“Compliments from the girls out back,” says Joyce Barry as she serves breakfast to guests at her Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast in Cutchogue. The girls are 12 Buff Orpington chickens, a breed known for its calm qualities, which makes it easy for Barry to treat them like pets. Lucky chickens. They live in a charming, converted child’s playhouse with a pole to roost on and straw to lay their eggs and, as vegetarians, they eat scraps from the bed-and-breakfast including melon seeds, and raspberries and bananas that satisfy their sweet tooth, as well as the sunflowers and marigolds Barry grows for them.”
Barry and her husband Robert weren’t ready to retire and wanted to keep working when the children left the nest and moved away. They’ve just completed their third year hosting guests from all over the world and love what they do, especially raising chickens.
On her kitchen counter a backlit jar of her honey sits next to a pile of just laid eggs, reminiscent of a Dutch still life. Barry also tends three busy hives; Bees enter the hives covered in pollen from fruit trees, flowers, clover or vegetables. This gives the honey its distinctive flavor. Sienna, a beautiful rescue quarter horse, munches grass in an adjoining field. Joyce rides her when she has time.
Three bedrooms in the farmhouse and two bedrooms in a cottage nearby in New Suffolk make up the b-and-b. And the guests love to help gather the eggs in the morning.
Barry plans to add 12 more hens to her brood and would even consider adding another property to enlarge capacity. When asked if she eats the chickens when they get too old to lay eggs, she says, “I couldn’t, they’re my girls.”