Frequently Asked Questions
Do I clean and return jars and lids?
Yes clean and return the empties. We deliver milk in half-gallon and quart mason jars, and cream in pint and quart jars. When the jars are empty, please clean them for return. To save your milking team time, get them fairly clean and dissolve the label from the side of the jar (they dissolve in water). Nirvana for the milking team is a place where we efficiently load clean dry jars into our sterilizing dishwasher when they get back to the farm. Washing them in your dishwasher is fine. If you break, chip, or crack jars, then discard the jar and return the lid. If you break the lid, discard it. Your $10 annual bottle fee per herd share covers accidental breakage. If you keep clean dry jars flowing back to your farm, then we have someplace to put all of the milk the cows so generously produce. Storing up jars at home for a few weeks generally does not help your farm.
Do I return egg cartons?
Yes. Each labeled carton returned that we reuse saves your farm about a buck. So it's worth it. When they get gross, we burn them in our woodstove to warm the farmhouse.
I'm a full-farm-share owner. When do I receive my meat?
As a full-farm share owner, you own half of a live hog, a quarter of a live steer, shares of our dairy herd, laying hens, and more, and you hire us to take care of your shares of the livestock and harvest and deliver the foods they produce. Pork arrives as soon as your half hog is harvested. To harvest your hog, we arrange a date with you to come to the farm for an overnight stay while we all work together to harvest your hog the first day and cut and wrap it the second day. When you leave, you take home a cooler full of fresh pork. Hams and bacon are cured and smoked on the farm using no nitrites and using applewood from the old trees on the farm. Beef is harvested once or twice a year. We let you know when your steer is going to be harvested and invite you to come to the farm for harvest, cut, and wrap. We also grow and harvest all your meat chickens here on the farm. Farm share owners attend chicken harvest, and get to take extra chickens home.
What are the details of the hog harvest farm stay?
We harvest all the hogs here on the farm. Kira is the chief butcher, initially self trained and then finish-trained by a German butcher who taught her unique European cuts that just aren't available in the U.S. When your hog is ready, we arrange a date with you for your hog harvest farm stay. Best to arrive in the early afternoon the first day for a tour and farm activities. We harvest the hog in the late afternoon or evening on the first day. We scald the hog and remove all the hair, which is the traditional method, appropriate to the gourmet "skin-on" cuts that you want from Berkshire pork. The hog is eviscerated, which is a great biology lesson for the whole family, split into sides and placed in the cooler overnight. Then we all sit down to a farm-fresh dinner (usually pork from a farm harvest, so you get a taste of what's coming) and settle in for the night. We have limited accommodations in the farm house, and during the spring, summer, and fall, camping here is great. Some farm share owners nearby go home and some spend the night at a nearby motel. The following day around noon, we cut and wrap your pork, prepare the hams and bacon for curing and smoking, and you are on your way home around 3pm with a cooler full of pork chops, roasts, and steaks. The cured meats are delivered later to your drop point. Yum!
How much freezer space do I need for my meat?
Cut and packaged, a half hog fits in about 2 cubic feet of freezer space. A quarter beef takes about the same. We say a half hog will be about 100lbs of cut meat and the same for a quarter beef. That weight can vary quite a bit. Participating in Helios Farms means that you recognize that you are purchasing a live animal that is (locally and ethically) grown and harvested to provide you with meat, This is different than buying meat that is packaged and sold by the pound. The quantity of meat varies based on many factors relating to the individual animal, weather, and farm variables.
What are your hogs fed?
Our hogs are fed a GMO-free, soy-free diet. We use no ag chemicals or pharma products on the farm. The hog diet consists of forage and select rolled grains and legumes, minerals and nutrients, usually mixed and fermented in clabbered raw milk. Depending on where we have them foraging, they can get a lot of berries and apples, and some nuts in their diet in the summer and fall. They eat everything from six inches above ground to six inches below the ground, including roots and dirt, yum. They sometimes drink from streams and always have fresh spring water in front of them.
What are your laying hens fed?
Our egg laying hens are fed a GMO-free mixture of soy-free legumes and grains, clabbered raw milk, salt, kelp and pasture forage. We move them regularly onto new ground on the pasture and they forage with the cows to spread manure and harvest the bugs we grow. They also benefit from our on-farm butchery services receiving regular servings of scraps from the butchery.
What are your beef cattle fed?
All of our cattle are exclusively grass fed, supplemented with spray-free hay and alfalfa when the pastures are too dry or too wet. The cows are rotated on fresh, diverse pasture during the spring and rainy fall seasons. We use no ag chemicals on the land or pharmaceuticals with animals.
What are your dairy cows fed?
All of our dairy cows are on pasture spring through fall and most of the winter. They are rotated daily on fresh, diverse and spray-free pasture spring and fall season and are supplemented with spray-free hay from local fields. We also supplement them with alfalfa pellets when we milk them and offer them a variety of livestock salts as mineral supplements year-round. As an orthomolecular, regenerative farm, we use no ag chemicals or pharmaceuticals on the farm.
Are all of your livestock free-range?
Yes. We use various sized paddocks to move them around our 160 acre land. They "free-range" inside their paddocks, which are freshened regularly. Chickens have a broad ranging area so they can do their job. We love farm share owners to come visit the farm to see how we do things.
Why aren't you certified organic?
We are pioneering orthomolecular, regenerative farming techniques. The farm microbiome is critical, and that means no ag chemicals or pharma chemicals are used on our farm, because they damage the microbiome. We work on contract with our farm share owners and are "farm-share-owner certified." We have an open-door, open-farm policy at Helios Farms, and our farm share owners are invited to visit any time. We are working under contract for you, our farm share owners. We are farm-share-owner certified. We ask that you visit the farm to learn, question, contribute to and approve our practices.