Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers or agriculture industry workers. Kaleby and Kate Little of Little Family Farms are two of those industry leaders. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and from August to December will feature younger farmers in the industry. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers
Agriculture has a way of bringing people together, even husband and wife duo, Kate and Kaleby Little. Kaleby grew up on his family farm learning to grow row crops and hay from his parents and grandparents. Kate’s grandmother owned and operated a Century Farm. Kate also raised show cattle all throughout her childhood that she would enter at the N.C. State Fair each year.
While in the College of Agriculture at N.C. State University, Kate and Kaleby fell in love and thus started their joint agriculture journey. Little Family Farms, located in Marshville, is home to over 40 beef cattle today as well a momma cows and calves. “I have always loved cattle and have many great memories raising them in my younger years,” Kate said, “so it was a natural fit for us to expand the cattle operation on Kaleby’s family farm.”
They also grow all of the hay, wheat, rye grass, corn and milo that are fed to each of their cattle year-round. “We try to use what would be considered ‘waste’ on the row crop side of the operation to feed our cattle,” Kaleby said, “this includes things such as soybeans, corn and wheat cleanings.”
Although there is no true typical day on the farm, Kate and Kaleby stay busy all year long and wear a lot of hats, from farming to maintenance and marketing. In addition to the family farm, Kate is also a full-time Broiler Technician at Pilgrims Pride where she inspects bird growers and helps guide them to best practices and high-quality nutrition. “There is never a dull moment,” Kaleby said, “something is always going on, but that is one of the things that we love about this lifestyle.”
Although the uncertainty of farm life can be difficult, both Kate and Kaleby agree that nothing can compare to the rewarding feeling they receive by seeing their cattle grow under their care from a tiny calf to a 1,200 pound animal.
Products from Little Family Farm can either be found on-site or ordered through their website. “It’s nice to know where your food comes from and we are always open to talking about our cattle, what they are fed, their nutrition, etc. And answering any questions our customers may have,” Kaleby said. Kate expanded upon his sentiment by saying, “we have customers send us photos of our beef on the grill or families gathered around the table for a meal and it truly humbles us to see that people trust us to feed their families and provide a high-quality product for their table.”
As young people in agriculture, Kate and Kaleby highly encourage young people to find their passion in the industry, get plugged in and go for it. “In this industry, it’s all about what drives you,” Kate said, “make sure you find what you love and stick with it because it’s not about the money, but about what inspires you on a daily basis.” They both encourage young people to find a connection in the industry, whether it be a college professor, farmer or gaining hands-on work experience, to help build your start and teach you along the way.
In the future, Kate hopes to come back to the farm full-time and help Kaleby as he prepares to take over the row crop operation one day from his father. “As fifth generation farmers it is about preserving the legacy and keeping the tradition alive of those who built this farm before us,” Kate said, “they worked hard for what we have today and we want to build upon it and leave our mark just like they did.”