Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Calves

We started having our first calves of the season this week. Our youngest heifer, #6 had her first calf. The beauty of our cattle is that they are such good mothers. We have little problems with them taking care of their calves or having problems calving. In talking with my neighbor, his 80 cows have already lost 6 calves due to complications and poor mothering. With our small herd we cannot afford such losses. We are expecting 12 more calves this summer and hope for no problems.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Social Network

The wife and I went to a seminar last week that was sponsored by the MN Dept. of Ag. The seminar was a focus on internet marketing. The topics covered included; web advertising, web site organization and placement and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Obviously for those that follow us you already know that we are on the web. Not only are we on the web, but the wife, Chris, does a great job of keeping everyone up to date on what is happening. She is always posting new information along with new pictures and our blog. We were amazed to find that a small percentage of web sites are NEVER updated after they are posted. We appreciated the fact that the seminar was geared to the small family farm such as ours. We were amazed at the ingenuity of some people. One of the most popular growing concepts is the CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. The concept is that as a community member you buy a share into a larger garden that is cared for and managed by the farmer and you as a comsumer help support the farm by buying a "share." The share allows allows you to join in the harvest of vegetables that are available throughout the year. You get a delivery of whatever is ripe that week. You get the benefit of the fresh and healthy vegetable choices without having to even get your fingers dirty.

We practice a similar program here, except our shares are the 100% grass fed beef shares that our customers buy from us. Oh, by the way, check out our new Facebook page, go to Facebook and look up Roundrockfarm.

New opportunities

Next week shall be an exciting week. We sell our product at the local food cooperative, . The Crow Wing Food Cooperative is moving. After over 30 years in the same location they have secured a new space. What a great opportunity for us to reach out to more community members. Teh new space will nearly double their current space. Other advantages will be a new parking area and a location on a corner at a set of stop lights. No more busting traffic to make it there. The old location was located about 6 feet from a major highway. This made entry and exits interesting. With the traffic whizzing by were quite careful to not step too fast out of the door. Also, you had to make sure that your kids were kept close.

They will be moving in this next Friday and will need all of the help that they can get. Volunteers are needed and appreciated. Call the Coop today (218) 828-4600

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Truth in advertising...

We have always weighed out the cost of raising 100% grass fed beef versus grain fed beef. The cost to raise grass fed is more expensive for you have to have the right stock that will finish properly on a grass fed diet and the time involved. if we choose to raise "grain" animals, we could have finished stock in 14 months. Being that we raise true 100% grass fed beef it takes us 24 months. Nearly twice as long to get the same size animal. Why? Because grain, mainly corn and soybeans, makes cows fat quite quickly. In return, the meat from grain fed cattle will make you fat quite quickly as well. Being that we have to feed them for 10 months longer we have higher input costs that unfortunately relates to higher costs at the store. Locally we have been working with a number of retail outlets to get our beef in the hands of the average consumer. Imagine our surprise when recentely we saw an add for "grass fed" beef for sale at a greatly reduced rate than what we could sell it for. The seller must have very low overhead or has not done the research into how much it actually costs to raise and maket their animals. So, it was time to do some research... What did I find? Someone with a creative marketing technique. It was a simple formula, buy animals from the local livestock sale barn at a reduced rate, put them on grass for a few months and what do you have? Grass fed beef? Yes, that is what they were touting, animals that had "eaten" grass were now considered grass fed. Keep in mind that these animals were purchased at a sale barn, a place where everyone's letovers and unwanted animals go. Where you have no idea what they have eaten, what they have been injected with and even what breed they are.

Well, nothing we can do about it, expect to be true to our customers, present and future. We will NOT be cutting any corners, we simply want to provide the safest and purest organically raised meat possible. What more could you ask for? Maybe seconds!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Day

I had lunch yesterday with our butcher. We were discussing expanding our marketing through his retail location. What a great lunch, I asked him questions that he never thought of and he asked me questions that I never thought of. So often when you are in the middle of something you have trouble seeing what is outside. This was apparent yesterday. We talked about such things as where is our market going, what do the people want and where do we want to take this?

We agreed on most points, except what do people want. With our market focusing on a healthy alternative to commercially raised corn fed beef his market has been customers who are more concerned about the lowest price possible. This is regardless of how it was raised. Where we spend all of our time researching how to grow the best tasting beef possible without feeding our cattle unhealthy grains, growth hormones, steroids or anti-biotics his customers for the most part aren't interested in our just don't know about the dangers of grain fed beef. We go as far as to replace corn syrup in our value added meat products with brown sugar to be as natural and organic as possible. When it comes to "cheap" beef, we just cannot compete with chemical laden corn fed beef. Where it takes them 14 months to raise a 1300 lb steer, the best we can do at this time is 1000 lbs after 24 months. Just as your are seeing in the youth today, corn and corn by-products put on the fat FAST!

With high unemployment and people having to watch every nickle one can understand where he is coming from. We look at the long term health risks of eating a diet of grain fed beef that is high in Omega 6 fatty acids.

