Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chickens! I'm not in suburbia anymore.

By: Christina Ely, Registrar for Plowline: Images of Rural New York

When I was a young child, my parent’s owned a dairy farm.  Strictly dairy.  We had no horses, no goats, donkeys, turkeys….and certainly there were no “free-range” chickens.  I had never really encountered a real, live chicken until my first visit to The Farm in Ilion, NY.   Then I found that I was followed, surrounded, blocked by and was a curiosity to dozens of chickens of all different types.  At first, I was not so fond.  But then, the more I visited, the more accustomed I became of them. Now, I really like chickens. Especially, the one we aptly named “Chicken.” 

Here's "Chicken:"

Chicken is especially friendly, daring and curious.  By offering her sunflower seeds, over time she was trained to come to us and eat from our hand.  Now, whenever she sees us, she comes running (which is a funny sight to see).  She is a sweet creature, and now, the largest chicken of the bunch! 

We don’t have many photos of chickens in the Plowline: Images of Rural New York Collection, but we do have a couple.  They too are sweet. There is something about baby chics that is especially endearing, at least to me.  However, I realize not all people like chickens and roosters, as evidenced by my friend Mary’s reaction when she encounters them.  She loaths any type of bird – especially a bird of such size. 
This photo by Daniel Handal, a New York, New York photographer was taken at Phillies Bridge Farm in New Paltz, New York in 2009.  These chics are especially cute with their mottled coloring. 

This photo was a snapshot taken on Edward Garretson’s Hemlock Valley Farm.  I had the great fortune of interviewing Edward when the family donated a quantity of negatives to The Farmers’ Museum last fall.   At one point in our conversation he stated that he did NOT like chickens, so when I saw this photo, I was positive it was from another person’s farm.  Much to my surprise, they were his! He bought a whole clutch of them one year to raise and sell, but as he states “the price dropped out, and so we ate ‘um up.”  Well, that IS the reality I guess for those of us who eat meat. 

So, over that last three years I have become fond of the chickens at The Farm, and the fresh eggs!  And, I hope “Chicken” spends many more years with us.   For fresh eggs from The Farm and other good eats from local farmers, visit the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9 am – 2 pm, May 7 – December 17, 2011. 

Images above:
Jessica at Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz, Daniel Handal, 2009.  F0007.2010(001).  Plowline: Images of Rural New York.

Baby Chicks in a Brooder, Unidentified photographer, ca. 1960. F0010.2010(32). Plowline: Images of Rural New York.

Egg basket photo Courtesy Laura Knight

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