Beef…It’s What’s for Dinner…For At Least the Next Couple Years

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of country livin’ is the opportunity to be as self-sufficient as possible.  A garden, wood-burning stove, and now, raising beef cattle, are just a few ways my family has taken advantage of our country plot.  With prices raising everywhere you turn, one heat bill and a trip to the grocery can easily exhaust a pay check nowadays, especially when you have five mouths to fed (6 including the dog).

It was August 2007 when my wife and I purchased our 5-acre property, and until about 18 months ago, our field had remained empty and unused.  Roughly 2 years ago my father, who lives two doors down from me and who has been raising beef cattle for approximately 8 or 9 years, approached me about my plans for my field.  “I don’t know, maybe buy a four-wheeler or dirt bike…”, I responded to his inquiry.

“Son, now that you live in the country, you need to be as self-sufficient as possible”, he said.  “I’m going to a cattle auction on Saturday, do you want me to buy you a cow”, like he was going to the gas station and asking the obligatory, “…need anything?”  I thought about it for a couple of days and decided to take him up on his offer.  We had a few problems though.

First, his 5-acre plot was already too small for the amount of cattle he had.  The cow experts, if such people exist, suggest an acre per cow.  He had 5-acres and at the time, 8 cows.  Secondly, my field wasn’t fenced.  The back yard and field were only separated by an abrupt difference in the height of the grass.

...not quite this bad

His subtle proposition soon turned into 3 weeks of grueling, back-breaking work as he decided he wanted to erect a fence to enclose my 5-acres, and another fence running along the backside of our neighbors 5-acres; reminiscent of an “alley”.  The purpose of this “alley” was to connect me and my father’s fields while not prohibiting our neighbor and his possible plans for his field, effectively doubling the amount of acreage for our bovines.

Then a funny thing happened…

The gentleman whom recently purchased the abode between us, I actually went to school with.  I informed my dad of this and at that very moment, I saw a light bulb come on in his head, which generally means one thing; I’m going to get put to work.

Just as I hypothesized, my father approached Jason and just as he did with me, he inquired about Jason’s plans for his 5-acres.  After a few discussions and a negotiation or two, the field was ours.  “Yes, more work for me!”, I sarcastically exclaimed.  “Nothing is more awesome than fencing in 10 acres in the swelting Midwest summer”, I continued ranting.  So off we went to Tractor Supply Co. and a couple hundred posts, a few 100 pound tinsel wire spools, and a handful of 16 foot cattle gates later, we got busy on our now 4 week-long fence building project.

In the meantime, dad did go to the cattle auction and picked me up a calf and also bought him another cow; my cow’s mother.

My cow all grown up


The call finally came.  “Is Joe there?”, a female voice said on the other line.  “This is he”, I returned her inquiry.  “Your beef is ready for pickup.”  And I thought the anticipation I felt as a child on December 26th awaiting the next Christmas was bad…

All 612 pounds of t-bone steaks, ribeyes, rump roasts, round steaks, and hamburger were awaiting my arrival to take it back home and stock my 22 cubic foot deep freezer I had purchased 6 months earlier to house my initial investment.  An investment that started with $400 that would save me around $6,000 in the long run; not a bad yield if you ask me.

My mouth was already watering at the very thought of my grill’s flames licking the underside of a juicy, tender, freshly grown and processed t-bone steak.  It was only hours later that I tasted the fruits of my investment.  Two t-bones for me and the wife and ribeyes for the kids…

Bon Appetite…


4 thoughts on “Beef…It’s What’s for Dinner…For At Least the Next Couple Years

  1. What an amazing post! I didn’t realize you lived in the country. For me, I’ve never come close to owning a cow. We have a fraction of an acre and I feel our yard is huge.

    It was fascinating to read this story, and most of I all enjoyed seeing the close relationship you share with your father.

    I enjoyed your humor, and the shots on the grill? Mouth watering. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Melissa.

      The 5 acres are awesome – until I have to mow some of it! And yes, it’s clicheious (sp?) but my father really is my best friend. We’re catching up on years lost after my parents divorced when I was two. I lived with my mother until I was 17 then I moved in with my father. We’ve been “best friends” ever since.

  2. Your father should have dinner (steak dinner) with my husband. Every time my husband goes to an auction I seem to get more work! Love your transition into cattle farming. I married into it and got my wake-up call when I was chased out of the pasture field by a cantankerous Mama cow 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Beth!

      I too love the transition; never saw myself as a cattle farmer but I’m loving it. It is definitely hard work but as you know, it pays off exponentially in the long run. I can’t wait to see how much money we save at the grocery the next time we go. Even if it weren’t for the savings, home grown beef is incredibly delicious!

      I think it’s fair to say I’ve been initiated to the cattle farmer life. When we were castrating my bull (I think that’s the proper term…I’m still learning), it took me, my dad, and my uncle to wrangle him and apply the band. For the next 3 days I feel like I got beat up by 6 guys.

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