The Kelley Homesteaders are Stephanie, her husband Heath, and their four young children. Growing up on a dairy farm, connectedness to the land and the responsibility of animals was something Stephanie was taught to value. Last summer, Stephanie’s husband, Heath, accepted a 5th grade teaching position in the Decorah School District, and after being away from the area for 10 years, Stephanie is living – literally – a stone’s throw from where she grew up. Now she enjoys raising her chickens and ducks while passing on the same values to her children that she was taught as a child.
While Stephanie grew up raising only chickens, a friend introduced her to the perks of baking with duck eggs a few years ago. She never looked back! Though the Kelleys still prefer their scrambled eggs from their 10 laying hens, “We use duck eggs for everything else! Cookies are moister, my baking is better, and since it’s more nutritious, I’m all for it. I thought I made a nice quiche before the ducks, but I have to admit, the chicken eggs cannot compare to the richness and lift the duck eggs give to brunch foods.”
Future plans include raising Khaki Campbell and Indian Runner ducks for next summer’s layers and possibly some heritage birds for the fun of it. “There’s an incredible market for duck eggs,” says Stephanie. “In 17 of 20 essential vitamins and minerals, the duck egg has more, according to the USDA. If you’re allergic to chicken eggs, chances are, you’ll be able to eat duck eggs. It’s a niche, to be sure, but it’s growing. At the top of the market, duck eggs are going for $18-20 a dozen.”
Forage and range fed, the Kelley’s chickens and ducks enjoy as natural an environment and diet as possible. “We supplement with sprouted seeds that can provide up to 4x the calories and nutrients as a traditional feed grain. I’m looking forward to letting the ducks out into our garden too.” The Kelley kids love feeding fruit and vegetable scraps to the chickens and ducks…not surprisingly, they love it too!