Building a nest egg early

John Pulliam/GateHouse News Service
John DeSutter, an 11-year-old entrepeneur from rural Woodhull, shows off his prize-winning show rooster in the barn of his family's farm. The young chicken farmer sells the eggs his chickens lay.

If most 11-year-olds think of chickens at all, it’s probably when asked if they want “extra crispy or original recipe.”

That’s not the case with John DeSutter of rural Woodhull, however. The young, entrepreneur son of Melanie and Mike DeSutter has a successful business selling chicken eggs.

As Melanie and Mike, their 8-year-old daughter Madeline, John, and two visitors bundled up for the short walk from the house to the barn, Melanie explained that raising chickens is not a passing fancy for their son.

“He’s been begging for chickens since he was a little boy,” she said.

After entering the modern barn, John opened a door to the outside, then another door to the chicken coop. He has about 20 chickens, “layers,” now laying eggs. More soon will be old enough to add to the 15 to 20 dozen eggs his hybrid white leghorns and Rhode Island reds produce each week.

A member of the Walnut Grove Progressors 4-H Club, John DeSutter been raising chickens for three years. He obtained a license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to sell eggs.

John entered the coop and collected about two dozen eggs; some brown, some white.

He filled two feeders in the midst of cackling hens and one rooster.

Some chickens scurried out of the coop to eat what was left of a by-then frozen pumpkin from the family’s garden. John explained that he feeds his birds pumpkins and corn, as well as marigolds he grows specifically for the chickens to eat.

“It makes the yolks darker, more yellowish,” he said.

The items from the DeSutter garden also produce a richer-tasting egg, said Phil Dickinson, owner of the Landmark & Creperie, 62 S. Seminary St., Galesburg. John DeSutter is the youngest of four farmer suppliers with which the restaurant does business.

Raising chickens means feeding them before and after school, as well as washing the eggs. Asked if he likes working with the chickens, John said, “Yes,” but his mom was quick to add, “except when he has to clean up the chicken pen.”

Perhaps John’s success should not be surprising. His father said when John was in preschool, a teacher asked his son what he wanted to do when he grew up. Seeing John was confused by the question, the teacher offered examples, such as policeman, firefighter, etc.

“He said ‘I’m already a farmer, all I have to do is get big,’ ” Mike laughed.

For more of this story, see the March 19 Galva News.