Hylander Farms (continued)

"Everything is much tenderer because the animal's younger," he says, after a day of autumn combining. Besides livestock the Hylands grow corn, wheat and soybeans.

The couple has been selling cuts of veal and beef from their farm store for more than 20 years. Brian grew up on the farm, and his dad, Walter, still is one of the principal animal caretakers.

Hylander is one of the few outlets in southwestern Ontario selling freshly-cut veal and beef products. "Very few livestock farmers are in the county anymore," he says.

Veal is not a calf but about half the size of the full-grown steer, just under a year old and weighing perhaps 700 lbs. "I call it young beef."

It's actually the second major animal type grown on Ontario farms.

Hyland stresses the importance of corn-fed "red veal" as opposed to milk-fed "white veal." He believes it makes all the difference in taste.

Obviously, Italian dishes featuring veal cutlets have long taken advantage of the tenderness of the younger beef. And the Hylands sell cutlets used for scallopini and other dishes. Rina has her own favourite scallopini and parmigiana recipes, available on the farm's website.

Brian says "another huge advantage" is that veal makes "excellent" sausages.

"Veal is the best meat to carry the flavour of your spice," he says.

Veal is also leaner and has no fat globules. Pork sausage, by comparison, is the "least worthy" cost cut because it's loaded with fat. "You can cook them for an hour and a half and still get fat out of them."

Hylander sells Mild and Hot Italian sausage as well as Breakfast and Honey Garlic sausage.

The farm sells a lot of regular (or larger) beef products because there is consumer demand. It's "diversification of the market," he says.

The farm specializes in raising its animals under high husbandry standards. This includes small penning to allow for more movement among the animals and regular monitoring of their health.

As a working farm don't expect to drop by and the store always being open.

"If I'm there it's open," Brian laughs. "If I'm not there it's not."

Most customers pre-order.

As Brian says, "If they come and I don't have the kind of meat they're looking for, well, then that's not so convenient for them, right?"

www.hylanderfarms.com