Well, this has been awhile in the making, but some friends, relatives (including Tom and Chareva), and I finally went all in on grass-fed beef. As in, not just buying grass-fed beef, not just knowing where your food is coming from, but in your grass-fed beef coming from your own beeves. “Beeves” is what us rancher types call more than one cow.
By ranch, I mean we’ve got two head. Meet Tartare and Royale:
This all started well over a year ago. In talking to Linda, who has the farm where I get my raw milk, I had talked up Joel Salatin and the whole intensive grazing/high density/rotational grazing approach. She has a few dairy cows on several acres, with part of her pastures segregated and rented out to a traditional rancher who brings cows in the Spring to pasture during the year, then takes them back and puts them on grain in the Fall for market.
She said if I found a grass-fed calf or two, I could pasture them with her cows. In the meantime, she’d started to put fences in to accommodate a rotational system.
As I said, that was over a year ago. It turns out you can’t just go down to the mega-mart and find a pasture-fed calf. I asked anybody selling grass-fed beef if they sold calves, but nobody had “extras.” Between demand increasing, the seasonality of calving, and last year’s drought preventing herd growth, there just weren’t any to be found.
A couple of months ago, one of the people I’d been talking to since last Fall suggested I contact Jerry Pierson, who raises some grass-fed cows in addition to his “day job.” Jerry turned out to be as nice and eager to help a “newbie” as everyone else I’ve talked to, and did think he might sell a couple. It took a couple of weeks to coordinate a visit (he’s about 45 miles away), figure out pricing, etc. then another month waiting for the rain and Jerry’s schedule to clear up enough to deliver them.
I went down to “help” — which pretty much meant staying out of the way. Cows are pretty easy to herd if you’re patient and know what you’re doing. Here’s Jerry making it look easy:
We stopped at a scale on the way to Linda’s so we could figure the weight, then took a slow 60 mile ride through the country to deliver next year’s steaks to their new home:
Cows are herd animals, and they and Linda’s cows immediately headed towards each other to make each others’ acquaintance.
When Jerry stopped on the way back to weigh the empty rig, I got a bit of sticker-shock. Neither one of us, especially me, had much experience, but the guy at the scale had looked in the trailer when we stopped and he guessed them at around 600 or 650 pounds each. It turned out they were actually around 870 pounds each.
That meant writing a bigger check today, but it also likely moved the anticipated date to put them in the freezer up from Fall 2014 to Spring 2014 or maybe even late this Fall.
It’s a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to that as much as our very own grass-fed beef. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, remember — never approach a Bull from the front, a Horse from the rear, or a Fool from any direction.
the Older Brother