Buying Beef or Lamb From the Farmer

There are many articles out there addressing this and to be sure, each producer may do things just a bit different, so please don’t take this article as the end all for ‘how to purchase beef from a farmer.’  This is what we do.

Step by step.

  1. If it is important to you, ask questions or visit the producer’s website (if they have one – many don’t,  we are producers not techies or salesmen) about how the animals are handled and raised.

Sample Question:

  1. Are the beeves you sell fully grass finished or grain finished (feedlot) do they receive grain on pasture? If so, is the grain non-GMO?
  2. Do you vaccinate your animals?  Are the animals you sell to me treated with antibiotics, synthetic dewormers, hormonal implants,
  3. Is your farm and animals raised organically?  certified organic (3rd party certification)?, (Certified organic animals/meat must be processed in a certified organic abattoir, all this adds tremendously to the cost of certified organic but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than your local producer.)  For example, many of us raise fully grass-fed and finished from conception to consumption, no implants, no synthetic dewormers, no antibiotics, etc, etc.  But, we might treat some brush in the next paddock with weed killer, so no way can that animal be certified organic.  Also, even if our farm and animals could be certified organic, if there isn’t a certified organic butcher shop, the meat cannot be certified organic.  I would have to make a 4 hour one way drive to a certified organic butcher.  Not going to happen.
  4. Why can’t i just ring up and you have a beef available?  Don’t you keep cattle year round?  Yes, we keep cattle year round, but most of us are cow/calf producers and will only finish enough animals to fill orders placed six months or more in advance.  Once an animal is finished, it needs to go to slaughter – every day that it is still on pasture, it is losing money.   Most of our animals are sold as calves through traditional markets, so if you haven’t ordered a beef well in advance, we won’t have saved back enough beeves to finish one for you.  Also, sometimes the weather plays havoc with finishing times as well.  If you want factory finished feedlot beef, you’ll have to go the store.

You may want to visit the farm before making a purchase, but remember, we are producers, not salesmen – if you aren’t serious about making a purchase, please don’t take up too much time.  Be prepared ahead of time with questions.  You may decide after you meet with the farmer and see how he operates, not to purchase, but don’t take up time just out of curiosity.

If you decide to purchase, already have it in your mind how much you want to buy.  For example, a typically grass-finished carcass will weigh 600-700 lbs.  Be sure to ask the producer, his might be bigger or smaller, but armed with that information, you can quickly determine whether you need a whole, half, or quarter carcass AND you can budget for it.  Be prepared that the carcass may be larger than the producer says – we cannot guarantee an exact hanging weight.  We are just not that good.  We can usually get within 50 lbs more or less.  Quarter carcasses are more likely sold as a split side rather than a hind or fore quarter, but ask; some producers sell both ways.  Half and quarter (split side) will be more expensive – Why?  because we have to find another buyer(s).

So, figure out  how much  meat your family will eat in a year or 6 months.  Most of us only offer beeves once or twice a year since it is time consuming to sell directly to the consumer, however, we are happy to do so if you are serious about quality meat for your family – we share that vision with you.

For a rough figuring, say your family eats 2 lbs of beef per day.  A whole beef of 600 lbs carcass will yield about 360 lbs of packaged meat.  If you want enough for a year – buy two beeves.  You must let the producer know at least 3-4 months in advance so he can keep the animal for you on pasture plus have it booked in at the butcher.  Many local butchers shut down for deer season, which means all domestic animals have to be butchered, hung, and out by 1 October.  They won’t take more in until the first of December, so it is critical to let the producer know well in advance if you want any.  Spring time purchases can be just as critical because so many people want to get animals in.

Once you’ve settled on a price (this will vary a LOT), then you may be expected to make a down payment to hold your beef.  This is reasonable.  Kind of like making a down payment on a vacation trip or anything else you’ve spoken for to do in the future.  Most of the time, you will pay the producer for the beef and the butcher for the processing.  Our processor charges 44 cents per pound hanging weight for basic processing and $30 as a kill fee.  But, i will tell you, that he charges less than most places and certainly less than a USDA inspected plant.  If you want extras like burger patties, extra tenderizing, excessive deboning, or other specialties, these will be an additional cost.  Work that out with the butcher.  Your producer will give you the contact information.

