A chicken-and-egg thing

The Brooklyn Paper
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Cockle doodle dude?

A troop of Red Hook chickens will share a bill with Willie Nelson and Neil Young at Sunday’s eco-chic Farm Aid rock benefit on Randall’s Island.

Organizers of the Sept. 9 show — an annual benefit for family farms — reached out to urban chicken rancher Maria Mackin and asked her to bring her egg-layers to the all-day concert to promote sustainable, local agriculture.

“They said to come on out and bring chicken wire. They’ll supply the bales of hay,” said Mackin, who described the chicken’s job at the all-day festival as “hanging out.” She said she planned to transport six of her calmer fowl in the family mini-van.

Mackin and her husband Declan Walsh are pioneers in the world of urban farming. While other members of the organic elite grow heirloom tomatoes, squash and exotic spices, the couple has kept a brood of squawking, bawking and hatching chickens in their backyard for years, selling the eggs for profit (and fame, it seems).

In Brooklyn, the wild-feathered birds — one looks like Rod Stewart with a spiky crown of orange feathers; another resembles Phyllis Diller — have plenty of fans.

“They’re quite a sight,” said Kayla Soyer-Stein, a frequent customer at the Mackin-Walsh egg stand. Soyer-Stein, who enjoys scrambling the fresh yolks with a little Tabasco-brand pepper sauce, said she would rather see the chickens than veteran rocker Willie Nelson.

“They make me happy,” she said.

Mackin, for her part, is very excited to see Nelson, who, along with Young and John “Couger” Mellencamp, founded Farm Aid in 1985 to help farms in places that can be described as rolling, or green, rather than smoggy and scrappy.

“I am hoping for a picture of the chickens with Willie for the family Christmas card,” said Mackin, whose coop is sandwiched between a glass factory and a Veterans of Foreign War post on Van Brunt Street.

But would she sell even one of her little red hens to Nelson?

“No,” Mackin said. “I would tell him to buy his own. A chicken only costs $1.50.”

Maria’s chicks

Crazy Janey

The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Breed: Araucana Chicken

Characteristics: A South American breed prized for its trusting nature.

Fun Fact: Hens lay pastel-colored eggs. The Easter bunny got nuttin’ on this chick! They don’t just look good, but are said to be more nutritious.

Old Hickory

The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Breed: Cochin

Characteristics: The perfect arm candy. Imported from China in the early 19th century as a show bird, the Cochin gained popularity in the west because of its nurturing nature.

Fun fact: This bird can get violent in the close quarters of the coop!

White Meat

The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Breed: Buff Brahma

Characteristics: These are big, dumb birds valued for the mod patterns on their golden feathers and their peaceable nature.

Fun Fact: These birds like to hang out. They also tend to get fat!

The all-day Farm Aid concert will be Sept. 9 at Randall’s Island. Go to for info or to buy tickets.

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Reader Feedback

Lala Neigh from Jackson says:
I think you took my chickens and took pictures of them because they look just like some of my chickens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
March 12, 2008, 3:03 pm
Maria Sanchezo from Puerto Rico says:
My English is'nt vary god u now. hohhohohoohhohhohhhohohh.
March 12, 2008, 3:05 pm

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