“Why buy when you can rent” is a more common phrase in the real estate market, but in Saanich, it now applies to farm animals – specifically chickens.
Rent the Chicken, a service that offers chickens on a temporary basis, is taking off across North America and has spread to Saanich. Kate Fraser, of Bees Please Farms, is the local affiliate – the first in the Greater Victoria area – and said the service was created for people who want their own farm fresh eggs without the commitment of full-time chicken ownership.
“You’ve heard of the 100-mile diet. I’ve heard in James Bay, they’re trying for a 100-yard diet – here it is, in your yard,” she said.
Fraser joined the Rent the Chicken program after doing a similar program with bees, which rents beehives to people who want to increase pollination, boost the bee population and make their own honey.
“My mom called me and said, ‘Have you seen this Rent the Chicken?’” said Fraser. “I looked it up and I thought, this goes perfectly, this is a great idea.
“The two really go hand in hand. We’ve had a couple orders where people are getting bees and chickens. It’s usually the people that care about the same things, like local food, sustainable and organic practices.”
Rent the Chicken offers three six-month rental packages, priced at $425, $600 and $1,000 plus PST and GST. The chickens are available from May to October and the packages come with delivery, setup and pickup of contents, two to four egg-laying hens, a chicken coop, food and water dishes, 40 to 80 kilograms of feed, a care guide and a copy of Lisa Steele’s Fresh Eggs Daily.
In preparation for May, Fraser is building the coops to order, adding that Rent the Chicken has a support line if renters have questions about what to do with their chickens.
“I take the deposit, build everything, I give them a call closer to April and schedule a delivery date,” she said. “I take them the chickens, the coop, the feed, the feeder and a little instruction book, and answer any questions that they have.”
Fraser said concepts like eating local and organic are taking off because people want to know where their food comes from.
“When you can see where it comes from, there’s no guesswork,” she said. “You know what the chickens ate – it’s just really simple. It’s getting back to simple ways of eating.”
In addition to fresh eggs, Fraser said the chickens come with other benefits such as fertilization, pest control and lawn maintenance.
“We had kind of a bet going: I’d read that you don’t need to mow when you have the chickens, and my husband said, ‘There’s no way they could control the lawn,’” she said. “But it’s true, they kind of nibble across the top and keep it a consistent height, and we have not had a single dandelion in the back.”
While the service is brand new to the area, Fraser said she’s already received a lot of positive feedback about the initiative.
“Some people even just write to me and say, ‘Good on you for doing this, this is wonderful.’”
For more information about Rent the Chicken or to schedule a rental from Fraser, visit rentthechicken.com.