Featured

A Smokin’ Independence Day

July 14, 2016

This post is sponsored by Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in conjunction with the O SAY CAN YOU SEAR giveaway. I received a free sample of the product featured for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


Independence Day. America’s holiday where people get together, likely around a BBQ, to celebrate. Since Mr. Meet Your Beef and I bought a house in town a couple years ago, it has become a great place to host this holiday. We obviously can’t light fireworks anywhere near the ranches for fear of a grass fire. Plus, that would immediately turn you into the black sheep of the family with jail time to serve! But, in town, we had a smokin’ good time!

This year, thanks to the generous people at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting and Coyote Outdoor Living, we were able to do something a little different than your typical BBQ.

Insert the Coyote Asado Smoker! Is this thing shiny, or what?!

This 4th of July was the maiden voyage for our Asado smoker. I did what any other millennial looking for a good recipe would do… thank you Pinterest! We decided that a three pound Dot Seven (home grown) beef brisket wasn’t enough for about fifteen people so we threw on a whole chicken as well.

I put the chicken in a brine for about 6 hours (this seemed to be enough time although most recipes call for 24 hours), made a rub for both the chicken and the brisket, and a homemade mustard sauce that was dee-lish. While I was doing the inside prep-work, Mr. Meet Your Beef was prepping the smoker. Both recipes called for a temperature of 225 degrees.

Pro Tip: Mess with the smoker and get comfortable with controlling the temperature before you plan to feed 15 people! That will just cut out some unnecessary stress. It takes some time to adjust the heat and the one thing we didn’t have much of was: time!

Before we continue… can we all take a moment to notice that Mr. Meet Your Beef is NOT wearing a long-sleeve work shirt? In no way am I trying to compete with America’s birthday here, but this is a really, really big deal!

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Featured

Border Collies- A Cowdog Named Seven

July 8, 2016

As I sit down to write this post, tears well up in my eyes. I just dropped my beloved border collie, Seven, off at the vet and I’m not sure what else to do other than tell you all what has transpired. Yesterday while in the mountains gathering cows she somehow dislocated her leg. Bad. Mr. Meet Your Beef doesn’t know how or why (they were in a brushy area and he could not see her) only that it needed immediate attention. He brought her down the hill to our veterinarian who took x-rays, told us the news, and to bring her back first thing in the morning so he could put her under general anesthesia and try to place it. He also said that putting this joint back in place on a dog is very difficult. Being around livestock my whole life, I took these words for face value. It’s very possible Seven’s cowdog career is over. We will be lucky if he can put it in place without any further action. Although I chose a career that requires me to be in vet clinics daily, it’s a different feeling when you step through those doors as a client with an emergency.

Many of you have probably heard horse people say “you only get one really, really good one in your lifetime”. I’m not sure if that is also true about dogs but I do know that Seven and I have a special bond. She is the first dog that I consider mine (although I share her with Mr. Meet Your Beef). I had multiple dogs growing up but they were always family dogs and ranch dogs. However, Seven is mine and she knows it. As a puppy, I remember thinking I would NEVER tame this beast! She was aggressive around other dogs and got in trouble virtually daily. Border collies are known for testing patience, being overly energetic, and are certainly not their best selves if they don’t get the ample exercise. I can’t count how many sprinkler heads and drip lines she chewed as a puppy. I’d imagine Mr. Meet Your Beef could probably tell you the exact amount though :). As soon as she was old enough (read big enough) she was trained to work cattle. The herding instinct that this breed of dog is born with is second to none. She picked it up immediately. If I could accurately portray to you in words how much she loves herding cattle, it may possibly cause you to stop and question the passion you have for your own path in life. Oddly enough, after she found this passion, the poor behavior subsided. Since then, she has turned into the most loyal, kind, loving, and eager-to-please dog I have ever been around.

People who own working dogs are often scrutinized for how they treat their animals. Examples of this would be: “Why can’t they come inside? Aren’t you going to put him/her in the cab of your vehicle? Isn’t he/she tired? Why can’t I pet him/her?” Fairly recently there was some local social media buzz going around about how “cruel” it was for working dogs to travel in the back of the truck or in what we call a ‘dog box’. For those that don’t know what a dog box is, here is a picture.

Image used from http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=203123 where these kinds of boxes may be purchased.

Image used from http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=203123 where these boxes may be purchased.

