Able Acres originated in the 1940s with Harvey Duncan, Andy and David Duncan's grandfather, and some Hereford cattle and Duroc pigs. That turned into a multigenerational cow-calf operation, direct-to-consumer beef sales, Boer goats and generations of the family continuing and growing the operation.
And the Duncans wouldn’t have it any other way — even if they’re out at 3 a.m. with a calving heifer.
“It’s the highlight of farming for me; knowing that you had a hand in getting something here that's going to provide for another family (with) food on their table. From start to finish,” Jill Duncan added.
The Duncan family knows you can't succeed at farming without sustainability. Caring for the land that provides for them is a value that's been instilled in the family since the beginning.
“My dad’s favorite line was ‘Grass is king around here.’ We don’t drive out on the pastures if it’s too muddy, we don't overgraze our pastures, we take care of our waterways. We just try to keep everything in good shape,” David Duncan said. “You get the soil one time — you better take care of it."
On top of working to ensure future generations of Duncans have a place on the farm, the family also enjoys sharing its lifestyle with consumers.
“I was watering my nephew's heifer at last year's Indiana State Fair and a young lady came up and was asking me questions about my horse,” Jill chuckled. “She didn't know the animal I had was a heifer, so she started asking questions and she asked some great questions.”
During the pandemic, the Duncans saw a growing demand for homegrown beef. They capitalized on the opportunity for a new business venture for the farm and enjoy sharing a piece of their legacy with their community.
“I think we take for granted where our food comes from. We assume everybody else knows where their food comes from and they don't. I think it's our job to tell them and it's OK to tell them how we raise our animals,” Jill said.
Jill also hosted what has been dubbed ‘farm camp,’ where her friends who live in more metropolitan areas bring their families to Able Acres for a few days and learn about where their food comes from, what it takes to grow their food and the technology involved.
The Future of Able Acres
“Every day I know my mom and dad eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together,” said Hattie Duncan, David and Jill’s daughter. “This is the kind of lifestyle I love and can’t imagine being without.”
While members of the newest generation are looking forward to contributing to the family’s legacy, they’re not planning on doing things the same way.
Drew Duncan, Andy’s son, plans to use his new drone to apply corn fungicide this year.
“It’s a new opportunity and a new stream of revenue for our farm. It’s worth venturing out and trying,” he said.
Hattie and Ray Duncan, David and Jill’s children, are both in college and looking forward to contributing to the family farm.
“The opportunity to come back to the farm gives me a sense of security,” Ray added. “I wish it was an opportunity that everyone could have.”
In November 2022, the Duncans hosted their 50th annual cattle sale and look forward to the next 50 years. Follow along with Able Acres and the Duncan family on Facebook.