14 August 2007

What the Buck?

Has anyone else noticed that the stretch of Columbia Street between Degraw and Hamilton is starting to resemble a barnyard? To wit: what's with all the loose chickens lately?

I passed by a local community garden yesterday and noticed a rust-feathered rooster clawing about the grounds. He seemed quite at home, not lost or panicked. I had never noticed him before, having passed by the garden myriad times.

I mentioned this to the Wife when I got home and she responded "Is it the same chicken that I saw in the Art Lot?" The Art Lot is a open-air, ad-hoc rotating art exhibition surrounded by chain-link fence, at the corner of Columbia and Sackett. "Someone there has been feeding them." I went to check out this claim and, sure enough, not one but two handsome, healthy, black-plumed chickens were strutting about, content as could be. The Wife thinks the hens might be the work of the artists, a sort of silent protest of the poultry slaughterhouse that lies just down the street from the lot. But the card describing the current show lists five artists, each responsible for a different part of the exhibition; there was no mention of chickens being part of the show.

She also suggested the cluckers were possibly escapees from the slaughterhouse. I doubt that. If they were, the owners of said abitoire would have run down the block and retrieved them long ago. Whatever their origins, someone wants them there: a dish of food and water has been laid out for them.

The garden rooster looks more the escapee part. He's in sad shape, having obviously been pecked at quite a bit.

I read some time back that certain Red Hookers had the odd habit of keeping hens as pets, which is quite legal from what I understand. (Roosters, on the other hand, are not lawful.) But these birds have no visible owners and are living quite public lives. What's going on?

Oh, for the record, I have no problem with the chicks. I like them. I raised Bantams as a boy. Won some ribbons for them, I did.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking they're from the live chicken establishment over there. Someone probably bought them and then let them go... thinking they were doing them a favor. People are stupid. Although it may be the work of an artist, as well. A stupid artist, who buys chickens and then releases them.

Anonymous said...

anonymous - I am an artist and I have been buying and releasing chickens onto the "free range" for the past 7 years.

I buy the chicks at a pet store in Long Island City, then raise them in my incubator / studio. When they are old enough to survive outside, I put them in a KFC bucket, get on the subway, and drop them off in an empty lot in a new neighborhood.

I would estimate I have dropped off upwards of 600 chickens now, over Brooklyn and Queens, and that those chickens have bred to produce many more chickens, probably thousands and thousands (I resent being called a stupid artist; just because I am bad at math does not make me stupid!).

I have tentatively titled this performance action "You can eat all the chicken you want, but you know what? There will always be more chickens!"

I hope to spur a dialog between the chickens and their eaters.

Finally, to those kind souls feeding the chickens: remember there are chicken parts in cat food, so *please* do not feed the chickens cat food. It is hard enough being a chicken, without being forced into cannibalism!

- anonymous

Matthew said...

They'll do alright if feral cats or stupid-owner-dogs don't get 'em. Or the giant killer apes (homo sapiens sapiens).

More chickens> yeah, baby; in the gardens they're good for everybody: eggs for us, droppings for the garden. (Roosters are poutry non grata because of the noise.) Just Food (justfood.org) is working to get more hens in our community gardens.

PS: don't forget that the best kinds of farms are dependent on livestock for natural fertilizers and extra income, which is sometimes the margin between survial and another subdivision.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Nice bit of satire, Anonymous #2.

Anonymous said...

For some time now Green Thumb has been promoting the idea of chickens in New York's community gardens. They offer workshops on this topic. This is a fact.