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Posts Tagged ‘Grass Fed Beef’

What a tasty supper. We had a roast turkey and bbq beef stew.  Sounds autumnal, I know, but it’s one of the advantages of growing your own food and having a freezer (or 3).

Last November we took Chuck, the bull to the processor.  Being a miniature cow, he was only 300 lbs hanging weight. That’s still a lot of food for two people.  We gave a bunch away and still have several roasts, plenty of burger and some steaks left. Oh, we also have the tongue, liver and shanks.  I suspect I’ll be eating the liver alone.  In my opinion, grass fed, pastured beef is best cooked low and slow.  Grilling is ok, but crock pots, braising pans and smokers are best.  Tonight it was slow cooked in the crock pot and doused in bbq sauce. Simple, yet outstanding.

About the same time we had Chuck butchered,  we processed our turkeys.  Several customers cancelled orders on us a the last minute so we had an abundance. No problem, that’s what freezers are for.  On a whim, B thawed one and roasted it so we could have sandwiches over the weekend.  I’ve been standing over the poor bird off and on all evening picking at her (it was a hen).  Its a real treat to have something as awesome as a roast turkey on a week night in July that’s usually reserved for Holidays and special occasions.  Again, it’s one of the pleasures of raising food.

If you could raise your own food, what would be your favorite thing to grow?  Or, if you do farm and/or garden, what are some of your personal favorite treats that are made possible by canning, drying or freezing?  I’d love to hear your story.

 

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Every breed of cow has its strengths and weaknesses. Every breed has its proponents and detractors. Popularity of breeds waxes and wanes like the tides, or the phases of the moon. In my lifetime, beef breeds have come and gone like the flavors of the month at Baskin Robbins.  At one time, it was Herefords, then Charolais. For a while everyone who cared about beef wanted a mighty Simmental. These days, Angus are en vogue.

Dairy cows have pretty much gone the same route, with Milking Shorthorns, Brown Swiss and Guernseys having their day. Those who are big on butterfat, swear by Jerseys. For sheer volume, nothing beats a Holstein.

Across the country, there are dozens of other breeds who have a following; Brahman, Longhorn, Pineywoods, Murray Grey, Belted Galloway and many more have found a place in the pastures and barnyards of America.

There is one breed though, that stands head and shoulders above the crowd as the ideal family cow.  The Irish Dexter has functioned for centuries as a beef, dairy and draft animal for small farmers, crofters and homesteaders in its native Ireland. For nearly a century and a half, the Dexter has served a similar purpose here in the USA.

Saying Dexters stand head and shoulders above other cattle, is a bit of a stretch as they are the smallest Heritage breed of cattle, standing only 36 to 44 inches or so tall.  A mature female will top out at 600 – 800 lbs, while a bull might tip the scales at 1000 lbs.

Dexters are outstanding foragers and can thrive on the best or even the most marginal of pastures. They are a great choice for those who want to supply their families grass fed beef, but have only a few acres of pasture available. It is fairly easy to keep two Dexters plus their calves on a good acre of grass.

High producing Dexter dairy cows will give up to 2 gallons a day in sweet, rich milk. A 100% grass fed cow will provide ½ to 1 gallon a day; more than enough for most families to drink and to have extra for butter and cheese.  The leftover whey and buttermilk will be a fantastic supplement for chickens or a feeder pig.

A family raising two cows can plan their breeding so that one of the cows calves early in the year and one late in the year so that milk is available year round.  The calves can be raised as beeves or sold for extra cash.

Did I mention that I don’t think any breed of cattle comes close to matching the Dexter for temperament?  They are easily trained to halter and rope. They enjoy being petted and handled. Ours will follow us anywhere as long as there is a treat at the end of the journey.

We are slowly building our herd of Dexters. For a while, we’ll still be buying feeder steers from the auction, but within a couple of years, we expect all our beef and dairy to come from Dexters.  Whether you have just a couple acres and want to raise a cow, or have hundreds of acres and want to be an honest to goodness rancher, you should give Irish Dexters a serious look.

If you want to learn more, you might want to check out this website.

 

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If even half of our plan comes to fruition (pun partially intended), 2012 should be the most exciting year yet here in the burb (and out at the farm).  We’ve talked about some of these things and hinted at others, but I thought I’d list them all here as kind of a teaser.

1. We are expanding the garden considerably by adding three aquaponics systems.  In order to handle the extra vegetable volume, we are offering a few CSA shares.  The details and pricing will be made available at the end of this month in a newsletter to our mailing list.

2. The aquaponics gardens will also allow us to add fish to our other meat and poultry offerings.  Fish will have limited availability starting this fall, but will expand throughout the winter and into next year.

3. We will be adding pastured pork to our offerings. Again, this will be on a specific, limited, pre order basis. Our mini porkers will be available in whole or half pig portions. Details in the coming newsletter.

4. Pastured beef. Yes, you herd right (sorry, couldn’t resist a little homonym humor), pastured beef.  We will be taking pre orders in February for a few partners to join us in raising some of the best beef in North Georgia. You guessed it, details coming in the January newsletter.

5. This will be our first year to offer Cabrito/Chevon from our newly acquired Kiko herd. Our does were bred to a Boer herd sire and are due in early Spring. By the end of June any males born will be ready for market.  We may also have a few Alpines available as well, though our great hope is a crop of does to strengthen our dairy herd.

