Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ about Tide Mill Organic Farm's Livestock Animals and Meat Products
Q: Where is your meat harvested and processed?
A: We have our cows and pigs harvested, cut, cured (for our bacons and sausages) and packaged at Herring Brothers in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. They have been harvesting our animals and cutting the meat for us for over 12 years. They do an excellent job. We trust them to harvest our animals respectfully and tend to their meat carefully to maintain and enhance the quality that we took such care to raise. They have worked with us over the years to develop recipes for their smoked meats that don't contain any nitrates and are certified organic. It can be really hard to harvest our animals, but I feel really good about how they're harvested and their meat is delicious and wholesome. Our chickens and turkeys are harvested on our farm by us and our dedicated crew. We have a license called a growers/processors exemption that allows us to grow and harvest up to 20,000 of our own poultry. Last year we raised 6,000 chickens and a couple hundred turkeys.
Q: What is the difference between certified organic and natural meats?
A: There is an assumption that animals raised naturally are raised outside, well cared for and not routinely given antibiotics or hormones. Meat from animals that are certified organic are fed certified organic feed ensuring to the fullest extent there is no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that you are eating. Demanding certified organic grains also works to open the doors of opportunity for Maine farmers to raise and have a market for certified organic grains. Certified organic meat means that the animals were NEVER fed antibiotics or hormones. Certified organic meat also follows strict standards for access to the outdoors where green grass is present and encouraged to be consumed and that the birds have plenty of space, clean water and fresh air.
Q: Why does your chicken taste so good?
A: Their full, rich flavor reflects the care given to the quality of their healthy, respected lives. Our birds are raised on fresh, green pasture, rotationally grazed with our cattle. They have access to fresh air and fresh water all the time. They are harvested on our farm with the help of our dedicated crew. They are fresh or frozen shortly after they are packaged. We care.
Q: Why is it important and Why should you care?
A: You have so much power to change the landscape of our agriculture today with every food purchase you make. By buying our chicken you are voting for a sustainable agriculture system that nourishes your body, our environment and your soul. Supporting family farms is something YOU CAN DO to reverse so much of the environmental, health and societal struggles we face more and more in our world today.
Q: What is leaf lard and how do you render it?
A: Leaf lard is the premium fat of the pig. This is unprocessed, so you need to render it to use it. Rendering it is the process of SLOWLY heating it (usually not much hotter than 80-200 degrees) and then straining any of the meat out so that you are left with only white fat or purified lard. Sadly enough, lard has gotten a bad rep in the modern culture. Our great, great grandparents bred pigs specifically to produce a lot of lard. It's a great "local" oil (but it's in a solid phase at room temperature (like coconut oil and unlike olive oil). We prefer lard when we make dumplings, scones or pie crusts. After the liquid is strained (you can use a ball jar (make sure the jar is sterilized and warm so it won't crack) or a coffee can) let it cool to a solid state. Store it either in the freezer or refrigerator to keep it fresh.
FAQ's for Tide Mill Organic Farm's Dairy Animals and Milk Products
Q: What is the difference between Tide Mill Farm milk and MOO Milk?
A: Tide Mill Farm's organic milk is produced by Aaron Bell and Carly DelSignore and family on Tide Mill Farm located in Washington County. MOO Milk is a collection of farmers who decided to combine their milk and market it together under their own brand. Along with milk from Tide Mill Farm, there is milk from the two other dairy farmers in Washington County, plus 5 in Aroostook County and 2 in Kennebec County. The raw milk produced on all of our farms is picked up by a milk truck every other day (Yes, even on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Storms, whatever, as long as it is picked up every other day. It makes a 500 mile trip to collect the milk and then transports Any milk and cream that isn't sold via MOO Milk and other processors looking for organic cream, it is sold to Oakhurst at conventional milk prices.
Q: How many and what breed of cows do you milk?
A: We are milking between 44-48 cows. Our breeds include pure-bred Jerseys, pure-bred Holsteins, Jersey-Holstein crosses, Dutch Belted, Lineback, Brown Swiss, Swiss-Holstein crosses.
Q: What do your cows eat?
A: Our cows eat about 96 lbs of grass and/or dry hay and haylage (fermented grass), and about 8 lbs of certified organic grains (a 16% protein specific dairy ration) every day. Plus some salt, minerals and seaweed.
Q: Where do your cows live?
A: Our cows live in a free-stall barn built by the 7th generation Bells (Aaron's dad and uncle) when they were just out of college in the early 70's (pretty modern by many dairy farmers standard). Our cows have access to an outside paddock in the winter and rotationally grazed in small paddocks after every milking or two in the summer. Because our barn is a free stall barn, our cows are fed together, not individually, so what I gave you above for amounts of feed is an average per cow, the smaller cows eat less, the larger cows eat more.
Q: Why is Tide Mill Farm milk easier to digest?
A: Our milk is raw. It is a living food. When food is raw and not heated or cooked, there are billions (?) of enzymes that are also present in the food. These enzymes act as catalysts that help your body to break down the food it consumes and extrapolate the nutrients out of that food. Living foods fill an important niche within our diet and traditionally we consumed much more of these foods than we do today. Enzymes are one of the vital elements in fermented foods whose health benefits are just beginning to become recognized scientifically. See www.westonaprice.org for more information.