Hafen and Helen Rupp own the little white house with picket fence and large green yard at the end of Clover Lane in Cloverdale. The house once belonged to Hafen's grandparents. Hafen inherited the home, along with the Rupp chicken enterprise, when Grandpa Rupp ruptured his spleen and went to meet Jesus. Grandma Rupp soon followed. Hafen's parents weren't interested in the property, having acquired a large home and property on the Coast of Despair near Tamworth on Tide. Hafen's father suffers from stress induced asthma and believes the sea air soothes his condition.
Hafen and Helen are proud of their happy chicken organic egg business.
"They're happy chickens, and happy chickens lay happy eggs," Helen said as we walked through the small hen house on the back south corner of their property. The smell was disagreeable but I had to agree, the chickens seemed happy, or as happy as chickens could be. I noticed the rail line coming into Cloverdale ran just south of their property.
"What about the train?" I said. "Doesn't the rumbling and horn affect them?"
"No, they're use to it. Real troopers these hens. Nothing seems to faze them," Helen stopped talking and looked up to the sky to ponder an incoming thought.
" I tell a lie. Old man Smout's Great Dane can cause us a world of hurt when he gets loose. A real vicious animal. The hens and I don't like him at all."
Every day weather permitting, and four year old daughter Ainsley feels like a nice long wagon ride, Helen and Ainsley gather the day's egg collection, stamp them with the Rupp Lion mark, and venture to the shops on the High Street to sell their eggs.
"Moss Wonderland Bakery is our best customer," Helen said while reaching under a large brown hen to pull out a beautiful tan egg. "We also sell to the Piggly Wiggle and Red Owl. The Coop buys their eggs from the Chicken Warehouse on Highway One. I wouldn't eat one of their eggs for all the tea in China. Those chickens are not happy. Stressed is a better adjective. The Coop's only concern is price, forget quality."
Helen's words were filled with bitterness toward the Chicken Warehouse and their treatment of chickens. Helen has Clovershire's Agricultural Ministry on her cell phone's speed dial and calls them frequently with complaints about the Chicken Warehouse. The Ministry's secretary knows that if its a Monday and almost noon, there will be a call from Helen Rupp. Each one of Helen's phone calls are followed by an email. Each email has at least one of Helen's photos attached, taken of the Chicken Warehouse's operations with her Canon camera with telephoto lens.
If there are any eggs left after their deliveries to the shops, Helen and Ainsley will go door to door selling the left over eggs to maximise their profit. More profit means better feed and happier chickens - and isn't that what it's all about? And who can say no to a cute little girl wearing a green dinosaur costume standing on your doorstep with a wicker basket filled with beautiful organic eggs?
"And what about those that drive through Cloverdale on their way to the coast?" I asked as we walked back to the little white house with picket fence. Helen had tea and cakes ready. The cakes were made using happy eggs Helen was sure to point out. "Is there a way for them to enjoy the happy eggs of your farm?"
"Well, folks are welcome to stop by the house and buy directly from us at the door, or if they want to enjoy a freshly cooked happy egg, I'd recommend the Diner on Highway One. We sell to them on a regular basis. Our happy eggs make one fine omelet and the Diner serves breakfast 24 hours a day."
I sat down at the wooden table in the Rupp's kitchen. Helen and Ainsley sat opposite. Helen poured while I helped myself to the most delicious and moist devil's food cupcakes on God's good Earth.
Helen and Hafen with Betty. I came to realize the chicks have interchangeable names until they distinguish themselves either by temperament or egg production.
It was a pleasant afternoon spent learning the organic farm business. And if on occasion you see Helen, Ainsley and their red wagon on the High Street, please stop and purchase a dozen or so of their Happy Eggs. You'll be all the better for it.