Indian Runner Ducks Make Winsterman Family Farm Shine

Makayla Winsterman from the Nebraska-based Winsterman Family Farm tells us how her ducks take on pest control duties and introduces a very special farm cat.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Winsterman Family Farm

Makayla Winsterman grew up as an animal lover and always felt that farming was in her heart. But it wasn’t until she became a mom in 2019 that her instincts became a reality.

“I think that’s when the food side of farming clicked for me,” recalls Winsterman, who now runs the Winsterman Family Farm in central Nebraska alongside her husband, Andrew. “I found myself researching ways to grow our own food and live more sustainably. As parents we want what’s best for our children and we found that in farm-to-table foods.”

Winsterman adds that while the farm is on “a small acreage,” they’ve managed to build things up little by little. “My husband, Andrew, grew up on a farm, so he’s taught me a lot and has been my voice of reasoning,” she says. “He’s my rock and none of this would be possible without him.”

Taking a break from farm duties, we spoke to Winsterman about how to craft a repurposed chicken coop and the humorous nature of goats. We also got to know the farm’s resident feline.

The Joy of Repurposing


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Repurposing and embracing a do-it-yourself state of mind has become a key part of running Winsterman Family Farm.

“We have an old grain bin that we weren’t using. My husband had the idea to turn that into our chicken coop instead of buying one,” explains Winsterman. “We cleaned it out, bought some posts and built a run around it. The fencing we got secondhand, and we even used old wood from a barn that used to be on our property!”

“It has served as the best coop for our chickens,” she says. “Since it’s so large, we were able to expand our flock very easily this year.”

Read more: What’s the perfect chicken coop? Well … it depends.

Bring on the Goats

After looking into adding a dairy element to the farm, Winsterman ultimately settled on Nigerian Dwarf goats.

“We started with two does, Jade and Juno, then added our buck Dobby in January of this year,” she says. “I have to admit, goats weren’t my first choice for a dairy source. I really had my heart set on a family dairy cow for a long time. [But] after talking it through, we decided that goats fit into our farm a little better with where we are at. However, a dairy cow isn’t out of the question for the future of our farm.”

Enjoying Ruminant Humor

“Goats are humorous creatures,” says Winsterman. “They get the zoomies. Oftentimes we will look outside and see them jumping on trees and almost having what looks like a competition to see who can do the best trick when jumping off.”

Among the current herd, Winsterman describes Jade as “our goofy girl” and characterizes Juno as “our sassy independent doe.”

Introducing Indian Runner Ducks

Recently, the farm welcomed a paddling of Indian Runner Ducks to the ranks. “This is our first year with ducks on our farm and, man, are we excited!” says Winsterman. “We had a pretty drawn out battle with pests in the garden last year, so we are really leaning into our ducks to help in that department.”

Following some research into various duck breeds, the Winstermans settled on Indian Runner Ducks. “Though they are still pretty young, they have been absolutely wonderful,” she says. “They are super sweet and not very loud at all. We will say, however, that they are way stinkier and messier than chickens by far.”

Read more: Ducks can bring real value to the backyard.

Meet the Farm’s Resident Feline

Winsterman Family Farm is guarded by a resident feline named Cookie Monster.

“We adopted him in January of this year,” says Winsterman. “We were pretty nervous of how he would be around our chickens at first, as we were told he was a hunter. The first couple times he was around the chickens he would sort of lurk around them. There was one time he got in his hunting stance and he tried sneaking up on a hen. I put myself between them and firmly said, ‘No.’ He instantly sat up and just meowed at me.

“It was like he understood at that very moment that the chickens would be off limits.”

Now that Cookie Monster is firmly embedded into the farm, he likes to spend his days patrolling the property for rodents and stopping by to greet the goats and chickens.

“He truly is the best farm cat that we could have asked for,” says Winsterman. “He is low maintenance and very sweet. We are so thankful that he came into our lives.”

Follow Winsterman Family Farm on Instagram.

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