#594 Shelby’s happy chickens lay gold for the family


Chicken photo by xandert, courtesy of morgueFile

When multiple sclerosis landed pharmacist Nancy Grebenc in a nursing home, the family’s finances hit the skids. With bills mounting, nine-year-old Shelby hatched a plan to ease the strain. She would sell farm eggs.

With a $1,000 loan from her grandmother, she purchased a flock of hens and set her plan in motion. She already had some experience with hens. She told Animal Welfare Approved, the organization that certifies her eggs, she was six when she started raising chickens. “Dad was trying to teach me to be an adult.”

When the family needed money, she decided to expand her operation with a flock she could raise on pasture. She knew there was a market for eggs from chickens who spend their days scratching for bugs instead of crowded into cages. With the start-up loan from her grandmother, the Colorado girl increased her flock to 135 laying hens, producing 28-56 dozen eggs a week.

She named her operation Shelby’s Happy Chapped Chicken Butt because, as she told the Denver Post, some rangy chickens with chapped butts were dropped off for her. After nursing them back to health, the compassionate young farmer figured she had the right name for her business.

I first learned about Shelby when Andrew Gunther, Program Director of Animal Welfare Approved wrote about her for Huffington Post. That was January 25, 2012, and I tucked the article into Evernote. Recently, someone sent me an update from CBS’s On the Road. (If it was you, let me know so I can give you credit and gratitude.)

The update shows what an extraordinary young entrepreneur Shelby is. Her company, run by the youngest farmer to receive the stringent, animal-welfare certification, now brings in about $15,000 a year. When Steve Hartman asked her father, John Michael, where the family would have been without her help, he said:

I think we’d have been homeless….She kept the wolf away from the door.

Nancy Grebenc is doing better now. So are the family’s finances. Shelby’s money is going into a fund for her future education, but she is prepared to contribute to the family should the need arise.

Shelby Grebenc is an inspiring young woman. She gives me hope.


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