6. Speaking of Dairy, Britttan will be milking 3 Alpines and three Nigerians this year, which means more milk and more yogurt for you.  In addition to the usual a la carte offerings, we will make goat shares available so that you can be guaranteed a regular supply. Thank you, btw, for the emails and phone calls raving about the milk and yogurt from last year.  We love it that you’ve enjoyed your experience.  Just a couple months more waiting.

7. Let’s not forget pastured turkeys.  Feed prices are rising like everything else, so turkey prices will have to go up a bit this year. However, we’ll make it worth your while by having larger birds.  Those of you who have been out to the farm to see Mr. Tom, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

8. We are eggspanding our flock of chickens to provide more breakfast and baking goodness for everyone who’s been begging for more eggs.  Assuming we can keep the hawks at bay, we will dramatically increase egg availability starting this spring. We are also giving share opportunities for those who want a consistent, regular supply.

9. Pastured chicken production will be greatly reduced. We will have the occasional stewing hen available, but we will no longer be marketing broilers.  Stewing hens have better flavor anyway. So if you want to be notified when stewers  coming up, you’ll need to get on the mailing list.

See, I told you this is going to be a huge year for us. We are excited and a little awestruck by the task, but farming is our passion and providing you with the freshest, tastiest meat, dairy and produce in North Georgia is our goal.  As alluded to several times, we have a newsletter going out either the last week of January or the first week of February.  We have a list of everyone who have written to us or purchased from us in the past.  If you want to be on that list, or are not sure if you are on it, you can email us by using the contact page on our website or simply by emailing sam@eastofedenfarms.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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It's a Boy! The Red Claw Gives It Away

The day is finally unwinding.  I’m not, but the day is. And what a day it’s been.

The rumblings of potential issues began last night when neither Brittan nor I could sleep.  B was over caffeinated while I was suffering with a back issue.  Stuff happens. We ended up with about three hours sleep.

When we arrived at the farm today, we expected to load two cows and get them to the processor. What we did not expect was a flat tire on our trailer.  The trailer that weighs 3000 pounds in low humidity.  I grabbed a can of fix a flat and the air compressor and went to work.  It was not a big deal, but trusting a 2 hour round trip on the interstate with wife, truck, trailer and cattle to an aerosol can of foam and air is stretching common sense just a little.

It took us nearly three hours to get one cow loaded. The other one was not going to cooperate.  Fortunately the one we got in was Chuck the bull and he was the most important. In the end, Diane got a reprieve for a season.

B and I were flat out pooped by the time we got on the road.  The drive was fairly uneventful and we spent it with mixed emotions.  We’ll miss Chuck, but this is what we raised him for. On the other hand, we were all excited about coming home to a box of 18 Giant Red Claw Crawfish (sometimes called freshwater lobster) to begin our aquaponics garden in earnest.

Before we could get home, we needed to get some hay for the animals, so we unhitched the horse trailer and replaced it with a utility one and sped down the road to the feed store.  By the time we got back to the house it was 4:50. In the mailbox Brittan found a note that said the Post Office did not deliver the Crawfish. They were at the Post Office and would be delivered tomorrow.

I had ten minutes. Ten. Fortunately, you can see the Post Office from our house. It’s a one minute drive. I raced over there only to find a line of people mailing Christmas Boxes.  Naturally the man two in front of me had 13 boxes to be shipped all over the world.  By the time I got to the desk it was after 5.

I handed my card to the nice lady and she went to get my box. She returned empty handed saying it was still on the truck and the truck was long gone.  My shoulder fell. I groaned, “but it’s live fish. They will be dead by morning.”  She apologized and gave me a dispatch number to call.

With no expectations, I called the distribution center. The line was busy. The line was busy for 6 minutes. I kept trying. I eventually got a very nice lady on the phone.  I told her my situation. I ended by saying, “They’ll be dead by morning.” to which she replied, “They smell like they might already be dead.”

I was not comforted.

After what seemed like a decade, she said, “You know what. I’ve got a truck leaving for the main Acworth office. If you can meet the driver behind the building, I’ll get you your box.”  Folks, that’s customer service.

Brittan and I jumped in the car and headed down the road. The main office is on the other side of town and it was rush hour, which means there’s no hope for rushing.  When we finally arrived, the driver was waiting patiently. He was so nice. As he handed me the box, he said, “I sure hope the little guys are alright.”

Tonight I am very happy with the United Postal Service. They went above and beyond what they had to do.

We got home and opened the box to find our Crawfish very much alive.  As the series of photos shows, we acclimatised them to the water before releasing them. Once released, they seemed to very much enjoy their freedom, while our male cat, Cash, thought all his Birthdays had come at once.  He did everything but climb into the fish tank.

We will keep them together in this one tank for a few days, then split them into two tanks.  Once the females are full of eggs, we will set up additional tanks for nursery and grow out.

One of the Crawfish does not seem to be too perky, but the others appear to be off to a good start. We’ll know more tomorrow.  All that’s left to

do tonight is shower. Even the pigs won’t come near me. I can take a hint.

First, Acclimatise The Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of Red Claw Getting Acclimated

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing The Crawfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Needs Cable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Milling About in the New Digs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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