What To Do When Your Boyfriend Brings Home Chickens

by Matthew J.X. Malady

People are always saying things on the Internet all the time. But they are such teases. We like details. So we have to ask.

There are two chickens in my bathtub in need of a home. Any takers?

— Alice Hines (@alicehines) September 11, 2013

They are actually very pretty: pic.twitter.com/LBSYshKqR7

— Alice Hines (@alicehines) September 11, 2013

Alice! So what happened here?
Two weeks ago my boyfriend, Jay Dockendorf, came home to our apartment with two live chickens. He’s directing a feature about two Muslim teens in Brooklyn, and one scene takes place in a live poultry store, leading to a few other scenes involving chickens. Jay bought two chickens from the store ($15 each). They were really beautiful, with taupe feathers and red beaks. Because I’m a freelance writer who works from home — and a very nice girlfriend — I was in charge of babysitting the chickens when they weren’t on set.

At first it was fun: They were docile and made a lot of sweet clucking sounds. They also had distinct personalities — one was quiet and lazy and emitted a near constant stream of diarrhea. The other was more alert, poking her head around and sometimes pecking at the other one, which we tried to discourage. On day two of chicken cohabitation, I woke up to find Chicken #1 escaped from her box. She was sitting on the living room rug and you could see where she had wandered in the apartment by the little puddles of excrement. We had run out of boxes to put them in, so I moved them to the bathtub. At that point, I think I texted Jay something like “Please take care of the chickens!!” and tweeted a photo to see if anyone wanted to adopt them.

After you asked people on Twitter if they wanted the chickens, did you get any responses? And what ultimately happened to those chickens?

My tweet didn’t attract any serious takers. As it turns out, finding a home for chickens in NYC is not easy. Most animal shelters in New York don’t accept them, despite the fact that there is a lot of demand now from failed urban farmers. When you Google “chicken shelter Brooklyn,” you get a bunch of snarky articles about “hipsters who can’t cope.” I guess this is us, though we never claimed we could cope in the first place. I suggested giving the chickens back to the live poultry place, but Jay and the rest of the crew had grown attached and wanted to save them from their original fate. I may have also suggested letting the chickens loose in Fort Greene Park at a moment of weakness induced by fumes from the bathroom.

The saga has a happy ending: The afternoon after one escaped, Jacob Albert, our friend and a producer of the movie, found a community farm in Bed Stuy that accepted chickens. I think they were relieved to be out of the bathtub.

Lesson learned (if any)?

Chicken shit smells worse than anything you could imagine. Also, chickens are really friendly! They are OK being picked up and pet.

Just one more thing.
My rate for chicken babysitting going forward is $50/hour plus $10 per chicken tweet.

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.