Author Archives: farmers

Allan and Colleen Cathcart

Allan and Colleen Cathcart, fifth generation farmers from Kendal, Ontario, operate a cow-calf farm with Charolais beef cattle. Their top priority is to raise high quality and healthy animals in a stress-free environment with a key focus on increasing the number of animals on their farm, and using innovative technology to market their animals.

Colleen and Allan are currently engaged in a number of industry-driven programs developed to uphold consumer confidence in Canadian beef. They are enrolled in Canada’s Verified Beef Program, a national on-farm food safety program, and they also currently take part in a data sharing program, Beef InfoXchange System, that helps farmers keep track of how their cattle perform, even after they have left the farm. This program allows the farmer to use this information to help improve the genetics of their herd for the future and produce high quality beef.

Colleen and Allan enjoy taking part in their community and showing their love for the Ontario beef industry. Allan is a member of the Durham Cattlemen’s Association, while Colleen takes the time to reach out to the public and connect them to where their food comes from. She is an active agvocate, posting information and videos frequently to Twitter and Youtube. Check out her Twitter page, @collcat123 to learn more about Ontario beef farms straight from the farmer!

Rob and Maryjo Tait

Rob and Maryjo Tait own and operate Celtic Ridge Farms located in Dutton Dunwich, Ontario with their son Alexander.  Rob’s mom Annie Isobel still lives in the original homestead built in 1873 and remains active on the farm continuing the family farm tradition. Celtic Ridge Farms is a commercial cow/calf operation, along with a small purebred Limousin herd, and sheep.  Rob and Maryjo’s key focuses are on raising cattle without additives or added growth hormones, animal traceability, the welfare and health of their cattle and environmental sustainability. Cattle are finished on the farm and sold through farm gate sales, while heifers are retained to continue growing their herd.

The home farm has been in their family since 1873.  Their son Alexander is the fifth generation to live on the farm.  Rob’s parents Annie Isobel (McCallum) and Duncan Alexander Tait farmed throughout their lives and instilled many qualities in their children that continue today on the farm, most notably the importance of hard work, being community oriented and of course the importance of respecting and caring for livestock. Rob’s Dad always stressed the importance of being quiet around cattle and that continues today as Rob is nicknamed the “Cow Whisperer” for his ability to keep all of his cows calm and comfortable.

Both Rob and Maryjo graduated from West Elgin Secondary School (WESS) and the University of Guelph.  Rob returned to WESS as a History teacher and has been teaching fulltime since 2005.  Maryjo grew up on a mixed farming operation that included Purebred Limousin cattle, cash crops, goats & turkeys.  Maryjo currently works as a First Nations Liaison with the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Juggling parenting, the farm and two full time jobs presents its share of obstacles, but it also provides both with great opportunities and success.  Coaching, playing sports, playing music, director with Elgin Beef Farmers and participation on various boards are just some examples of their community involvement.

Celtic Ridge Farm’s philosophy has not changed that much from the early days. Their cattle are raised on a vegetation diet, which means they frequent the pasture grasses and hay.  Celtic Ridge Farms offer both grass-fed and naturally raised beef, whose forage-based diet is also complemented by high quality corn and oats.  All animals spend their spring, summer, and falls outdoors on pasture, and spend winters with access to the barns.  Celtic Ridge Farms has just built a new beef barn that will ensure a stress free environment for cattle and operators and will allow Rob, Maryjo and their family to continue their expansion for their farm and business.

All of their cattle are “Born, Bred & Raised.” on Celtic Ridge Farms, allowing Rob and Maryjo to know where each cow and calf came come, ensuring a unique local product for each customer. They take pride in carrying forward their family’s farming traditions of producing quality beef. To learn more about Celtic Ridge Farms and to see or purchase products, please visit their website, follow them on Twitter @celticridgefarm or like them on Facebook.

Darold and Kara Enright

In 2004, Darold and Kara Enright purchased the 95 acre farm that is now known as Enright Cattle Company. Located just south of Tweed, Ontario, the farm raises purebred black and red Simmental cattle.

Enright Cattle Company is proud to continue a family farming tradition that dates back four generations in both of their families. Kara’s parents, Don and Chris Langevin, have been farming in the area for more than 30 years.

Darold and Kara bring a world of agricultural knowledge and farming experience to their operation.

Kara started buying her own beef cattle in her early teens, after her dad moved from dairy farming to raising purebred Simmentals. She went on to graduate with both a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a diploma in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. As a result, Kara has in-depth knowledge in beef cattle nutrition and proper animal husbandry and care.

