Monday, March 5, 2012

Three books: Cattle, cooking and preparing

 Three books on my reading list; the first is "Grass fed cattle", by Julius Ruechel.  I'd say that this is a good book for anyone who's interested in starting a cattle operation.  Unlike most cattle books, this one talks about the economics of raising cattle, and I think that what it says bears listening to.  Some of the particulars: 

  * Don't saddle yourself with a huge mortgage for your cow acreage; suggests strategies for finding low or no cost land that I find pretty credible.  I've arranged to use 17 acres of grass for the next 3 years in return for a side of beef; I used a strategy similar to those described here to get that deal done. 
  * Don't fall in love with equipment; spend as little as you can on the machinery, and as much as you can on the things that make you money -- like more cattle.  
  * Take advantage of seasonal variations in price by picking a type of cattle buyer and timing your production to the peak price.   Example:   Sell to people who want summer grazers.   Calve in the fall and sell the weanlings in the spring, when the demand is high for summer grazing stock. 

Practical, useful advice and a reminder that producing a farm product is only have the battle. You have to sell it, too.   Each market that you might sell to is discussed. 

  It does include chapters on grazing plans and waterers and design for mineral feeders and so on, but I think that the discussions of marketing your cattle are the best part -- if you've never look at having cows, it talks about the way that prices will go from year to year, and when you can get a better price for the same animal. 

Recommended reading if you're into cattle. 
 "Odd bits", by Jennifer McLagan. 

This book is a collection of recipes and strategies for cooking all the parts of the animal that are difficult to cook, or unfamiliar to most people.  Pigs feet and marrow bones and all of the things that most farmers are left with after they sell the animal.   

 Feet, tails, shanks, lungs, heart, liver, bones, necks -- all are covered, and for beef, pork and lamb.  No matter what you're slaughtering you'll find recipes in here for that. 

  I have a sincere interest in using as much of each animal as I can; and things like marrow bones are *really* tasty.  So if you're interested in using a higher percentage of your animal, or perhaps just in getting more food value out of your slaughter, this is a book that I'd recommend. 
"Preserving food" by Deborah Madison is on my list because I'm interested in finding ways to keep food in a shelf-stable way.  This one covers a variety of methods to preserve your food and your freezer space, too. 

For those folks who are interested in the long-term storage of food that doesn't require electricity, this book is very useful.  It'll give you a brief treatise on food safety, and then take you on a nuts-and-bolts guide through various preservation methods that result in tasty food that will keep for years. 


becky3086 said...

I obviously don't need the cattle book but the "Odd Bits" book has been on my wish list for a while. I hadn't seen that last book but will be adding that to my list as well. Thanks.

Funder said...

I read Grass-Fed Cattle years ago, back before I started my endless journey toward ever-higher land prices. I also thought it was excellent practical advice.

I'll check out the other two.