Largely influenced by visits to Grandpa’s farm as a young boy, Mike Martin would eventually work the holidays and summers of his teenage years on that same farm with his uncle putting in long hours for low pay, and “loved it!” “I was totally immersed into it.” While his uncle was a wheat farmer, there were also cattle, sheep, and chickens which provided the livestock and poultry exposure.
After high school, Mike served a tour of duty in the military, married and started a family. This caused him to have to consider stable employment to provide for the family. Even then, they bought a large piece of land, planted a garden on it, and rented the rest out.
It wasn’t until 1993 that Mike was able to begin to fulfill a lifelong dream when he and his second wife Dee, bought a 23 acre piece of property to dedicate to farming. The property, called 4D Acres, was named after Mike (Dad), his wife Dee, and their two sons David and Daniel.
They began raising chickens as Mike did not like the taste of store-bought chickens. Free range broiler chickens are still a staple part of the farm today.
Around 1996 Mike and Dee began to look further into other livestock to optimize the operation. At one point they had four head of cattle, but the farm size would not allow for much more, and therefore would not be sustainable.
It was at a summer farm show in Southeast Kansas that Mike first saw some baby emus and after talking with the owners took some information. His intentions were to explore it further upon arriving home, the busy-ness of life caused that information to gather dust and eventually find its way into the round file known as the trash can. The following February, Mike was again at a farm meeting and came across more information about the emus from the Missouri Emu Association. After considering it again, Mike got in contact with the Kansas Emu Association and found a monthly meeting that was relatively close to home, which the family began attending to research more about the potential to raise emus.
The timing happened to be right, as the prices for emu were dropping, after there had been much market speculation regarding the bird’s value. Because the emu was an exotic livestock market and not a product developing market, it saturated very quickly. Mike knew that he would need to market the product potential of the emu to make the venture worthwhile.
To be continued…