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Beef Chat

Dec122014

Success (and Failure) in Holiday Season Cuisine

Published by Heath Larson at 8:29 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General | Recipe

My family, like most from the area where I grew up, has Swedish ancestry.  From thanksgiving to Christmas each year, it was a sure bet that any holiday gathering would feature traditional Swedish food.  Having Swedish food during the holidays is a classic tradition for us:   No one really knows why we do it, and no one knows why it started, but everyone looks forward to it.  So a few years back, I began making my first attempts at contributing to the tradition.  Keyword:  attempts.

 

On a work trip to Stockholm, I eagerly began asking where to find some great traditional Swedish cuisine, and was quickly told "Oh, we only eat that food at Christmas."  Wow!  I guess our holiday tradition was more rooted in our home country than we thought!  While not a fan of herring, I knew it would pack easily for the trip home, and began asking where to find it. 

 

Swede:  "Do you mean sour herring?

Me:  "Uh, we call it pickled herring back home, but yes...I think so."

Swede:  "You'll have to ask the butcher for it, he won't have it out up front, but he will have some in back."

Me:  "Great!"  (Thinking this must be the "good stuff" if they keep it behind the counter.)

 

The butcher gave several serious instructions, including opening the can outside and underwater to avoid making the whole house smell like a fish.  This seemed odd to me, but hey, it's tradition, right?  At Christmas, I took the can outside, and opened it.  A geyser of fish juice shot up my arm and into the air.  And we were instantly overpowered by the smell of at least a truckload of rotten fish.  Not quite what I expected when he said "sour" herring!  The herring never made it to the house, let alone onto anyone's plate.  But it did take me a week to scrub the smell off of me.  Maybe we aren't as Swedish as I thought...

 

However, this year, I made my first attempt at my all time favorite:  Swedish meatballs.  And during my first attempt, they got rave reviews.  A little beef/pork mixture, some spices, some gravy, and a bit of time were all that it took to create these, and between the kids and the adults, they were gone in nothing flat!  Plus, we were able to cook and eat them INSIDE the house!  Maybe I can contribute something useful to this tradition after all...

 

The recipe is below.  Have fun with whatever holiday tradition you are cooking up in the kitchen this year...just stay away from the sour herring!

 

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chef-johns-swedish-meatballs/

 

Notes: 

Make the meatballs smaller than called for.

Ours cooked for about 20 minutes in the oven, but that would change with size.

We used regular sausage for the pork.

Omitted cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

Doubled the amount of flour in the gravy.

 

Serve with mashed potatoes (using leftover meatball gravy) and lingonberry preserves.



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Dec042014

Beef: Handled With Care

Published by Kassie Curran at 1:55 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

As I have shared before, the beef business is a family business for me and my family. As much as we treat our family members with care and respect, we have a similar sense of care and respect towards our cattle. Last week, when I was at home I was reminded of the importance of the care and respect that we must give our animals and its presence in the family business.

 

My brother was already over at my uncle’s ranch working so my dad, two other siblings, and I decided to go over and see what they were doing. As we were getting ready to leave the house I told my sister she didn’t need to wear her work boots since we were just going over to take pictures of my brother for his FFA record book.

I should have known we would end up working!

Not five minutes after we had arrived and taken a few pictures, each of us had assumed a job in the process of working the calves that had recently arrived at the ranch before they were turned out to pasture. One brother was checking to see if the calves needed castrated, doing so when needed, and keeping record of the weights. The other brother helped him by holding the tail out of his face and helped with branding. My sister and my dad gave shots and tagged the calves while I sorted and moved the cattle through the pens and up the alley for their turn to be processed. It was a beautiful fall day that I enjoyed spending outside with the cattle and my family. It also reminded me how much I love being a part of the beef industry that is so family-oriented. The lessons in responsibility and respect are two of the most important to me when I think about all that I’ve learned growing up with cattle.

Providing animals a comfortable environment and treating them with respect takes a lot of responsibility. This is something that is always on my mind when I’m working with cattle, because I know that they will be healthier and perform to their potential when they are treated well. In my experience this is how other beef cattle ranchers treat their animals too, which gives me confidence in the U.S. beef supply.

 

If you’re thinking about a protein for the center of the plate for your family this holiday season, I hope you choose beef and feel confident that beef producers have used care and respect for the beef that feeds our families and yours!

 

Eat Beef and Happy Holidays!

