/Minden Mercantile’s chicken day goes egg-cellently

Minden Mercantile’s chicken day goes egg-cellently

by Thomas Smith

Minden Mercantile’s first chicken day goes egg-cellently

By Thomas Smith

The Minden Mercantile & Feed Company had their first chick pick-up day of 2024 on April 3, 2024. An exciting day of new homesteaders and seasoned farmers. Despite the pouring rain and cold wind, around 1,200 chickens were picked up including 900 day-old chicks and around 220 ready-to-lay hens. The chickens come from Frey’s Hatchery, a family-owned farm in St. Jacobs Ontario.

Marc and Cyndi Wilkens purchased the Minden Mercantile & Feed Co. Inc. three and a half years ago. Marc Wilkens and Andrew Macgillvray were responsible for forming the Haliburton Homesteaders group. A group of like minded individuals interested in living off the land. The group meets in Kinmount at the Kinmount Baptist Church.

“The business has grown 40 per cent since we bought it,” says Wilkens.

The Wilkens have expanded their business through offerings like electric fencing supplies and hay.

“We try to make this store a one-stop shop,” says Wilkens.

Wilkens says the Mercantile has customers from all over including Bracebridge, Lindsay, Gravenhurst, and Coboconk.

“We’re part of the community,” says Wilkens. “We like the people.”

Wilkens says that he was happy that there were a lot of new faces picking up chickens.

“I’m adding to my flock,” says Micheon Hutchings, local homesteader. “I’m obsessed with animals. I have so many, from dairy cows to ducks.” Hutchings picked up 20 ready-to-lay chickens including Black Sex-Link and Columbian Rock varieties.

“It’s the self sufficiency, having a dependable system in place, especially in today’s world,” says Hutchings.

Hutching has been a customer of the Minden Mercantile for as long as they can remember. Hutchings has no plans on naming any of the adorable chicks purchased.

“We don’t name any of them for the risk of death, but we name our cows,” says Hutchings with a laugh.

Hutchings says some of the biggest issues plaguing the homestead include bears, deep mud on trails, and a lack of sunlight from the forest surrounding the property.

“Bears will come and eat all my feed,” says Hutchings. “Chickens will jump on him pecking, but he doesn’t care. He just wanted to eat the feed and the dirt. Bears are super lazy, they’d never try to take a cow.”

Anna Schelling, Lindsay resident, has been a customer of the Minden Mercantile ever since childhood.

“Day olds are the nicest chickens,” says Schelling. “You can do anything you want with them, it’s fantastic.”

Schelling says the best part of homesteading is “knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown. If you take care of them, they provide you with good things.”

Schelling says that the biggest struggle the homestead faces is access to over-the-counter medications for chickens, bird flu epidemics, and raccoons.