There’s a young entrepreneur near Cherry Grove who has really got things cracking. At just seven years of age, he’s certainly no hard-boiled businessman, but Carter Keim is the CEO (Chief Egg Officer) of the family’s new egg-venture, which he named “Chester’s Butt Nuggets.” For a seven-year-old, Carter knows a lot about chickens and their care. Recently, he explained the feeding and nesting needs of the birds, and gave a tour of the coop.
“We have a swing for them, and we have roosting bars,” Carter shared, “and we have dust for them to roll around in.” He even proudly showed off a xylophone toy that the chickens “play” as they peck mealworms off it at snack time. He also explained that the mealworms help chickens develop harder shelled eggs, and he stated that some chickens lay white eggs, while others lay colored eggs, but that the color doesn’t indicate any difference in taste or nutrition.
Carter’s mother, Tonya Keim, explained that, as a preschool teacher, for the past five years she has used chicken eggs as a fun and educational activity for her students, who enjoy watching for the tiny chicks to emerge. Tonya said this spring, when school ended, she and her husband Jeremy decided to bring one of the young chicks home to keep. Although they believed it to be a hen, it turned out to be a rooster, and Carter named him “Chester.” Specifically, Chester is a New Hampshire Bantam Cockerel. Later, they decided to add to their brood, and they now have eight hens and three roosters, and that’s how Carter’s business plan was hatched.
Any businessperson can tell you that a business needs a catchy name, because if you don’t catch peoples’ attention, you’ll never succeed. With a name like “Chester’s Butt Nuggets,” people are definitely noticing. Tonya said that they decided to make a batch of t-shirts for family and friends, to help promote the business. She said they expected to make about 20 shirts, but as the public started seeing the shirts, there was a rush of requests for more, so they scrambled to print more, and have gone through over 100 shirts.
Carter has posted many videos on Facebook and YouTube to showcase the business (search for “Chester’s Butt Nuggets”), and the family says this is where most of their customers hear about them. Recently, Carter also got to strut his stuff in the Cherry Grove parade. Since the operation is small, they currently have a short “waiting list” for eggs, and they fill the orders as quickly as the hens cooperate. Tonya said one big advantage to this is that customers are truly getting farm-fresh eggs, sometimes within an hour or two of when the eggs are laid. When asked if the plan to expand their flock and business, Tonya said that will depend on limitations of space, and parental discretion. In the meantime, they welcome any interested customers to contact them about eggs (and/or t-shirts) via Facebook.
Chester and his fellow inmates have occasionally gotten loose and attempted to become free-range chickens. But coyotes, hawks or other animals might easily poach one of the chickens, so the boys are well-practiced in the art of catching the chickens and returning them to their enclosure. The pens are well-stocked with places for the birds to roost and lay eggs. Each of the birds also has its name posted on the pen. Tonya said that creates a challenge regarding what to do with the hens after their egg-laying years are done, because nobody wants to ask what’s for supper and be told, “Dolly and Reba.”
Carter and his brothers all pitch in on the venture, and mom (Tonya) is assigned the duty of cleaning the coop, which she said needs to be done up to twice daily. The boys are very skilled in handling the chickens, and proud to show the routine. When asked what he plans to do with his profits, Carter said he’ll probably save some of his nest egg for college. But he also said he might use some of the money when the family flies the coop for a planned vacation to go see Paul Bunyan.
Carter offered this reporter a sample of “Butt Nuggets,” and they were very tasty. Tonya shared her opinion that, “Everybody should have chickens, they’re kind of fun!” So far, the Keim family is learning and having lots of egg-citement with their new business venture, which seems to be turning sunny side up!