Retail Beef Cuts – most butchers are glad to help you with your custom order, but do a bit of study ahead to make best choices.  Also, remember, local butchers aren’t going to be into fancy, exotic cuts, so ask about special cuts, but you may not get exactly what you want.  You’ll also be asked how thick you want steaks cut and how many to a package, what size roasts and what kind.  Deboned or bone-in.  (i personally like a lot of bone – makes a ton of soup stock or treats for your dog, however, i always get my rump roasts deboned because i make corned beef with them).  How many lbs of burger in a package (1 or 2)?  Organ meats?, Suet?  These are just a sampling.

The butcher will tell you when the animal will be taken in to the butcher and it will likely be killed that day.  If you want organ meats, you MUST notify the butcher in advance!  Don’t forget this.  It is not the producers responsibility to tell the butcher how you want your animal custom processed.  If you don’t notify him, it will probably be thrown away, after which it cannot be salvaged.  If you wait until after the calf is delivered to call the butcher, do so as soon as possible.  Don’t make the butcher track you down and keep them waiting on how to process your calf.  This is not polite.

The producer will likely notify you within a day of the weight of the animal and what you own him.  The animal is yours now and has your name on it, pay him promptly!

Once the butcher calls you that the beef (or lamb) is ready for pickup, GO GET IT!  Some butchers may start charging storage if you leave it for long.  Just go get it and pay him for goodness sake.

How Much Freezer Space?  Allow 20 lb per cubic foot.  That’s packing it in there, though, and won’t be handy for sorting and finding what you need.  It will keep better in a chest type freezer kept near 0ºF versus your frig freezer or even a stand up freezer.  A stand up freezer certainly takes less floor space, but the chest type is typically more energy efficient as well.

What breed?  Some breeds are naturally more lean than others, but if it’s in the feedlot on a high grain diet, it’s gonna be fat regardless if it’s Corriente or Angus.  On grass, the genetics of the animal will be more expressed, but by and large, the producer will take the animal to a determined end point.  Grass finished will generally have less cover and internal fat that grain finished.

Hope this helps!  Do some online googling and research – there are loads of info out there.  Don’t assume the producer is producing in such manner that is important to you.  Don’t complain about the price or the lack of availability.  If you think a producer is too expensive, just shop elsewhere – don’t complain about it.

County Rest Home Provides Shelter for Many Oldsters

Here is an article written by Lena Green Rogers and published in the July 28, 1953 edition (Volume LXX, No. 59) of the Daily News-Bulletin, Brookfield, MO about a rest home that was located about a mile west of Linneus, MO on Hwy B. Many of you may remember it as the Infirmary on Infirmary Hill.

Please share this story around and i want to encourage you to add stories and photos to the comments area of this blog.  It would be keen to gather more details of this historic, yet long-gone, institution which provided homes to many who had nowhere else to go.

Huge thank you to Tom Morris for having a copy of this article in his desk drawer! (i have, by and large, left the sentence structure and punctuation as it was published in the paper).  I plan to visit with his parents, Bill and Crystle Morris in the near future to collect more info.


A contract was signed on November 1, 1948 whereby the State of Missouri agreed to furnish financial aid to the homeless and aged of Linn County, providing the county, which retrained ownership, would still be responsible for the upkeep of the 28 acre tract of land and all buildings thereon.  Thus “the County Farm” sank into oblivion and the Linn County Rest Home, located one mile west of Linneus, Missouri, the county seat, came into being.

The patients are housed in a two-winged, grey stone building which contains ten private rooms, four wards, and five bathrooms, as well as a spacious dining room and ample kitchen space.  It was constructed in 1898 at a cost of $10,000.  However, at today’s prices its estimated value is $100,000.  (2015 dollars would be $879,446).

The superintendents, Mr. and Mrs. Vern Turner, are not strangers in this community as they once lived on a farm north of Brookfield.  They are the parents of four children.  That they are not amateurs in this great humanitarian work has already been proven.  They operated “the farm” three years previous to the state-county operation, which, this fall will make a total of eight years they have been there.  Certainly they merit the praise of every resident of the county.  Periodically they visit other similar institutions and compare methods.  They have sought and received much valuable information in the matter of handling border-line mental cases from the management of State Hospital No. 2, at St. Joseph, Missouri.  So far very few patients have become so unruly, they have had to be sent away from the rest home.

At the present time, fifteen women and sixteen men, whose ages range from 39 to 90 years, are being cared for.  Of that number , five are bed patients and two are sightless.  The oldest on record is a man who passed away in 1948 at the age of 95 years.

“I have the best group of women to be found anywhere,”  said Mrs, Turner, “they are just like children — will do anything I ask them to do.”

Those whose health will permit, assist in light tasks such as washing dishes, making beds, and preparing vegetables.  A great deal of canning is done.  The largest amount that was ever “put up” was in 1950 when 1400 quarts of fruits and vegetables awaited consumption — that winter.

