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|Articles - September 2011|
|Wednesday, August 24, 2011|
First came the dog walkers. Then the cat sitters. Now Portland is home to what may be the nation’s first chicken-sitting business: Just Us Hens. “We saw a need, and we both have a love for chickens,” says Sharon Rowland, who runs the year-old chick enterprise with her partner, Rhonda Piasecki. The two women, who met while working at Portland’s Urban Farm Store, also offer other hen-related services, including beak trimming and chicken coop consulting.
Portland is something of a hotbed for urban chicken enthusiasts. The city allows homeowners to keep up to three hens without a permit, and a growing number of businesses and websites — Pistils Nursery, Growing Gardens, pdxbackyardchix — help meet the needs of budding chicken keepers. Just Us Hens, which targets people who go out of town, fills a niche. “Some people are scared of birds,” says Rowland, an artist who also works part- time as medical assistant. “You can’t always leave them with neighbors.”
So far, Just Us Hens has about 20 customers, mostly in North and Northeast Portland; they charge $15 for a daily visit. “If someone is talking about chickens, Rhonda is over there spreading the word,” says Rowland, referring to the duo’s marketing strategy. And for those who wonder: “No,” Rowland says, “we’re not paid in eggs.”
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