Author Topic: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?  (Read 12819 times)

Offline littletea

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question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« on: March 23, 2012, 02:14:33 PM »
We're looking at purchasing half a grass fed cow real soon.  Over the last few months I've been gravitating towards "Natural" beef from some of the nice foodie grocery stores in town just to give me some peace of mind (i.e. what's really in our meat supply).  Done all my research and found a local rancher - Not shocking but all the ranchers have increased their prices by about .50/lb. to 4.50/lb hanging weight. Ouch.  Seems pretty high but the rancher told me they're planning on increasing the price again due to higher costs.  I wonder if it's really a good buy at the end of the day.  Any tips for how to get the most out of our half when it's processed?  Any tips in general?

Offline Crusher13

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 02:20:20 PM »
If you buy straight from the rancher and have a local butcher process the meat is should be competitive with what you buy from the store and maybe a little cheaper. I would say the only way you stretch it is if you process the meat yourself. That way you can spend as much time as you want deboning for hamburger. The butcher has to balance time spent vs how much meat they get deboning. I don't think you will get much payback on the deboning but the processing will be a significant cost that could be saved. It isn't that hard and you will learn alot. The butcher may even rent cooler space to age the beef for you before you process it. One other note is old homesteaders and my family still does this typically butchers their meat in the fall when the temps are cooler and then has enough all year. It does complicate it to process during the spring summer when temps are warmer because if this is your first time doing it processing a half a beef will be a day long process.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 02:23:10 PM »
what do you do with the beef?  We have been ordering from www.tamisgrassfedbeef.com for about 5 years now.  we did a half and a split half the first few years.  then I started looking at all the stuff I just don't use.  And I decided that it was better for me to get what I use a la carte from her.

for example, I bottle all my stew meat, and I want LOTS of stew meat.  So I order about 25# of just that.  Also, 25# of bones (and sometimes organ meat) for stock.  We do not eat a lot of steak, in fact, very often the steak gets cut up and added to the stew meat (I know, heresy, but that is the reality of my house).  But if you eat a lot of steak, ask for it.  I usually get about 10# or so in roasts, but the only thing I do with it is make beef stroganoff - a whole beef roast is more than my family will eat in a week.  Hamburger is something that is growing on us, slowly, but it is coming.

so, sit down, think about what you will do with your beef.  then decide what you need from that.  I actually need to go through my freezer today and see what I have and what I need to order; she likes to get her orders in by April 1.

Offline mrdan

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 02:29:58 PM »
what do you do with the beef?  We have been ordering from www.tamisgrassfedbeef.com for about 5 years now.  we did a half and a split half the first few years.  then I started looking at all the stuff I just don't use.  And I decided that it was better for me to get what I use a la carte from her.

for example, I bottle all my stew meat, and I want LOTS of stew meat.  So I order about 25# of just that.  Also, 25# of bones (and sometimes organ meat) for stock.  We do not eat a lot of steak, in fact, very often the steak gets cut up and added to the stew meat (I know, heresy, but that is the reality of my house).  But if you eat a lot of steak, ask for it.  I usually get about 10# or so in roasts, but the only thing I do with it is make beef stroganoff - a whole beef roast is more than my family will eat in a week.  Hamburger is something that is growing on us, slowly, but it is coming.

so, sit down, think about what you will do with your beef.  then decide what you need from that.  I actually need to go through my freezer today and see what I have and what I need to order; she likes to get her orders in by April 1.

Morning sunshine is correct. Getting half a cow makes you have to deal with ALL the cuts. We sell halves and quarters and the biggest issue I have with people is they just don't know what to do with "the other cuts". Now no surprise with MS, she uses all the other cuts nobody knows how to use, and doesn't grill her rib eyes. Usually it's the other way around (this a kudos to you, MS, you rock)

Personally, I like having the odd ball cuts. It teaches/forces me to learn how to cook new and interesting stuff. It also makes me get out of the normal cookbooks and out of my comfort zone. I still like a bone in ribeye though. Sorry Sunshine. :)

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 02:41:08 PM »
uh, I have a confession.  I do not know how to use those other cuts.  the ribs, the tenderloin, the whatevers sit in my freezer cuz I am afraid of ruining the "good" cuts with my inexpertise.  probably the reason we don't do steaks either.  :D

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 02:50:12 PM »
Unless you already have all the meat processing equipment I would think it would be tough to get a good return on investment versus having the butcher cut it up for you.  My butcher charges .37/lb to custom cut however we want it.  And I would think that the $4.50/lb you were quoted includes beef/kill/custom cut. . . .  This is a whole lot cheaper than buying in the store.  Go price roasts, t-bones, filet, and all the other expensive cuts at the store.