Of the men, Mr. Turner said: Most of them are quite feeble. “They’d help if they could,” then after a pause he added this information, “as a group our patients are from fairly good families, and with one exception, they all have ‘next of kin.'”

Most of Them Keep Busy

That one exception is Charles Overjohn, who at one time was Brookfield’s beloved blacksmith.  But never let it be said he does not pay his way.  He is now 78, but continues to fire the not-too-good furnace with as much punctuality as he did when he started 28 years ago.  He likes to “figure,” too.

Last week he reminded Mrs. Turner that, at the present rate, she will have prepared 33,945 meals — just for the patients alone — by January 1, 1954.  No doubt he is right, because all except the bedridden have excellent appetites.  Practically all vegetables are raised in the farm’s two large gardens, five cows supply the dairy products.

The interest the Turners take in their “girls and boys” as they call their patients, is almost unbelievable.

For instance, after they took over, they burned every piece of old bedding in the place and replaced it with new which they purchased themselves.  And that isn’t all.  They purchased new dishes, towels, and table coverings.

Religious services, while always welcomed by the superintendents, are not held with any regularity with the exception of The Assembly of God, of Bucklin, Missouri, which sends a group out twice a month.  Occasionally, a group of entertainers breaks the monotony.

Because of the lack of help and the many duties pertaining to health, food, and shelter, birthdays are only celebrated by the addition of some special tidbit.

Speaking of health, four times each year a nurse from the state health department accompanies the state inspector to the home and all cases are reviewed.  If any changes are indicated their instructions are carried out to the letter.  Other than that, all medical attention is in the competent hands of Dr. Roy Haley, of Brookfield, the Home’s physician.  He responds readily whenever he is needed.

Life Has Lighter Side

Primarily, the Home is a place of shelter, but there is also a lighter side of life for those forgotten men and women, who, due to their own personalities, enliven things  One patient, who weighs only 90 pounds is a Czechoslovakian.  She speaks English fluently except when she is visited by her relatives.  Then she rattles away in her native tongue and immediately puts on a “swing your partner” dance for which in her day she always used to capture first prize.

Another woman patient, claims the privilege of helping unload the supply truck on its arrival from town, but last week she was stymied.  Before the attendant could stop her she had broken the seal on a can of condensed buttermilk.  After rubbing her face and hands with it, she put some of it to her nose and said: “Golly, I don’t know what that stuff is!”

Life’s ebb and flow determines the number to be cared for, naturally.  A little over a year ago two extra beds had to be set up to accommodate the number seeking admittance, but right now the home is not filled to capacity.  The superintendents have the say-so as to whom shall be taken in, but, so far, they have never refused to admit anyone who has no other home to which he can go.

Visitors are always welcome on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from one to five o’clock.

The guest register (which Mr. Turner calls his hobby) now contains over 8000 names.  Among last year’s 972 signers was a young man from Venezuela and a woman from India.

Yes, you may make a gift to those unfortunate people, such as candy, fruit, or cakes.  Many are received each month from individuals and organizations alike and all are highly appreciated.

Useable clothing is always in demand, but lawn chairs and benches and rocking chairs are especially needed at this particular time.

The inmates of the home are only children of yesterday who have “come to the end of the end of the long, long road,” Do not forget them!

And to those of you to whom life has been kind, I recall to your minds the words of a well-known hymn…. “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One.”


Notes:

Mrs Vern Turner is Nellie Stevenson

Their four children are:

Crystle Turner Morris
Bill Turner (deceased)         twin brother, Bob also deceased
Donald Turner

Yom Kippur

Thankfully, I’ve accomplished quite a lot despite being inside most of the days.  I did mess up by mowing a small bit of tall lawn after my recip cows had grazed a spot about as short as they were going to.  Yeah, i was pretty shut down the next day.  My bad.

I had posted on facebook about building what The Seed Guy calls a lasagne bed.  By that he means to layer brown and green compostable stuff to build soil for next spring’s garden.  I scrounged around for a couple of 16 ft boards and cut a couple of 2 ft boards and lag screwed the four pieces into a long box.  Yes, i know that a 4 by 16 foot bed would be more efficient, but as you can see from my photo, i can only reasonable access two feet because of its proximaty to the propane tank.  Plus, this is plenty big for me; i don’t particularly like to garden and i’m not good at it at all.  But, I like a particular variety of heirloom tomato and my Asian long pole green beans.  I might throw in a few lettuce and spinach seeds early in the season.

