The blazing colors of fall aren’t the only things that are a change for us. Our food preference change with the Indian Summer days and cool nights. Comfort food takes on a whole new meaning. We are ready to trade the patio barbecue for the warmth of the crockpot or dutch oven. Tis the change of seasons.
In our jump into the beef business, it quickly became apparent what people eat and when they like it. Early June was all about the hamburger patties. As we inch closer to those dreaded words — arctic chill, the trend is for roasts and more roasts. Understanding what the customers want is important to us.
Beyond what cuts of meat are in the freezer, our customers care where their food comes from and how it was raised. For Lisa and me, the care of livestock has always been in our blood. Our parents and grandparents tended to cattle, sheep and a few hogs. We understand the importance of sourcing in our foods. Our family eats the meat we sell to our customers. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our story and the lives of the beef are really quite simple. The calves for the beef program are usually born in late April. They are tagged and weighed. Once momma and baby are good to go, they begin this journey on the ranch. Just like the stamps on a passport, these cows and calves make their way through the “borders” of one pasture to the next on the ranch. This odyssey will last two years.
As the summer heats up, so does the elevation of the cows. Part of the herd will head up to a leased pasture 20 miles alway in the tall grass, bluffs and deep pools of Bear Creek. The rest will move through a series of pastures within a five-mile perimeter of the home ranch. When the temps start falling, the cows are moved closer to home.
During the winter, the calves — now young adults — are fed hay from the ranch. We do not use commercial fertilizers or pesticides on our hay crops. We keep salt and mineral in front of them year around. Yes, our cows do get babied. We do not prescribe to that survival of the fittest mode with our cattle. I guess we’re softies.
The beef never leave the ranch. Although we buy herd bulls and young cows each year, the offspring remain at home.
They live a pretty happy life on the ranch. Sometimes their birth day is a little rough. Who wants to be born on a snowy April day? The only other bad day is that fateful journey to the meat processor. Otherwise, we do our best to take care of the herd.
When it comes to where the food comes from, it really does start and end on the ranch. The calves spend seven months at their mother’s side before being weaned. They will spend the next year or so growing and developing. The one thing important to this development is spending time with the herd. High strung, wild, flighty cows are not good for the beef program. If a cow can eat alfalfa pellets out of our hand, we know we’ve done our job.
Why should people care? A steak in the freezer or supermarket display case is nothing more than a piece of meat. We’d like to think there is a whole lot more to it. We hope you do too.