A Lil’ Peep into the Life of a Quality Farmer

Marisa Shaw says that great duck eggs start with happy ducks.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

“The focus is to be a good steward to the land and to appreciate nature,” says Marisa Shaw, owner of the Saluda-based farm that houses Lil’ Peep & The MotherDuckers, Lil Peep & The MotherCluckers, and Grünberg Shepherds. Previously an elementary-school teacher and a personal bodyguard, Shaw has been running her Polk County farm for the past three years, where she keeps 30 Khaki Campbell ducks, a variety of chickens, a mini Dexter cow with her calf, and three Icelandic horses. Shaw also breeds, raises, and trains pedigreed German Shepherds as pets, personal-security animals, and for police work.

Shaw grew up on her parents’ farm in upstate New York, where she learned to care for livestock and discovered her dream of one day owning her own holistic farm. “I buy local feed, ferment it, and sprout it for the animals so that they can get microgreens,” says Shaw. “For example, my horses basically eat salads. The chickens got nuts over it because it has a lot of nutrients in it for them.” 

The farm is designed around the idea that each animal has enough room to roam comfortably. “My ducks truly are free range,” she says. “All of my animals are humanely kept. It’s not just, ‘How many eggs can I pop out of those ducks?’ It’s, ‘Are they humanely kept? Are they happy?’ When you let them be what they are and give them space, they don’t develop strange behaviors.”

Shaw’s Khaki Campbell Ducks in their shed.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Quality eggs start with happy, well-fed birds. “Everyone says the eggs are amazing,” she tells Bold Life. Shaw began farming as an adult in Vermont in hopes of providing a wholesome childhood for her own kids, and has noticed the biggest misconception is how much work and money it actually takes to sustain a well-managed operation. “My kids understand where their food comes from, which is important to me and should be understood by everyone. It takes a lot of work for farmers to come up with all of it.”

Aside from her duck and chicken eggs, Shaw produces raw milk, cheese, and occasionally lamb meat, beef, duck, and chicken. The dogs, she says, are her business — “but the farm is a love and a passion. Farmers produce because there’s a joy in people relishing what you make. We don’t want handouts.”

Shaw’s duck eggs can be found at the Hendersonville Community Co-op (60 South Charleston Lane, Hendersonville) and at the Outdoor City Market, open Saturdays in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit grunbergshepherds.com

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