Maria was an ordinary chicken. Maria was an extraordinary chicken.
Maria laid a lot of eggs like any good hen. She lay mondo eggs and would take some time to go about this.
Unlike Gretel and Leisel who quietly and quickly laid their eggs on the straw in their egg boxes early every morning, she chose to lay them out of the safety of her run and in the “wild” when they were let out to free range. She would often be gone for more than an hour.
Busy with our raspberry farm, it took a dedicated summer visitor Chris to hunt for and find Maria’s secret nest. Once a cache was discovered she would find a new spot and start over.
Very much unlike Leisel and Gretel, who craved attention, Maria shunned the paparazzi.
Unlike Gretel and Leisel, Maria would not and could not be picked up and was proud of this. She was standoffish and very, very large.
Gretel and Leisel, although conformists and social media early adopters did understand a key chicken survival lesson, there is safety in numbers. Free ranging comes with risks which were lessened by our rows upon rows of raspberry canes providing cover and making predator swoop attacks difficult and by having a pal to call an alert.
When we returned from the farmer’s market and checked on the girls, a small pile of fluffy breast feathers in one of the yard’s few open spots was all that was left of Maria. A hawk or an eagle are the most likely culprits that permanently solved a lovely problem like Maria.
Survived by her occasional friends Gretel and Liesel and greatly mourned by her human friends, Maria will be missed although her eggs won’t be as we could rarely find them. Maria was an ordinary chicken, Maria was an extraordinary chicken.
Who doesn’t love a sale? But how many regrets stem from snapping up a bargain that maybe didn’t fit quite right, didn’t match your decor or really wasn’t needed at all? My rentthechickens will not fall into that category as the Black Friday bargain was an “item” already on this savvy shopper’s list and eggs never go out of style.
My two laying hens, 100 pounds of chicken feed and portable coop will arrive in May from Kamloops’ couple Ron and Marie McGivern’s farm and will be picked back up in October. These rentthechicken.com hens are a perfect way for us newbies to get our feet wet. If we chicken out, no harm, no fowl. Ron and Marie will come and pick them back up.
For about $500 including delivery and pick-up, the hens will lay the equivalent of eight to 14 golden eggs a week…somewhere around $2 an egg. The point is not to save money but to give us the chance to test out a risky purchase before making a commitment to longer term chicken husbandry.
Rentthechicken.com was started by an enterprising couple from Freeport Pennsylvania. “Your chickens will come from our affiliate homesteaders in Kamploops,” says Jenn Tompkins. “We started out thinking we could rent chickens to a few Pittsburgh hipsters and that would be it. We were dead wrong. We now have more than 35 affiliates all over the U.S. and Canada and are renting out more than 1,000 chickens. People are really interested in having their food closer to their tables without a longterm commitment.”
Jenn says the hens will quickly become my pals. It’s all a matter of who feeds them and who brings the yummy table scraps, she says.
What’s in a name?
Downtown Abbey characters like Lady Mary and Edith are trending chicken names, according to Jenn as are Laverne and Shirley with the older demographic. Younger renters are leaning toward characters from Friends or the Big Bang Theory. Charlotte and Mrs. Feathers have made the cut.
Our hens will be named Maria von Trapp and Baroness von Schrader, Maria and Ness for short.
Rentthechicken does away with the four to six months rearing period until the hen is ready to lay and also the risk of ending up with a rooster chick – no eggs, lots of noise.
My farm neighbours will be incredulous at my rental hen scheme but I like the idea of an exit plan, no need to winter-over the girls or deal with “end of life issues”. My ladies will come in their egg-laying prime and Maria and Ness can be rented in following years if we bond or we can adopt them and give them a forever home if we get really brave.
Jenn assures us that two hens won’t make a lot of noise and their portable coop will spread their fertilizer around to help our berry farm. She told a story of a couple of hens that were used as therapy birds for an autistic boy. We all need a little therapy right? Wonder if a therapy session should start with a why did the chicken cross the road joke or would it quickly devolve into the which came first chicken or egg existential question… I wonder if rentthechicken.com could include a sub-business…Rent a Cock to fertilize my hens should we choose to start a brood or How Would You Like Your Eggs incubating service…
Bring on May and Marie and Ness, future blog stars.