Yes the title is a song reference. Get to know the song, the band!
Ruby and Ivory were two chickens I rescued from a hoarder in Washington Heights. Washington Heights is not known for being the most friendly part of Manhattan. In fact if you want to get away from tourist in the city you can hit Washington Heights and be tourist free any time of day or night. Unfortunately for me it was night time that brought me to this neighborhood. Susie called me about a frantic woman who had two chickens and did not know what to do with them. I had plans to take another chicken to the farm the next day so I was hoping the lady with the two others would be willing to keep them for the night. No such luck.
Now I’m headed to Washington heights at 10pm on a Friday night. I’m certain to see some action in this neighborhood at that time on a Friday night. I arrive at the lady’s apartment around 11pm. She is stepping out of a mini van that is filled with kennels. I can hear one bird and one dog from the van which is driven by her friend. The lady I am to meet also has a kennel in her hand with a cat inside. We walk into her building and she leaves the cat under the stairs as we head to her third floor apartment. By the time I am on the second floor I can smell animal feces. As we step to her door I see roaches scurrying from her apartment. The walls are completely black from two feet down and the smell is horrible. She tells me to wait outside, this is a warning to me as if the smell and roaches were not enough. I think to myself, “count the cats, count the dogs”. She has trouble accessing the kennel and finally asked me to step into her apartment.
If you have seen the movie Seven picture the room with “sloth” in it now, minus the smell good trees from the ceiling.
I am now standing in a room 10 feet by 12 feet with kennels about 5 feet high lined around 3 walls. I can’t count the cats, too many, but I estimate over 30. I can count the dogs that I see (4) but I hear more in another room. Above the kennels are paint less walls covered in dirt from animals walking on top of the kennels. The floor is bare down to the slatted sub-flooring, a few scraps of newspaper lie in a few areas. Empty cat food cans lie everywhere including the inside on the kennel containing two chickens. The chickens kennel has two kennels on top with two cats each. A cat is lying on top of these two kennels and he is missing an eye, part of his ear, and his tail.
I remove the two kennels and lift the kennel with the chickens from the floor. Roaches are everywhere, on the chickens in their food, running from the kennel. I quickly take them outside and run down the stairs. I stop at the door buzzer as I leave to photograph the ladies apartment # and her name, then out side for fresh air and to get to my car. I turn the corner to see a cop and about 5 teen age kids. One kid face down on the ground. Further down the street 2 more cop cars are racing to the scene which is across the street from my car. Before the other cops arrive I hear two gunshots and the teenagers are laughing. All the while I am trying to clean the roaches from these chickens and remove all the trash in their kennel. It seems impossible to remove the roaches. They just appear from under the birds feathers like water from a faucet. I get the chickens into the car and fly down the road. I don’t think the cops are going to care too much about me speeding when they have other things to occupy their time.
I get home, take the chickens out of the car and begin to feed and water them. They are obviously relieved to not be in a den of cats and dogs not to mention roaches.
So into the house we go. A new puppy and now two chickens. I’m very afraid of what these chickens may have and could give to the puppy so they are isolated in the bathroom unlike Henry the Turkey who was able to sleep in the bedroom with us.
They appear calm and are eating well. After some reorganizing to make them comfortable we all go to sleep.
I drive to Westchester the next day to pick up another chicken, then off to Farm Sanctuary .
Now many months later I am at Farm Sanctuary to leave my car for the next two weeks so that I can ride my bike with the rest of the Walk For Chuck Team . As I approach the newly renovated turkey barn two chickens are out of the fence and approach me. I have the most difficult time photographing chickens so for them to approach me is a shock.
I quickly recognize these two as they pose for the camera repeatedly.
It’s Ruby and Ivory. My ONLY friends from Washington Heights.
So they are very happy in their new home and are waiting for everyone to meet them when visiting Farm Sanctuary
Take care of my car Susie, there’s enough vegetable oil to get to California in the trunk.