Liz Cunningham is a proud momma watching her little chicks stumble around amongst broken shells and intact eggs waiting to break. The multilevel electric incubator in her laundry room resembles an apartment building for the newly hatched fowl.
These little chicks may stay on Cunningham’s small farm or be brought to a monthly Poultry Swap organized by Cunningham. While for now it’s called the Metchosin Poultry Swap, that may change with the invitation for other farm animals to attend.
Already this year someone brought a lamb to the swap and it was scooped up right away amid intense interest from buyers, Cunningham said. “The baby lamb was sold in minutes,” Cunningham said.
After seeing the interest in the lamb, Cunningham has started seeking other people with other animals to come out, including rabbits, goats, lambs and even small Dexter cows. While still considered poultry, last year Cunningham said a peacock was brought to the swap
last year and sold.
The Metchosin Poultry Swap is one of three on the Island, Cunningham said explaining the swaps are a modern twist on farmer’s auctions.
“It’s still very rural farming,” Cunningham said. “All that’s set is a place and time, I don’t know who’s coming (until it starts).”
Cunningham started the Metchosin Poultry Swap last summer and is running it again this year. Last year the swap was held at the Metchosin Community House and in the municipal hall parking lot, this year it has moved to the old Metchosin elementary school grounds.
“It’s a good location. It’s right there on the road and people can see it when they are driving by,” Cunningham said.
At the Metchosin Poultry Swap, shoppers can find guinea fowl, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, roosters and chicks.
As for the chicks at Cunningham’s farm, they will stay in an incubator for about a day and will survive on the remaining yolk sac in their bellies. After that they they rely on Cunningham, their mother hen, for food and water.
Cunningham has a fondness for chickens, of any age, and in her yard she has many chickens she collects eggs from. At this point none of her chickens have become meat, and she doesn’t intend to see them end up on a plate either.
The Metchosin Poultry Swap is the second Sunday of the month at the old Metchosin elementary school grounds, 4495 Happy Valley Rd. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..