This was supposed to be the year we starting raising our own chickens for eggs. As you read earlier, I built the chicken coop during the winter. So we could get chickens in the spring. With our busy lives, we didn’t get our first hens until the beginning of June. We picked two Red Star pullets, whom we named Commack and Peppermint, from a hobby farmer in Long Island. They were not old enough to lay eggs yet but we had high hopes for them. After a few weeks of learning that the coop was their new home, I began letting them run free in the yard during the day. Everything seemed to be going well, until one day Commack and Peppermint were nowhere to be found. Their disappearance remained a mystery until we learned from our neighbors a few days later that they had escaped the confines of our yard, went three houses down where they were chased by a cat to the next block. Another neighbor saw them running down that block, away from our house, while another man tried to catch them. We don’t know what was their eventual fate, but we were heartbroken that they were gone.
But we didn’t give up. In August, we brought three more pullets from an Amish farmer in Ohio: two Barred Rocks named Yoder and Kansas and one Rhode Island Red named Marty. After bringing them back to the big city (yes, our chickens rode through Times Square) and teaching them that the coop was their home, we cautiously let them roam the yard freely. After several weeks of waiting for the hens to start laying, I heard what sounded like a woman crying for help in the backyard. He ran out to investigate and learned that Yoder was actually a rooster learning how to crow. What to do now? Our neighbors liked hearing the rooster crow in the morning, but we didn’t really want a rooster. Besides, it is illegal to have a rooster in New York City.
At the beginning of November, Yoder started crowing in the middle of the day. It was then that we made a tough decision in order to avoid becoming a public nuisance. Boo and I put Yoder in his cage and brought him to a local live poultry shop. The butchers were not used to customers bringing in their own birds, but they did the dirty work and we returned home with dinner. We were sad for Yoder, but he had lived a happy life. A few weeks later, sorrow once again visited our flock, as Kansas was found lying in the neighbor’s yard, attacked by an unknown animal.
Nearly six months and four chickens later, we had Marty the Rhode Island Red, no eggs yet, and winter knocking on our door. We had doubts about our ability to raise chickens. Then on December 3 (it was a Saturday), I checked the coop and discovered three small, brown eggs! It turns out Marty started laying on December 1, but on weekdays I am not home during the daylight hours so I couldn’t see the eggs. Marty has come through for us! She gives us 1 egg a day, and they are delicious! So we have renewed our hope and are in search on some more hens to keep Marty company.