We will continue our quest to provide not only the best quality healthy beef alternative, but the education of our customers current and future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the Crust

New snow last night made feeding this morning pretty difficult. As part of our sustainable farming practice we try to let the cattle "fertilize" for us. By feeding them out in the pasture the wasted hay and manure are left out in the pasture. This saves us the trouble of having to spread it ourselves. With the new snow and some blowing and drifting the snow has a pretty good crust on it. It was hard enough this morning to carry my 180 lbs. All was going well until I backed in the fence with the loader, not a smart move. With one busted wire and one severely stretched I began my 300 yard search through the dark at 5 am. Fortunately after walking ALL the way to the end the wire wasn't broke, the plastic quick connect had thankfully come on done. All it took was a good tug and it was back up in the air and working again. I hope those cows appreciate they work they can cause! With the new grass their "fertilizer" produces, let's hope they appreciate it this summer!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Old ways become new

Got a call the other day from a friend who was looking to buy some bulk corn. I had to explain to them that we do not buy any corn. "What, you don't buy corn for your livestock?" "No, we don't anymore, all of our beef is 100% grass fed. We do have some gravity bulk bins on the place, but we really don't have much use for them anymore. They were looking to purchase some corn in bulk to save on costs to feed their deer. I told them that they are welcome to use it, for we really don't have much use for it anymore. Since we are now a 100% grass fed we don't have much use for a gravity box to store corn in. Yes, our cows would get much fatter faster by feeding them corn, but "fat fast" is not our goal. Our goal is to provide sustainable food products for local families and by feeding corn, we are not adhering true to our beliefs. So please be patient, this is why it takes us 24 months to raise a steer and not 14, but it is so worth the wait!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trouble with #6

I am at a loss. We utilize an electric fence on our home place to keep the livestock in. It will give you a pretty good jolt if you happen to touch it, believe me I know. Now here is the trouble, I have one cow who seems to be completely immune to the fence. There is one section where she simply walks through. That would not be be bad enough except now she thinks that she is now at the buffet table. She drifts from the round bales to the small square bales that I have in the hay shed. She must know who irritated I get for she has gotten to be sneaky about it. She waits until I am done with morning chores and then decides that dinner is served. The dogs do a great job of keeping her in, if they realize that she is out. She has gotten good enough that she is able to dupe them most of the time as well. I should not be surprised for she has been this way even when she was young. The first spring when she became old enough to realize that the grass is greener on the other side she was always out. Even when I turned the fence on and she zapped herself three times she still has not learned, or she has become immune to it. The snow on the ground acts as a great insulator and obviously she has learned this. Spring will be here soon and the snow will be gone and let's hope that keeps her in.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A community learns

Attended the screening of the movie "Food Fight" last night. It was sponsored by our local food cooperative. We had about 131 people attend the event. After the showing of the film we were lucky enough to be invited to speak on a panel of local growers/producers. The movie/documentary focused on how our food in this country has changed so much over the past 60 years. It was the advent of WWII that lead to the biggest changes. The military wanted to find ways to fatten up their troops as quickly as possible. Traditional foods and traditional eating were not getting them fat enough, hence the invention of processed foods. By taking commodities such as corn and soybeans and turning them into calorie packed foods the troops quickly gained the weight the military was looking for. Translate this into today and now we have an epidemic obesity problem.

Our part in this is helping to provide a safe and healthy product for families in the community. A recent article in Men's Health outlines how and why grass fed beef is so much healthier for you. http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/healthier_foods/Shrink_Your_Belly_Fat.php
The link is attached.

It was such a great feeling knowing that we are not only providing people with a better food alternative, but have become better stewards of the land. We will keep you posted on the next upcoming screening.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grass vs. Corn

It was great 2009. We served more customers this year than last and we are starting to build our repeat customer base. I always try to make sure everyone gets a sample before they order. Grass fed beef is not for everyone. Unlike corn fed beef the grass fed beef will not be as fatty and mushy. It always amazes me how people equate "mushy" with tenderness. Tenderness comes from fine texturing not from meat that has no body and is "mushy." Also, grass fed beef will have a distinict flavor. How the animal is cared for, what is was fed and how it was slaughtered will really show. Because you are eating meat that is not laden with fat the flavor of the meat will not be masked by the fat. The fat tends to hide and insulate any sins that occur during the raising and harvesting process. Being shipped in trucks half way around the country and then being brought to a slaughter house that harvests thousands of animals per day causes a great amount of stress that would show up more in the meat if it were not for the fat that surrounds it. What happens to all of that fat once it hits your plate? You trim it off and throw it away, more waste that you are paying for. Grass fed beef has little waste both on the plate and in the pan. With no waste and great nutritional value you are truly getting a higher value product.

New Year and It is COLD

The holidays are over and we are settling in looking forward to spring. The weatherman predicated that it would be cold this morning and they were right. Woke up to -24F this am. Good thing I spent yesterday making sure we would be prepared for this. One of the automatic waterers was giving me trouble. The heater that was in it was not cutting it, it was only 125 watts. So, I replaced it with 250 watt heater. To act as a back up I also install 75 watt light bulbs in each waterer. It adds more heat and allows me to see that everything is working with one glance. Regardless, there will be some ice this morning.

Going out now to check on everyone and feed my steers their daily ration of special grass. Good thing they are hairy!