One of the Ballard Farmer’s Market’s longstanding vendors had a massive blow to their farm a few months ago: thieves ransacked Skagit River Ranch’s egg-producing chickens, stealing over 500 hens. They’ve taken a big financial hit as a result, so they’ve set up a crowdfunding campaign to help recoup their loss.
“How could we not have seen this?” Farmer George and Eiko Vojkovich write on their GoFundMe campaign. They say their free-range chickens were easy targets for the thieves, who came in the middle of the night and grabbed them, 50 to 100 at a time. “In all 20 years of raising chickens, this has never happened. We are used to losing some to eagles or coyotes, but this one, done by humans, was stealthy and lethal.”
It’s apparently happening more frequently; other farms have also been hit. They say another farmer lost 200 broilers (chickens raised for meat production), which he believes were killed quickly and sold at an “underground soup chicken market”. Apparently police have a suspect, but a lack of evidence means the person is still at large. “I doubt our egg thief is high on their list.”
Their bookkeeper estimated that the stolen chickens have resulted in a $35,000 – $45,000 revenue loss since May.
“This hit us in the busiest hay season, working from dawn to dark, we really didn’t have time to re-act, or even feel angry; we just felt defeated and heart broken,” Eiko writes on their campaign website. “The loss was big, and we seriously thought about quitting eggs all together. Then we thought about all of our customers who came faithfully to buy our eggs and stand in line to do so. Right. We can’t quit.”
So, they’re asking for help.
The farmers are hoping to raise $27,900 to rebuild their flocks. Buying 500 new chicks will cost $1,400; feed for six months (until the chicks are laying) is estimated at $18,000; a new security system will be $1,500, and labor costs for feeding the chicks will be $6,000.
“We have never done this, so we really don’t know what to expect, but we will be grateful with whatever the amount you can help us with,” Eiko writes.
After one month, they’ve raised $13,270 from over 100 donors. To donate or learn more about the fundraiser, click here.
Thanks for the tip, Nancy!
Photo from Skagit River Ranch’s GoFundMe page