Writer / Jane VanOsdol
Photographer / Ron Wise
Entrepreneur Kay DeLullo has a can-do attitude that just won’t stop. It does on occasion, she admits, get her into a bit of trouble but is the key to her day-to-day success of living life.
DeLullo is the former owner and chef of DeLullo’s Trattoria in Cicero but sold the restaurant to an employee to focus on developing her 40-acre Wild Feather Farm in Westfield into a sustainable business. And developed it she has.
Moving to the Farm
In April 2006, DeLullo and her husband Steve Bennett moved to the farm to pursue their dream. Thanksgiving weekend of 2006 tragedy struck when Bennett was killed in a car crash. At that point DeLullo had to decide if she would remain on the farm or move.
“I didn’t want to give up on my dream,” she says. So she stayed.
Over the years, DeLullo has made her living from the farm by developing a dizzying array of innovative ventures:
• Boarding horses
• Breeding Barock Pinto horses
• Breeding and selling Hungarian Mangalitsa wooly pigs
• Growing and selling organic produce from her 60 x 60 plot
• Processing and selling maple syrup from her maple trees
• Raising 29 chickens and selling free-range eggs
• Boarding all the llamas for the Hamilton County 4-H Llama Club
The property perfectly supports all of these activities because it contains pasture, woods with maple and nut trees, and a 2-acre pond. Long-term Hamilton County residents may remember that In the 1960s and 1970s Wild Feather Farm was known as the Hillside Beach Club and Buckeye Campground. The water slide and cabins from that era still remain on the property today.
Adapting to Her Circumstances
DeLullo has transformed into a jill-of-all-trades as she tackles all the chores necessary to keep a farm thriving. “I didn’t come from a farm family,” she says. “So, If you don’t have someone doing it for you, you learn how to do it.”
DeLullo has figured out how to put in roads through her property, build corrals and other structures, fix farm equipment, grow organic produce, process maple syrup and raise pigs, horses, chickens and assorted other animals.
“I love building things. I love creating things,” she says.
When she doesn’t know how to do something, she asks someone to teach her, looks it up online or reads about it. At times she hires help for big projects but does much of the work by herself.
She’s also a big believer in the bartering system and uses it frequently.
“I figure you have zero percent chance of getting something if you don’t ask,” DeLullo says. “You have a 50 percent chance if you ask.”
As for the future, DeLullo admits to not being a big planner. “I like the future to uncover itself,” she says.
But she does have a dream of sharing her farm more with others by doing farm tours so people can see a working farm that is run in more of an old-school way. She sees how others — both people and animals — relax when they’re on the farm and says it’s a bit like being in a “time warp.”
With so much going on at Wild Feather Farm, how does she keep track of it all? Her husband’s death changed her perspective.
“I’m hyperaware of everything around me,” she says. “I don’t know how to explain it. I notice an ant on a log. I notice a leaf over here. It’s facing your mortality and appreciating what you have, whether it’s a lot or a little. I’m
very grateful to be able to do what I want.”
To connect with Kay DeLullo, follow her Facebook page at facebook.com/kdkph/. Call her at 317-258-4663 for information on her horses and pigs and to purchase her free-range eggs, organic produce or maple syrup. The farm is located at 2109 SR 38 East Westfield.