Finishing in Fall/Winter.
This is our 9th year since buying the farm and our 6th year in operations. Every year we improve, learn, and do things better. For the last few years we have been able to narrow our calving season between April- June and our harvest season late Fall/early winter. This year we have a few harvest dates in November, most in December, and some more will be in January/February 2022 (we are only opening 2021 for now).
With this in mind, we have (successfully) been working to extend our grazing season to mid December. It's been nice to see our December harvest finish in fresh grass! When grazing season is over though, we have been separating our finishers from the rest of the herd to give them a different quality feed. Our best, high carbohydrate feed goes to them (also an "all you can eat buffet"!) and we have been very successful at finishing these animals in the early winter months on grass and our best quality hay.
Choose Your Processor.
We use 2 processors for our beef and pork- Lake Geneva Country Meats and Wilson Farm Meats. We have good relationships with both and have been very happy with their work and service to our customers. However, we know some of you prefer one and others prefer the other, for different reasons, so we now have a "drop down" menu to select the harvest date AND processor. Keep in mind! you need to add 2-3 weeks to that harvest date to figure out when your beef will actually be ready!
Request a Size.
When we harvest, we usually bring 2 or more animals at a time. While we make sure our animals are well finished for processing, some animals are just genetically bigger than others. Some customers have smaller families and want less beef, and others want more, so this year we would like for you to notify us in our COMMENTS box when making your reservation if you want BIG or SMALL. When the processor gives us the hanging weights we can then try to accommodate our customers preference for more or less beef. If you have bought from us in the past, you can even let us know if you were satisfied with your last amount or want more/less. I can look back at the hanging weight you had and go from there.
While this is not a guarantee, it will help us better assign harvested animals to customers based on their needs. It also may be that you are ordering a half instead of a quarter but want a "small half" so you are not overwhelmed by too much beef.
Pricing Changes (Tier-pricing).
We've been selling in bulk now for about 6 years with the same pricing. Unfortunately, everything else has gone up! This year, we needed to slightly increase the price per hanging weight pound, but decided to now offer "tier pricing".
What this means is that if you buy a whole beef you get the same old price of $4.95/lb, for a half side beef $5.25/lb, and for a quarter side $5.50/lb. Of course, you can get creative and economical by buying with a friend, family member, or neighbor, but we request we only deal with one person for payment and communication and the processor will also get the cutting instructions from this one person, even if you are dividing it with others, so please arrange accordingly!
That's it! We will work hard in the coming months to use the best grazing management for healthy grasses, healthy soil, and best finishing for our animals.
Thank you for your continued support!
These days I hear “Nose to Tail cooking” as a culinary trend and I’m happy about that! Nose-to-tail cooking is all about sustainability, and this is very important to us- and it should be for you too! See, a farmer can’t raise a pork chop. A farmer can’t raise a rib eye steak, or a leg of lamb. You have to raise a whole pig, a whole lamb, and a whole cow. It’s pretty simple: Tossing out valuable parts of the animal doesn’t make sense environmentally or economically.
But what does “nose to tail” mean? It means eating and using all parts of the animal- its less popular steaks, roasts, organ meats, bones, even the tallow has (once again) become a popular fat to use for cooking. This is why by selling in bulk, we encourage sustainability, and a more economical way for our customers to get quality grass fed beef.
Nose to Tail Around the World
Using the whole animal is a practice that is still common in many countries around the world. We experience this firsthand in travels to Uruguay and Argentina- where they are so proud of their (grass fed) beef and will gladly talk to you for hours about where it comes from, the different cuts, how to cook it, and how to eat it. In Barcelona, we went to the famous market “La Boqueria” where they sell everything under the sun, including EVERY cut imaginable of meat. I admit seeing the lamb’s head for sale blew me away!
However, aside from this ultra-foodie “nose- to tail eating” trend, it has largely slipped from the Western mindset. I think this is mainly due to the lack of connection we have from our food sources, embodied by the fact that meat has become industrialized and is now perfectly portioned into pink patties, shrink-wrapped in plastic and resembling in no way whatsoever any known animal. Unfortunately for us, in our finicky attitudes about food, we’ve been overlooking fine cuts of meat, tasty delicacies and, of course, the spice of life — variety!
Honoring the Animal and Our Environment
To maximize the nourishment you can receive from a living creature is to honor that it was, in fact, living. By not using the whole animal, we’re not respecting other living creatures. Giving thanks to the animal for supplying your meal is a good start, but it’s really when we choose to honor the whole animal that we take a step forward in mindful consumerism and changing our food supply system. In so doing, we encourage a mindset that fights excess waste and increases appreciation for the animals that nourish us.
For Your Health
A direct effect of eating the whole animal is- it’s good for your body. As I learned in my nutrition studies, Americans tend to promote certain cuts more than others (i.e. chicken breast, salmon, tenderloins, etc..) but the reality is, just like humans, animals store different nutrients in different parts of their bodies, and by eating the same cuts over and over, you are getting the same nutrients and neglecting to get other important ones.
Our Own Experience
A few years before starting our farm, we bought our first ¼ beef steer from our farming mentor, and now friend, Krusen Grass Farm in Wisconsin for our own beef consumption. I won’t lie, when Paul told me about trying it out, I hesitated. At that point, I knew nothing about “bulk buying”, how it works, how much beef I was going to get, and exactly what cuts. I was used to cooking with ground beef and the occasional steak Paul would throw on the grill, but beyond that, I knew nothing about a pot roast, a round steak, and slow cooking beef was a concept beyond my culinary repertoire.
The experience of buying in bulk opened a new world of cooking and flavors for us! We had to do something with the cuts of beef I knew nothing about- so I’d look for a recipe, cook it up (way easier than I ever thought) and be surprised by how delicious and easy it was to cook all these different cuts!. We were very pleased by chuck steaks, and top butt steaks, rump roast, sirloin tip, round steaks, and even tried a couple of liver pate recipes that actually delighted us!
This idea that by buying a ¼ of an animal, splitting the entire animal with others, gave us a good feeling that we were honoring the whole animal as well as helping the farmer go through its inventory.
We encourage our customers to buy in bulk, but otherwise to try different cuts of beef. We are here to help with cooking instructions and/or recipe ideas! And stay tuned for next month when I will blog about “Nose to Tail How-To”.
Marisa usually writes about nutrition, grass fed beef, organic agriculture, as well as sharing delicious recipes; Paul writes about farm work- sharing his stories and experiences, and most times... we both collaborate on the stories!