Rent a Chicken

By Jack Edwards

I’ve heard of rented mules. In fact, rented mules are quite famous. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Beat it like a rented mule.” I have never, however, heard of a rented chicken…until now.

Kathy Matheson, with the Associated Press (an organization heralded for its cutting-edge investigative reporting in the field of poultry science), wrote an article titled, “Entrepreneurs hatch hen-rental idea for fans of fresh eggs.” This urban chicken rental concept is taking off faster than a Saturn 5 rocket.

Pennsylvania-based Rent-the-Chicken has branched out into several states. According to Matheson’s article, everyone (so far, no exceptions have been identified) wants to rent a chicken.

Urban farming is booming. In my city, the council recently passed an ordinance permitting people to keep a combination of up to six chickens, six rabbits, three miniature goats, one miniature pig and up to three bee hives. (No. I don’t know how the miniature pigs got the short end of the stick.) If Rent-the-Chicken moves to town, I have no doubt our city council will immediately schedule 28 meetings to begin drafting regulations to provide proper oversight of the new chicken rental program. There will be a tremendous amount of work to do. Rental licensing fees must be assessed. Urban chicken inspectors must be hired. A chicken registry must be created (complete with the name and photograph of each chicken).

The article cites a source saying that chickens can live seven to 10 years. One theory for the success of the business is that people have difficulty making that type of commitment. This leads me to ask, “Haven’t these people heard of chicken soup?”

The article includes the following: “Prices depend on the company, location and lease duration but start around $150 month. Most basic packages include two hens, a coop, feed and phone availability to answer questions.”

Three things:

1. I just checked Craigslist, and you can buy a basic chicken coop for $150. This would allow your chicken to be a homeowner. And I think that both Republicans and Democrats can get behind that. In fact, they might be willing to provide these chickens with low interest loans.

2. How much could these chickens possibly eat? Haven’t these people heard of term, “That’s chicken feed?”

3. I’m not sure of what type of emergency response questions these people need to ask about their chickens, but I’m sure that the answers provided in response to questions posed to Google beginning with, “My chicken keeps…” will suffice. If it doesn’t, please refer to my earlier comment, and type in the question, “What is the best recipe for chicken soup?”

What is not included in the rental package is a calculator. This is because Ms. Matheson’s article (which I almost read in its entirely), says, “Two chickens collectively produce about a dozen eggs each week.” I do not profess to have a Nobel Prize in the field of mathematics, but there are roughly four weeks in a month. So my Rent-the-Two-Chickens is costing me $37.50 per week, or $37.50 per dozen of eggs. I am aware that the people who are renting these chickens are doing so because they are concerned about the source of their food, but paying three dollars per egg is best described by one word. And that word is INSANE. For that price, I can hire an armored car to deliver a dozen eggs from Old MacDonald’s Certifiable Organic Free-range Chicken Paradise. And as bonus, I don’t have shovel organic chicken poop.

My analysis:
There is only one phrase that describes the business model of Rent-the-Chicken. And it’s this: Rent-the-Chicken is beating their customers like a rental mule.

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