“We started [beef farming] in Southern Ontario, we did it down there for about two years, but we needed to grow and expand,” explains Mike. Farmland was unaffordable where they were, so they started looking further afield and noticed the Thunder Bay area’s “awesome potential for beef farming.”
In addition to affordable land, the weather drew the couple to this area. “It’s suitable for cattle. There’s less humidity, a lot less mud here, therefore less diseases,” Mike explains. “We decided it was a good fit for us, packed up our stuff and cows and moved here,” Carolyn adds. “We arrived July 28, 2019.”
Currently, Misty Creek Homestead has 65 cows and four bulls. All of the cows had calves in the summer, and the calves stay with their moms until they are weaned in December or January.
“Our goal is to have enough cows to produce all the calves [we need,] so that we are a birth to table operation, right here,” says Carolyn.
Mike says he’d like to have around 100 or 120 cows, so that they can raise beef exclusively from calves born on the farm. Bringing in calves from other farms carries the risk of introducing diseases to the herd, and he also wants to know the history of every animal on their farm.
“If somebody asks me if an animal is antibiotic free, I can look them in the eye and say, ‘Absolutely’. The calves are born here, they live their whole life here. We dictate what goes into those animals,” he says firmly. Misty Creek Homestead also does not use growth hormones on their cattle.
When the Hubers moved to O’Connor Township, they didn’t know how much beef they would be able to sell, but were pleasantly surprised. “In the last year we’ve done 55 calves for meat,” Mike says. “If you told me a year ago that I was going to sell 55 animals for meat, I would have said, ‘You’re nuts, not gonna happen!’”
In addition to beef, Misty Creek Homestead also raises and sells pork. “We collaborate with three breweries in town. They give us spent grain, which is a byproduct. That’s a large portion of the feed that the pigs and steers eat,” Carolyn says.
The two built a farm store earlier this year, converting a grain bin into a space where they can store and sell frozen meat, farm fresh eggs and some other local products such as honey from Conmee.
The very first customer who bought beef from Misty Creek Homestead came back last week to the new farm store. “It’s pretty cool, going from being a nobody in O’Connor Township to having people coming and repeat customers. That’s been really good,” says Mike.
He says when they were thinking about moving here, they were told that this is a place where they would be able to thrive. “We wondered if it’s true or not, but once we got here, we haven’t looked back,” he says. “It’s been phenomenal.”