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North Fork Hen House Tour

June 18th, 2015 by Mark Macnish

Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast will be part of the North Fork Hen House Tour, sponsored by Cornell University’s Long Island Research Center this year. In case you haven’t been following the exploits of my flock of back yard birds, ‘Elvis and the Pricillas’, (often featured on the Shorecrest Face Book page), followed by the introduction of the ‘Chickenettes’ this spring, you will be able to learn all about them and enjoy their ‘act’ on Saturday June 27th.

Elvis and the Priscillas are the names I have given to my mature flock of Silver Leghorns, a rooster and 7 hens, that I inherited from my friend Mark Macnish when he moved from his North Fork B and B, Andrew’s Legacy, last fall and could not take them with him. He was the one who picked the name ‘Elvis’ for our glamorous, strutting rooster, all spangly in his black and white feathered outfit, and the hens looking pretty much alike, I named them all ‘Priscilla’. Although now I can tell several of them apart, and their exploits keep me and my guests endlessly entertained.

Silver leghorns are a rare variety of non-industrial leghorns and are on the livestock conservancy’s list of recovering breeds. The livestock conservancy tracks all types of livestock that were once common on rural farms, many of which are now actually endangered species because of large scale industrial farming.  The conservancy encourages hobbyists and back yard livestock raisers such as myself to perpetuate these rare varieties by breeding and keeping up demand for them.

The ‘Chickenettes’ are my new ‘variety pack’ of baby chicks that I got in late May. They consist of 5 Araucanas, 2 light Brahmas, 1 dark Brahma, 2 Speckled Sussex, 2 Partridge Rock, 2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Black Star. Each one of these breeds have their own unique characteristics from the Araucana’s ability to lay colored eggs, to the feathered feet and shanks of the Brahmas and they represent my attempt at developing a diverse flock. But my motivation is more aesthetic than scientific if truth be told. I just love the way they look, especially when they are free range, foraging in the garden, with their rosy petal like combs and decorative feathers, they are like walking, bobbing flowers to me.

Cornell University has organized this self-guided tour of North Fork hen houses for Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of backyard poultry, to celebrate hometown hen houses, and to share enthusiasm for raising chickens, ducks, and poultry. The tour will be self-guided; visitors will be given a map with directions to each of the locations and then they can pick and choose which places that they want to visit. Participants will pick up their maps at Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center at 3059 Sound Ave., Riverhead, NY 11901. Participants starting from the more eastern end odf the North Fork, where Shorecrest is located, may pick up their maps at 1700 North Parish Dr., Southold, NY 11971. There will be a $5 fee per vehicle to obtain a map; this fee will help to pay for the printing of maps and advertising costs. For more information go to http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/pdfs/2015HenHouseTour.pdf

So I hope you stop by and visit me on the tour, meet Elvis and the Pricillas with live performances by the Chickenettes. Mark Macnish, who has been keeping chickens since he was a child growing up on the North Fork, will be here to help answer your questions and discuss the joys of raising chickens in our backyards!

Elvis and the Pricillas explore the garden.

Elvis and the Pricillas explore the garden.

Elvis guards over the Priscillas as they forage for food.

Elvis guards over the Priscillas as they forage for food.

Aurucans, an interesting breed, not completely standardized, so I am not sure exactly what they are going to look like as adults, but here is my best guess. They are known for their colored eggs they lay in shades of green and blue.

Aurucans, an interesting breed, not completely standardized, so I am not sure exactly what they are going to look like as adults, but here is my best guess. They are known for their colored eggs they lay in shades of green and blue.

 

Black stars, prolific egg layers

Black stars, prolific egg layers

Rhode Island Reds, prolific layers of brown eggs, are known for their winter hardiness.

Rhode Island Reds, prolific layers of brown eggs, are known for their winter hardiness.

The Dark Brahma is similar to the light Brahma, but with a dark to black body.

The Dark Brahma is similar to the light Brahma, but with a dark to black body.

A large chicken that provided meat and eggs on the american farm from 1850 -1930

The Light Brahma. A large chicken that provided meat and eggs on the american farm from 1850 -1930

Another dual purpose chicken (used for meat and eggs.) The speckled sussex is thought to have originated in England at the time of the Roman conquest.

Another dual purpose chicken (used for meat and eggs.) The speckled sussex is thought to have originated in England at the time of the Roman conquest.

A dual purpose cold hardy chicken, a variation on the more popular Plymouth or barred Rock.

A dual purpose cold hardy chicken, a variation on the more popular Plymouth or barred Rock.

 

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