Posts Tagged ‘grass-fed beef’

We finally have finished building our corral using one of the designs published by Dr. Temple Grandin. As you can see from the video, the cows move quite calmly through the corral, with no yelling on our part and zero cattle prods. This is thanks to the genius of Dr. Grandin, who has revolutionized the science of cattle handling with her insights into the bovine mind.

Having a corral makes it much easier to weigh the cattle, to divide them into groups, to load them onto the stock trailer, to inspect them, and to administer veterinary care. It even makes for easy handling of the pigs! Now that we have it, I wonder how we ran the place without it.

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Our fall beef processing season has finally arrived! We have more bulk orders than ever before, and bulk orders mean filling out the dreaded “cut-sheet.” The cut-sheet is how a customer tells the butcher exactly how to cut up a side of beef. They are famously incomprehensible to the first-time buyer. So we spent the past week developing a new cut-sheet aimed at making the process as clear-cut (sorry!) as possible. Please let us know if you think we hit the mark.

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If the projections for Hurricane Irene come true, we might have tropical storm conditions on Sunday. We are working to make sure the animals have adequate shelter. And we are also preparing for the possibility of a power failure. Despite our mission of farming sustainably, we are very dependent on electricity for many things, including the fences that  keep animals in and predators out. Steve has temporarily put the pigs into the corral, where they will be very cozy and secure without power. The chickens will be shut in their houses temporarily, and the cows will bunk with the pigs. This should please the pigs no end—they love the cows and visit them whenever they get the chance. The feelings are not mutual, but cows will just have to tolerate their annoying little friends for a day or so.

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This week, my daughter asked for my hamburger recipe, so she could show a French friend how real hamburgers taste (she is a big fan of the Pink Panther movies). This got me thinking that I’m not all that confident I know what the ideal hamburger recipe is, especially if we are trying to impress the French. So I went straight to my go-to video chef, John Mitzewich at foodwishes.com. I was surprised that his cooking method was great, but his seasoning was very plain: salt & pepper. I like to keep burgers simple, too, so you can appreciate the flavor of the beef. But to me, it’s just not a burger without garlic. So now I’m wondering, does anyone out there have a favorite hamburger recipe? If so, please share!

Here is my recipe:

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove crushed garlic (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)

optional: 1/2 onion, grated or chopped fine

optional: 1 Tbsp minced parsley (my mother’s secret ingredient)

Gently mix all the ingredients (too much mixing toughens the meat), and form patties. By the way, I think the perfect burger size is 1/3 pound, so the above serves 3. Here is Chef John’s method:

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Today we hosted the first pasture walk of the summer sponsored by The Granite State Graziers. Steve gave a tour of the farm and explained our system of using our cows, pigs and chickens to nurture and maintain our pastures. If there had been a door prize, it would have gone to George Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, who identified the weed that the cows happened to be chowing down today: White Cockle (Silene latifolia).

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We finally let the cows out onto the pasture this week, and all is right with the world again. Here is a shot of their first day out—we put them in a paddock next to an embankment covered with garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is a state-listed invasive, but it is edible and nutritious. We thought that the cows might have a taste for it, and we might take credit for inventing a solution for this troublesome weed. No such luck. The cows waded deep into the stand of garlic mustard, and ate everything but. Still, we are not giving up hope. We might try Kathy Voth‘s technique for “educating” the cows. If it works, I might also see if I can use it to get my kids to eat their vegetables.

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I mentioned last week that our grass is late this year. My wife, Anne, never reads my blog posts, but she read that one and asked what I meant. I meant that usually by May 1st, our cattle are out on the pasture grazing grass. But today is May 2, and our grass is still not tall enough, so the cows are still eating hay. Everybody is tense while we wait for the grass. For most people, watching grass grow is the ultimate in boredom. For us it is maddening. It’s kind of like that episode of Northern Exposure when everyone went crazy waiting for the ice to break—except without Janine Turner. (Note: Anne, if you are reading this, that didn’t mean anything at all.)

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We are trying something different this year. Last year, we got through mud season by staging bales of hay all over the upper fields and moving the cows quickly to minimize the damage done by their hooves in the mud. We didn’t like the result. There was a lot of pugged soil and young grasses grazed too early. And since we took the Cornell Soil Health Workshop, we are specially concerned about too much compaction of the soil. So this year, we have set one paddock aside and designated it the “sacrifice” pasture. The cows will stay there for a month or so, eating the rest of their winter hay, until the rest of the pastures grow to grazing height. We will reseed with a cover crop as soon as the cows leave, and who knows, maybe rotate in a vegetable garden in the same spot next year.

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Winter Feeding

Many people ask me, “but what do the cows eat in the winter?” Here is a clip of Steve feeding them. They get 100% certified organic hay. Sometimes we give them dry hay. In this case, it is wrapped high-moisture hay.

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We got nice coverage in an article about grass-fed beef in the winter issue of Edible White Mountains.

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