Kassie Curran



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Nov262014

Simple & Elegant Beef Appetizers

Published by Amber Groeling RD LD at 6:47 AM under General | Nutrition | Recipe

Lean beef can be a simple and elegant addition to your holiday appetizer menu.  Plus, beef provides a filling protein to help keep your weight on track this holiday season.  Taking advantage of deli roast beef and lean ground helps save time and money.  As an added bonus, deli roast beef typically has much less sodium than deli turkey, chicken or ham.  Beef also contains a good source of immune boosting zinc, and B vitamins to help us use energy better.  While these recipes may look gourmet, they are simple to make and sure to impress your guests!

Appetizers using Deli Roast Beef: INGREDIENTS 1 beef Eye of Round Roast (2 pounds) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon pepper Vegetables: 3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced (1/2-inch) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halves

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine salt, 1/2 teaspoon basil, oregano and pepper; press onto beef roast. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-1/4 hours for medium rare doneness. Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F. Transfer to board; tent with foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare.) Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Combine vegetable ingredients, except tomatoes, in large bowl; toss. Place on rack in pan. Roast in 425°F oven 15 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes; toss. Carve roast. Serve with vegetables. Season with salt.

  • Asparagus Beef Roll-ups: Cook asparagus stalks to crisp-tender and immediately place in ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain and pat dry.  In a small bowl combine 8 oz. light garlic and herb cream cheese (such as laughing cow) and 3 to 5 tablespoons prepared horseradish.  Pat deli roast beef slices dry with paper towels.  Spread beef with the cream cheese mixture, place 1-3 asparagus spears on top and roll up.  Refrigerate until serving.  Modified slightly from Taste of Home and picture source is Pinterest.

  • Beef & Blue Cheese Ball: In a medium bowl stir together 8 ounces of light cream cheese, softened, 5 oz. plain Greek yogurt (Fage works best), 1 cup finely diced lean roast beef, ½ cup shredded 2% cheddar, ½ cup crumbled blue cheese, 2-4 minced green onions and 1 tablespoon worchestire sauce until well combined.  Transfer to a bowl lined with plastic wrap, wrapping and forming into a ball.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove plastic wrap and roll in chopped walnuts or pecans.  Serve with assorted veggies and whole-grain crackers.

  • Beef & Herb Crostini: Either purchase crostini, or prepare your own by slicing a baguette into ¼-inch slices and toasting at 400 degrees until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes.  Once cooled spread with a light garlic-herb cheese such as Boursin, top with deli roast beef and a few snips of fresh chives.  Modified from www.hardlyhouswives.com.    

Appetizers using Ground Beef:

Recipes provided by: www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com

 

Mini Meatballs with Apricot Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 pound Ground Beef (96% lean)

1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

TIME SAVER – use frozen, prepared meatballs to make this appetizer a snap!

Sauce:

3/4 cup apricot preserves

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Combine Ground Beef, bread crumbs, egg whites, water, salt and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Shape into thirty-six 1-1/4-inch meatballs. Place on rack in broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in 400°F oven 15 to 17 minutes.

 2. Meanwhile, heat preserves, barbecue sauce and mustard in medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until sauce thickens slightly.

 3. Add cooked meatballs and continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve or keep warm in slow cooker (see tip below).

 Test Kitchen Tips

Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed Ground Beef. Ground Beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Color is not a reliable indicator of Ground Beef doneness.

To keep meatballs warm, place in 2-1/2-quart slow cooker set on LOW. Keep covered to maintain heat. Meatballs can be held up to 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Nutrition information per serving, 1/36 of recipe: 45 calories; 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 0 g monounsaturated fat); 7 mg cholesterol; 126 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 0.1 g fiber; 3 g protein; 0.7 mg niacin; 0 mg vitamin B6; 0.2 mcg vitamin B12; 0.3 mg iron; 2.6 mcg selenium; 0.6 mg zinc; 9.1 mg choline.

 

Mini Bell Pepper Beefy Nachos

Serves: 4 main dish size servings

Ingredients:

¾ lb. lean ground beef, browned, drained

6 green onions, sliced, white parts and green parts separated

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 cup fresh salsa

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound mini bell peppers

1 cup shredded 2% milk Mexican cheese blend

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1/2 large tomato, diced

1/4 cup cilantro

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet heat cooked beef, white parts of onions, seasonings, salsa and cheese.  Heat until combined and warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the ends off each mini bell pepper and slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs and press each half open so the peppers are as flat as possible. Arrange close together in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spoon beef mixture evenly over pepper halves. Top with black olives and diced tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven, top with cilantro, and green part of onions. Serve.



