Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And then there was one...Uno

OK, it's been a rough week. Half an hour after I posted my last entry, Ellie, our sweet, loving Lab/Swiss Mt. dog broke through the screen door, raced into the garden and broke through the chicken wire underneath the hen house. Within seconds only the Araucana was left. The Leghorn and Rhode Island Red had each given us an egg before their demise...and since then we've had a blue egg every day from "Uno," as we've named her.
Ellie is no longer welcome in the garden unless tethered to the window bars. She has almost stopped barking from the upstairs windows and is settling down, and not rushing to the back door every time I go out back.
We've had advice from ex-farmer dog walking friends in Prospect Park on how to "cure" Ellie. (Wende, in a rare cynical mood, likens the dog's therapy to the Ex-Gay movement: I'm trying to get Ellie to control her behavior, if not her impulses.) Our friends suggest beating the dog with the dead chicken if this ever happens again or hanging it around her neck for 24 hours where she won't be able to stand the smell. They grew up on farms and say this works. We live in residential Brooklyn and doubt we'll try it. We do welcome suggestions from other dog and chicken-owning urbanites.
On Saturday I confessed what had happened to the farmer who'd given me the chickens. He was unfazed and happy they hadn't died of disease. He's bringing me another Rhode Island Red this weekend. More brown eggs to come.
And really, these organic eggs are absolutely delicious.
My remaining girl is eating up all of the greens I give her, and chortling happily while watched carefully by one of our Maine Coon kittens. (Did I mention we have two cats, as well as Cujo?)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

At long last, the girls have arrived

I've been dreaming about getting chickens now for months and months - and today my dream has come true! Thanks to Teddy, a farmer at the Fort Greene Greenmarket, I now have three girls: a Rhode Island Red, a Leghorn, and an Araucana. They've laid two eggs in the six hours since they arrived: brown and white. (Next up: a blue egg from the Araucana, and it'll be Easter every day!)
I had originally planned to build my own hen house from a pair of discarded shipping boxes, but it was too complicated and time-consuming. So I bought a Chick-N-Hutch and Chick-N-Pen from McMurray's Hatchery online and put it together a few days ago.
Yesterday I went to the Kensington Stables near Prospect Park here in Brooklyn and bought a bale of hay to dress up the girls' new home.
They're settling in nicely. The day's biggest challenge has been introducing our puppy Ellie to the girls...