About 500 chickens were stolen from Skagit River Ranch. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

500 chickens stolen from farm; customers rally to keep business afloat

We may not know which came first, but George Vojkovich and his wife, Eiko, say it was the chickens -- not the eggs -- that went first.

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“Thieves came in stealing chickens, maybe 50 to 100 at a time in the middle of the night,” Eiko Vojkovich explained.

Skagit River Ranch is a small, organic operation in Sedro-Woolley, and the couple was so busy haying they didn’t discover the crime until June.

By then, they were 500 chickens short, out nearly two-thirds of their flock.

“We were so heartbroken -- and we were going to do turkeys too -- it just broke our spirits,” Eiko Vojkovich said.

“It blew us away -- like Eiko said, it broke our spirit, we didn’t raise turkeys,” George Vojkovich continued. “We usually raise 300 turkeys a year and have to keep a couple because everybody wants them.”

The ranch bookkeeper estimates the loss at around $40,000 between egg sales and the cost to replace and raise new birds, so it very well could have broken more than just the Vojkoviches' spirits.

The Vojkovich’es have 300 new birds now, though.

“These guys will start laying (in) December,” Eiko Vojkovich said, showing us the new flock.

They are the beginning of a rebuild funded by the Vojkoviches' loyal customers, many of whom have supported the Sedro-Woolley ranch since it opened two decades ago.

“Our customers really encouraged us to keep going. They said, ‘Hey we love your eggs,’” Eiko Vojkovich said.

They encouraged the family to start a "stolen egg-chicken recovery fund" on GoFundMe. The 300 new chickens were bought with the money raised, and now that the Ballard farmers' market is spreading the word, more is pouring in.

The Vojkoviches are grateful. Maybe it really is the chickens that come first.

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