Chicken Rental? Rent the Chicken

If you’ve never had a truly free-range grown at home egg, you are missing out. The shells are thick, often hard to crack open, the whites are full-bodied and filling; the yolks are the color of a tequila sunrise with a creamy butteriness I’ve only read about in books.

Fresh Eggs

We discovered this several years ago when a friend of ours had a flock of hens that were in the prime of their egg-laying years and after hearing about her massive egg inventory, we began to purchase a dozen or two each week.

Later when Shannon parted with her flock and we no longer had easy access to fresh eggs we began receiving them with our milk delivery. While those eggs are of a higher quality than found at most grocery stores, once you’ve had freshly laid homestead eggs, mass produced ones cannot compare.

Missing the rich and creamy backyard eggs, the kids and I began learning about chickens, what they require, and how to keep them happy and productive without irritating or displacing our neighbors from their back yards.

Fresh Eggs

One bit of advice that we consistently found along the way was that “You are either chicken people, or you aren’t.”

Considering the expense of needed equipment, the coop, feed and that hens produce eggs for only part of their lifespan, I’ve not been able to justify making that financial leap, so we grew used to our delivered eggs, and fondly remember how good the others were.

And then I heard about a little company named Rent the Chicken.

Rent the wha? Chickens? You can rent Chickens in NoCo?

Details, Details! I had to find out all that I could about this company as it might be a solution to our quest for fresh, rich, and creamy orbs.

Hen gal

When I met up with Callie and Melissa, I was surprised that the two women sitting before me had much if anything to do with chickens.  They are both young, and their entrepreneurial spirit is engaging and contagious. Within moments of beginning our conversation, they are laughing, sharing inside jokes and memories of standing before the fastener aisle at one of the hardware stores trying to interpret plans and digest what and how much they needed to purchase and then transform into coops.

Inquiring about how they ended up in the chicken rental business, the two responded with an exchange of glances, laughter and the revelation that it’s the result of a wild-hair idea.

Asking if it would be ok to title the post “We do hens, but not Cocks”, they both laughed heartily saying that initially they had many, many conversations laden with jokes and innuendoes that can only be inspired by animals that are also referred to as cocks and hens. As the absurdity of the idea wore off, they began to wonder if this seemingly outlandish idea might be in fact, a solid business concept.

They’ve spent more than a year researching all that they could find on chickens, talked with anyone who had information to share, and found by way of the internets a little company based in Pennsylvania with the name of Rent the Chicken that was founded in 2013 by Jenn and Phil Tompkins as a way of helping people rediscover the ease and possibility of having farm fresh eggs without the full financial and year-round commitment. With the support and permission of the founders, Callie and Melissa are the Northern Colorado’s only chicken rental business.

Oddly, both grew up in rural agricultural environments, but neither had experience with chickens before this. Callie grew up on a farm, and had every type of barnyard animal that you can imagine, with the firm exception of chickens as her dad was not a fan. Melissa’s parents didn’t care for chickens either, so when the duo shared the topic of their business venture, the response was incredibly supportive, but the curiosity of ‘Why chickens?” lingers, (along with the many chicken jokes). As they’ve become more familiar with the hens, they’ve discovered that chickens are funny creatures, and they’ve found they really enjoy working with them and getting to know their personalities.

With a handful of customers located as near as Fort Collins and as far as Boulder or North Denver, they’ve found that this first full year of hen rental has been a very good experience, and they are looking to expand.  For you, Kind Reader, this is a great opportunity to ‘try before buying’.

So, what is involved with renting chickens?

From their website, the current packages available are:

2016 Standard Rental Package – $400USD

2 Chicken Package

  • Rentals from July/August – November
  • Delivery, setup, and pick-up of the contents
  • 2 Rent The Chicken Egg-Laying Hens
  • 1 Standard Chicken Coop that can be easily moved
  • 1 Custom Rent The Chicken Food dish
  • 1 Water dish
  • 100 pounds of Chicken Feed (optional organic feed available for $60 more)
  • Quick guide for taking care of your Rent The Chickens
  • A copy of “Fresh Eggs Daily” by Lisa Steele
  • (It’s estimated that during the summer season, that you can expect 8 to 12 eggs per week.)

 

2016 Deluxe Rental Package – $600USD

4 Chicken Package

  • Rentals from July/August – November
  • Delivery, setup, and pick-up of the contents
  • 4 Rent The Chicken Egg-Laying Hens
  • 1 Deluxe Chicken Coop that can be easily moved
  • 1 Custom Deluxe Rent The Chicken Food dish
  • 1 Water dish
  • 200 pounds of Chicken Feed (optional organic feed available for $120 more)
  • Quick guide for taking care of your Rent The Chickens
  • A copy of “Fresh Eggs Daily” by Lisa Steele
  • (It’s estimated that during the summer season, that you can expect 16 to 28 eggs per week.)

Both Callie and Melissa are eager to share their interest in chickens, and should you experience some sort of predatory misfortune, illness or injury, they are glad to help you though the situation and if needed, even replace or swap out the hen involved.

*Be sure to discuss current pricing structures and lengths of the rental with Callie or Melissa when you get in touch with them, as these listed prices and dates of availability may be different due to unforeseen cost adjustments with supplies such as wood, feed and possibly even the chickens themselves. Delivery is generally fee, but if you happen to live outside of their 50-mile delivery area a fee may be assessed.

Chicken

As our conversation began to wind down, I found myself laughing as Callie and Melissa recounted stories of working with the hens, especially when they seamlessly slid into their impersonations of the girls clucking along, posturing and establishing their pecking order. It was easy to see where the ‘Girl, you better watch yourself’ head-wag may have originated.

I’m Ready to Rent the Chicken – How do I get started?

Reach out to Melissa or Callie at Fort Collins’ own Rent the Chicken!
Phone: 970-372-2927
Email: homestead.callie.melissa@gmail.com
Web: RentTheChicken.com

So, if you happen to be in Old Town, and you see two gals walking about in royal blue T’s with bright yellow lettering across the shoulders reading “Rent the Chicken”, be sure to tell them that you saw them here first.

Until next time, may you knees be green and your spirits light.

Amy

 

 

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