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Nov192014

Winter Chill

Published by Katie Sawyer at 4:29 AM under

For those farming only crops, the end is in sight. Most rushed to get the last fields cut before the season’s first snowfall. Those that didn’t make it have only days – maybe hours – left in the field before a slowdown for the holidays and winter chill.

 

But farmers who raise crops and cattle aren’t winding down for the winter. They’re simply catching their breath before winter moves in for good.

 

My husband and his father manage not only our crops but our growing Angus cow herd. Our cows have returned home from a summer of grazing and will be delivering calves starting in January. A calving season typically lasts three months so the men will be on calf watch until nearly April.

 

Between now and New Years Day, my husband will keep himself busy hauling water to our cows grazing in our picked corn and milo fields, vaccinating and tagging heifers and steers as they arrive to our farm and organizing feed sources for the long winter ahead.

 

 

The mother cows are in their final months of pregnancy with their calves, so nutrition and proper medical care – if necessary – is essential. As 2015 approaches, all of our animals will be moved to more secure calving areas that provide protection from the wind and snow. The guys will make daily trips to the fields and facilities to check on each animal and when calves start arriving those trips will become hourly visits to ensure each new calf is up, active and nursing.

 

The work of a cattle farmer is never done and as some farmers settle in for a winter of maintenance and meetings, my husband and others will be busy battling the cold to care for our cows and their newborn calves.



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Nov062014

The BEST Marinated Steak Kabobs

Published by Kiley Stinson at 3:00 AM under Agriculture | General | Recipe

Fall is my favorite season. I’m a fan of the cool, crisp air, football and of course the new baby calves that hit the ground! What’s not to love? Well, when it starts to get dark outside at 5:30 pm it does make it a little more difficult to grill up our favorite supper time meals. This time of year I’m always a big fan of quick and easy recipes. Earlier this summer I stumbled upon this awesome marinated steak kabob recipe and it quickly became a staple in our kitchen. It is mouthwatering.

The key to a delicious steak kabob is starting with good steak. I love to use sirloin with kabobs. It’s flavorful, affordable and cubes up easily. The rest of the magic happens in the marinade and it’s so simple. I use this same marinade for the steak and veggies. What makes it even more awesome is that I usually have all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge!

Yield: 6+servings     Prep Time: 25 minutes     Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into bite sized cubes

1 red, orange and green bell pepper, cut into chunks

1 large red onion, cut into cubes

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 tablespoon seasoning salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed is best

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup olive oil

Skewers that have been soaking in water for 30-45 minutes (less likely to catch on fire over open flame)

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl combine the garlic, seasoning salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice and whisk while pouring in the olive oil.

Place the peppers, onions and cubed sirloin into the marinade. Toss to coat and let sit for a few minutes.

Skewer the steak and peppers. You can alternate skewering the peppers, onion and meat on the same skewer, but I like to skewer each ingredient separately. The veggies cook a little longer than the meat; this makes it easier to cook them to proper doneness.

On a hot preheated grill place skewers down and immediately reduce the temperature medium/medium-high. Cook, turning occasionally, until the beef is cooked to its proper doneness. We love steak on the medium rare side of doneness (145 degrees F).

Remove and let rest for 5 minutes or so before serving. It’s difficult to let the mouthwatering meat rest but it’s best for the meat to rest so that all the juices have a chance to redistribute.

Enjoy!

Kiley Stinson



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Oct302014

Trick or Treat?

Published by Heath Larson at 8:48 AM under General | Nutrition

We take Halloween seriously in our household.  In years past, I've been the one to come up with unique costume ideas for our children that they also enjoy wearing.  This year, though, things are different.  Our children are now old enough to form their own opinions on the topic, and they have made their opinions known:  They will be "Olaf" and "Elsa" from the Disney movie "Frozen."  This is of course fine by me, I just hope they don't get lost in the hundreds of other trick-or-treaters wearing the same thing!