My family has their favorite cuts (t-bone for BBQ, hamburger of course, roasts, etc.) but if you find yourself with cuts you don't know what to do with, how hard is it to throw any kind of roast in the pot, or throw any cut of steak on the BBQ?  We don't care for eating round steak as a steak, so we cut it in to pieces and cook soups, stews, and stir fry with it.

nelson96

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2012, 02:55:23 PM »
uh, I have a confession.  I do not know how to use those other cuts.  the ribs, the tenderloin, the whatevers sit in my freezer cuz I am afraid of ruining the "good" cuts with my inexpertise.  probably the reason we don't do steaks either.  :D

Tenderloin??? . . . .  I'll take them.

The butcher will create whatever cuts you ask for, and if you don't know what to ask for he'll make recommendations and answer questions on how to use them. . . . .  Anything you don't want, he'll grind in to hamburger for you.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2012, 04:04:08 PM »
We bought in on a half a grass fed beef at the beginning of last year for $3.50 a pound. That was hanging weight. It may look like you're taking a beating on the cheaper meat, but overall it was cheaper than what we'd pay at the supermarket especially when you start taking into consideration the pricier cuts. And when we consider that this beef is antibiotic free, hormone free and grass fed, the outlook on price only gets better.

We blew it on the order form for requested cuts though. We should have been more specific because we had to repackage a lot of it.

Things to keep in mind
Some roasts can be left whole or cut into steaks or cutlets.
If you don't like or use stew meat, chuck or round roasts, brisket and a few other cuts these can be made into ground beef.

There's a whole lot more, but this is the best I can do off the top of my head. I'll see if I can find our order form from last year.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 04:16:09 PM by Nicodemus »

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2012, 05:36:40 PM »
Too bad you guys don't live near me.  I sell my Black Angus beef for $3.25/lb and that includes Kill/Cut/Wrap. . . .  Maybe I need to raise my prices. . . .  Hmmmmm.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2012, 05:45:06 PM »
If I did live near you, I would buy from you!

Ummm, where do you live?

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2012, 05:48:58 PM »
Too bad you guys don't live near me.  I sell my Black Angus beef for $3.25/lb and that includes Kill/Cut/Wrap. . . .  Maybe I need to raise my prices. . . .  Hmmmmm.

I think I do live near you :-)   If you need to sell a half can you p.m. me?  The freezer is getting low, and we sold our mama cow to Wimstatt, and haven't replaced her yet...

:-)

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2012, 05:53:47 PM »
Too bad you guys don't live near me.  I sell my Black Angus beef for $3.25/lb and that includes Kill/Cut/Wrap. . . .  Maybe I need to raise my prices. . . .  Hmmmmm.

Have you ever thought about using the TSP Swap Meet Section?

I'm sure there are quite a few folks here who would be interested.

nelson96

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2012, 05:58:32 PM »
Have you ever thought about using the TSP Swap Meet Section?

I'm sure there are quite a few folks here who would be interested.

Truthfully I've never had a problem selling my beef and usually have backorders for it.  All my returning customers tell me it's the best beef they've ever eaten but my success may also be due to the low price. . . . .  I think I'm selling for the going rate out here though. . . .  Thanks for the suggestion all the same.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2012, 06:09:49 PM »
...We do not eat a lot of steak, in fact, very often the steak gets cut up and added to the stew meat...
I stopped breathing when I read this.  :o

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2012, 06:22:16 PM »
I stopped breathing when I read this.  :o

I was going to comment on that in a similar way, but I just thought it better to erase it from my mind as if I had never read it in the first place.  ;D

nelson96

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2012, 06:29:06 PM »
I think I do live near you :-)   If you need to sell a half can you p.m. me?  The freezer is getting low, and we sold our mama cow to Wimstatt, and haven't replaced her yet...

Tried to PM you but got a message back that you can't receive PM's.

Offline littletea

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2012, 07:23:27 PM »
Folks - I got a kick out of some the responses.  There is no way we are butchering ourselves.  My husband is out by 4 a.m. and doesn't get home til 7 p.m and sometimes works weekends.  I'm 6 months pregnant and have a 3 year old. We've been having a hard time keeping up with just basic stuff lately.