Brought up raising cattle, Darold has superb cattle handling skills and is also an exceptional carpenter.  With a diploma in Integrated Resource Management from Sir Sandford Fleming College,  he has excellent knowledge in woodlot management. Something that is also essential to every farm’s success is working equipment which Darold does a great job in maintaining.

Working with Kara’s parents farm, Langevin Farms, allows Enright Cattle Company to have a fresh supply of beef year round! Their cows and calves are raised in the most natural environment possible. During the summer months, animals are kept on pasture and eat only a healthy diet of grass. In the fall, the calves are weaned and  moved to a diet of farm-blended mix of their own homegrown hay and grains with added mineral and vitamins. Their cattle live outdoors except during calving season when the new offspring spend their first couple of weeks in the barn with their mothers.

Giving their cattle the best environment and most balanced nutrition possible keeps them very healthy. Enright Cattle Company does not use artificial hormones and their cattle only receive antibiotics if they require them.

Darold and Kara are very active in the local community. Enright Cattle Company hosts a pancake breakfast and horse drawn sleigh ride every year on the farm. This event is open to family, friends and community members.

Dan O’Brien

Dan O’Brien, of O’Brien Farms, is a fourth generation beef farmer, raised near Greely, Ontario. O’Brien has worked in the beef industry his entire life but it’s his latest venture – selling his own local beef – that’s given him a name for himself and his cattle.

The care and attention O’Brien Farms puts into their animals allows them to be confident that the beef that they are raising is of the highest possible quality. Their customers can count on O’Brien Farms for premium quality beef year-round. Dan’s motto is, “If it isn’t good enough for my family, I won’t sell it.”

All cattle are born and raised locally and are grown without any artificial hormones or antibiotics. His cows are fed hay during the winter and spend the summer on pasture, grazing. O’Brien Farm’s barns and pastures are designed to maximize comfort and care for their cattle.

Dan is a member of Savour Ottawa and welcomes the growing interest in initiatives such as the 100-mile diet. He is passionate about increasing the connections between his community and farmers. Dan believes purchasing locally produced beef helps to support local families and farms as well as associated local businesses including the local abattoir, farm supply dealers and neighboring farmers.

O’Brien Farms has an open door policy and regularly invites chefs and the general public to tour the farm to view firsthand how the cattle are looked after.  The visitors arrive in ones and twos or in some cases by the bus load.  Taking a few minutes to explain how raising cattle is done from start to finish helps grow an understanding and appreciation for what it takes to raise the some of the best beef Ontario has to offer.

Beef from O’Brien Farms is available at the Ottawa Farmers Market as well as at local retailers throughout the Ottawa region, which you can find here. They also offer a refrigerated delivery service to your home or business in the Ottawa area. Visit O’Brien Farms for more information.

Dave and Estelle Hewitt

Dave and Estelle Hewitt have operated their farm for close to 40 years in beautiful Simcoe County.

Dave returned to his family’s third generation farm in 1974 after graduating from the University of Guelph.  In 1976 he married Estelle, and together with the help of their three children (Kevin, Derek and Krystal) and their staff they have grown their family business in several different areas. These include their beef cattle, corn, soybeans and hay for both cattle feed and cash crop, a retail and wholesale meat store and meat processing shop, along with a custom snowblowing operation for the snowy winter months.  Their children and spouses have helped to continue this success by contributing fresh new ideas and marketing their products and services.

Dave and Estelle believed there would be a demand for locally produced meat products.  So in 1985 they added a wholesale and retail meat shop right on the farm.  This business quickly expanded, so in 1988 they added a meat processing shop.  This shop helped keep up with the demand for locally produced meat products.  Shortly after the processing shop opened Dave felt the need for a quality and unique snack food.  After months of testing other commercial recipes, Dave decided to form his own recipe and that was when Dave’s Homemade Beef Jerky was created. It is made with a secret family recipe and can now be found across Ontario.

After many years of success, the Hewitt family continue to enjoy providing quality meats, mouth- watering beef jerky, outstanding customer service and enjoy growing quality corn, soy beans and beef for Ontario families. Ontario Corn Fed Beef is available at their Butcher Shop along with Dave’s Homemade Beef Jerky. The Beef Jerky is also available at Orillia Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, Gravenhurst Farmer’s Market or can be ordered online.  Visit Hewitt’s Country Meats for more details.

Mark and Anna McCutcheon

Mark and Anna McCutcheon own and operate Teal’s Meats, a family run butcher shop in Springvale, ON. This year Teal’s Meats is celebrating 100 years in business, a tradition Mark and Anna are proud to continue. In 2009, Mark and Anna purchased the butcher shop including a small farm near Anna’s family farm, Bennville Limousin. Mark and Anna have slowly worked to expand the business which originally produced only pork sausage, to include a full line of meat products. They seized the opportunity to add beef and to source their products from their family’s herd of cattle.

