Vendors and shoppers enjoy big chicken party

June 16, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Enrique Martinez and his new Brahma rooster head home to Carroll Co. Md. Saturday after browsing a poultry swap and farmer's market near Sharpsburg.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

A big chicken party.

That’s what Erin Moshier of Green Hill Farm called the Maryland Poultry Swap & Farmers Market on Saturday at her family’s farm on Mondell Road in Sharpsburg.

A broad, macho-looking Wishard Bronze turkey named Harry roamed the spacious farm, gobbling loudly and agreeably whenever attendees laughed.

Chickens of all stripes ogled shoppers from coops under tarps, then turned away seemingly unimpressed.

Shoppers and vendors, on the other hand, were inspired with the array of birds, from Bantam Cochins and peafowl to a White Peking duck on a leash rocking a hot pink diaper.

Anne Barrat of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., and her children, Robbie, 13, and Bea, 11, went to the swap last year in hopes of finding a nice rooster to replace Roosty Boosty, the mean one they already had.

“We saw a cage full of about 20 roosters. They looked sort of weird and ugly, but we asked for one anyway,” Robbie said. “They took a fishing net and scooped him out.”

Anne Barrat said the Chinese Silkie, whom they named Gonzo, is “the nicest rooster in the world.”

“It was blind luck,” she said. “He protects the hens. He is very homely, but he is the best rooster.”

Vendors at the swap seem to have healthy, well-cared for chickens, Barrat said. This year, the family shopped for some white ones to add to their clutch.

Moshier, who hosted the event, said unlike poultry exhibits that exclusively show birds, the swap and farmers market is open to backyard hobbyists.

“Anything homemade, recycled or farm-related is welcome,” she said. “It’s like a flea market for the backyard farm.”

Moshier said her first event last summer received an enthusiastic response. She followed up with an event in the fall and another Saturday. Attendance nearly doubled at each, she said, with about 1,200 people at Saturday’s swap.

In addition to local vendors, others from Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio and Kentucky participated. Some camped at the farm Friday night.

“Many I know, many I don’t know,” Moshier said. “I’ve never seen them before, but we talk about birds and set up booths, and the rest of the vendors start to roll in around 4 a.m.”

Kathleen Ladue of Taneytown, Md., exhibited Miniature Silky Fainting Goats.

“They have a condition called myotonia,” Ladue said. “When startled or excited, their muscles contract and they can’t move. Sometimes, they fall over.”

Ladue said the goats, which weigh only 40 to 50 pounds, make great pets.

Glenda Warner of Orrtanna, Pa., browsed the swap with her children, Amber, 15, Brad, 13, and Amanda, 6. Amanda bought a blue-eyed white mini-lop bunny and Brad got a couple of mixed-breed chickens.

Travis Cook, 27, of Martinsburg, W.Va., picked up two Barred Rock chickens and four Americanas, which he favors for the blue eggs they lay. He got a few day-old chickens last year and now has a brood of 15.

Merrill Pearson, a swap shopper from Boonsboro, called this phenomenon “chicken math.”

“You start off thinking you are going to get four birds. You wind up with 50 or 150. The potting shed goes to the birds, then the garden. A clean pond doesn’t seem so important anymore. You hand it over to ducks,” Pearson said. “That’s chicken math.”

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