Next I'm a huge foodie and cook and experiment ALOT. I almost died when I read Morning Sunshine's post!  We love steak but have basically stopped eating b/c it doesn't fit into my price range so it's an occasional treat.  On the days I feel a craving I've spent $11/lb. for  "natural" beef strip steak.  For the holiday's my husband's eye balls nearly ejected from the sockets when he saw the $40 I paid for a nice SMALL rib roast.  Granted there are some cuts I'm not too familiar with but boy what I wouldn't do to get tenderloin, short ribs, stew meat, round steak etc.  B/c of price we've been sticking to ground beef, some roasts and sirloin from conventionally raised but being pregnant has me shying away from conventional so now I've increased my price point but I'm still limited on what I can get at this price.

Unfortunately 4.5/lb does not include butchering.  That's an additional .44/lb.  Being in Texas I thought we'd see lower prices but the range has been 3.5-4.5 and after the drought ranchers are increasing their price. I've heard from two people that the prices to restock their herd have gone through the roof plus a lot of them had to thin the herd b/c of the price of hay last summer.  Did a little research on the internet and our cattle levels are at their lowest since 1952 so they are already forecasting another price increase this year. 

Offline littletea

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2012, 08:28:59 PM »
The other item I've discussed with the seller is what the percentage of beef you get back from the butcher.  Her butcher said that if we did mostly ground beef I'd be looking at 65% but she has said I'd get a higher yield taking the various cuts and bones for stock.  However there's was no hard number given - though at one point she said the butcher had gotten maybe close to 80% but whose to say I'll get that yield.  I'm just a little nervous about putting down so much money and not knowing how much we're getting back until it's all said and done.  You can bet I'd be inspecting what we get back from the butcher package by package!  Based on an 80% yield I figured the average cost is a little over $6/lb. not cheap but not $11/lb either, however...$6lb. for bones???

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2012, 10:33:43 PM »
The other item I've discussed with the seller is what the percentage of beef you get back from the butcher.  Her butcher said that if we did mostly ground beef I'd be looking at 65% but she has said I'd get a higher yield taking the various cuts and bones for stock.  However there's was no hard number given - though at one point she said the butcher had gotten maybe close to 80% but whose to say I'll get that yield.  I'm just a little nervous about putting down so much money and not knowing how much we're getting back until it's all said and done.  You can bet I'd be inspecting what we get back from the butcher package by package!  Based on an 80% yield I figured the average cost is a little over $6/lb. not cheap but not $11/lb either, however...$6lb. for bones???

I suppose the butcher would know and my expertise ends when they get the bullet.  I can tell you that the hanging weight is typically 60% of the hoof weight, so we lose too since we only charge for what is hanging.

I would still challenge that if you went to the store and only took an average price of the total cuts of beef you would receive from a steer you purchased, you would still see a lot of savings (that is if you do actually buy those cuts at the store).  Not to mention the amazing difference in taste, tenderness (tenderness actually has more to do with how long the butcher allows the meat to hang), and the knowing that it's safer to eat, if you buy from a reliable cattleman. . . . .  And not to forget the upfront cost you have to invest.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2012, 12:39:04 AM »
I stopped breathing when I read this.  :o

yeah, I know.  My FIL about had a fit when he found out the meat in the stew was mignon....  I thought we had about killed him.

Next I'm a huge foodie and cook and experiment ALOT. I almost died when I read Morning Sunshine's post!  We love steak but have basically stopped eating b/c it doesn't fit into my price range so it's an occasional treat.  On the days I feel a craving I've spent $11/lb. for  "natural" beef strip steak.  For the holiday's my husband's eye balls nearly ejected from the sockets when he saw the $40 I paid for a nice SMALL rib roast.  Granted there are some cuts I'm not too familiar with but boy what I wouldn't do to get tenderloin, short ribs, stew meat, round steak etc.  B/c of price we've been sticking to ground beef, some roasts and sirloin from conventionally raised but being pregnant has me shying away from conventional so now I've increased my price point but I'm still limited on what I can get at this price.

then buying a side will be perfect for you.  do not forget to get the bones.  the stock you make from that will rival anything else.  You get about a quart for every 2 pounds of bones.  and it is so nutrient rich, it is amazing.  There were days in my first trimester that the only thing I could keep down was liquid, and the beef stock was perfect cuz it was hearty and filling and even yummy (cannot tell me that about a canned or store bought stock!)

