Call it the Case of the Purloined Peeps.
Keith P. Kopley, an Ashburnham farmer, said today that someone stole 200 baby chickens from their pen in his garage last week, choosing to take the animals, and not the power tools or the $1,000 generator standing nearby.
“It was just very strange,’’ Kopley said. “There were power tools and the generators right next to the pen — and they stole the chicks.’’
The thief, or thieves, struck Thursday morning shortly after he had posted photos of the chicks on the farm’s Facebook account, where he also noted that the chicks would be harvested later this year, the first crop of grass-fed chickens from his 50-acre farm this year.
Kopley, who has been running Kalon Farm since 2009, said the Facebook posting was the first time that he had announced both the arrival of the chicks, and the estimated times they would be available for sale.
The Facebook posting, he suspects, may have prompted a robbery by someone with a political agenda.
“There are some organizations, there are some people out there who want to be part of that sort of movement where they think it’s cruel to kill animals for food,’’ he said. “It has the feeling of some sort of activists or something.’’
Kopley said that if the robber did not prepare a new home for the chicks before they acted, they will quickly be overwhelmed by the demands of the chickens, which are bred to grow large fast. Because of that, he said, the stolen chickens have a life span of about 20 weeks.
“They are not going to live their natural lives out on some rescue farm,’’ he said. “They are going to end up dying.’’
Kopley said he is still hoping that he somehow recovers the chicks, but if he doesn’t, he will order a new batch sometime next week so he can restart his chicken farming operation.
“We do it the right way. We raise them in pastures, not in cages,” Kopley said. “This is going to set us back pretty good.’’
Kopley said that on the day the chicks were stolen, he left the door to the garage unlocked as he always does, and that he was away from the farm for no more than two hours.
Now, he said, he is considering installing surveillance cameras to prevent future thefts, but also to be able to keep a remote eye on the chickens, as well as the cows, pigs, and sheep he also raises for market.John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.