at the Champ de Mars.
The cockerel, first of all - with all due respect. It is that heroic and vain being of which our ancestors had let their emblem. He is proud, he is beautiful, he triumphs: he raises his crest, walks with his dewclaws raised and crows like an Arab horse. His head, always on the move, only bends down when he passes under a porte cochere, lest his plume should cling to the vault, At his slightest call, - and his voice is as provocative as his gait, - the whole of Lower Egypt ranks and gathers around him; and he, the heroic, opens his wings as if to protect the whole brood. He distributes his good graces or his rigours royally; and he suffers no rival in his empire.
Sometimes, one sees the whole barnyard seized with a sudden terror that nothing can explain: it is the kite that hovers far away in the air, and whose admirable instinct of these animals has sensed its approach. Then the rooster is seen to give the signal to retreat to all his subjects; and he remains on the threshold of the henhouse where the whole yard has returned, long afterwards, the kite is seen, OR indeed, hovering high in the sky; and the rooster is still waiting!
When the housewife throws the food to the fowls, the cock presides over the distribution; and pecks last. The cheeky sparrow almost always takes part in the feast: he has his privacies, there as elsewhere; and he is the only one in the company whom the cock does not impose on. If only the rooster knew!
The love of the hen for her brood is proverbial. She protects her chicks with more tenderness, but not more solicitude than the rooster protects her.
Very serious and instructive books have been written on how to raise poultry, and especially on how to eat them. I refer our readers to them: I myself have only spoken of this delicate subject in the absence of our friend Toussenel, the man in France who is most familiar with the world of birds and the spirit of animals, and to whose intention I had asked for the drawing which is the pretext of these lines.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée