Life on the farm, quite famously, ain’t easy. But as city-bound folks toil endlessly with their eyeballs glued to screens, a throwback form of labor now presents surplus romantic appeal. That’s not lost on Lucie Amundsen, the co-owner of Wrenshall, Minnesota-based Locally Laid Egg Co.
“When I post on social media literal photos of me walking in the rain with egg baskets, people will post beneath it, completely unironically: ‘You are living the dream!’” reports the farmer/marketer/memoirist. “We found a way people can come and have that experience—or not! We’re not going to make people do chores.”
Should you desire, chores are part of the equation at Locally Laid’s brand-new “AirBnBAWK,” a vacation-rental experience on the 14-acre berry farm that includes optional activities like feeding chickens, cleaning their eggs via the vintage 1952 egg washer, and transporting that product to the famers market.
The freshly constructed lodging options are twofold: an elevated tiny house called the Perch (around $157 per night) and a bunkhouse called the Nest ($46 per night) that shares a glass wall with an honest-to-god chicken coop. “It’s like a hen aquarium,” says Amundsen, who assures us the chickens sleep quietly at night. Perch amenities include: a kitchenette, firepit, hammock, solar shower, outhouse, and (optional!) work clothes. The Willard Munger State Bike Trail, Jay Cooke State Park, and Duluth are all nearby.
Amundsen cooked up the idea after hearing about an Airbnb in Scotland that sits above a bookstore and allows guests to play book proprietor during their stays. At first, she intended to buy an Airstream trailer, but her husband—Locally Laid co-owner Jason—insisted he could construct better structures at a lower cost.
“Flash ahead, this thing is way more expensive than I thought it would be,” she says with a laugh, noting that the Perch ran around $40,000 while the Nest was completed for $3,000. “It just kinda happened. I have to say, it is pretty cool.”
About six groups of guests have visited so far, and Amundsen reports they’ve been delightful. She enjoyed watching a trio of St. Paul kids run around the farm; Jason treated a teen celebrating her 16th birthday to a special tractor ride. Some guests have participated in the elective farm work and had a blast, she says, while others have quietly enjoyed labor-free country stays on the grassy pastures. The friendly ol’ farm dog, Carmen, has enjoyed meeting all sorts of new people.
Because of how Locally Laid raises its chickens, the scene is tranquil and pastoral, unlike the nightmarish scenes that tend to be associated with industrial egg production.
“We do things differently—we’re pasture-raised where the birds are outside,” Amundsen says. “It’s a rare way to do things because it’s more expensive and actually takes land, where cage-free systems do not. Ugh, we could get into all that…”
(If you wanna get into all that, read our exclusive interview with Glue Girl, the folk-hero protestor who interrupted a Timberwolves playoff game to draw attention to Glen Taylor’s allegedly horrific treatment of egg-laying chickens.)
Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary in business, Locally Laid is riding out the inflationary troubles that’ve thrown egg costs into headlines. The price of feed is skyrocketing, Amundsen notes, as are the costs of cartons.
“It’s one foot in front of the other—or one weird chicken talon in front of the other,” the chicken farmer and, now, innkeeper says.