Anna’s parents, Ferdinand and Anita Haupt farm in Haldimand County where they diligently grew their farming business and raised their family of 5 children. Growing up, Anna, together with her mother and sisters enjoyed working with the cattle. They would attend many local fairs with 4-H project animals as well as tending to the day to day care of the cattle. The family farm also consists of a cash crop operation growing corn, soybeans and wheat as well as an equine facility, boarding and importing high quality Hanoverian horses.

On farm today, Anna’s mother, Anita, operates the cow herd along with her youngest sister Greta (who is also involved with the horse training along with her father). Her sister Niki and husband, Ian have begun to take on the cash crop end of the family farm, working together with her mother and father. Anna and Mark complete the family business by marketing and selling the quality beef produced on farm from their butcher shop.

Bennville Limousin is a herd of purebred Limousin cattle, where a strong focus has always been breeding stock. The health of the cattle and providing a comfortable environment is also very important. The Haupt and McCutcheon families realize that along with genetics, the environment in which cattle are kept is very important for them to meet their full potential. The herd grazes pasture for as much of the year as possible. In the winter months they are housed in deep bedded, sheltered barns with access to a large yard for exercise and are fed high quality hays and baylage. Calves are kept and finished on the farm on a diet of corn that is grown on farm, protein supplement and free choice hay and baylage.

Being able to take an animal from birth through to the dinner table is highly rewarding to Anna and Mark. Customers wish to know where their meat is coming from and how it is raised and appreciate the connection to the farm that Teal’s Meats is able to offer. Along with this, a main focus of Teal’s Meats is to provide a consistent and very high quality product. Their customer base returns on a weekly basis to buy their meats from the butcher shop and have come to enjoy the consistently tender and juicy beef that they are able to purchase and enjoy from Teal’s Meats.

Being a “mom and pop” shop, operated by only Anna and Mark, they are able to interact with customers face to face and answer their questions to understand what is important to them. They value this relationship with consumers as it is something that many farmers never get to experience. It gives insight into where their consumers are coming from and allows Anna and Mark the opportunity to share the day to day activities on the farm and the care that goes into raising livestock. Mark and Anna have three young daughters and love being able to work from home and having their children about their day to day business.

Teal’s Meats has a retail outlet on farm as well as attends the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market in Hamilton. Their products are also available at other locations in Southwestern Ontario. To learn more visit Teal’s Meats and Bennville Limousin online, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Jack and Diane Chaffe

Jack Chaffe lives north of Mitchell, ON with his wife Diane and three sons Owen, Evan and Curtis, where they operate their fifth generation family farm with his brother Joe. Chaffe Farms Ltd. is a feedlot operation that feeds 2,000 cattle a year in a state-of-the-art handling facility, providing a stress free environment for both the cattle and those working in the barn. Jack graduated with a diploma in Agriculture Business Management and is involved in all aspects of the family business from finances and herd health to the buying and selling of cattle and commodities.

Jack also takes part as an active member in both his agriculture and local communities. He is currently a member of the Beef Farmers of Ontario’s Board of Directors and has been a Director for the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association for the past two years. In his local community, he is a hockey coach for players of all ages from beginning players to the Junior level, as well as being the President of the Mitchell Minor Hockey League.

Jack believes it is important to encourage young farmers to continue to be involved in the Ontario beef industry and to pass on knowledge and support to the coming generation of beef farmers. Two of Jack’s sons are currently interested in being involved in the beef industry, currently caring for their own herd of 20 Red and Black Simmental cows.

Chaffe Farms Ltd. markets their cattle through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program, a brand that can be found in over 200 Loblaws’ stores across Ontario. Visit the Ontario Corn Fed Beef website to learn more about this program.

Rob & Julie Eby

Keeping a diverse portfolio usually isn’t a bad thing in the business world, and agriculture is no different. For Rob and Julie Eby, for example, diversification is the cornerstone of their farm business.

The couple live on a small dairy farm near Ayr called Pleasant Nook Jerseys on a property near the dairy farm that Rob grew up on. In 2009 Julie’s parents decided it was time to retire, and passed ownership of their dairy herd to Julie and Rob, who are the farm’s fourth generation.

