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Farm-fresh eggs turn into business for Cole

October 07, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - It could very well fit as a scene out of "The Andy Griffith Show."

In its down-home Mayberry style, the sheriff could be seen sharing the bounty from his little farm on the outskirts of town.

Except this story is real, and in this case, the man with the goods is Shepherdstown Police Chief Charles Cole.

What started as a small farm operation mainly to entertain his grandchildren has evolved into a steady egg business for Cole.

After tending to the business of fighting crime in Shepherdstown, Cole heads home to his farm near Hedgesville, W.Va., to take care of his estimated 300 to 400 chickens.

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He collects the brown eggs the Sexlink chickens produce and sells them to about 60 steady customers in the area.

Cole sells the eggs for $1 a dozen and delivers some of the orders as he goes about his police chores during the day.

Cole said if he has to take care of some police business in Charles Town, W.Va., he will take some of the orders along with him and deliver them to his customers in the Jefferson County prosecutor's office or the circuit clerk's office. He has customers in four police departments, and some dispatchers at the 911 center in Bardane, W.Va., also place orders, Cole said.

Cole brings some of the orders to his police station in town, where customers come in and pick them up.

"They're the best eggs in town," Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said.

Raising chickens is a way for Cole to return to the lifestyle he once enjoyed. He grew up as one of 11 children on his parents' farm not far from his home on Coys Ferry Road. Cole left farming when he was drafted into the military during the Vietnam War in 1969.

After his military duty, Cole joined the West Virginia State Police, working first in Mineral County, then in Jefferson and Berkeley counties before retiring from the force.

In 1994, about two years before he retired, Cole took up farming again on 25 acres. In addition to his chickens, Cole raises goats, hogs and ducks, which generate some food in addition to entertaining the grandchildren.

Cole began selling eggs to neighbors, and through word-of-mouth, his customers eventually stretched to Jefferson County.

Although Cole said he cannot tell a lot of difference between the taste of his eggs and those found in grocery stores, his customers say his eggs taste better.

"The big thing is the freshness of the egg. Generally, my eggs are not over three days old," Cole said.

It could be the lifestyle of a Cole farm chicken that makes the difference.

Cole said his chickens get regular exercise, and they often are treated to watercress and clover that grow on the farm.

If there truly is not a difference in taste, they are "psychologically better," Boober said.

You won't get any mincing of words from loyal Cole customer Vicki D'Angelo.

D'Angelo is convinced that Cole's eggs are superior to those sold in grocery stores.

"I guess I notice them most in scrambled eggs. They seem fluffier," said D'Angelo, who works as a clerk at the Ranson (W.Va.) Police Department.

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