It’s so good to be back to our normal routine. The last month has been very hectic with marketing, communication with customers, finalizing orders, communication with the butcher (we’re BFFs at this point), picking up and delivering beef. It’s been great but I’m ready to get caught back up and start a new year.
2018 was a success! It was our first year reaching out to the public with our beef and spreading the word about Grant Creek. We, especially I, learned a lot about the process and I feel we had a pretty smooth year. Now we’re ready to tackle 2019 and expand our customer base. My New Year’s resolution is to get us even more out in the world and continue to bring you more exciting articles and recipes!
Speaking of, I owe you a recipe. I was very excited to try a cut I have never personally made before. It was great, but you’re going to have to wait to find out the details.
So what was the first dish I made in the new year with my new batch of meat?……
….Nachos. Not very exciting. I wanted to share this picture below though. I am admittedly horrible at remembering to thaw meat ahead of time. I’m not sure it’s something that will change anytime soon. I don’t love defrosting in the microwave but I made an exception this time. This picture is AFTER I defrosted. The first thing you should notice is the plate isn’t full of liquid! Store bought beef is so often loaded with extra moisture and half of it escapes during the thawing process. It was so nice to know that I got a pound of beef and a true pound was my end result. I didn’t pay for weight I wasn’t getting in the end.
So now we’re starting over and want to explain what exactly that means for us. Obviously by now you’ve picked up on some aspects of our process through our blog posts and you’re familiar with some of the pros and cons of purchasing locker beef. Pros: Cost efficiency, availability and convenience, and health. Cons: Upfront Cost, can’t pick and choose, only available for purchase at certain times.
Let’s focus on that last one. We are not a retail store in which you can pick and choose what you want when you want it. Our beef is only available once or twice a year. This is something we will definitely expand on as we grow, but for now it is crucial that we know the interest of our customers early! Below is a better explanation of our process, timeline, and why we must know in advance if you are interested in placing orders.
Calves are Born
We have two separate herds of cows, one group calves in the spring (February and March) and the other group calves in the fall (September and October). About two months after they are born the new calves are gathered up and given identification ear tags. The calves remain with the herd, drinking their mother’s milk and grazing, for at least 6 months. After this time, they’re gathered up and weaned from the herd.
Calves are Weaned
The weaning time for the spring calves is November (they are approximately 8 to 9 months old at this time) and for the fall calves is May (they are approximately 7 to 8 months old at this time). At weaning time, we have to make a decision to either retain the calves or to sell the calves. For the November weaning time we will retain calves for our beef program based on the interest that we have received from our customers. The remaining calves are sold. Our usual market for the calves being sold in November is either the Eureka Sale Barn or the El Dorado Sale Barn. The retained calves are taken to our Carney, Oklahoma pre-conditioning ranch where they are weaned and then wintered. Wintering refers to the care and feed that the calves receive during the winter months when there is no available grass. These cattle will graze forage left over from the summer, they will be given hay, and they will be given protein supplements. There is a rather high cost to wintering cattle (cost of labor, cost of hay, and cost of supplements), and we only choose to winter cattle that we know can be sold later in our beef program.
We take the fall calves weaned in May to the pre-conditioning ranch where they are weaned and then put out on Bermuda Grass pasture for 45 to 90 days. After this period these calves are either sold or retained for our beef program. Again, any retained calves will have to be wintered, so we only retain those calves that we know can be sold later in our beef program. For these calves, this decision making time is July or August.
Retained calves are pastured in Carney, Oklahoma over the winter and following summer. All of our grass-fed beef is harvested approximately 1 year after the calves are weaned. Fall calves would be available in June the following year and the Spring calves would be available in November of the following year. Our beef supplies are very limited since we only retain what we know we can sell. Knowing customer interest helps us to be able to determine how many of our calves to retain at weaning time.
What we need from YOU
It’s so easy to wait until the last minute for most things today, however as you have read we need enough notice to know how many calves to retain. So if you are interested in ordering for the first time, or even if you JUST received an order and know you will be out by November/December, please email us! Remember, we need a deposit to actually hold your portion. The reason we ask for this is because we have too many people express interest but then disappear when it’s closer to time. While taking people at their word would be nice, we run into problems if too many calves are retained and we get stuck with the extra beef. We need that small commitment in the beginning, but rest assured the balance is not due until the cows are slaughtered and weighed. This gives you plenty of time to save and prepare. All you need to do is go to our Contact page or fill out a Purchase Request and we will reach out to you!
Questions? Just ask! We are here to help in any way we can. We understand it can be a lot of information to take in if you’ve never purchased bulk beef before and there are no dumb questions. I promise we’re all very friendly here 😉