Chickens Convey Humble Healing At The Chicks Next Door

The Chicks Next Door farm founder Annie Dye talks about her star rooster, Napolean, and the secret to the irresistible appeal of rainbow eggs.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: The Chicks Next Door

“Seeing the range of colors in one carton turns peoples’ preconceived notions about what an egg is,” says Annie Dye, who runs The Chicks Next Door in Red Hook, New York.

These days, Dye cares for a flock of over 100 chickens at her micro farm and has gained a reputation for producing vibrant arrays of rainbow eggs, but it turns out she originally embarked on a markedly different career path. “I ended up working in gemology in the diamond industry in New York City,” recalls Dye. “But when I moved upstate and when COVID hit, it was finally an opportunity to have the space and land to keep chickens and do something.”

Taking time out from overseeing the flock, we spoke to Dye about chicken social networks and the eye-catching appeal of speckled eggs. We also got to hear about head rooster Napoleon.

An Early Farming Imprint

A chick in the hand
little chick

“Growing up in Ireland, we had dear family friends who had a small farm and some of my earliest memories are being on that farm,” recalls Dye of her formative steps into farming.

“I remember being with the cows as they were milked, feeding the chickens and being with the sheepdog. We’re talking the age of 2 or 3, and I think it just imprinted on me.”

The Chicken Social Network

two chickens are walking on the grass
Walking Chickens

Asked about pleasantly surprising examples of chicken behavior, Dye says that her flock have developed very intricate social networks.

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“There are very definitive social groups within my flock,” she explains. “I did not expect such complexity in the pecking order and their friendships. I have seven roosters, and they all have their own harems. It’s just fascinating to observe.”

All Hail Napoleon

Two chickens are sitting

When it comes to Dye’s current flock, she says head rooster Napoleon is the star personality. “He’s a small rooster, hence the name, but he’s the boss of the flock,” she explains.

“He’s a black Phoenix, and he’s a powerhouse. He doesn’t have to do much to maintain his status—he has this quiet authority and although he’s small in stature, he’s very respected by everyone in the flock. He’s a calm ruler.”

Vibrant Speckles

Two Eggs in hand
Chicken Eggs

Dye says that people tend to naturally gravitate towards very vibrant and speckled eggs. “Some of the turquoise blues just get that wow response, and then you couple in speckles and that has the biggest impact for people,” she says.

“But seeing them displayed in a rainbow in all their varieties, that’s what has the most impact as opposed to just one color,” she continues.

Humbling & Healing

The Chicks Next Door

Reflecting on the nourishing nature of spending so much time around chickens, Dye says that it feels “very humbling and it’s very healing.” She adds that while chickens are some of the most abused animals in the world, she finds “being able to raise them humanely and care for them is very humbling.”

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