Did the chicken come first, or was it the egg?
At Frillman Farms, the answer to this age-old question is clear. It was the chicken, of course.
Tim Frillman, who began raising chickens two summers ago, has opened his own business, selling fresh eggs laid by more than two dozen birds he keeps in his Prairie View backyard.
I’ve really kind of developed a passion for it,” he said. “I’ve always loved farming and hard work.”
Frillman, 25, grew up on the land, where he’s built a chicken coop and has started construction of a pole barn that will house his chickens, which will number 150 by spring. But the farming business is relatively new to him. His parents’ back acres are leased to Didier Farms, which grows corn there. While Frillman said he’s long watched tractors drive the fields, and credits the Didier family for some of his knowledge, until recently his experience was limited to cultivating his own vegetable garden.
A 2004 graduate of who earned a business management degree from Lakeland College in Wisconsin, Frillman previously worked at Menards and as a mechanic for John Deere. While the jobs provided a paycheck, he said he didn’t find them personally fulfilling.
“I think I’ve found something that I finally have a passion for,” he said of his farming initiative. “This whole local food movement is something extraordinary.”
“People who just get food from a grocery store don’t really know the benefit of local food,” he said.
Business got off to a slow start, but has steadily grown mainly by word of mouth, said Frillman, who noted that he has sold out of his supply of eggs, which sell for $5 per carton.
In addition to his repeat customers, first-time consumers are drawn to his home by the “Fresh Eggs” sign that he erected in front of the property at 16737 W. Aptakisic Road.
“There’s just so much more local support than I ever imagined,” he said.
Frillman, who intends to grow his full-time business, has ordered 125 Rhode Island Red chickens to join the Red Star and Black Star chickens that already produce eggs. By spring, he figures he’ll have 10 dozen fresh eggs each day.
He is already lining up regular customers who will commit to purchasing a dozen eggs each week of the year. He said he will assign each customer a pickup day to ensure they are receiving freshly laid eggs.
After collecting eggs each morning, Frillman washes them by hand. “I can tell the thickness (of the shell), if it’s going to crack, if it’s worth going into a carton,” he said.
There much more work that goes into raising chickens than one might think, he said. Frillman meticulously maintains his chicken coop and has covered the surrounding area, where the chickens enjoy free range, with wire to detract hawks and other predators. He takes pride in the quality of his chickens’ feed, which is supplemented by the natural food they find in insects and frogs.
“That’s all really essential in their diet,” he said, adding that the chickens’ food intake is reflected in the thickness of their egg shells, dark yellow yolks and flavor of the eggs, which “is just remarkable.”
He is beginning to construct a 24-foot-by-20-foot pole barn, which will house up to 175 chickens, and plans to fence in a 100-foot-by-100-foot parcel to provide the birds with more outdoor living space.
Frillman’s passion for local food doesn’t stop with eggs. He recently completed beekeeping classes at the Morton Arboretum and plans to market honey from his own hives by spring. He also plans to grow heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables.
“The end result is so much better,” he said. “The flavor is just phenomenal."
His chosen field, he acknowledged, is “a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it’s a better product.”
“If you want to be rich, don’t be a farmer,” he said. “But with anything, you put energy, time and money into it, and you get recognized by the community. I want to make a difference in the community.”
“I think I’m going to be very successful.”
Tim Frillman can be reached at 847-287-9950.