Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The steaks and roasts of 2013

One of the things that I like about farming is that you can make your own rules about what you eat.  I've found that for my table a little older cow, someting around 30 months, is tastiest.  They've got a little fuller flavor, and a bit more marbling, and I prefer that. 

If I were doing this as an investment, I'd like to get my money back a quickly as I could; to maximize my concern, but cost or profit isn't really the issue here.  It's all about taste and what I like to eat, and it really doesn't cost much more to keep the cows a year longer. 

The big secret to that is having sufficient grass and forage, and watching your winter feed costs.  In a normal year I do that -- buying good quality local hay as cheaply as I can, and by managing the pastures so that the cows have plenty to eat at all times.  I maintain a 10 acre field solely for my beef cattle (well, I may run some pigs up there to clear some brush out, but it's mostly for the beef cattle) and that ground provides enough forage for my little herd of 7. 
I don't really like having meat in the freezer for more than 6 or 8 months, so I stagger my production so that a cow is available every 6 months.  I'll either sell the half that I don't eat, or, more likely, give it to friends or family.  It's nice to be able to give the folks you care for something that both tastes good and is better than they might be able to get on their own.  

I've decided that for the most part, I'm not going to eat anonymous meat any more, and the majority of the meat that I eat I know a lot about.  In the case of cows I don't really have to worry about getting too attached to them.  For me it's just not an issue.  With pigs you can see an active intelligence and they have endearing personalities.  Not so much with cows.  While they are affectionate and have sufficient brainpower to move their legs and work their jaw, that's about it. 
The grass in the field is 8' tall in some cases.  The cold and wet has made it impossible to hay so far, so I'm using the animals to harvest part of it. 
And this is what they'll do until mid-fall, where I'll move them to another field and feed them through the winter with the summers hay.  And next fall, in 2012, I'll walk out on the field and select my table fare. 

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