16 ft x 2 ft raised bed.  Will start layer with cardboard, then add green grass clippings, then maybe hay or food scraps, then top with a sprinkling of soil and wet it down.
16 ft x 2 ft raised bed. Will start layer with cardboard, then add green grass clippings, then maybe hay or food scraps, then top with a sprinkling of soil and wet it down.

Also, managed to defrost and clean out the freezer amongst a host of other tasks.

Vacuumed out first.
Vacuumed out first.
Frozen food stacked outside while the freezer defrosts.
Frozen food stacked outside while the freezer defrosts.
I like to scoop out the ice before it melts. Much easier to pack out ice, than mop up water.
I like to scoop out the ice before it melts. Much easier to pack out ice, than mop up water.

Yom Kippur!

Starts at sundown and goes until tomorrow at sundown.  A shabbat.

What is the prophetic meaning of Yom Kippur?

The Sixth Day

Nearly here – weekly shabbat – so thankful our Creator made such for us.  Of all the 10 commandments, the fourth one is relatively easy to keep (remember) in our culture.  I’m tired!  Lack of sleep from allergies and just the constant fighting it makes my body exhausted all the time.  Keeps me from being productive to be sure.

Eleven cows of the seventeen selected have been recorded in standing heat as of 6pm today.  There are a more who are shoving and being restless, so they will likely come in sometime before tomorrow.

Other than going to town to pickup kleenexes, drop of some papers at NRCS, swing by the bank for a quick visit with Tom Morris about his grandparents being the last caretakers of the Linn County Rest Home, located just a mile west of Linneus on Infirmary Hill, then to Twin Oaks Produce for a handful of groceries.  Had a nice visit with Fran Graff, whose daughter is also teaching in Dubai, though at a different school than our daughter.

Rick continues to take care of my cows on the farm north and west of Purdin – It will another month before I can stay outside for more than a few minutes at a time.  Will my cows forget me!?

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Early Morning Check

Fought severe allergy after coming in at 1am this morning.  It’s really, really bad out there; the wind seems to be keeping it stirred.  Took two benadryl (so far Zyrtec had been holding, but no longer).  Finally, got to sleep about 3am.

Alarm off at 6:30 – i accidentally hit the snooze, but thank goodness, because i didn’t get up!  Up and out by 6:45am.  Couple of heat detector patches are turned blue, which means heats in the wee hours.  I wrote down the numbers.  Still concerned about the lack of activity.

Set up a poly wire and posts to give them more grazing allotment.

Back in about 7:20a for COFFEE!

Am getting ready to take June to the dentist in Chillicothe, but will check cows just before I leave.

It was SO good to see June smile again!  She had been very self-conscious about her smile because her front teeth were missing (they had broken some weeks earlier).  Now with her new partial in place, she is free to relax, smile, and be herself.  What a blessing.

Checked the cows – one more in standing heat.

The cow riding the cow in standing heat is either coming in or going out of heat.  In this case, the cows is going out.   How do i know?  Because I've been watching them for two days now!
The cow riding the cow in standing heat is either coming in or going out of heat. In this case, the cows is going out. How do i know? Because I’ve been watching them for two days now!

High allergy again with so much wind and heat (87F feels like 93), so i cannot spend long outside before staggering back into the a/c for a couple of hours.  I sure don’t like to hurry the time, but that first frost is always such a relief.

Mostly rested today, signed some paperwork for an EQIP NRCS conservation programme, scanned, and e-mailed the copies back.  Checking the cows every two hours, transplanted three potted mums into the front landscaping, snapped and froze two gallons of green beans, hooked onto the little stock trailer and pulled it up to the seed plant – not sure how it ended up at our house, but that happens, and doing my daily exercises.  Oh, yes,and i took a much needed nap!  heat check 005

Mums in the front yard.  These were purchased as part of fundraiser to decorate for Laclede's Pershing Days last weekend.
Mums in the front yard. These were purchased as part of fundraiser to decorate for Laclede’s Pershing Days last weekend.

Last heat check at 8pm, then get ready for bed.  Grab some shut-eye, the up for check about 1am.

Have a great evening!

tauna

Hump Day Allergy

Had to move my cows behind the barn since they are running low on grass – bummer, now i have to walk outside often to check for heat.  I get stuffed up everytime!  STILL no sign of heat – I fear nothing is going to happen – it will be a real mystery and a real disappointment.

Listing more items on Ebay – we have some real sunbleached cow skulls and will see if there is any interest.  Shipping is going to be a challenge because of the size of box needed and quite a lot of packing materials will be required to keep the item safe to its destination.

