Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where's the Beef?

An old Wendy's commercial used to ask, "Where's the beef?"

My answer? "It's in my freezer."

Half a beef - 419 pounds' worth - is now packed into my downstairs chest freezer. It's been packaged as hamburger, roasts, steaks, ribs and brisket.

Additional beef went to our daughter's house in Topeka. (Brent is still working on his last installment of County Line beef.) It's also filling freezers for three other families.

No, it's not certified organic. It's not totally grass-fed. But I know exactly how the animal was cared for because I helped take care of it.

The story ends on a dinner plate.
This beef was star of the plate in a Farmer's Market Salad.
But it began in the winter of 2013. The two animals we most recently butchered were born then.
We cared for them throughout that cold, snowy winter.
In late April and early May 2014, it was time to take them to summer pasture.

I can't believe it, but I found photos - albeit not very good ones - of both the calves that ended up in our freezer. They were No. 3033 ...
... and No. 3069.
They and their "classmates" spent the summer at the Ninnescah and Rattlesnake Pastures.
In late October 2013, we gathered them off the summer pastures.
We brought them back to the farm to be weaned from their mamas and to spend the winter.
 All winter, they got a steady diet of grain, hay and silage.
This shows the silage being fed via the feed truck being augered into the feed bunks.
In February 2014, we sorted steers and heifers. We kept the heifers that we wanted to breed and add to our herd. A semi came and picked up the steers and their sisters who weren't going to be added to our operation.
They were transported to the Pratt Livestock Sale Barn, where they were sold. 
No. 3033 and 3069 were among the "girls" who stayed on the County Line to join the cow-calf operation.

Last April (2014), they had "visits" with the bulls. Then, in May, they went with the other heifers - and a bull - to spend another summer in the pasture.
In November 2014, we brought the cows and heifers back to the farmstead. Our veterinarian came to do pregnancy checks.
No. 3033 and No. 3069 did not pass that test. But they now had a new job: We continued to feed them to prepare for their important job of feeding our family.

On a cold and snowy day, March 1, 2015, we hooked up the trailer ...

... and loaded the two cows. Randy estimates they tipped the scales at approximately 1,400 pounds each.
We took them to Ellinwood Packing and unloaded them.
They were harvested the next morning, March 2.
On April 1, about a month later, Randy brought home the custom-packaged beef. The two 1,400-pound cows yielded 1,714 pounds of processed beef, which went to five families, three getting half a beef and two getting a quarter.

So, where's the beef? It's in our freezer and on our dinner plates. But it's a story that's a long time in the making.

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