 

In the same vein, when it comes to meal choices, it is important to be able to tell the healthy food from the impostors.  I travel frequently for my career.  While I pack as much food from home in my cooler as I can, I have to eat out for at least 1-2 meals per trip I take.  Something I have noticed when eating out is that restaurants are trying very hard to create healthier-sounding menu options.  The problem is that many such options aren't really healthy at all.  Searching for a truly healthy choice on the menu can be almost as challenging as finding "your" Princess Elsa on Halloween night.  For example, salad is usually a healthy choice, right?  How about a Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad from a common "fast casual" restaurant?  Think again.  That one salad packs 1080 calories and 71 grams of total fat!  Hmm, perhaps a vegetarian option would work better...a favorite airport sandwich stop of mine has a California Avocado sandwich that sounds good...provided I can handle taking in nearly 1000 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat in one sitting.  Yikes.

 

Fortunately, there's a simple solution to all of this, and it's not skipping lunch.  Lean beef.  Rather than spring for that gargantuan healthy-sounding chicken salad covered with dressing, beat your hunger with a strip steak and grilled vegetables.  A 3 oz serving will only set you back 160 calories and will still pack in plenty of protein and b-vitamins.  And nearly every restaurant has some form of steak on their menu!  Not sitting down for lunch?  Today, I was able to snag two small grilled steak tacos on corn tortillas with fresh vegetable toppings from a quick, authentic Mexican restaurant for a quick protein fix before my flight, so I didn't starve while traveling home.

 

So whether you're searching for your "princess" this Friday in a sea of trick-or-treaters, or searching for a healthy lunch on the road...don't be deceived.  It's hard to be wrong when you pick lean beef.  Happy Halloween!



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Oct152014

Cook Once, Eat Twice (or more) with Roast Beef

Published by Amber Groeling RD LD at 9:42 AM under General | Nutrition | Recipe

Does your busy schedule leave you strapped for time to prepare a healthy meal?  Repurposing leftovers can be a great solution for the dinner dilemma.  Roast is the epitome of Fall “comfort” food, and is an easy way to cook once and prepare two or more meals.  The first step is to determine which type of roast you would like to use.  A round roast will result in a much leaner roast, and the leftovers can be sliced and used in a variety of ways.  Or, you can use a flavorful chuck or arm roast, which is not as lean, but offers a tender roast that can be shredded for leftover dishes.  Try these two basic roast recipes and the repurposed leftover ideas with your family.

Quick Italian Beef Roast and Vegetables -- Cook Once: QUICK BEEF ROAST

INGREDIENTS 1 beef Eye of Round Roast (2 pounds) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/8 teaspoon pepper Vegetables: 3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced (1/2-inch) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halves

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine salt, 1/2 teaspoon basil, oregano and pepper; press onto beef roast. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-1/4 hours for medium rare doneness. Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F. Transfer to board; tent with foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare.) Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Combine vegetable ingredients, except tomatoes, in large bowl; toss. Place on rack in pan. Roast in 425°F oven 15 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes; toss. Carve roast. Serve with vegetables. Season with salt.

INGREDIENTS

1 beef Eye of Round Roast (4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Nutrition

INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUICK BEEF Roast

  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Combine salt, 1/2 teaspoon basil, oregano and pepper; press onto beef roast. Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of beef. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 325°F oven 1-1/4 – 2 ½ hours for medium rare doneness.

  2. Remove roast when meat thermometer registers 135°F. Transfer to board; tent with foil. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare.)

  3. Carve roast. Serve with desired vegetables. Season with salt. Reserve half of the roast beef slices for one of the meal ideas below.

Eat Twice (or more):

  • Beef Fajitas or Tacos: Heat 1 tsp of each; chili powder, cumin and paprika in a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and sliced beef, toss to heat. Remove beef from heat and set aside.  Add 1 sliced bell pepper and one onion to skillet and cook until softened.  Serve on whole-grain tortillas with salsa, low-fat cheese, plain Greek yogurt and cilantro

  • Black & Blue Salad: Toss romaine and butter lettuce with sliced beef, low-sugar dried cranberries, pecans and Bolthouse Farm’s Greek Yogurt based Blue Cheese Dressing

  • Steak Philly’s: Prepare Au Jus, toast whole grain buns and top with saluted pepper and onions then pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese and beef slices.  Place under broiler until cheese is melted.  Serve with Au Jus. 

