Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Eighth of a Cow

We've crossed into a whole new territory when it comes to local food. Today we picked up a whole lot of local meat. When I say a lot of meat, I'm talking one eighth of a cow!

Stoney Creek Farm, a vendor at the local Farmers' Market, offers beef, pork, eggs, and raw milk herd shares. They practice Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Farming Practices. Their cattle are on pasture from birth and are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. They eat grass and then also some locally grown grains during the last two months to increase the marbling of the meat. While we prefer exclusively grass fed, we decided we were OK with the minimal grains, especially since these cows are treated so well and the meat is delicious.
A few weeks ago I got an email from Stoney Creek Farm. It was butchering time for them and they wanted to know if we were interested in a purchasing a quarter of a cow. After talking it over with Bryan, we decided an eighth might be better since we are just getting our feet wet when it comes to buying meat in bulk.

There are several advantages to buying meat in bulk. You save a lot of money! It actually costs less than what you would pay at the supermarket. You know exactly where your meat is coming from. It also strengthens the relationship with the rancher. Yes, we bought this meat from Stoney Creek Farm, but it's more accurate to say that we bought it from our friend Bill. Buying meat from a respectable source means you are buying meat that looks and tastes amazing.  This isn't the pink stuff that is sold in most stores. This is deep, dark red meat with just enough marbling.You also have access to various cuts of meat (at least for a little while). When you buy meats locally and not in bulk, you can buy various cuts of meat typically once, maybe twice, a week. This requires meal planning. We also tend to buy only cheaper cuts of meat, so with the set price per pound, we are able to get cuts of meat that we typically wouldn't buy because they are so expensive.

There are also some disadvantages. You have to pay for all the meat up front so you have to budget for it. You have to have somewhere to store all the meat. (We found a deep freezer on Craigslist for a great price a while back.) All of your meat comes frozen. This isn't a huge deal for us anymore since we don't buy "fresh" meat (what a joke) from the store anymore. All of our local meats come frozen except the occasional whole chickens we buy from River Cottage Farm. Since I see Brayden almost every week when we go out to the farm, he lets me know when he is taking chickens to the butcher. He keeps a couple in the refrigerator for me as soon as they get back from the processor and we cut the birds up ourselves in the cuts that we prefer before freezing them. (Bryan's becoming a pro at this!)

We dropped our cooler off at the Farmers' Market a little over a week ago and this afternoon we picked it up full of meat. So what do you get when you buy an eighth of a cow???
Here's the breakdown:

19- one lb. packages of ground beef
3- packages of sirlion steaks
2- packages of ribeye steaks
2- packages of kabobs
2- packages of T-bone steaks
1- filet mignon (and it's huge!)
1- package of round steak
3- chuck & shoulder roasts

We have our checklist and we will keep track of the inventory in our freezer. We are anxious to see how long all this meat lasts.
I already have visions of roasts and kabobs and steaks in my head... but I guess we need to pace ourselves.

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