They've had to implement social distancing procedures for customer pickup at Happy Wife Acres, their 10.67-acre farm at 8600 Haddix Road in Mad River Twp., Clark County.
But the homesteading educators with a healthy following on Facebook and YouTube.com say their days are still ruled by their 325 virtually fightless birds.
What they do for the chickens doesn’t even take into consideration the time they spend with the ducks, guineas, rabbits, bees and crops.
The couple — self-taught farmers who started with nine chickens in 2016 — get by just fine.
“We don’t make our own toilet paper and we don’t have cows so we don’t have our own beef or milk,” John Hancock said. “But there’s a good portion of every meal that is from what we’ve grown.”
The Hancocks say they are fortunate to be able to support themselves and sell enough eggs to cover the cost of their chicken addiction (they really, really like chickens).
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But they know others are not as fortunate, which is why they are collecting donations to buy eggs for the Fairborn FISH Food Pantry, a charity that provides food and personal care items to people, mainly in Greene County.
The volunteer-driven organization at 1149 N. Broad St. in Fairborn has seen an explosion of need since the pandemic began, said Jane Doorley, a retired Wright State University assistant nursing professor who manages Fairborn FISH with her husband Bill, a retired first-grade teacher.
The pantry receives food donations from Kroger, the Food Bank and a list of restaurants that includes City Barbeque, but Doorley said the need is great.
“We are doing everything we can to get food for our neighbors in need,” she said. “We had averaged 1,400 to 1,500 people in a month. Now it’s going to be between 2,400 and 3,000. It is a huge increase for us.”
The eggs that Happy Wife Acres provided have been a great source of fresh produce.
“When we give them (those in need) eggs, they are thrilled. They are pros at making food stretch,” she said.
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Happy Wife is accepting donations of at least $2 through Google Pay to 937-361-5798. Donations, which are used to buy eggs from other local farmers, also can be dropped off at the farm.
John Hancock dropped off a case of eggs to the pantry earlier this week. The 58-year-old retired Air Force major and defense contractor said that the case contained 180 eggs (15 dozen egg containers) purchased with donations from the public.
The pantry’s volunteers would have been grateful for just one dozen, he said.
“Every day they are trying to find more food for the pantry,” he said. “It is just so wonderful to see a charitable organization be run so well, so efficiently.”
Hancock said the local farming community has been receptive to the push.
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“It allows our farmers to help out in this difficult time,” he said. “One hundred percent of what anyone donates goes to eggs.”
Hancock said the farm is an Ohio-certified egg producer and thusly can sell eggs and provide them to the pantry.
Before the coronavirus, Hancock said he and his wife, a 50-year-old retiree originally from Xenia who has done everything from photography to being a bar bouncer, donated excess eggs to a program at Medway Church in New Carlisle.
In return, they sometimes get moldy bread and other unusable food to feed the chickens.
“We are sort of chicken philanthropists,” Hancock said, noting that he and his wife strive to educate others about farming and animals. “There is no money to be made in chicken farming.”
Because the church is not operating in person due to the coronavirus, the couple, who even have a rent-a-chick program, began looking for other places to give their excess eggs.
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“We are just so impressed (with Fairborn FISH). It is such a wonderful operation there. We have a pretty large community through our Facebook page. We thought, how can we put those things together and be able to donate to the pantry,” John Hancock said. “It melted our hearts to see how much they are doing.”
Jane Doorley was equally impressed with the Hancocks and their farm, which sells eggs to individuals as well as supplies them to The Neighborhood Nest in Fairborn and Stoney's Munchie Bar in Dayton.
And she says their farm is fun.
“All of a sudden three hundred chickens come running toward you,” she said. “I think it is a beautiful thing.”
HOW TO HELP
Happy Wife Arces is accepting donations via Google Pay to 937-361-5798. Call the number for additional information.
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