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef - Indian Variation -- Cook Once: SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 beef Shoulder Roast, Arm Chuck Roast Boneless or Blade Chuck Roast Boneless (2 to 2-1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Salt and pepper

Recipe Variations (recipes follow)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF

1.       For optional browning, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Brown beef roast on all sides.

2.       Place onion and garlic in 3-1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker; place roast on top. Cover and cook on LOW 9 to 10 hours or on HIGH 5 to 6 hours or until roast is fork-tender.

3.       Remove roast from slow cooker. Skim fat from cooking liquid, if necessary and reserve 1 cup onion mixture. Shred beef with 2 forks. Combine shredded beef and reserved onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Continue as directed in Recipe Variations below, as desired.

Eat Twice (or More):

  • Mexican Shredded Beef for Tacos or Enchiladas: Combine tomato or tomatillo salsa and beef mixture, as desired. Place in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover, vent and microwave until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve in warmed flour or corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo, slice avocados, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and/or chopped white or green onions, as desired. For enchiladas roll beef and salsa mixture up in tortillas and place in a baking pan.  Cover with enchilada sauce and cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly. 

  • BBQ Shredded Beef: Combine prepared barbecue sauce and beef mixture. Place in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover, vent and microwave until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve on whole wheat rolls topped with creamy horseradish sauce, coleslaw, Cheddar cheese slices, chopped green bell pepper and/or canned French fried onion, as desired.

  • Asian Shredded Beef: Combine prepared hoison or teriyaki sauce and beef mixture. Place in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover, vent and microwave until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve in lettuce or cabbage cups topped with shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, chopped fresh cilantro or mint, sriracha or crushed red pepper flakes and/or chopped peanuts, as desired.

  • Indian Shredded Beef: Combine prepared Indian cooking sauce, such as Tikka Masala or Vindaloo. Place in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover, vent and microwave until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve in naan or pita bread topped with toasted chopped pistachios or coconut, raisins, Greek yogurt or mango chutney, chopped fresh mint or cilantro and/or sliced cucumber or green onion, as desired.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR FOUR-WAY SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF

Nutrition information per serving, using Shoulder Roast: 161 calories; 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat); 57 mg cholesterol; 64 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 0.5 g fiber; 23 g protein; 7.2 mg niacin; 0.3 mg vitamin B6; 2.6 mcg vitamin B12; 2.8 mg iron; 26.0 mcg selenium; 5.5 mg zinc; 89.1 mg choline.



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Oct082014

Planning for the Next Generation

Published by Katie Sawyer at 8:59 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

My 18-month-old son has an affinity for all things cows. I’m guessing this admiration is due to the fact that everything he owns and wears has either cows or tractors on it. He is a farm kid for sure.

 

Still in his Halloween pajamas, my son and a young steer greet one another.

 

Now that he is old enough to not only make the cow sound but recognize and locate cows, there is nothing better than seeing him gaze lovingly at a group of cows and calves and run, with open arms, after a group of steers hoping one of them will decide to befriend him.

 

While I must admit the farm dogs and cats receive the same level of excitement and attention, the cattle are different. They are our livelihood, my husband’s past and hopefully our son’s future and watching my son enjoy them the way I know my husband does makes my heart swell.

 

We care for our animals all day, every day because they are our business - our means to putting food on the table, gas in the truck and money in the bank. And we want to see that business continue to the next generation. We are the fourth generation to own my husband’s family farm but we do not want to be the last.

 

As we bring mother cows and their calves home from a summer of grazing in the Flint Hills, my husband recalls doing the same when he was a boy and recounts the lineage of his cows. He vaccinates and cares for the animals alongside his father and I know he cherishes the day a third generation joins the work.

 

As I watch my son clap with glee at seeing the cows, I pray that he will someday witness the same joy in his children’s eyes. Farming and ranching is a family affair but it takes time, energy and dedication to the land and the animals to ensure the next generation has an opportunity to operate the family farm. We feed, care for and tend to our animals daily to not only ensure our way of life, but to sustain this opportunity for our children to enjoy.



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Oct022014

Cows Aren't Squirrels

Published by Robin Kleine at 5:36 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk

I know that’s a strange title for a blog.

 

 

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

 

But, I’ve been thinking about all of the work happening around our place and I was thinking that our jobs as farmers would be considerably easier if cows could gather their own food for the winter, you know … like squirrels.

 

While cows aren’t squirrels, sometimes I feel like one. It’s up to my family to harvest, protect and distribute the cows’ winter food supply.

