Sharon Rowland and Rhonda Piasecki founded Just Us Hens a year ago. Their business provides sitting services for the growing legions of urbanites with backyard chickens.
Photo courtesy Just Us Hens
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.”