Back in 2007, I found a chicken wandering the streets of Greenpoint, presumably escaped from one of the slaughterhouses here and brought her into work at PS122 before dropping her off at a shelter in south Brooklyn.
Then last week I was staring out the window at PS122’s Greenpoint offices and was very surprised to see another chicken wandering in an empty lot looking very lost and out of place. Winnie and I rushed down with an old Crumpler bag to see if we could catch it. At first it flew over Winnie’s head but I was eventually able to grab it after attempting to communicate telepathically about greener pastures ahead. We brought it up to our office and fed it some pieces of a bagel which it ate hurriedly. I called the shelter where I’d dropped off the other chicken years ago but they asked some details about the chicken and from my description deemed that this chicken was a rooster due to the red flap of skin on his head. Roosters apparently are forbidden in the city because of their use in cockfighting rings.
Winnie decided to call our ‘fearless leader,’ Artistic Director Vallejo who we knew to be driving north to Calicoon the next day and who already owned a pet rabbit- why not a rooster too? In the meantime we put the chicken in a banker’s box with plenty of bagel pieces and water to get him through the night. The next day he peacefully sat in the office while folks arrived, some not knowing he was here. New Production Manager Vinny grew up with chickens and upon inspecting ours and speaking to friends who breed chickens noted that there was a chance this chicken was a hen after all – some breeds of chickens have small red flaps of skin like this on both males and females. At the end of the day, Vallejo carried off the chicken and promised to find it a better life (or a tasty treat for coyotes that howl in the woods near his house).
On Sunday we received word (and photos) that Vallejo’s neighbor John Nordstrom had found a woman update who runs an animal refuge – with dozens of chickens and many other animals. The PS122 chicken- who Vallejo called Evelyn and Winnie called Ethyl and Vinny called Lucky, had found its home – delivered by Vallejo’s wife Lucy! But before he/she could be integrated with the general population, he/she had to serve some solo time in recovery- for one, to grow back feathers lost in its escape from the slaughter house. Maybe Ethyl / Evelyn can return to NYC when he/she recovers to serve as mascot for our new building.
The chicken is fully recovered! Her neck feathers have grown back and she’s happy living out her life on Virginia Grant’s animal refuge in upstate New York.