 

Here’s how we’ve been preparing –

 

In the past few weeks we’ve been chopping silage, putting up the last cutting of hay and corn harvest is just beginning around these parts.

 

As you very well know, cows graze on grass. They need this grass, or forage, to keep their rumen (one piece of their four part stomachs) going strong. But in the winter … the grass is often dormant and/or covered in snow.

 

The cows still need to keep their stomachs fully functional, so we must provide this forage in other forms such as hay or silage. Silage is usually made from corn or sorghum plants, where the entire green plant is harvested and cut into small pieces. This silage is then put in a silo, silage piles covered in plastic or silage bags (long plastic, sealed tubes). It must undergo a fermentation process before it can be fed. For more information on silage, visit -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silage.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Kansas Ag Network.

 

 

 

After the cows have eaten down the grass in the pasture and the temperature drops, we will begin feeding them big, round bales of hay and a precise amount of silage every day. Together these two feed stuffs (along with minerals we supply to them free choice) will provide enough energy and protein to keep the cows happy and healthy throughout the winter.

 

The corn we didn’t chop for silage will be allowed to dry a little longer in the field, before our favorite farmer harvests it with his big red combine. We then feed the corn to the cattle in the feedlot, to help them get to the “finished” stage/weight and ready for the butcher.

 

Sometimes, we even bale the corn stalks after we harvest the corn. These bales are then laid out for the cows in the pasture. It helps them stay warm in the frigid winter temps too.

 

For today, the cows are enjoying the sunshine and delightful temperatures. Little do they know, we’re working like squirrels to make sure they are properly cared for in the coming months … when the weather won’t likely be as pleasant!

 

Best,

Robin



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Sep192014

Fall Traditions

Published by Heath Larson at 3:32 AM under Beef Team | Coffee Shop Talk | General

We are “fall-aholics” at our house.  Each year, our calendar for the months of September and October is jam-packed with every conceivable fun event and family tradition.  With the start of football season, we can again listen to Mitch Holthus give the colorful play-by-play our Kansas City Chiefs on Sundays.  Football season means there are fantasy drafts to be held and injuries to monitor.  We load up the car early and spend an entire day at the State Fair in Hutchinson, visiting the livestock, watching the shows, and of course, taking a ride on the “Ye Olde Mill” haunted boat ride.  We begin scouring the stores for the perfect pumpkin for our jack-o-lantern.  Speaking of pumpkin, don’t forget to plug in the pumpkin air freshener, get out the pumpkin hand soap, and have a pumpkin spiced beverage or two!

 

The beginning of fall also holds some running traditions for us.  High school cross country season begins, and we usually find time to get out to a meet or two and push our kids at breakneck speed across the course, cheering on the “young guns” in our double stroller.  Our favorite local trail race is this weekend, a 6.5 mile meat grinder featuring 3 water crossings ranging from knee-deep to chest deep, rugged rocky terrain, stout competition, and awesome homemade post-race cookies.  The following weekend, my hometown’s fall festival occurs, featuring a 5k race, organized by my sister. 

 

I began training consistently for the 2014 running season in January, and after the September races, I am headed for a few weeks of sorely needed time off.  It’s been a long season of early mornings, windy days, late night runs to squeeze in one more training run, and of course…interminable time on those awful, punishing machines:  Hotel treadmills. While this may be the end of training season, I can’t shake the fact that running is part of who I am as a person.  I will run fairly regularly, especially when the weather is nice.  However, the pace will be much slower, and the schedule more flexible, in order to refresh my body and recharge my mind in preparation for the training schedule that lies ahead in 2015. 

 

 

Many people also consider fall the end of “grilling season.” I always chuckle at the idea of grilling season, because we grill at least twice per week, year round at our house, and eat grilled leftovers for multiple meals during the week, too.  To have a grilling season, one would have to have a “non-grilling season.”  For our family to have a non-grilling season, we would have to institute a “non-eating season,” and with our family, merely missing a meal is asking for a household rebellion!  At our house, the hardships encountered while grilling year-round are well worth the dividends in taste.  Flank steak fajitas, tri-tip roast, sirloin steaks, and blue cheese burgers are better cooked over charcoal, and that’s the only way we ever cook them.  Firing up the grill forces us to slow down, sit back, and, thankfully, slow down and enjoy life…if even for a moment. 

 

Cheers to fall!



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