The couple have three children – Rilee (age 6), Presley (age 4) and Brinkleigh (age 2) – and along with their daughters, are the featured faces for the month of December in the 2016 Faces of Farming calendar. The calendar is published by Farm & Food Care Ontario, and the Ebys’ page is sponsored by Farm & Food Care Canada. Their family’s entry was the winner in a contest launched to select one farm family to appear in the calendar.  Their submission was chosen from almost 30 entries by a panel of judges and they participated in a photo shoot in July.

Their dairy herd consists of a mix of 30 Jersey and Holstein cows – a smaller herd by Ontario and Canadian standards – and they maintain 25 acres for hay and pasture land. The cows are housed in a pack and box-stall barn – the ones located in Ayr, anyway. Pleasant Nook, you see, is actually divided between two locations, one in Ayr and the other further south in Fisherville. Rob explains that, while the farm was originally located in Fisherville, he and Julie are currently discussing moving the entire farm to their Ayr location.

Julie attended Ridgetown College for a general agriculture diploma before taking over the farm, and now she takes care of the farm’s day-to-day operations. Similarly, Rob went to the University of Guelph for agribusiness. And, despite also working as the owner and manager of a nearby Kubota dealership, he spends a considerable amount of time with their cows during mornings, evenings and weekends.

Milk production, however, is only one part of Pleasant Nook. As Rob explains, his family and Julie’s family are well-known for both dairy cow genetics, and for producing top-notch show cattle.

“We’ve always been involved in showing cattle,” says Rob. “Cattle shows are a hobby, as well as a way to merchandize and get your farm name out there.”

When Rob says his family has “always been involved” with showing cattle, he certainly means it. Just a quick visit to the farm’s website – www.pleasantnook.com  – illustrates that point. They have received numerous awards and countless nominations at a wide range of events – from Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair and the New York Spring Dairy Carousel to smaller local events and 4-H competitions.

The root of the Ebys’ success at shows and other competitions, though, is good genetics. According to Rob, studying bloodlines and pedigrees, as well as good animal husbandry, is what helps his family achieve many of their goals. Rob and Julie incorporate this into their farm business through two methods; striving to make their cattle as attractive and productive as possible, as well as selling embryos and genetic stock to other farmers.

“Small farms can still survive, but sometimes you have to be a little more creative,” says Rob. “You can’t always just rely on milk production.”

As for future plans, both Rob and Julie say they would like to continue moving all the cattle to their Ayr farm, while simultaneously expanding their acreage.

Their children are very involved in figure skating, dance and gymnastics. Because of their involvement with cattle shows, the Ebys have a long tradition of involvement with 4-H as both team members and club leaders. Julie also, when time permits, volunteers at their local preschool.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, the couple’s favorite pastime is still spending time with their family on the farm.

“Watching how animals develop is fascinating to us,” says Rob.  “Everything we do is for the love of cattle and the farm life.”

Andrea Veldhuizen & Joseph Zantingh

Andrea Veldhuizen and Joseph Zantingh are siblings with similar traits. Both are busy raising young families, are active volunteers and, perhaps most notably, love to farm. With sponsorship from Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd., they are now seen together in the month of November in the 2016 Faces of Farming Calendar.

Andrea and Joseph both operate their own chicken farms in different parts of the Niagara Region. Along with a third chicken farm owned by their parents Henry and Janet, each location makes up a part of Zanlor Farms – the overarching name of their family business.

“We grew up on a dairy farm near Smithville,” said Andrea, “but my parents completely switched to chickens about 17 years ago.”

Andrea and her husband Ryan live and work on their farm near Wainfleet; it’s the newest of the three farms and just a short drive from both Joseph and Henry’s farms in Smithville. Henry is the current President of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.

“We manage separate farms but we are still a connected family farm, we are all partners,” says Joseph.

The mother of four children – Cheyenne (15), Keean (11), Arianna (4) and Caleb (2) – Andrea first came into the family business about four years ago. Prior to that, Andrea went to school at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, and received degrees in both psychology and religion-theology. She then worked in marketing at a nursery and most recently took on the position of youth director at her church.  She made the transition to farming because she saw it as a better investment in her family’s future.

Joseph and his wife Diane have three children – daughters Alexis (4), Aubrey (3) and Erica (1). In addition to working as a welder, he has been farming for most of his life. He even remembers taking a pager to high-school just in case he was needed at home during the day. Succession planning between their father and the siblings began about four years ago, and Joseph says he has been increasingly involved since.

“I always had fond memories of the farm. I liked the upbringing and want my family to have the same thing,” says Joseph.

Both Andrea and Joseph raise what they call “big broilers.” These chickens are raised for meat. They are kept on the farm longer and sent to market at a larger size. All the birds from each of the three farms are sold to Riverview Poultry, which is a chicken processor in Smithville. In addition, both siblings and their father Henry rent approximately 150 total acres to nearby crop farmers.

