It's been a busy couple of weeks here at the ranch. Sorting the cattle and moving them from their beautiful, lush summer pasture by the river to our pastures here at the ranch in preparation for the fall meat harvest. Standard procedure in the cattle industry is to load the steers in a semi truck or trailer and send them off to a slaughter facility that is, in some cases, hours away. There they are grouped with hundreds if not thousands of other animals before being processed on an assembly line at the slaughter house. That is a very stressful experience for the animals; and I believe it also affects the quality of the meat as stress hormones are released in their bodies during this ordeal. We are happy to do things in a very different way. Our animals are right here in their own familiar surroundings with the people who they know that know them. They are calmly and quietly ushered to the Mobile Unit one by one and humanely killed instantly. Each animal is then individually hand cut in our state-of-the-art Mobile Processing Unit under constant USDA inspection. As ranchers we feel it is our obligation to make sure that our cattle are handled with care throughout their entire lives, and we are there personally to make sure that happens.
In addition to the Mobile Unit crew and USDA inspector (he's the guy in the white coat and hardhat on the left) we had other visitors to the ranch during our harvest. The very nice folks from Carnes Andes Sur were here observing the unit in action. They are a group of veterinarians, ranchers and agriculture professors from Chile and are putting together a Co-Operative and Mobile Unit based on ours.
It was so interesting to talk with them though sadly my Spanish is pretty much non-existent. Patty was a their translator, she is a veterinarian and was very knowledgeable about all phases of the beef industry. The way they produce their animals in South America is similar to our grass fed program, though all the animals there are harvested at about eight months of age, just after weaning. They were quite interested in our pens and gates and squeeze chute; apparently those types of equipment are not readily available in their area. Eduardo, one of the farmers, is also a master welder and he made sketches to be able to duplicate our gate latches on his own ranch. I would love to be able to return their visit and see their animals and ranches in Chile. They showed us pictures of their area nestled right up next to the Andes Mountains and it is quite a beautiful place. They told us that the Cascade mountains surrounding our ranch reminded them of home.
After the visitors went on to their next stop the work continued all day until almost dark. I was so impressed with the care and attention to detail Jim and William from our Farmer's Co-op took with every step of our harvest. Since we had too many animals to be completed in one day, they left the unit parked here at the ranch and spent the night at a local inn. Before they left for the day every inch of the Mobile Unit was scrubbed down, disinfected and rinsed with very hot water. They were back at the crack of dawn the next morning to finish the job. I am so not a morning person, but I was there too to do my bit. Someone has to take these pictures!
Now that the meat is harvested, it is dry aged for 18 - 21 days at the Farmer's Co-op plant in beautiful Bow, WA. Dry aging is hard to find these days as it is time consuming and expensive, but it is the gold standard for beef and a step we are not willing to skip. When the dry aging is complete, the meat is hand cut by our experienced staff, then vacuum sealed and frozen to ensure freshness for up to two years in your freezer.
To our returning customers who have already pre-ordered their beef, let me tell you it looks great and you won't be disappointed. If you haven't ordered yours yet, you can do that here at the Marketplace. When we have an exact date for delivery I'll send you an e-mail with all the details. I always take many more pictures than I can include in a post, so Julie our website designer has added a new feature for the photos so I can show them all to you. Enjoy!