Most people can imagine what a small business owner looks like. They have either an advanced business degree or have been working long and hard to get to the point where they can open their own store or business.

ace hardware lincoln creek lumberThis doesn’t describe Samantha Worth. She is a junior at Black Hills High School who has been operating her own small business since she was five years old, when she first went out in her alligator car and sold eggs on the side of the road. Samantha has been selling fresh eggs ever since. However, selling eggs beside the road takes a lot of time, so Samantha shifted her business model to an honor system.

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A refrigerator sitting next to a garage on Delphi Road is the freshest place to find eggs. Photo courtesy: Alice Verree Tranum.

Now Samantha keeps the eggs in a refrigerator in the garage—$4 a dozen. She began with 30 chickens, and now she’s working with 300. I was shocked by this increase, but Samantha and her father, Andrew, assured me there isn’t much of a difference in the amount of care for that many chickens. It only increases the number of eggs to wash in the afternoon.

Every afternoon they wash the eggs indoors with cold water. No antibiotics or hormones are involved in the feeding or treating of the eggs. And because they live on a farm, Samantha and her dad can provide a lot of variety in their chickens’ feed, while also housing a diverse group of chickens. They use local feed from Black Lake Nursery and Feed, and give their chickens all the scraps from their produce and clippings from the lawn. This allows for healthy chickens and healthy eggs, ranging from white and brown to blue in color. “It’s organic,” Samantha told me, “which I know is meaningless these days, but this is as organic as it gets.” When the chickens are about two to three-years-old Samantha takes them to a livestock sale to be sold.

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Samantha poses with her treasured Firebird. Photo credit: Alice Verree Tranum.

Her small business has allowed her to buy four years’ worth of Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) credits. And because she and her family produce so much food, they regularly donate eggs and other food products from their farm to the local food bank.

Samantha isn’t just managing her small business. She is also co-captain of the Equestrian Team at her high school. She’s been horseback riding for about ten years. Having been in 4H for about nine years, she is currently the president and is responsible for a presentation on the genetics of equine color. She was also a vice president of DECA a few years ago and went to the state competition.

The reason Samantha raises chickens as producers is because they are small, manageable and a long-term investment. She prefers her chickens to the other animals, including geese, turkeys, ducks, and goats she has tried in the past. She describes all of these experiences as being, “a debacle.” The geese were the worst because of their protective nature against anyone who wasn’t Samantha’s mother, Cynthia. However, her family has kept the turkeys and they still wander around the property.

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“The Chicken House” is nestled next to the garden and between the house and stable. Photo credit: Alice Verree Tranum.

Samantha cites her mother, who had grown up on a farm and wanted to give that experience to Samantha, as being the start of her business. They moved out of the city to Delphi Road outside Olympia. Andrew describes their place as, “a small scale hobby farm.”

There’s a small apple orchard where they make their own cider in the fall. They sell pumpkins every year around Halloween time. The family cans and freezes a lot of their food and butchers their own livestock. There are also five horses, though one is for sale. He is a Palomino and isn’t fast enough for Samantha to ride.

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Of Samantha’s horses, this one is a favorite at 4H presentations because she’s both sweet and willing to give back rubs. Photo credit: Alice Verree Tranum.

The family also trades their eggs with other farmers. One of their regular customers gives them mushrooms in exchange for eggs, and another used to trade with dog treats. Most of their business comes from repeat customers because of how fresh and great tasting their eggs are.

Samantha said she would like to continue her egg business after college, but she’s caught between getting an MBA like her father and going into law like her mother. She’s also interested in going to the east side of the state, to get some distance from home.

The best time to get eggs is around 3:00 p.m., just after the eggs are washed. You’ll find their farm on Delphi Road; the family’s driveway is marked with a sign advertising their eggs.

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