Friday, April 21, 2017

Visiting the hens.

You’re welcome to choose how you would like your breakfast egg done at the 7132 Hotel. But not where it comes from: all the eggs come exclusively from Vals. We’re visiting Silvia and Armando Furger on their farm, where their hens lay fresh eggs for the 7132 Hotel.

“Our neighbour calls them the ‘mountain infantry hens’ because they like being on the slope behind their henhouse,” says Silvia Furger. From their vantage point beside the Peilerbach stream, the 200-plus hens and one cockerel have superb views across the typical Vals roofs with their slabs of Vals quartzite. They can even see the 7132 Hotel at the other end of the village.

The Furger family has kept hens on their organic farm for more than 30 years. Initially there were six of them, which were originally for family use only. Then there were 12, and then 50, and now there are at least 200. Almost 20 other animals also live on the farm, which is run on a leasehold basis by a young man called Kevin Stoffel. Most of the time, though, it’s Silvia and Armando Furger who continue to look after the hens and their eggs.

Every day at 5 am Armando Furger switches on the light in the henhouse on his rounds to see the animals. The first egg collection is at around 9 am. The eggs roll out of the laying nests into the collecting grid and from here they are gathered by hand. Armando Furger does this another three or four times through the day to make sure no eggs get broken. At least 90% of them are laid in the morning and some follow in the afternoon, so the last visit is in the late afternoon. Silvia Furger checks and cleans the eggs. Each individual one is picked up and scrutinised. The hens spend their summer days perched outside on their poles, their wings slightly raised to keep cool. They prefer the shade. When it gets dark they go back into the henhouse. In winter when it's cold and fresh snow falls, they prefer to stay inside. The fox has tried his luck on occasions, but an electric fence provides reliable protection from Master Reynard.

“If the animals are happy, we’re happy” is Silvia Furger's motto. She loves her hens and is always amazed to discover how sensitive and fine-tuned they are. “They know our voices. If I visit them without my apron on, looking slightly less familiar, I notice they get a little more nervous. I talk to them to show them who I am and then they immediately calm down.”

The daily output is around 160 to 170 organic eggs, each weighing 80 to 90 grams. What the hens eat is organic too, of course. The eggs are collected for the 7132 Hotel three times a week. In front of the Furgers’ front door there’s a fridge and a cash box – the eggs are popular among the people of Vals as well.  

If you were having breakfast at the 7132 Red Restaurant you would have the following choice: fried egg, poached egg (which only works with freshly laid eggs, incidentally), scrambled eggs, French omelette or soft-boiled egg: the breakfast menu leaves nothing to be desired – and that’s just the eggs! As for all the other dishes served at the Red and 7132 Silver Restaurants ((Link über “Silver Restaurants”: https://7132silver.com/en)) – only organic eggs from Silvia and Armando Furger's farm are used.

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