Lunch today – fried okra, chicken fried minute steaks (why is it called chicken fried?!), smashed potatoes, and chocolate spice zucchini cake.  Okra, zucchini, and potatoes from Louise Ann at Heavenly Acres organic produce, our own organically raised grass finished beef, and farm fresh eggs (used in cooking) produced by pastured hens from Macstead Farms, and organic milk produced by grazing cows from Green Hills Harvest.  All other ingredients used are also organic purchased through United Natural Foods, Inc food coop.

Since i have such allergies, I volunteered to go into town to sign all the USDA-FSA paperwork for our farms.  If you want to receive farm subsidy payments, there is the paperwork – well, actually the girls at the FSA office do all that – we just sign where we are told.  A lot of people will be critical of those of us bout accepting payments, but it’s there and you, the taxpayer, has supplied the monies.  The idea is to keep food and commodity prices down by helping the farmer pay his bills.  Not sure it really works, but there it is.  When you hear about the farm bill in news, please note that the percentage of monies actually going to farmers is about 21%.  The rest goes to food and nutrition programmes such as, SNAP (food stamps) and nutrition.

Allen is sick and so is sleeping, so I’m trying to stay quiet about the house.  Although, I’m not in the mood, I’ll fix cheese filled ravioli and the probably freeze them.  Depends on how everyone feels tomorrow.  May just be making a thin vegetable soup.  Rick won’t be here and with Allen sick – i may just slack off tomorrow!

Continued high winds and hot sun – the grass is withering away.  This is the time of the year we rely heavily on fall growth for winter stockpiled grazing.  Good thing we were given a healthy hay crop!

Out walking with my recips at 7pm – they are starting to get restless and one starting to think about mounting – usually means she is coming into heat.  Hope, Hope – I’ll be out checking them all night.\

8 pm – cow numbered 250 orange tag in standing heat!  hooray.  two cows chasing her, typically means those two will be in heat soon.

9:15pm – two more

12:30 am – no additional heats

Watched most of the presidential debate.

G’nite!

tauna

Even Higher Pollen Count!

My ‘stuck in the house’ routine continues as the pollen count rises due to excessive wind!

Couldn’t sleep well last night due to allergies, but laid on the recliner from 5am to 7am before finally giving up on more sleep and just getting up.

Had found a package of beef stew meat in the refrigerator freezer that was four years old!  I absolutely do not recommend keeping meat frozen that long – it doesn’t actually go ‘bad’ but it does not taste as good – especially coming from the frig/freezer which does not keep frozen as hard as a deep freezer.  So, not wanting to waste it, i planned lunch around it with browing it in olive oil and simmer for tenderness, then closer to lunch time, adding enough flour to thicken, then plenty of milk to make a tasty white gravy.  I also scrambled farm fresh eggs with butter from grass fed cows and garden raised spinach.  Whipped a batch of baking powder biscuits for the gravy  and that was lunch.  It’s weird only fixing for four.

In the meantime, I drove to the seed plant to do some paperwork (always that..:-( , picked up some apples from the tree as well as a water tank float and a short hose.  The latter two to set up a small tank for my recip cows since i’m getting tired of going out to fill up the water tank twice a day.water tank  After repairing one end of the hose, I hooked up the fittings to the hydrant and moved the water tank in place and filled.  Working great – no leaks.  Awesome. Now they won’t run out of water and I don’t have to work so hard.

The apples were to cube along with a butternut squash, mixed together then poured over with a bit of orange juice and maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, then baked.  I don’t think i’ll keep this recipe – it was okay, but well, it’s just not chocolate…….

I did manage to wash the front storm door – it looks great, but later when i tried vacuuming the spider webs built between the glass and screen of the windows, i was totally overcome with allergies – it’s like breathing sand!  So didn’t do that anymore, but did manage to vacuum all the furniture under and between and around and beneath.  And wipe down one of the ceiling fans  Really feels a lot cleaner in here.

No cows exhibiting heat today; tomorrow is supposed to be the big day, so gotta hang around the next two-three days for observing.

Drove to north and west of Purdin this afternoon to pick up our weekly allotment of milk and return the empty glass bottles.

Green Hills Harvest
Green Hills Harvest
Cobwebs everywhere!
Cobwebs everywhere!

Watered the mums that I meant to transplant today – best get that done in the morning.

Spent about an hour removing items from the silver garage.  Hope to get it torn down and removed sometime this fall.

My early morning is catching up with me since I feel quite sleepy.

Shalom!

tauna