Seven is just over 2 years old and I’m quite confident she has assumed the ‘7 lives’ motto of her not-so-favorite fur friends. Some may choose to demonize how we care for our cowdogs but I can honestly tell you IT SAVED MY DOGS LIFE. Last May Mr. Meet Your Beef was headed to work and crossing a dangerous intersection when a truck pulled out and t-boned (no pun intended) him sending his truck many feet out into a field and flipping it, landing tires up. I thank God that all humans walked away from that wreck with minor bumps, bruises, and soreness. I also thank God that my husband had put Seven in the dog box that morning just like he does every other day. I’m not sure if you can tell in this photo but the dark spot underneath the truck is Seven. And although the truck flipped and landed upside down, the dog box allowed her enough room to not be crushed by the cab but was also small enough to keep her contained so she didn’t slam against the sides. It saved her life. If she was tied in, she would have either been crushed by the cab or sent flying further out into the field. She walked away from this wreck unharmed.

My point in all of this is that just because these kinds of dogs have a serious job, are expected to work and behave, does not mean they aren’t loved just as much as what we would consider a house/family dog. Cowdogs take risks for us humans not because we force them, but because chasing cows is their passion.

There’s a good chance that by the end of today Seven’s working career could be over. And as much as that crushes me, it’s the reality of this situation. I love this dog as a member of our family. And I want it to be clear that most ranchers aren’t abusing their animals at all. In fact, their income and lives depends on the relationship they have with these cowdogs. If you don’t understand something, I’d encourage you to ask a few questions (I’d be happy to answer!).

I will keep you all updated on her progress… as long as I can muster up the courage.

UPDATE: the vet was able to put her leg back into place without surgery although he decided that some pins/screws were needed to keep it there. She gets to come home tonight! We will spend the next few weeks keeping her movement to a minimum and as comfortable as possible. Thank the Lord!

Dairy, Featured

June Dairy Month- An Inside Look at a Livestock Market

June 20, 2016

Dairy cattle not only produce milk but eventually become beef, along with many other byproducts. In the agricultural industry not a thing goes to waste and dairy cattle are no different. In fact, if you have ever enjoyed one of those famous west coast In-n-Out burgers the chances are very high that the beef is from a dairy cow here in California.

I recently went on a field trip, of sorts, to Fresno Livestock Commission where I learned a little bit more about how these dairy cattle are brought to and through a cattle market. I have been to many cattle sales in my life but most of them were beef. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, pictures, and a few things I learned along the way.

Although the kind folks of Fresno Livestock Commission have been family friends of ours for generations, I had never visited (shame on me!). What a treat it was to see a day in the life for the entire operation; the owners (family owned), the auctioneer, the buyers, the office staff, the ring-man,  all the help in the pens out back (receiving cattle, sorting in and out, and loading out), etc.

The people above are responsible for a very important part of the dairy/beef life cycle and one I think is often taken for granted or just plain overlooked. Markets like these are what move cattle throughout the nation and to the processing plants.

When I arrived, it was apparent that this company takes pride in their business. Everything was freshly painted, pens were clean, and repairs on the fence were being made. Trailer loads of dairy cattle from local dairies were being dropped off, one after another. The cattle came off the trailers slowly and were put into a pen close by.

There was a brand inspector present, employees counting off cattle, paperwork being completed to track the cows and owners information, and animals were inspected for health. Once they were off-loaded, back tags were attached with adhesive to each cow.

Co-owner Cindy Tews says “back tags are an integral part of the ADT (Animal Disease Trace-ability) program. When an animal arrives on site, they are accompanied by a Transportation Slip that clearly identifies the animal offered for sale. It must have the owners name, address, phone number, number of head being consigned, and brands that those have on them for identification. There is a consignment slip filled out by Fresno Livestock personnel that will include color, breed, and class (SL=Slaughter or FE=Feeder). We also include any ear tag numbers. If they have a brand they are drawn in and if there is not a brand that has to be stated. Back tags are placed on the animals and correspond with the animal being described. All back tags are registered and have the livestock markets identify number and then 4 digits that bring up the animal when entered into our computer. Thus as the animal(s) go through the sale ring all pertinent information is available. Upon sale of the animal, the tag follows the animal through either the processing channel or is used to identify origin if it is going on to feeding.  Should the animal go to the processing plant, that tag is kept with any other identifying information. Should there ever be a reason to trace that animal back to it’s origin, it is usually done within 48 hours.”

Once the tagging was completed the cattle were sorted into pens. As you can can imagine, it was cool and comfortable under these shades; the cattle were quiet and calm. Due to the efficiency of the crew pictured above and the people who transport these animals, these cattle spent very little time here in these pens before the sale began.

As I observed, I realized that so much of this operation depends on the people much like other areas of Ag. From cattle handling to working with customers to the exchange of money, you could tell immediately that these people take pride in what they do. It radiated through a quiet yet friendly confidence.

“Working with my family is a blessing” says Tews. “My father and I have been partners for 15 years. We share the same work ethic and communication style. Some of our common interests include: Customer service/relations, hearing how and what the families of our customers are doing, attending fundraisers and other community events, running pasture cattle, and developing new and better ways to execute our sale through the use of proper animal handling and employee management tools. We spend many hours together on a day to day basis. Very few disagreements have been encountered and we strive to view each others perspective before reacting to a situation. It is challenging from the standpoint that we are up against the clock in maintaining a speed of commerce that our buyers expect. Whenever there is the pressure of time, ones demeanor can be tested. I always remind myself that I want to be welcome at Thanksgiving.”

