April 9th Indiana bloggers gathered together to learn more about beef, a subject near and dear to my heart. Indiana’s Family of Farmers hosted the event, and several of our own Real Farmwives of America were in attendance to share our experiences of life with cattle. As you know from reading a couple of my posts in the six weeks, that life can be full of surprises! Just do a search for “cows out” on my blog!
This was a great day, though, to share what we know about beef with other blogger moms from the state so that they have a better understanding of how their beef is raised and then learning some great shopping and cooking tips from an expert!
The workshop started out with some AWESOME beef brisket. I’m pretty sure some readers out there have never experienced this delicious cut, but oh my…. It is so good. Brisket needs to be baked in the oven for hours, one hour per pound, in a 325 degree oven, but the wait is worth it. By itself or with your favorite barbecue sauce, it is a proven crowd pleaser.
As the other bloggers were eating, three of my fellow Real Farmwives and I prepared to bring everyone virtually to our farms to meet our cattle.
Marybeth Feutz was up first to talk about her small cow/calf and registered Angus herds. A cow/calf operation is where the farmer breeds his cows and raises the calves up until they are weaned. There is a lot of stress to this type of livestock farm when it birth time rolls around. Just as with humans, many things can go wrong during the birthing process, only the calf trying to be born weighs about 50-75 pounds. Difficult births or births occurring out in the snow, mud, rain, and dark of night can be a big challenge for beef farmers. Again just like humans, most births are relatively easy, but the ones that are challenging are quite memorable.
Liz Kelsay, well know for her dairy connections, spoke about the bull calves born on a dairy farm. Part of the process in having a dairy farm is that the dairy cows have calves. That’s how they produce their milk. You can imagine, however, that there just isn’t much use for a bull calf on the dairy farm. These calves are sent to other farms where they are raised for beef production. Holstein steers are especially known for producing larger than normal steak cuts because, if raised and fed right, they grow to be much bigger that the average beef cow.
Sarah Mahan spoke about her larger herd of feeder cattle. These beef cows are purchased from cow/calf farms after they are weaned. Once they are one the feed lot, Sarah and her husband start feeding them a diet that will help these steers and heifers develop and “finish out,” a term we use to say the cow has reached the market weight of 1200 pounds. The Mahan beef cattle find their way to steakhouses across the country.
I finished up the discussion as a kind of catch-all because we have done it all. We started feeding out dairy steers from our dairy heard, then when the dairy sold, we started a cow/calf operation, and now have a feed lot. Crazy thing is we are thinking of going back to a cow/calf operation because the weaned calves are quite expensive to buy right now. We mix the feed for our cows here on the farm using what we grow and some vitamins and minerals a feed specialist recommends for us to use in the proper rations fitting the weight of our steers and heifers.
Mr. Joe Moore, Executive Vice President of Indiana Beef Cattle Association and Indiana Beef Council stepped up to the podium next to share some important facts about beef. I cheated a bit and took pictures of his most important facts. You can click on the picture to enlarge the words.
Now no self-respecting cattle man would show up to a room full of moms without something tasty to eat! Mr. Moore did not disappoint! In just a few minutes on the good ol’ George Foreman grill, this flank steak into a mouth-watering entre.
As an added treat, everyone attending the workshop received a bag filled with delicious recipes, a meat thermometer, steak rub and other fun facts about beef. My husband, we call him Tall Guy, was quite taken with the hat! I didn’t show him the cool note keeper that was also in the bag. Thanks again to Indiana’s Family of Farmers and Indiana Beef for a day of fun facts and yummy snacks……. So I’m heading out to our freezer to pull out a package of beef for dinner. Not sure if it will be steak or a roast or hamburger, but I know it came from our farm, it’s going to taste heavenly, and like the hat says, It’s what’s for dinner!