“We are happy that we have a local processor. Everyone works together. My kids help on the farm too and they’re learning a good work ethic,” says Andrea.

“My wife is an accountant by trade, so we are optimistic that she will start to take over the farm books,” says Joseph. “She’s getting more involved as time goes on.”

In her spare time, Andrea volunteers at her children’s school, and acts as a youth director and mothers group leader at her local church. She also enjoys camping, cooking and baking when time permits. Joseph says he enjoys fishing, camping, playing baseball and being involved with youth programs at his church.  He also enjoys spending time with Diane and his girls.

Their families and farms are, indeed, Andrea and Joseph’s most significant commitments. Looking to the future, the siblings both say they hope to continue growing and strengthening their family business in a sustainable way. It’s the best way, they say, for Zanlor Farms to stay viable for the next generation.

Norm Lamothe

It’s been nearly 112 years since the Wright brothers successfully completed the world’s first heavier-than-air flight, and almost 113 years since Norm Lamothe’s farm was first cultivated by his wife’s family.

Why are these two facts relevant, you may ask? Both helped elevate Norm to the place he holds today – happily farming, teaching, and even flying drones with his family on their farm near Cavan.

In 2016, Norm is the face of October in the eleventh annual Faces of Farming calendar. His page is sponsored by the Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Good in Every Grain program, and the calendar is published by Farm & Food Care Ontario.

Norm is the proud father of three children – Noémie (age 8), Alec (age 5) and Max (age 3) – and husband to Emily, who works off-farm as a full time nurse. He has been a co-owner of Woodleigh Farms Ltd., his in-laws’ farm business, since early 2014, but he has been involved for the last ten years. The farm is 500 acres, with Norm sharing ownership with his brother-in-law Colin, as well as father and mother-in-law Don and Marg. The family grows approximately 400 acres of corn and soybeans, while the remaining acreage is either rented to neighboring farmers, used for hay and garden crops (vegetables), or remains tree-covered.

“The farm used to be a hog operation for a long time. We got out of that a while ago and started focusing on a number of different crops,” says Norm. “We have a really diverse farm […] It’s undergone a lot of changes over the years.”

Norm explains that his family maintains a number of wood lots on the more marginal land of each farm property, which helps decrease their environmental footprint. Some of those wood lots grow naturally while other parts are planted strategically, but all serve to increase the farm’s biodiversity and reduce soil erosion. As an added bonus, the maple trees provide the family with sap, so maple syrup can also be counted on the roster of products produced by the farm.

Another prominent farm feature Norm likes to highlight is a large pond they stock with trout. It is used as a swimming pool by his kids, a supper source by his father-in-law – who reels in a fish every week – and as an irrigation source for their market garden.

While Norm’s current farm business was originally purchased by his wife’s family in 1902, Norm himself was exposed to a less-common version of agriculture at a young age. His father was the manager of a prison farm in northern Ontario which meant Norm didn’t have to do much in the way of chores because they were done by the inmates. Regardless, though, he was intrigued by the work.

Norm eventually went to flight school, and subsequently flew planes in the commercial airline industry for ten years. Because the career meant he was often away from home, though, Norm eventually decided to leave the skies and take an active role on the family farm. That decision also had the benefit of letting him spend more time with his family, while maintaining a private pilot’s licence.

However, don’t think Norm completely forgot about flying. Indeed, he is still an active aviator since, just this year, he started his own aerial drone field scouting business called “Eagle Scout Imaging.”

“The drones use an infrared camera to measure plant health through chlorophyll density,” he says. “It’s a pretty efficient tool for doing things like scouting for harmful pests, or measuring what parts of the field might need more fertilizer.”

On top of it all, Norm is fluent in French, and teaches the Entrepreneurship Course in the Food and Farming Program at Durham College. He also sits on a number of different boards, including the Millbrook Agricultural Society and Millbrook Figure Skating Club.

As for future plans, Norm says he and his family are focused on further diversification. They are considering delving into the world of “value added” crops, and they also plan on incorporating wheat into their seasonal crop rotation; that, says Norm, will do a lot to help maintain soil quality.

“We have some ideas on next steps, but we are still playing around right now,” he says.

Overall, Norm sees farming as much more than a career. He loves the diversity, the time with his family, and the opportunity to be creative in his own environment. It’s both a creative outlet and a lifestyle, and one that he looks forward to expanding in the years to come.

“With an acre of land you can grow a million different things on it, all of them unique,” he says. “It never stops being interesting.”