Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farm to Table

Do you remember back in May when Chad and I bought a freezer and ordered a quarter cow on a whim?  Fun times!  Well, it's July now, and we finally got a call from the butcher last week about what kind of cuts we wanted from our cow. 

The conversation went very quickly!  I hardly knew what to say, and the lady I was talking to sounded like she was in a hurry.  All I really was able to manage to get through was that we wanted as much of it as possible to not be ground beef, that yes I wanted the tongue but no I didn't want the heart, and oh yes, could I have the suet? 

On Wednesday of last week, the farmer sent an email to the handful of people they sold some cows to, to let them know the beef was all butchered and frozen and ready to be picked up.  They also said that they were having a pasture walk on Saturday and we were all welcome to come.  That sounded so awesome!  I wanted to go and check out their farm before, but wasn't sure if I could actually face the cow that we'd soon be eating.  But since the cow was already butchered, I'd only really be facing our cow's friends and family. 

So Thursday, Chad went out to the butcher's on his lunch break and brought home this.

Totally 70s kitchen flooring. 
When he handed me the first box, the first thing I said was, "Holy cow!", which made me laugh and almost drop the box.  All together, we got 91 pounds of beef, so each box was about 40-50 pounds!

Now I'm a nerd, deep down.  I needed to know how much meat we got, what kind of cuts we got, how much we paid per pound, and if we actually saved any money going this route.  So before I carted the meat downstairs into our new freezer, I weighed and wrote down how much of each kind of meat we got.

If you're as much of a nerd as I am, you can check out my figures here.  If you're not that interested in numbers and figures, I'll just tell you here the basics. 

We paid the farmer $4.50 a pound for hanging weight of our 1/4 cow, and that included the butcher fee.  Since our quarter came out to be 135 pounds, that's $607.50.  After processing, we got about 91 pounds.  That means we paid $6.67 for the parts of the cow we actually brought home. 

Now, if I went to our local Wegmans and bought the same cuts of organic grass fed beef (although Wegmans doesn't carry organic in all the cuts we got), we would have spent $7.96 per pound.  So it actually was a good deal. We ended up filling our freezer quite well.

It wasn't just about how good of a deal we could get on meat, though.  It's about quality.  It's about knowing that the cows are very well taken care of, that they eat good natural foods, and that they're happy.  I don't know if you can actually taste a difference (some people say you can), but I liked just knowing that we got to make at least one cow happy. 

And he was pretty delicious, too.

Paired with my own homegrown veggies as a side, this was the perfect meal!

Tomorrow I'll show some awesome pictures we took on the farm that our cow came from! 


  1. We got a quarter side once from my oldest daughter's friend who was in 4H. It was great. I just wish I'd had them season the sausage though, I recall. Don't have a big freezer anymore, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I did!

    I really need to take the next step and start buying more (let alone ONLY) grass fed beef. It's soooo expensive here in O.C. though...

  2. "But since the cow was already butchered, I'd only really be facing our cow's friends and family."

    I LOL'd at that for some reason.

    I hope I can get my husband to agree to something like this in the future--if it saves money in the long run, it might work. I wonder how the price compares to regular CAFO beef, tho (which is what I'm currently getting--I do hope to switch to grass-fed but can't afford it yet).

    1. I loled at that myself :D

      As for how our cow compares to CAFO beef... it's more expensive, I'm sure of that, but that's because our cow was grass-fed (in a state that has 6+ months of winter it seems like).

      That said, we had grain-fed options available to us for much less per pound hanging weight. I think I saw some grain-fed cows available for $2.50 a pound of hanging weight, which is nearly half as much as we paid. So look around and weigh your options. There's something out there for everyone. The farm we bought our cow from also gives people the option to buy 50 pound boxes instead of a whole/half/quarter cow, and they sell chickens and turkeys as well.

      We can't afford all (or even most) grass-fed/pastured/organic meats, but I think every little bit helps :) And buying it straight from the farmer does save money.