The Wisdom of Young Farmers: Khaiti Khaleck

When she was 24, Khaiti Kahleck bought her "farm," a 1.8-acre lot in a suburban Wisconsin community outside of the Twin Cities. Six years have passed, and Kahleck has turned from vegan to loving goat milker, cheesemaker, and duck-herder. She currently has a flock of 160 ducks at Living the Dream Farm, and has focused her efforts around selling duck eggs through her CSA (subscribers can also add greens, fresh goat-milk feta, or goat milk soap to the share). The farm is a one-woman operation, and she's hoping to turn a profit this year so that she can become a full-time farmer. Here's what she has to say:

Everybody thinks I'm just crazy, but I have infinite energy. I'd like to say it's from the duck eggs and yogurt I make and eat.

I still work four days a week, at a co-op. I did get my mortgage based on a city job. I guess I'm kind of ashamed that I'm scared to stop having a job because I've had it for 10 years.

When I come home I just do my favorite job, being a farmer. I don't watch TV. What I do for fun is hang out with the animals, fix things on the farm. My favorite time of the year is the total chaos and mayhem in the spring.

I had to give myself some time to figure out what my niche was. When I introduced my duck eggs to the Twin Cities Market, I had a really good response and I realized no one else was offering this product. That's how I decided what my niche was, so I planned my entire production this year based on that.

It's kind of ironic that everyone lives on one-acre lots and no one is ever outside. I don't even think anyone knows what I am doing because they are in their houses all day unless they are mowing the lawn.

I'm proud to say I did earn, like, a dollar above my expenses last year. This year, I will be making a small profit. For me this year is the test to see if I can do that. And at that point I can free myself from my day job.

If you're living your dream life, people love that because they want to do that. And they want to help support you doing that.

The older established farms are so proud, and kind of flabbergasted with the amount of energy coming from this generation. I've never sensed selfish competitive greed. I could call any number of these farms that are well established and they'd help me however they could.

I told [my employer] that my calling was raising these incredible products and I didn't want to be there forever. They've been really flexible with scheduling, but until I actually said it, it was a little intense.

Start small and figure out what you want to be smiling about and explaining to people.

The Wisdom of Young Farmers is an ongoing series where we talk with the new generation of farmers in America about raising food and figuring out how to make farming a viable profession in 2010.

Images courtesy of ltdfarm.com

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