Marsha Verhey and her husband Lauren are quite proud of the success of their farm, Bird House Farm, located a short distance outside of Simcoe.
It is a labour of love for she and her husband and they have dedicated themselves to providing customers with “A niche market for people looking for a healthier alternative to grocery store bought meat. You can notice a difference in taste between corn fed and grass fed …grass fed has a lot of natural flavour in it. There are also many health benefits as there are more vitamins and minerals, Omega 3 & 6, Vitamin A and the meat is more vitamin dense”.”
In April of 2020 Marsha purchased a 100 acre farm on Charlotteville Rd. 5– with the help of her parents Dirk and Erika Schappe. In July of the same year, she met her husband-to-be Lauren and they married in March 2021. Marsha’s parents stayed on at the farm for one year to help them and were there for extra assistance when their first child, Hannah was born and then their son, Edwin… with baby #3 on the way! “They’re easy kids with good routines” adds Marsha.
The farm consists of 50 acres pasture and 50 acres bush. “We strip graze our herd of 37 cows, about 15 steers and 3 breeding bulls. We don’t bring in any bulls…we do line breeding and this offers us a lot of genetic diversity. Our lowline Angus are smaller than regular cattle and are better in the pasture. The calves are smaller at about 50 lbs. when they’re born…maybe a bit bigger. Some are crossed with Herefords and they are good over the winter.
We’re happy with the size of our herd. We have moveable electric fences and we move them every day…we don’t over graze the land. We don’t feed them any grain…it’s all grass feeding for them with lots of space and no hormones or anti-biotics. We also don’t feed our pigs and chickens soy or any GMO’s. We work with Mother Nature not against her” adds Verhey. “We believe in farming the old-fashioned way. A healthy soil is necessary but so, too, is insect and fly control”.
Their pastures reseed themselves quickly in the Spring and helping to keep their pastures healthy requires a ton of birds. “The birds eat the flies and the swarms of dragonflies. They’re like an ‘air’ force that controls bugs. We also have swallow bird houses to help control a lot of the flies as well…keeping them away from the cattle” adds Verhey. They encourage people to visit their farm to see the animals, how well they are treated and what they do. “We don’t mind giving farm tours and sometimes they can help feed the cattle. We’re still in the growing stages and we want visitors to see that our animals are treated properly because we want customers to be able to trust the source of their food.”
Also offered at their farm are fresh eggs with 18 laying chickens producing about 1½ dozen a day, 12 dozen a week. Their feed is soy free and makes a big difference in the quality of their eggs and they are much healthier for customers with health concerns.
The Verhey’s sell from their on-farm shop but, before it makes it into their store, it is first taken to Vanessa Meats for the killing. “They are really nice to work with and we wanted to use a smaller butcher to have more control in the process. From there it goes to B & C (Ben & Carolyn) Cutting, 59 McDowell Road, Langton area. They make our sausage, do our vacuum sealing and freezing.”.
At Bird House Farms they started out with 6 freezers and currently have 12 – six small, six large. “We have 4 for our beef, 1 for our pork and the rest are for the chicken” adds Erika. “We butcher the cattle in the Spring and chicken in the Summer so we are done that until next year”.
If you would like to check them out you can Google Bird House Farms and sign up for emails, recipes, meaningful info, box specials, a guide on how to cook their meat…lots of helpful info. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org; call or text them at 226-376-3660 or visit them at their farm address 529 Charlotteville Road 5, Simcoe, ON. on Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. Be sure to check out their online store as well where you can place an order then simply pick it up at the farm.