In today's day in age, the vast majority of people do not have the opportunity to experience the lifestyle that many Ontario farmers do each day. For Rob and Maryjo Tait, husband and wife duo at Celtic Ridge Farms, they have been immersed in this agrarian lifestyle throughout their entire lives, and couldn't be more proud to share their story.
Maryjo was raised on a beef cattle and turkey farm, while Rob was brought up on the beef cattle farm that his immediate family now resides on. Rob's Great Grandfather moved to the Dutton area, 45 minutes west of London, in 1873, where he began raising a small herd of beef cattle.
It wasn't until 2013 that Maryjo and Rob took over the farm from Rob's parents; as the 4th generation to live on the farm. 2013 was an exciting time for the Taits; not only did they take over their family farm, but they also welcomed their first child, Alexander. The tradition of raising both cattle and children on this beautiful 300-acre property was no longer a dream, but a reality for the Taits. In 2016, they welcomed their second child, Emily, and have become blessed to share the farm with their children, now the 5th generation to live on the farm.
Although Rob and Maryjo work full time in other professions, their true passion is their children and the family farm. As a family, they now raise both beef cattle and lambs on their farm. Their livestock is raised pure and natural, meaning that they're raised without additives or growth hormones. The Taits also practice what is called rotational grazing, meaning their cattle and lambs are rotated from pasture to pasture, feeding on grasses and hay throughout their four farms. Their livestock's diets are also complemented with high-quality corn, to ensure they're providing the highest quality of meat to their clients.
Their beef and lamb is butchered at a local family-owned butcher shop in Highgate, Ontario. Once the beef has been dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days, in a climate-controlled setting, it's cut, wrapped, and ready to be sold with their cut and wrapped lamb to their customers on the farm.
At Celtic Ridge Farms, they offer a variety of meat packages for their customers to choose from. For those families with ample freezer space, the Taits offer ½ cuts and ¼ cuts, which provides a large variety of hamburger meat, steaks, and roasts for their customers to enjoy. They also provide small variety packs for those who can only store small quantities.
Seeing as this farm is the only one of its kind within many kilometres, offering packaged meat straight from the farm, it is no surprise to hear that the farm is going strong.
In 2018, the Taits retrofitted an existing building into an on-farm store and meat shop. After months of hard work, the store finally opened its doors to the public in December 2018. With work from local artisans in Elgin and Middlesex County, as well as in-season produce, the farm is stocked with many local goodies.
Maryjo and Rob thrive on sharing their story, and of course, all of the farm's inhabitants with customers. Upon arriving at the store, you can bet that you'll be greeted by their loving dogs, Brea and Lucky, and of course either Rob or Maryjo.
By following Celtic Ridge on Facebook or Instagram, you can gain an insight into what it means to be a beef farmer. The Taits share a plethora of posts about their farm, events, and even where you can buy and try their meat. Their packaged meat is available at Talbotville Berry Farm Market, but can also be enjoyed on the menus of several local businesses: Tall Tales Café, Tasty Sweets Café & Bakery, The Tipsy Pig, and 2 Guys & A Smoker. Even those in the big city of Toronto can have a taste of Southwestern Ontario, as Celtic Ridge supplies Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse, located in the King West Village.
The Taits encourage everyone to get off of the beaten path and explore their family farm, open Saturdays May – December.