Friday, February 22, 2008

Justifying Violence Part 2 (*fixed*)

Henry received this today in an email newsletter from Cow Calf Weekly. (Read Henry's article).

Our Perspective: The Biggest Beef Recall Ever

There was a lot of media hype this week surrounding USDA's announced recall of 143 million lbs. of raw and frozen beef products produced from February 2006 to February 2008 by Westland/Hallmark Meat in Chino, CA. The video from an undercover Humane Society operative was extremely damaging.

The recall itself was based on the fact the plant wasn't handling downer animals properly; the media hype was about animal abuse and the federal school lunch program. The various industry organizations responded quickly by both assuring the public that essentially all animals are treated humanely, and by condemning the abuse that occurred.

The disturbing part of this incident isn't that it triggered the largest recall in history, or that it provided plenty of justifiable ammunition for the groups working to eliminate beef production. It isn't even the images and negative publicity that are likely to affect beef demand for some time.

The most disturbing part is that despite the fact that 99.99% of the people involved this industry do things right, our industry's credibility was harmed. The result is that when distorted or non-factual claims about our industry are made in the future, they will resonate more with the public than they otherwise would have.

As an industry we have to embrace the fact that we can't afford to have any more of these types of mistakes. One or two rogue employees can cause irreparable damage to this industry, and because we are a low-margin industry that in part depends upon low wage-earning employees, the responsibility to train and create the proper cultures for those employees is critical.

-- Troy Marshall

A Winter's Tale (Tail?)

I'm no Pioneer Woman, but I think these shots turned out decently (despite my lack of Photoshop. Sigh).

The view from the hay loft.

Secret Agent 005 and her bodyguard.

Dreaming of spring.

The blue door of the barn.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Starting Up

I'm back (and so, thank heavens, is my computer. I've missed it. In fact, I was tempted to write an Ode to an Apple, but I thought I would spare you all).

I've been feeling overwhelmed the last couple of weeks as we start this new business venture. Our to-do-list doesn't seem to be getting any shorter.

So far we've:
  • acquired business number
  • picked up loan forms
  • started a business plan
  • drafted a budget
  • met with feed co-op salesman*
  • opened business bank account
*He was really great. He's local, organic, and very honest about the products he has.

We still need to do these:
  • apply for a farm number
  • finish customer database
  • start tracking expenses (in an organized way)
  • mail out brochures
  • design/write web site content
  • take a deep breath!!!

Eating Violence

My computer is out of commission for a few days, so I can't post as much as I want. I had to link to this essay Henry wrote for *catapult magazine. It's a good exploration of why we're starting this beef business.

Eating Violence

Monday, February 4, 2008


On Saturday, we came home from meeting with the butcher and looking at our new cows to find our driveway plowed. We know which neighbor did it, so I just finished baking some zucchini bread to take over to him. We have another neighbor who lets us borrow her riding tractor during the summer to cut our lawn.

Now maybe these people just feel sorry for us and want to make sure their property values stay high, but I don't think so. It's a cliche that in the country you wave to everyone you pass on the road, but it's one of those cliches with truth behind it. In the country, you need your neighbors. They come over and help you fix your tractor; you go over and help with their hay. It just happens. No one expects payment, maybe a cold beer and a thank you, but no money.

I think Henry and I have been really blessed by the neighbors that we have. Besides the ones mentioned above, we trade work during hay season with one set. A family down the road dropped by this summer with some asparagus they found growing nearby. Another neighbor called to check if we had bought the cows or not and to talk about feeding options for them. (We had pumped him for advice before we made an offer).

We don't share fences with too many of these people, so I don't know if Robert Frost was right but sharing good advice, tractors and some homemade zucchini bread does make for good neighbors.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Smells good

I love baking, but when I was working full time, I never got the chance to do a lot of it. Now that I'm home, I'm trying to do more. Recently, I was visiting a mom in my moms' group, and she pulled fresh bread out of the oven. It smelled wonderful. She no longer buys bread at the store, and after tasting her bread, I didn't blame her. I got the recipe, and this is my second batch.

I'm going to try to avoid store-bought bread from now on too.

I found the recipe for the Dark Chocolate muffins on Baking Bites - one of my new favorite blogs. There are tons of recipes I want to try from there! It's really too bad you can't tell how heavenly my house smells right now.