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Raising Our Own Food

For several years Jordan and I dreamt of owning a little farm and raising our own food. This week we met a huge milestone in our farm journey. We took our first steer to processing. What an emotional and amazing day. Not only did we feel the immense weight of losing an animal we also felt an overwhelming gratitude for the food that he will provide our family. Raising your own meat is not for everyone. I totally understand that from an emotional perspective. I was honestly surprised at how well we both handled his departure. Do you know what helped us the most? Perspective.


Dexter Steer on small farm
Owen, our first Dexter steer

From the day Owen joined our farm he had a purpose. Two actually. His first purpose was to keep Madeline company while Trexy was off farm being bred. He was a great companion to Madeline and to Trexy when she returned. Owen's second, and most important purpose, was providing healthy and nourishing food to our family. He had a processing date reserved the week he arrived. He had a purpose and he served our family well. This perspective is what helped me the most.


Two dexter cows in pasture
Cows need companionship and Owen was a great companion to Madeline while Trexy was off farm.

We do not take their death lightly. Whether we are processing a chicken on our farm or sending a steer to a processing facility, we take that job seriously. Our animals are loved, cared for, and live a happy life on the farm. We take our animal husbandry seriously. We do our best to eliminate stress when handling and working with any of our animals. This is something we are both passionate about. So when we come to the day of processing, our animals don't have a bad day. They have a great life and then they fulfill their purpose.


Dexter cows with farmer
Madeline helping us earn Owens' trust

When you arrived at the butcher, you can tell by the smell that you are in the right place. Jordan lined up the trailer to the cattle chute and helped them unload Owen. The real moment of truth: how much would he weigh? As soon as Owen stepped on the scale, we breathed a sigh of relief. Owen weighed in at a whopping 850lbs! All that grass, hay, and feed paid off. However, the more important number is the hanging weight. This is the weight of the carcass after the head, organs, and hide have been removed. This is usually around 60 percent of the live weight. Owen’s came in at 485lbs. We were so pleased with this weight, especially for a dexter steer. The carcass will dry age for about 14-21 days before being cut up into steaks, roasts, and ground beef. We expect the final take home amount of beef, after the aging process and cuts, is about 60 percent of the hanging weight. So to break it down, 850lb Owen will give us approximately 300lbs of beef to take home.


Steer weight
Owen's live weight

Not only is Owen providing meat, but we plan to utilize everything that we can. We already have the hide back from the butcher and it is stored in the freezer until we can determine the best way to tan the hide ourselves. We opted to keep the organs, soup/marrow bones, and tallow. Going this route helps us learn new skills, new recipes, and learn how to be resourceful. Honestly I am most excited to render the tallow for cooking and cosmetic purposes... who knows maybe we will start selling some tallow products someday!


Dexter steer
Big boy Owen before we loaded him on the trailer

Providing healthy, farm raised meat is a blessing. We desire to know where our food comes from. How it was raised. How it was handled. Because it matters. It matters to us. If it matters to you, find a local farm and support them.


Dexter cows in pasture

 

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