I guess I've just had the awfullest bit of writer's block lately. I just have not been able to organize many ideas for posts. In my defense I have been fairly busy though! I've had pottery orders to fill and deliver and, multiple firings of same and still trying to frame the chicken house in between all this. Unfortunately, most of the pottery orders have been on consignment, so they haven't actually sold yet. The lady at one gallery assures me she will move my stuff though, so we will see.
This is a funny little critter in the photo above; does anybody know what it is? There are lots of them around here.
I did want to continue some of the train of thought I had going a couple of posts back. In an effort to get away from corporate or industrialized meat and all that implies, Jack, Mama and I all went in and bought a half a side of beef recently from a local rancher. As a matter of fact, his pasture is right across the road from my Mom's house and he stores his hay on Mama's land since it is not used for pasture anymore. So, we can see how this guy raises his cattle. I see them roaming the hills and I know he is kindly to them. They have decent, healthy pasture and he does not give them drugs or hormones. Now, he does take them to a smaller lot when it is close to slaughter time and supplements their grass with grain, but it's not corn for the most part. He told me his recipe, which he grinds himself, but I forget most of it to tell the truth. It was good, natural grain though with a little molasses thrown in. This grain is to fatten them a little more because we have all become so accustomed to that. However, they are still pretty lean compared to the meat you get in the store and it has a different flavor. To me, home raised beef is much more flavorful than the bland, mushy stuff in the stores. I would say it does take a little getting used to but it has a much better flavor and texture.
I feel much better about this meat for several reasons: 1. I am helping to support a local rancher, not a conglomeration. 2. The meat is superior in taste and much healthier due to a natural diet and no drugs. 3. The cattle are happy, or seem to be anyway. We see them running and playing a little; they have a nice place there. 4. They are local, so there is no 18-wheeler hauling them or the meat hundreds of miles to me. We drove about 30 minutes to the slaughter house and picked the stuff up. 5. I'm also supporting a local meat processing place and the people there were really nice. 6. The natural environment they are raised in does not significantly contribute to environmental damage. No huge amounts of toxic runoff from their feed lots etc. In fact, you can go gather up their poop to put on your garden! 7. Last but not least, it is a great value. Now, it is a large sum at once to buy half or a whole beef but, generally it is significantly less per pound than in a grocery store. We paid $2.20/ lb. hanging weight and this included the meat processing fee. (Now, some of this was the fact he owed my Mom for letting him store his hay). Hanging weight is after the beef has been dressed (gutted) but before it is chopped up. Admittedly, there is some waste, so you are not getting every ounce of that whole side but you get quite a lot. They will actually give you practically everything back if you ask for it. For instance, you can get the heart, tongue etc. for dog food if you would like, although some people eat these too. I got the bones too for making stock. Here, in my area, even the cheapest cuts of beef are up to $5.99/ lb. , and it goes up from there, so I think this is a great savings.
Once I have the meat I am very frugal with it, or try to be anyway. Any scrap or trimmings (gristle, fat) go to make dog food. Left overs are eaten completely. Bones go to make soup stock and then the bigger ones are chew toys again for the dog.
Now, I'm not so naive to think there are no bad implications to this method. The cattle are killed after all and some people have a problem with that and that is their choice. I know even the small slaughter houses can have their issues too, but you can shop around and pick ones that seem to be conscientious. But for me now, until I can possibly raise my own, I feel this is a good option. The cattle are treated well, no huge amounts of petroleum are used in the process and I'm ingesting clean meat not tainted with hormones or large amounts of antibiotics that are necessary in industrial settings because they are so massively nasty. And it's cheaper!! Do any of you buy a half or whole beef at a time?