(please note things have changed since I wrote this, I now farm on my own.)
My name is Khaiti, and I’m a farmer in Clayton, Wisconsin with my husband Andrew. Our farm is called Living the Dream.
We bought this 39 acre parcel together in 201o. Here we raise pastured ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens and pigs, and (try to) manage around 2 acres of gardens for our CSA share program. Our land is rolling and very diverse, full of natural habitats, as well as an organic hay field, oak forests here and there around the perimeter, and many wild apple trees that were planted by cows pasturing here 30 years ago.
We’ve been working with and observing this land for over 3 years now, so this spring we are finally prepared and ready to begin taking some serious permaculture action. First and most important was the land mapping and whole farm design planning, which Andrew is very skilled at. Once spring comes, the land forming of berms and swales can begin, they will follow the keylines and contours of our parcel, with the goal of strategically capturing and directing water in order to hold it here in our soil. Around the berms, we will begin installation of the food forests we both have dreamed about. This process will take many years and will continue to evolve. We’re focusing on getting the longest-to-bear trees and shrubs in first, then we can refine and add in more and more diversity, creating true food forests, as our farm schedule allows. The important thing is to just get going. Hazelnuts, for instance, take 5-6 years before you’ll be lucky enough to have any nut crop. Perennial food crops for both animals and humans are going to be very important in the future, as resources dwindle. We want to be as resilient as possible on our farm in our 10-year-out plan and beyond.
I started LTD Farm in 2008 in Osceola, Wisconsin, on a 1.8 acre plot with a tiny 1860’s house that was surrounded by suburban sprawl.The neighborhood surrounding my little place was a rather depressing bedroom community where large, cheaply made houses sat in a farm field that had been parceled into 1 acre lots. The people there rarely came outside, except to mow their lawns on riding lawn tractors. I enjoyed the contrast of their places and mine, as I filled every nook and cranny of my 1.8 with animals and gardens, growing my burgeoning farmstead. I was milking goats and making soap, raising some vegetables and greens, as well as pasturing ducks for eggs and marketing them all together as a unique CSA share. There was no way I could achieve my dream of becoming a fully self-employed farmer on that small of a parcel, however. I despaired over this fact, but went ahead anyways and made the best of my situation.
My not-yet husband and I were just friends in the summer of 2009, when he helped me set up a website for my little farm (www.ltdfarm.com). I invited him out to my place for dinner to celebrate the successful launch, and as we talked the night away, I started to realize that we had a hole heck of a lot in common, and that he was really a cutie! We both wanted to have a life full of hard work, meaning, satisfaction. He wanted to have a farm, I wanted to have a farm. We also talked that night about the fragility of life, as my mother had recently passed away at the age of 50 from breast cancer. We shared an understanding that none of us ever know when our time might be over on this earth…all the more reason to seize the day, follow our dreams, and have no regrets. A crush was born, and I pursued Andrew to become my partner, as well as my farmer partner. A girl knows what she wants.
We found our farm 3 months later. What followed was a whirlwind of a love bubble, a simply beautiful spring full dreams coming true. My farm business was growing and diversifying like mad, while I was still working fulltime at a natural food co-op, and Andrew was beginning a stone working business. After we got all the legal things set up and owned the new farm, we were balancing everything in our lives while getting the new farm set up so that we could move my existing farm there before winter. My farm was about to become OUR farm! We moved hundreds of ducks over in a horse trailer, then 25 huge turkeys, then our 2 pigs, while the 10 goats came to the new farm in the back of the Subaru.
What follows on this blog will be my stories, stories about us and our farm, about learning to be real farmers, learning to specialize, learning to improve, learning to accept, learning to scale up, learning to do whatever it takes to make this farm work. I’m typing this from the basement of our little house, and Andrew just brought me down a mouthwatering breakfast plate, with his homemade whole wheat bread, scrambled duck eggs and ridiculously aromatic and juicy breakfast sausage patties made from our pigs. Living the Dream indeed!