Because the west wasn’t won on salad

Beef. Because the west wasn’t won on salad.*

This quote came into my brain today as I unloaded box after box of frozen meat from my car.

I always smile when I see it on a bumper sticker. Not because I think salad is bad, quite the contrary. {I know fresh vegetables are good for me, and I should probably eat more of them.}

No, I smile because I imagine the quintessential cowboy of the American west being offered a green salad or a steak side by side. I know after a long day there’s no way on planet earth he’s choosing the salad.

The choice is rational though, because after a day on a horse the cowboy needs the calorie-dense fat and protein in a hunk of meat. He could, of course, eat the salad too.

Back to unloading my boxes…

I’d just gotten another call from the meat market on Friday, and they absolutely needed us to pick up our beef on Monday at the latest. They needed the freezer space.

Perhaps I should back up?

Several times a year we bring one of our animals, usually a steer, to be butchered.

A steer is a castrated male, and if you’ve ever been around a snorting, stomping bull you understand why we castrate. It’s mostly for safety reasons, and if you’re raising an animal just for meat they don’t need to be able to reproduce anyway.

We sell a lot of our bull calves as babies, but when we have space we raise some until they are older. We keep them until 4-6 months and sell them as feeder calves. Feeder calves meaning someone else will buy them and feed and raise them until they are big enough to butcher.

We also keep a few of our own feeder calves and raise to full-grown steers, usually 1400-1500 pounds.

Not often, but occasionally we have a steer that is slower to grow, has a sore foot, possibly a blind eye, or some other impairment. He still has good quality meat and we care for him just the same. A potential buyer might pay less or not want him though. If we have any that need extra TLC we’ll butcher for ourselves. This particular steer had none of these problems; he was just a big guy that hadn’t really fit in with the recent loads of steers we’d sold.

We sell some of our meat to family or friends, use as bonus gifts for employees, and of course eat it ourselves.

We’d brought in a big steer two weeks ago (I affectionately called him Goliath), and we knew there would be a lot of meat. We have two deep freezers, but they are both rather full of remaining beef, plus quarts and quarts of frozen tomatoes and other garden fare.

So… We bought another freezer to store this latest beef.

It occurred to me that most of you have probably never seen the meat from a full animal. So I took some pictures for your viewing pleasure. I didn’t think of it until the car was already half unloaded though.

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When you butcher your own animal, you get everything. You get the delicious cuts of ribeye and T-bone steak, the flavorful brisket, and lots of hamburger. You also get the tougher cuts of round, chuck, and arm roast. If you request them, you’ll even get the liver, heart, and tongue. (Otherwise these parts usually go in with the ground beef.)

Things aren’t wasted, and I feel like seeing all these cuts of meat gives me a greater appreciation for the animal they came from. It also forces me to be more creative in the kitchen.

It’s always nice to have meat at ready supply, especially because my husband and I always seem to be starving by mealtime.

I’m not afraid of protein and fat-rich food, especially if I’m in the middle of a long day. At some meals I will specifically reach for sour cream, cheese, eggs, or an extra hunk of meat just so I will have enough fuel to keep me full to the next meal. Fat is more calorie-dense than carbs or protein, and it’s not evil if it’s part of a balanced diet.

My balance can use some work, but I still know I need my beef.

Just an aside, when I donated blood last month the nurse commented on how good my iron level was. My blood pressure, pulse, and weight were all at very healthy levels too, so I know I’m doing alright. ๐Ÿ™‚

After I finished with unloading the meat I hurried back to the farm to do some chores and get ready to finish covering the corn silage pile. We finished today, and after we all caught our breath we could celebrate the end of corn harvest.

Part of me wonders how I ended up here.

I’m sure I looked quite the sight today, wearing ratty shorts and a ponytail as I stood in my garage unloading 1,000 pounds of meat on a Monday afternoon.

Or this evening as I hiked up and down the silage pile in my work boots, in the midst of 20 people helping to cover the silage.

I caught up with a good friend of mine from college on the phone the other night, and when we graduated we started on somewhat similar paths. Both entering the world of numbers and finance.

I was a business student and an honors grad, being told that success was getting the job with a large company that would move me up the corporate ladder.

My friend chatted with me about a job offer she’s accepted, starting in just a few weeks. She is leaving her job in commercial lending to enter the world of investment banking. Complete with a downtown office in a skyscraper.

My life couldn’t be more different.

I run errands on weekday afternoons and work until 10 pm on weekends if the day demands. I answer email, and I drive skid loader. I talk with our banker, and I scrape manure.

All in a day’s work.

Would I even want that skyscraper executive lifestyle?

I’m not sure.

What I do know is the west wasn’t won on salad. So I’ll keep on raising animals and doing my best to provide food for a hungry world.

*slogan comes from
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Cooking and Foods, Cows, This and That and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Because the west wasn’t won on salad

  1. Terzah says:

    Nicely written!

  2. MNGobbleGal says:

    Great post! And I learned a few things about the animals you raise, too (helpful for this poultry gal)!

  3. Kathy says:

    That’s a lot of meat!! I also like knowing where our meat came from and having a supply sitting in our freezer. I just wish antelope tasted more like beef. Hopefully we get an elk this year.

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