Our quarter grassfed cow is almost gone: a few one-pound tubes of ground beef, the brisket and a chuck roast remain. I’ve got the day off tomorrow and, weather permitting, plan to smoke the brisket all day on the grill and feed my troops when they return from their trip to the Toledo Zoo. I’ll grind the chuck roast for burgers on the grill this summer, pot roast season being finished until next fall.
So my biggest question – can two people and the occasional guest(s) consume one quarter of a grassfed cow over the course of a winter – is answered in the affirmative. It never felt as if we were eating too much beef; in fact, we went weeks without raiding the freezer. I don’t think we ate more beef than we would have eaten had we simply been buying beef at the grocery store.
Was it a good deal? Absolutely! The average cost for our beef was $3.59 per pound, less than the per-pound cost of Michigan grassfed beef at the store for virtually all cuts except hamburger. Our quarter cow was relatively small – 100 pounds hanging weight and about 70 pounds of finished meat – and should I be successful in persuading my wife to do this one more time next fall we will buy a small cow again. Our biggest obstacle next fall may be freezer space: ask me why in private.
The only change I will request next time is in the butchering. Instead of five rib steaks I want one big rib roast around which to center a family celebration. Christmas Day, perhaps, with a beautiful salad, mashed potatoes – Michigan potatoes, of course – and a bottle of Napa Cab or Bordeaux. Sadly, I haven’t found too many Michigan wines capable of taking the place of Napa Cabs or Bordeaux with a rib roast. There are exceptions – Wooden Boat from the Leelanau Peninsula comes to mind, along with a few boutique (and very pricey!) Cab Francs – but eating locally shouldn’t require lower standards so I won’t feel guilty about the wine.
With the meat gone it’s on to organic gardening in raised bed containers, built of cedar in our garage and placed into our back yard. I started seedlings last weekend and already have a few Brandywine heirloom tomatoes poking their heads out of the starter mix. I started more tomato plants than we can possibly use so I look forward to sharing with family and friends.
Home-ground chuck with a slice of organically-raised tomato from our yard: I’m salivating. Now if spring would only arrive in spirit instead of simply on the calendar. Stay tuned.