Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where's the beef?

Last week, Farmer John and I went for an extremely satisfying road trip. We picked up our beef from the processor.

The trip was tainted with some sadness.We knew and worked with these cattle during their life on the farm. Many justifications can be made, but in end their lives were ended so that we can eat. We were sad, but mostly grateful.

Our trip started in New Martinsville when we borrowed a truck from our friend Mick. The farm truck isn't running so well, and we needed something bigger than my Volkswagen to haul all the beef. It was another reminder that we just can't run the farm without a network of support. Then we headed towards Eighty Four, PA with a stop at a local dairy for lunch.

When we arrived at Eighty Four Packing we were greeted by the owner's mom. Eighty Four Packing is a small, family-run custom processor. They also can have meat USDA inspected. Those are the two biggest reasons we chose to take our beef to them. After she totaled our order, she told us to drive around back and they would help us load the beef. I've found myself in some unexpected places since starting this life at the farm, the back door of a butcher shop is one of them. 

We loaded up 18 boxes of beef, chatted with the owner for a minute and were on our way. What started as a conversation next to the woodstove last year had become a reality. We had butchered and sold some of our own beef - fist bumps all around!

Next came the best part. We were lucky enough to sell some halves and quarters of beef to our friends. As we headed back down the river we got to stop by their houses, help unload their boxes and chat with them. We are thankful to our friends for supporting our farm, it was a treat to share with them something on which we've worked so hard. 

Finally we made it back home and unloaded our half of beef. It filled up our upright freezer out in the shop plus a couple shelves of our kitchen freezer. 

Our beef has an extra label on it. This is for the USDA inspection. Because of the inspection we can sell this beef as individual cuts. 

We haven't eaten very much, but what we've sampled has been very good. It's gratifying to have all the hard work pay off in such a satisfying way. 


  1. John and Mollie--Wow! Great post! This is truly a culmination of lots of dedicated work. Buying your herd. Running a mile of fence. Chasing cattle back into the fenced pasture. Hauling water and food. Watching over births and deaths. A hundred other caretaking duties. But this is what it was for. You and your cattle have provided quality food for yourself and friends. Congratulations!

  2. Go organic WVians!

  3. Mollie, when I was in high school, my parents used to by a quarter of a beef from your Grandpa Toppe. It was always excellent. I recall your Dad always toting and feeding and mucking and all those things you farmers do. You are are certainly following your Norwegian heritage. Next you can raid and plunder neighboring villages.


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