Dressing chooks in bikinis made me rich!
Out of nowhere, I had the best idea! ‘I want to sell eggs,’ I told my mum, Belinda.
‘Mate, we don’t even have chickens!’ she said.
But that was easily fixed. Living on a 200-acre cattle farm in Mount Larcom, Qld, with Mum and my dad, Laurie, we had plenty of room for some chooks.
Luckily, a lady living down the road had some hens for sale. So, I bought three
chooks and a rooster out of my pocket money, and Dad knocked up some chicken coops.
I was only eight, but I knew a good investment when I saw one!
Then, I hatched an even more exciting plan.
If I had an incubator I could breed chicks and sell them...
Picking one up for cheap, my business,
Max’s Chickens, was born. I needed a slogan too, so I decided on EggSellent to the MAX!
The incubator took over the laundry and, like a parent, I was always worrying about my eggs.
‘Turn the dryer off!’
I’d tell Mum, when I heard it spinning.
The humidity would be bad for the babies!
Two months later, business was booming and I sold 60 chicks for $12 each at the local poultry show.
Soon, I was hatching 30 chicks and selling 10 fully grown chooks each week.
I had to get a bigger incubator with enough room to keep 120 eggs warm
And some people were even driving up to eight hours to get their hands on one of my beauties!
See, I didn’t just have run-of-the-mill birds. I bred Polish chooks that have amazing afro-style hair, pretty speckled Wyandottes, and fluffy white Silkies.
Then, last October, when I was 10, Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She helped me out running my Facebook page but now, I wanted to look after her.
So, in between school and caring for my chooks, I did as many chores as I could around the house.
‘Here’s a cuppa, Mum,’
‘Another one?’ she’d smile. I did make her lots!
Mum had a double mastectomy and had to have chemo. Then, her beautiful blonde curly hair started to fall out in clumps.
As Dad shaved the rest off for her, we all had a giggle at Mum’s new ’do. I still thought she looked beautiful.
This winter, her hair had just started to grow back, but she’d often keep her head warm with a beanie.
‘We should make beanies for the chooks!’ I said. ‘We could call them cheanies!’
Mum burst out laughing, but she had my back.
She didn’t know how to knit, so I called my grandma Rosemary.
‘Are you having a joke?’ she asked.
‘Nope!’ I laughed.
She was very happy to help, but needed to measure up a chook to make a pattern.
Out of my 100 chickens, I have three extra special ones, Favourite Girl, Roger and Princess.
I chose Princess to be my model, and she was perfectly behaved as Grandma got out her tape measure.
The cheanie was awesome, so Mum took a picture of it and posted it to my Facebook page as a joke.
Waking up the next morning, we had heaps of orders for more, and they just kept coming in!
So, I recruited my great- aunt Lorraine and Dad’s mum – my nanna Ann – who I paid in kisses and cuddles!
As soon as they’d knit a cheanie, a customer would snap it up for $5. In a week, the Facebook post had been viewed 500,000 times and I’d sold hundreds!
One person even wanted a custom-made cheanie for their cockatoo that’d plucked out all its feathers.
Seizing the moment, I had Nanna and Aunty Lorraine start knitting chicken jumpers – or chumpers – too, which I sold for $15 a pop.
Turns out, people loved dressing up their chickens!
As the weather began to heat up, it was time for summer fashion.
‘I think you’ve used up all your kisses and cuddles with Nanna,’ Mum said. ‘You’re going to have to think of something you can do.’
So, I asked Mum for a sewing machine and started taking lessons.
‘Is it okay if I use this?’ I asked, grabbing a tea towel.
Cutting two little triangles out of it, I used safety pins to put my practice-run together.
‘I’m thinking about making this,’ I told Mum, excitedly. ‘What is it?’ she asked.
‘It’s a bikini for a chicken – a chickini!’ I laughed.
Now, I’m a bit of a whiz on the sewing machine and I’ve sold heaps for $15.
Melbourne Cup this year I also made fancy feathered hats for the girls.
‘Chickinators!’ I said proudly to Mum.
My mum’s doing way better now, but I wanted to help other families.
‘I know how hard it can be,’ I told my parents.
So, I’ve decided to donate $1 from every chook clothing sale to Breast Cancer Australia.
Now I’m saving to buy a house down the road from Mum and Dad. And while I’m making pretty good pocket money, I’m not revealing how much – a businessman never tells his secrets!
I might be a spring chicken, but I’m planning to fly all the way to the top!
Princess wearing the ‘chickini’ My mum Belinda, me and my dad Laurie‘We should make beanies for the chooks’
My sewing teacherShirley and me
A chickenator for the Melbourne Cup Max is one cool kidpreneur Max Cosgrove, 11, Mount Larcom, QldPeople loved dressing up their chickensMe with Princess, who’s modellinga chickini and bonnet ensemble
Princess in a cheanie and chumper