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O'Toole Farm
Contact: Tom & Beth O'Toole
Address: 116 E Hanover Rd. Elizabeth, IL, 61028
Phone: 815-598-3214
About Us
We are Tom and Beth O'Toole. We have the privilege of living about 3 miles east of Hanover, IL on the farm homesteaded by Beth's family in the 1830's. We only recently arrived to the farm, relatively speaking, in 2005. We started our beef production in 2011 and changed to grass fed beef on rotational grazing in 2016. We added laying hens to the pasture practice in 2017. The farm is rolling hills with several small creeks meandering through. We are very blessed to be here endeavoring to work the land God has entrusted to us for a time to bless others with healthy beef, eggs, and sometimes chickens. We seek to market our products directly to individuals and families and have been very fortunate to be involved with JDLF since it began in 2018. Beth's father, Walter Holcombe, was instrumental in getting the farming going and worked with us until his passing in early 2020. Without Walter, we would not be farming today.
We were very strongly influenced to change from conventional beef production to a grass-fed farm by the writing of Joel Salatin. Many of our practices are some version of his adapted to where we live here in NW IL. We do not raise or feed any grain to our beef animals. Of course, the laying hens and meat chickens are fed a purchased grain-based, certified organic, feed and they supplement this from their time on pasture. The aim is to build soil while producing nutrient dense, healthful food. The cattle are rotated through the pasture being moved to fresh pasture daily. There are some paddocks where they will stay longer. And certain seasons when they are left on a parcel for an extended time. But greatest benefit to the soil comes from periods of intense grazing followed by extended periods of recovery to the land. The animal waste and activity over that time stimulates the microbiology of the soil to grow and that is what builds soil. That is the goal, soil regeneration. We have made a lot of mistakes along the way and I am certain will make more but by God's grace and His enabling we will continue to move toward that goal. We do not use herbicides on our pastures. We do not use insecticides on our animals or pastures. We do not feed any antibiotics but will treat an animal with antibiotic when sick if necessary. We do not implant our animals with synthetic growth hormones. We try to use as few inputs as possible but occasionally may use purchased fertilizer. We hope to get completely away from that. We do need to make hay for winter feed. We make small square bales with a twine baler. We use sisal twine that is treated to resist pests. I have not been successful in finding an untreated natural sisal twine strong enough to make our bales. This twine is removed when the hay is fed. We are not certified organic but try to use as many organic practices as is feasible right now. We eat our own products, too.