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A ‘couple of good eggs’

By Staff | Apr 22, 2011

Elizabeth Zobel, of rural Battle Creek, shows off a California White chicken that she and her brother Ethan raise as layers. The two have been raising the chickens, which also include Rhode Island Reds, for almost three years. They sell the eggs to relatives and others in the area who enjoy cooking with eggs.

BATTLE CREEK – Elizabeth and Ethan Zobel, children of Shannon and Anne Zobel, are a couple of good kids. Both are personable and well-mannered. They are good students at Odebolt-Athur,Battle Creek-Ida Grove schools and are involved in plays and other activities outside of school.

Even in their youth, they are coming to terms with the value of earning a dollar. You might even say they are a couple of good eggs.

Perhaps that’s partially because eggs are their business – and they know their business.

Ethan, 11, and Elizabeth, 9, have been raising egg-laying chickens for the past three years. One of their jobs on the Zobel farm south of Battle Creek, has been to take care of the chickens and to collect the eggs.

But more goes into that than most people would think, and it’s clear that the kids are involved in what it take to produce good eggs.

Ethan Zobel reaches under a Rhode Island Red to gather her eggs. "I like the red ones least," he said, "because they peck me. I have to push their back end up to get the eggs.”

Pouring feed into the self-feeding trough, Ethan said, “You’ve got to have protein in their meal. If you don’t, they won’t be so good at laying and will give us fewer eggs.”

Their Rhode Island Reds and California Whites lay about an average of 12 eggs per day throughout the year.

In an aside, Ethan confides that he “likes the red ones the least because they always want to peck” when the eggs get collected.

Elizabeth Zobel takes her turn at dispensing crushed oyster shells to the layers.

“Oyster helps them to produce strong eggs shells,” she said. “If we don’t give them enough, the eggs they lay just fall apart and aren’t good for selling.”

Pouring chicken feed into a self-feeder is Ethan Zobel with an assist from sister Elizabeth. The feed is comprised of "16 to 18 percent protein ... so the chickens will lay good eggs and a lot of them."

“They are laying about 16 to 20 eggs a day now, but during the winter they only lay six to eight eggs a day,” explained Elizabeth.

The Zobel siblings sell over 250 dozen eggs each year to neighbors, friends, and their 4-H leader.

Their mother has a friend that cooks an egg recipe every Thursday night, using Zobels’ eggs.

Their parents emphasize the importance of saving and not wasting the profits from their hard work.

Elizabeth, reflective of her parents’ teachings, said “the money we earn is going toward college.”

Ethan has other ideas.

“I’d like to use some of the money to buy an Xbox 360.”

It seems clear, no matter how good an egg, you can’t totally take the kid out of the youngest of entrepreneur.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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