Even though we have a beef cattle farm, we still need to go somewhere else to buy beef! Many people think that it’s easy for farmers to eat the food right out of their fields, but for most farmers it doesn’t exactly work that way. We still have to go to the grocery store, too!
Where Can I Buy Your Beef?
Baby Doc and I were outside swinging on the porch this morning when our FedEx driver came up our 1/4 mile gravel driveway. She came up the porch steps and said, “Wow, you guys really do live ‘out here’ don’t you?”
Yep, we live “way out there” in the country!
One of the best things about living out in the country is that we are surrounded by farms. That means that we are also surrounded by farmers, and that some of those farmers are our very best friends! Another great thing about living out in the country is that we have access to some of the food that is raised by those farmers, without having to go to the grocery store.
Don’t get me wrong, even though we stock our freezers with meat that we buy from our friends, we still use the grocery store for plenty of things. But I know that any milk that we buy at the grocery store is still local. During the right season, a lot of the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store (yes, even at WalMart!) are local. Most of the meat that you can find at the grocery store is also local! (Find out about my friend Jeanette’s pork here.)
Because lots of my “non-farming” friends know that Farmer Doc and I raise beef cattle, I often get asked if they can buy beef directly from me, or where they can find beef that we raise. Unfortunately, that answer is not a very simple one.
Farmer Doc and I have a cow-calf farm. That means that we have some adult cows who have calves every year. We keep the calves until they are around 6-8 months old, and then we sell them. Selling the calves is how we make money for our farm. That’s how we can afford to feed the animals, do maintenance on our equipment, and even (gasp!) buy “new to us” equipment every once in a while!
Once the calves are sold, they go to a beef cattle feedlot with other calves around the same age. They are “fed out” until they are around 16-18 months old (or around 1600-1800 pounds). Then they are ready to be the beef that you find at the grocery store.
We sell most of our calves at an auction. Most of the time, we don’t know who buys them or where they are going to go. Most of the feedlots in the United States are in the Western part of the country, where there is more land and less people. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s latest report (released on 5/22/15), the states with the highest numbers of beef cattle in feedlots are Kansas (just over 2 million cattle), Texas (2.43 million cattle), and Nebraska (2.4 million cattle). Colorado comes in at #4 with 0.9 million cattle.
But there are some beef feedlots in Indiana, too! In fact, we have a family friend just a few miles up the road who raises beef cattle from calving to finish (he is a cow-calf farm and a feedlot all in one). My friends Lana (from Walking the Off-Beaten Path) and Sarah (from This Farm Family’s Life) also have beef feedlots in Indiana.
So where can you buy beef from our farm? I’m kind of bummed to tell you that I don’t know exactly where you can look to find beef from our farm. But, I’m also kind of excited to tell you that any time you buy beef at a grocery store, it could be from our farm!
Do you have more farming questions? Check out my other Farm Facts posts! If you have questions that I haven’t answered yet (and I’m sure you do!) leave them in the comments below. I’m answering at least one farming question every month, so yours could be next!