BUHL — About a hundred white ducks quacked enthusiastically under overcast skies Aug. 23 near Buhl. On the edge of their makeshift enclosure, a hose dribbled water onto the ground, creating a large pond.
“The problem with ducks is it’s always a mud hole,” said The Pekins had just been rounded up the day before in preparation for their trip to the processor. Normally, Klimes said, they have access to pasture and play in a small pond elsewhere on the property; it’s part of what gains his farm certification through a national Animal Welfare Approved program.
Most of the ducks would go to butcher, but Klimes intended to save about 20 for breeding future generations. Already, a market had pre-ordered about half of his first production of certified organic duck.
Why this niche?
For the past four summers, Klimes has sold certified organic chicken from his farm in Buhl. His interest in poultry grew from his experience raising 4-H chickens in the 1980s.
“It’s just something I always wanted to do,” he said. “You have to decide one day whether you make that leap or not.”
“It’s pretty easy to market to people you know,” Klimes explained. But when you begin to market on a larger scale, it helps to have third-party verification that you’re doing what they’ve come to expect.
He sells his farm’s broilers and produce all over the Magic Valley.
“It’s pretty difficult to keep up with demand,” he said.
He typically starts raising the birds in the spring and once sold 1,000 over the course of the summer and winter. But Klimes said that was too many to try to do at once without pre-orders.
Klimes uses the Cornish cross and sagitta chickens for broilers. The ducks are new.
“We had a lot of inquiries,” he said.
The Pekins are a meat variety; Klimes also purchased some khaki Campbell ducks for laying eggs.
The ducks are hardier than the quick-growing Cornish cross, and they are less stressed by travel than larger animals such as cattle, he said.
Agrarian Harvest also produces certified organic pork and a small quantity of certified organic beef.
Get a taste
Kilmes prefers selling directly off the farm, and he likes it when people pre-order, especially with larger requests. He can be reached at 208-308-5332.
Whole, processed chickens cost $4.50 a pound, and the ducks cost $6 a pound.
One of the biggest challenges he faces, Klimes said, is balancing marketing and delivery with “still being farmers.” Understanding the need for customer convenience, he signed up for a home delivery service called Freshocal (freshocal.com).
In Twin Falls, Klimes sells at the farmers market on the first and third Saturdays of the month. You can also taste Klimes’ poultry at Stone House and Co., a catering and event center in downtown Twin Falls — and soon, at Yellow Brick Cafe, a restaurant preparing to open on Twin Falls’ Main Avenue.
Agrarian also sells meat at the Hailey and Ketchum farmers markets. Nourishme, a health food and supplement store in Ketchum, offers it, too, and Kraay’s Market & Garden can do home deliveries for the Wood River Valley.
Klimes expects growth in his business to follow the demand for product, but he wants that growth to occur slowly, by word-of-mouth instead of active marketing.
“We hope that we can get more people to do on-farm purchases and purchase through our retail partners,” he said, “so we don’t have to be off the farm as much.”