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2012, 09:43:40 AM »
I wish I'd kept better track from start to finish so that I could give you some solid numbers based on our experience. We estimated that our purchase of a side of beef came out to about $4.85 a pound delivered.

If you go by the 80% estimate, this is most likely going to include brain, liver, kidney, heart, tripe, suet and bones.

I don't know what the heck we're going to do with the tripe, but some of the birds are already enjoying the heck out of the suet and seed balls we hung up. I also saved some of the suet for My Mother's Million Dollar Mince Meat Pie FillingĀ® that she sends to family members for Christmas.

Unfortunately we didn't look into buying a side of beef again this year because our delivery from last year was so late. We thought we were going to get screwed and were just about done with the whole idea when the rancher came through. By the time he did, it was just about too late to get in early so I don't even know what prices are like this year.

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2012, 10:10:26 AM »
If you go by the 80% estimate, this is most likely going to include brain, liver, kidney, heart, tripe, suet and bones.

I don't know what the heck we're going to do with the tripe, but some of the birds are already enjoying the heck out of the suet and seed balls we hung up. I also saved some of the suet for My Mother's Million Dollar Mince Meat Pie FillingĀ® that she sends to family members for Christmas.

Brains, tripe, kidney, and suet? . . . .  You people back east are crazy.  Our butcher doesn't even offer this stuff (becuase we don't want it) and this is not charged out in the hanging weight. . . .  The only thing other than meat that you pay for here is the bones that were cut away from your meat, the liver, and the heart.  You of course don't have to take any of that if you don't want it, but you do pay for it. . . .  Personally, I don't take the large bones (I take the soup bones), but I take everything else.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2012, 10:52:05 AM »
Actually I passed on the brain. My cholesterol levels don't need that kind of fuel.  ;D

And I forgot the tongue!

nelson96

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2012, 10:58:05 AM »
Actually I passed on the brain. My cholesterol levels don't need that kind of fuel.  ;D

And I forgot the tongue!

I forgot the tongue too.  Tongue is awesome.  I don't cook it in the house though, too stinky.  It makes awesome sandwich meat.

Offline 16onRockandRoll

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #24 on: March 24, 2012, 12:12:30 PM »
This is off the main topic, but I feel for Littletea. My wife and I LOVE steak, but we are trying to catch up from a few years of spotty employment. We have found the sirloin steaks from Costco to be amazing for the price. Over the past maybe, 6-7 years, the price has hovered between $4-5.50/lb, and the quality is awesome for AFAIK, conventionally raised beef. If you can cook it well, those steaks rival a decent steakhouse steak (obviously doesnt compare with high end dry aged prime or anything, but better than most standard places) a package of 4 steaks usually run about $12-20, and most of the time, we can split one steak between the two of us for a meal.


On topic, we are thinking about buying a half/split half, so I'm liking the topic and info. Growing up, we always had enough deer in the freezer we never had room for a side, so I've never done this before.

nelson96

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #25 on: March 24, 2012, 12:21:43 PM »
This is off the main topic, but I feel for Littletea. My wife and I LOVE steak, but we are trying to catch up from a few years of spotty employment. We have found the sirloin steaks from Costco to be amazing for the price. Over the past maybe, 6-7 years, the price has hovered between $4-5.50/lb, and the quality is awesome for AFAIK, conventionally raised beef. If you can cook it well, those steaks rival a decent steakhouse steak (obviously doesnt compare with high end dry aged prime or anything, but better than most standard places) a package of 4 steaks usually run about $12-20, and most of the time, we can split one steak between the two of us for a meal.


On topic, we are thinking about buying a half/split half, so I'm liking the topic and info. Growing up, we always had enough deer in the freezer we never had room for a side, so I've never done this before.

I suppose they are better than most but below in as excerpt on the "pink slime" issue.  How does Costco, or BPI for that matter, really know how the beef is being raised?

Dakota Dunes-based BPI, one of metro Sioux City's largest employer, has repeatedly emphasized its product is 100 percent beef. Going  beyond and beyond all federal safety standards, the company treats its meat with a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas (pink slime) to kill bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #26 on: March 24, 2012, 01:28:15 PM »
I forgot the tongue too.  Tongue is awesome.  I don't cook it in the house though, too stinky.  It makes awesome sandwich meat.

Yeah, tongue is pretty good.

