By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Emily Eakins has many habits of a successful businesswoman.
She donates about 10 percent of her income to charity, budgets for off-season expenses, tracks her accounting in an Excel spreadsheet and occasionally takes out a business loan.
The El Molino High School freshman also smiles easily through braces with pink rubber bands, wears cowboy boots signed by her favorite country singer, Luke Bryan, and is 14 years old.
Emily began “E&M’s Egg-cellent Eggs” with her friend Molly Dungan and three chickens about four years ago. Now, her flock has expanded to about 20 hens whose multi-colored eggs she harvests and sells by the dozen to her neighbors. Her friend moved on to other activities, and Eakins is running the venture on her own.
“I like helping people,” she said. “It’s nice to make people happy.”
Eakins collects freshly laid eggs in a hollowed-out gourd that she decorated with beads and her chickens’ names — Swissy, Snowflake and others.
“She’s my little girl,” Eakins said of Snowflake.
Mostly years, Emily donates about $100 a year to charities, splitting the donations between Dogs for the Deaf in Oregon and Bob Burke’s Kids in Forestville. Eggs cost $4 a dozen. And aside from contributing a portion of that, Eakins lets customers know they can donate more to the charity if they wish.
“She’s incredibly poised and incredibly charming,” said Jamie Deneris, a neighbor, customer and a professor at College of Marin. “She is somebody that at a young age has taken responsibility for something. And I don’t see much of that anymore.”
The chickens spend their days romping around the steep hill of her family’s backyard. The activity has come with its share of lessons: A few years ago, her brood was having a problem with a bobcat.
“He was coming in and picking off the chickens one by one,” Eakins said.
So they built a large wooden cage to keep the chickens safe at night. Snowflake survived.
Another time, the chickens were eating through more money in feed than they were producing in eggs. That’s when Eakins learned about budgeting.
“I like seeing her earn her own money and value that,” said her mother, Debbie. “I think all of that will help her, with student loans and how easy it is to get a credit card.”
Eakins hopes to become a large-animal veterinarian and is already researching schools. She helps organize community service as a member of Forestville 4H, and in recent years her goats have won grand champion ribbons at the county fair.
Parting with the goats she raised wasn’t easy, especially the goats she named Trick and Chocolate.
“They would always come up and jump on my lap and try to get my attention,” Eakins said.
But parting with Cornish cross chickens she raised for meat was easier. They were cute at first, she said, but then all they did was sit, eat and poop.
Eakins hopes to finish college preparation courses before her senior year to make time for a job and volunteer work at an animal shelter. She recently helped spay and neuter cats at a shelter in Healdsburg and marveled at watching the cats open their eyes.
“I’ve loved animals my whole life, and I’ve been told I have a special thing with animals,” she said. “They respect me, I guess, and, I don’t know, I love them.”
You can reach Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.