Aww -- now you can enjoy fluffy baby Easter chicks without the post-holiday commitment of becoming a chicken farmer.
A Maryland farm is offering Easter chick rentals. For $25, Rocklands Farm in Montgomery County will give you a pair of baby chicks, plus food, a box for the chicks to live in and instructions on how to take care of the babies.
Two weeks later, bring the chicks back and the farm will give you a coupon for a dozen eggs from its farmers market.
Animal welfare groups recommend not bringing home live chicks for Easter, because so many of the animals die within weeks of the holiday. Not everyone is convinced that Rocklands Farm's chick-rental plan adequately addresses this concern -- as one recent Gazette letterwriter put it:
This farm should be ashamed of itself for putting chicks in danger for a quick money-making scheme. As someone who has been involved in animal rescue and adoption, I can say with absolute certainty that not everyone who rents these chicks will take proper care of them and they will not all make it back to the farm.
A spokesperson for Rocklands Farm tells the Huffington Post about 60 pairs of chicks have been rented out so far, and the farm has taken "as many precautions as we could to ensure the safety of the chicks" since the farm's owners "really believe this is a special opportunity for the youth to learn about the responsibility of raising baby chicks, understanding the value and preciousness of life, and having a greater appreciation for a portion of their food system."
In the weeks after Easter, Potomac Patch will be following up with one local family -- the Hills -- who are trying out the chick rental program:
The Hill family lives in Germantown, with a 3-year-old daughter, a 18-month-old daughter and a little boy on the way.
"We decided to participate in the program because we thought it would be a very fun and memorable experience for our kids," Kelly Hill said. "Our daughters love animals and we knew they would be thrilled to take care of pair of chicks for two weeks."
According to Hill, the experience has been positive for her girls who are learning how to handle the chicks gently, a sort of preparation for when their baby brother arrives in May.
Other local farms also offer short-term animal rentals: A Maryland farm offers goat rentals to help with organic lawn care needs. And for the more spiritually inclined, sheep, donkeys and camels are available for your Christmas Nativity scenes.