It used to be that I only ate the basic meats from a cow and very few parts other than the muscles of other animals. Then I took a wilderness survival course where we ate some truly weird foods such as fried crickets, blood pudding, sea cucumber, fish eyes, buffalo tripe and a ton of other dishes. It concerned teaching us about the many methods of survival cooking as well as got us used to thinking about using every part of the animal possible in a survival situation.

Granted, this particular part of the course was taught by a chef from a 5 star restaurant, but afterward I wasn't as turned off as I had been by a lot of foods.

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2012, 03:10:39 PM »
We do not eat a lot of steak, in fact, very often the steak gets cut up and added to the stew meat

Reminds me of the time my ex and I were making dinner, and my oldest son (about 6 at the time) asked what's for dinner. I replied "Steak". To which he said "Again? I don't want steak again!!!"

So he got a hot dog. And was quite happy.  ::)

To the OP, you need to compare the prices to the $10-$14 per pound steaks and top cuts, not the $2 per pound ground meat in 5# chubs (Now! With new and improved pink slime!!!!!). You are getting grass-fed local beef processed by a local who I'm pretty certain does not have his own source of slime. So you're getting a great cut of beef cut the way you want it. Don't forget to get some rough cut ground for chilli, BTW.  ;D

BTW - Pink slime is the final product mixed into the ground beef, not the ammonia gas, as implied in a previous post. Not intended, just read that way.

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2012, 03:38:01 PM »
BTW - Pink slime is the final product mixed into the ground beef, not the ammonia gas, as implied in a previous post. Not intended, just read that way.

Thanks for the clarification, I didn't mean to misslead or make things sound worse than they are.  For store bought, Costco is the best you can get in my opinion. . . .  For me, I'll take no additives (gas, slime, hormones, or others) in my beef.  I'll stick to just grass and whole grains.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: question about purchasing half cow - Right board?
« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2020, 02:25:14 PM »
Resurrecting a dead thread instead of starting a new one.  Cuz that way we can learn from the wisdom of those now gone from us.  Either way, here is my dilemma.  Read it and give me thoughts so I can make an intelligent and informed decision.  Another thread on this topic: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=59273.msg703695#msg703695


1) Because of COVID, meat prices are through the roof this year.  If you can find it.  My local store has limits on what you can buy.  Still, even now.  Rump and round roasts are $6/lb on sale; t-bone steaks and tenderloin roasts are $8 on sale

2) The crazy "let's tear down this country" faction of the riots are going to make commerce even more difficult than it already is.  I want to plan ahead.

3) I live in farm country; most of my neighbors raise cattle, either on a large ranch scale, or a few heads to feed extended family.  And yet, with all that, this year only one was willing to sell me a half.. and since he raises them on grass clippings from landscaping companies, I am wary about the amount of pesticides and herbicides in the meat.

4) I found a source.  She only raised grass-fed-organic-in-all-but-certificate, 3 week-dry-aged gourmet beef.  And she charges $8/lb hanging weight.  Now, when I bought grass-fed 6 years ago, it was $3.60/lb hanging weight.  I am willing to see some inflation on that.  Also, when I took my son's cow in to be butchered, it cost us $1000 for the butchering, cutting, wrapping, without it hanging to dry-age for 3 weeks.  So all in all, I think $8/lb is pretty fair at this time.
Beef is coming the first week in August.

5) I can definitely use a half-beef.  I will bottle all the roasts, stock all the bones.  I am even starting to cook steaks properly (I took a class!) so y'all can start breathing again.  But could I use a WHOLE beef instead?  And do I have room in my 17-cu. ft. freezer?  I cannot make stock until it gets colder, and the bones take a LOT of room.

6) I want to make liver-jerky.  But can I use the whole 40# liver on that?  What if I don't like it?  could I just keep it and turn it into a high-iron additive to other foods.  I mean people are buying powdered liver at $18/lb so I could use it in my anemic family...

7) that would be 100 pounds of beef in jars.   :o I don't know if I have that many jars!  But I would do those immediately after we got the beef home, so that would NOT be in the freezer, leaving space for other things.  Same with the liver, honestly.
Of course I could so some in biltong, but that is something I have never done (my jerky never turns out right) and I would hate to experiment on that when I need the meat

8 ) we are using ground beef more than we have in the past, but still only averaging 4 pounds a month for my family of 6 (one has flown the nest).  A whole beef would net us about 200 pounds based on my notes from previous years.

so... what would you do? 

also, I found this lovely resource: http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2059/F-3401web.pdf
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 02:35:57 PM by Morning Sunshine »