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Minnitaki's eld farms offers sustainable local beef

ELD Farm is a family farm owned and operated by Evan, Linda, Charlie & Levi Debney in Minnitaki, ON.  The farm was originally purchased by Evan’s Grandparents, Orville and Peggy Hunter, after WWII from veterans affairs.  Evan’s mother was raised on this farm in the original farmhouse. The farm was then sold to Evan’s Uncle Murray who farmed here for over 25 years.  We purchased the farm from Murray in 2005. Our farming story is not one of `happily ever after`, but one of hard work and dedication that we wouldn`t change for the world.  Evan and I both grew up on beef farms. Evan’s family farmed here in the Dryden area and my family farmed in the Emo area. We met at the Emo Fair showing beef cattle and the rest is history….

The farm we purchased was a total of roughly 625 acres, mostly clear cut of wood and undeveloped.  Any building that was ever built on this farm was still somewhat standing and any piece of farm equipment that was ever used or vehicle driven was retired to a fence line to rust.  We took on this farm because we saw the potential this land had to offer us. We knew there was countless hours of clean up and repairs to do but Evan’s Uncle Murray had built two large hay sheds for storage and there was a Quonset barn standing that would help to provide our cattle shelter.  Everything else could be dealt with in due time.

We started with a small herd of 12 cows and have grown to 80 commercial beef cattle, 22 replacement heifers, 3 bulls, 30 laying hens, 12 sheep, 1 goat and most importantly twin ten year olds!  Charlie and Levi are as much of this farm as we are. They have daily chores with the sheep, chickens, 4-H animals and their barn cats. It brings us great joy to see them with their animals, the pride they take in their hard work and the connection they make with each and every one.  We have built a new home, torn down countless rundown buildings, removed around 45 tonnes of scrap metal, and survived a wind storm that leveled the Quonset barn, remodeled a hay shed into an insulated calving barn, and have begun the process of clearing fence lines and bringing back old pastures into crop land.  We are extremely proud of the farm we have grown and owe many thanks to the area farmers who have helped us along the way.

As we have grown, we strive to do things better as we get bigger.  We do not use any hormones or unnecessary antibiotics on the farm. In saying that, we do vaccinate our herd every spring to prevent common cattle diseases.  We feel these vaccinations are necessary to maintain a healthy herd. We treat any and all animals that fall ill in any way. We have a very close working relationship with our farm veterinarian.  He helps to make sure we can keep our cattle healthy. We use beef nutritionists every year to test our feed samples and they help us meet nutritional requirements of our herd. These animals are a huge part of our lives. Most of them have names and all of them have personalities, we owe them the best life that we can give them as they give everything to us.   

This cooperative has put in contact with other young families from different districts that share the same values that we do, they have the same obstacles that we do. In an industry that can feel very isolating, it is comforting to know that we can band together!

Our cattle are not our only source of income but they are our livelihood.  We try to the best of our ability to go above and beyond for them, including good quality hay to eat, fresh clean bedding to lie on, treatment for the sick or injured, or just a good scratch in a hard to reach place.  We take great pride in the beef we produce. This is the beef that we feed our family and neighbours. This is the beef that we offer you.