Ten-year-old Tristan Milliken has built quite a customer base with his business, Tristan’s Free Range Organic Eggs.
Tristan Milliken just wanted some chickens. He didn’t expect to create a popular business out of selling eggs from his home in Oakland.
The 10-year-old has built quite a following of customers in the last year with his chicken and duck eggs — all in the last year since ordering the poultry and picking up the live delivery from the post office.
Tristan, the son of James Christoffel and Crystal Lee Milliken, started selling the eggs last summer when they became inundated with the eggs. Each chicken — they’re up to 13 now — lays about an egg a day; the Peking ducks lay eggs every two days.
“At first it was like, ‘Cool,’ but then we were like, ‘We can’t eat all these eggs,’” Milliken said. “He started selling to family and friends at first.”
His chickens — Buff Orpingtons and Easter Eggers — lay eggs in shades of brown, blue and green and have unique names, such as Sriracha, Oreo, Golden, Mikey T. and Brain. The ducks are Marshmallow and Lightning.
Tristan is partial to Sassy and Classy “because they’re the easiest to catch and hold,” he said. “They’re the nicest because the others run from you.”
A two-story coop houses the ducks and chickens in the backyard, a structure built by Christoffel with some assistance from Tristan. There are quirky signs painted throughout the coop, such as “Fuzzy butt hut” and “Duck, duck, chick.” There is an area for ducks at the bottom of the coop, and the chickens hang out on the second level.
The fowl are free range, and they wander the back and front yards during the day, but at night they are locked up in the coop so they don’t fall prey to predators.
“The ducks don’t like going in,” Tristan said. “You have to walk the ducks in, but the chickens go in on their own. They can’t see at night.”
Tristan’s morning routine includes waking up at 6:40 a.m. and letting them out of the coop. They feast on mealworms and the random apple that he places on a pipe for the chickens.
“We feed once a day unless they finish their food, and then we’ll give them some more,” Tristan said.
Tristan has a few regular customers who buy his eggs for their flan and other baked goods. Milliken makes sure to provide eggs to the neighbors to make up for the loud chickens, she said.
The household includes more than just poultry, Tristan said. He also has a dog named Possum, a black cat with white feet named Socks and a ferret named Ollie that likes to jump around a lot, he said. He would like to own a mini donkey.
But, for now, he is happy with his brood of two-legged business partners and their arrangement of trading mealworms for eggs.