Going on vacation means a laundry list of to-do's before heading out of town. Hire a babysitter, house sitter, pet sitter, but a chicken-sitter? "Chicken sitting" the flyer advertises. "Need someone to care for your hens while you take a trip? Now you have someone to care for your backyard barnyard. Experienced, caring and reliable."
Last summer Linda Walker of Portland, Ore., gained great knowledge about chickens while working at a feed store. It was a firsthand experience at caring and selling chicks and ducklings, something she had never done before.
"It was an intense experience and I worked with people who really knew their stuff," Walker told ABC News. "I just thought it was neat, and I just kind of put it under my hat."
She decided to quit the job, but not because of lack of interest in chickens. She decided to take up a new opportunity on her own, something that might be unusual in a major city but was in fact in demand in the Portland community.
Four months ago she decided to approach a friend of hers -- someone who was a newlywed, about to go on a honeymoon, and without a sitter to watch her 200 chickens. While Walker was excited at her first chicken-sitting opportunity, she admits that she wasn't quite sure what she was she was getting into.
"I said, 'Wow, there's a lot of animals here!" chuckled Walker. "It was like training by fire; you figure it out. I had enough under my belt to start with that."
Over a period of 10 days, she quickly figured out a routine for taking care of the chickens. She made sure the birds were taken out of the cage, fed, and put back and secured by night. Walker described her first chick-sitting experience like babysitting, but much less complex. Although there was always the unexpected, like occasionally dealing with a chicken getting stuck in a fence.
"I had to go over there and pull him out!" said Walker. "After being out there, if I can handle this many birds, I can sure handle three birds."
After her first chicken-sitting experience, Walker left flyers around town advertising her new service, hoping it would be her new source of income. Since then, she's received over 20 call-backs.
"It's been a really great experience for me," Walker told ABC News. "I had to be open to it, and I realized I really enjoyed them. They're beautiful and really funny and better than TV; they're fun to watch. And they have great eggs!"
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