As the clock reached 12pm, the buyers shuffled from the cafe and picnic tables located on the grounds to the ring and took their spot. The sale began and with the hum of the auctioneer, fun memories with my mom and grandfather flooded my mind.

Each animal spent roughly 20 seconds in the ring before they were let out to the other side. As one cow left another would enter. Cattle were moved about the ring so buyers had full view of what they were bidding on.

And just like that the sale was over. The office was buzzing with people, questions, and the transfer of money. Cattle were loaded onto the respective trucks and all the pens were again empty.  Time to clean up and get ready for the next one!

I am so grateful for this opportunity to have learned and broadened my horizons. The Tews Family is a direct representation of the breed (pun intended) of people that represent this industry I work in and advocate for: honest, sincere, hard working. Cindy, thank you for allowing me an inside look at your operation and for all your wonderful contributions to the cattle industry. You are one of a kind!

 

Calving Season 2014, Featured

Home Grown Beef and the Circle of Life

May 9, 2016

In just a few short weeks, the freezer will be overflowing with Dot Seven beef. Beef that was given the highest level of care from birth until death will nourish our bodies for a long time to come. The more I learn and immerse myself into the ranching lifestyle, the more gratitude I have. I’m so proud that my family raises safe, nutritious beef for myself and others to consume. I am proud of the quality of beef we are producing (more on that later). But, perhaps the most rewarding part of this lifestyle is my growing understanding and appreciation for the end of the life cycle. I know that must sound so strange but it’s true. As a kid, I hated the fact that cattle had to die in order for me to enjoy a hamburger or a steak. I preferred to only be a part of caring for the animals while they were alive. We can probably all agree that death is a complicated topic but that it is most definitely the circle of life. If it weren’t for my immersion into the livestock industry, I’m not sure I wouldn’t still be slightly uncomfortable with the subject.

Death sucks. There’s really no getting around that. Although, at the wise old age of 30 (ha!), I now have a different perspective on death as it relates to the beef I eat. Cows are amazing creatures. Yes they can be dirty, smelly, and possibly run you up the side of the fence when they’re trying to protect their baby calf… but in the end they give their life in the most noble way so that we may sustain ours. I truly believe cows were put on this earth to make use of the land where we cannot plant crops. As humans, we spend our lives searching for our purpose here on earth. Cows are born with a purpose. Their life directly corresponds to the quality of ours and for that I am so thankful. Because of this understanding, (that I believe most ranchers have) we at the Dot Seven assume greater responsibility to treat these animals with first-rate care the entirety of their life. We owe it to the animal just as much as the consumer.

The steer calf in the picture above was born on the Dot Seven and was the first calf of the Fall 2014 calving season. He spent the first seven months of life with his mother, was then weaned from her and moved to another field of native grass for the next six months. From there he went to the feedlot to be finished on a ration (diet) that included grains. My family prefers the taste and health benefits of grain-finished beef; the more marbling* the better!

**Warning: The pictures below this line may be graphic to some. If you do not wish to see what a carcass looks like hanging in a meat locker, this would be a good place to stop. But I really hope you don’t :)**

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Featured

Guest Post from Blue Eyes & Cow Pies: The Customer

April 24, 2016

I met Kiah via social media and through my long lost friend, Jane, who used to run Dinners on the Dot. Kiah comes from a multi-generational ranching family in the heart of California. Her passion is beef and boy does it show for this Kentucky transplant. She recently blogged about a topic that has intrigued me for quite some time: how far does the saying “the customer is always right” go in agriculture? I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Kiah’s posts and following her HILARIOUS videos on Facebook. You can check out more of her stuff at Blue Eyes and Cow Pies. Thank you Kiah for allowing me to re-blog you post!


 

How this popular slogan applies to agriculture… kind of.

If you have ever worked in retail, food service, or really anywhere that has to do with selling or supplying something, odds are your boss has told you at one time, “The customer is always right.” (I truly hope that if you are in the medical field, however, that this does not apply.) This slogan makes customer satisfaction of utmost importance, and satisfied customers = returning customers.

This got me thinking… in the agriculture industry, does this slogan still apply?

Whether selling food at the local farmers market or a contractor to a larger food supplier or distributor, at the end of the day farmers and ranchers have the same customer: the everyday consumer.

Consumers are on one side growing more disconnected from agriculture (the average American being 3 generations removed from a farm) and on the other side consumers are becoming increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it is produced. In many ways, this is exciting! In other ways, it is difficult.

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