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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: The Painter sisters are in the poultry business

  • Sisters Katie Painter, 11, and Abby Painter, 8, may be young, but they are already thriving businesswomen with about 22 “employees.”

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  • Sisters Katie Painter, 11, and Abby Painter, 8, may be young, but they are already thriving businesswomen with about 22 “employees.”
    Their expenses are low, because they’re only paying their workers chicken feed. That’s appropriate, though, because the workers are chickens and 21 of them are laying hens.
    Included breeds such as Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, White Rock, Silver-laced Wyandotte and Buff Orpington.
    “We’ve had them almost a year now,” Katie said. “We got them in February. They were really small so we took them to the clinic and kept them warm. We turned down the heat five degrees every week until we could bring them home.”
    They have a large backyard at the Frontenac home they share with their parents, Drs. Micky and Mary Sue Painter, veterinarians who own and operate the Town and Country Animal Hospital.
    Their father, Micky Painter, DVM, built a fine hen house for them and fenced a nice section of yard for them to peck around in.
    When they’re not pecking and eating, the hens lay eggs.
    “They lay eggs once a day, in the afternoon or evening,” Abby said.
    “On a good day we get 13 to  17 eggs,” Katie said. “Some of the clients at the clinic buy the eggs, and some family members and people at church.”
    “Right before Christmas a woman call the clinic and asked if we had any eggs left,” Painter said. “She was making homemade noodles and didn’t want to use storebought eggs.”
    “Homegrown eggs are quite a bit healthier than storebought eggs,” Katie said. “I think they have more Omega-6 and Omega 3 oils, which are good, and less cholesterol and fat.”
    At any rate, Painter noted, customers are getting eggs laid by contented hens who live in clean, comfortable surroundings.
    “They usually stay outside most of the day,” Abby said.
    In addition to their chicken feed, they also get little treats.
    “They love watermelon rind or potatoes,” Katie said. “They’re not too picky.”
    “They love to crunch potato chips and corn chips,” their father added.
    At night they flock back  into the hen house on their own.
    “We have little doors with hooks so coyotes and raccoons can’t get in,” Katie said.
    The hens also have a protector in Jesse, the lone rooster in the fowl family. Painter said that he was dubious about having a rooster around, but was won over Jesse, who is not only a handsome guy with shiny black feathers but also has a good personality.
    “He’s not mean or anything,” Katie said.
    In fact, Painter said, he and his daughters have learned by observing the chickens that they all have their own personalities.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have one little leghorn who’s the only one light enough to fly,” Katie said. “She doesn’t like to use the nest boxes and at night she keeps up at the top of the chicken house.”
    She and her sister, members of Success Express 4-H Club, also show fancy fowl at the Crawford County Fair and are getting ready to purchase more for the 2012 fair.
    “If you get them in February, they’ll be just about right to take to the fair in August,” Painter said.
    The sisters enjoy other 4-H projects as well.
    “I like doing arts and crafts, and I was a grand champion in cooking,” Katie said.
    “I got judge’s choice for my chicken nuggets,” Abby said.
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