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Archive for the ‘Training Horses’ Category

Our Weaning Process

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Calves in the weaning process.  Notice the cows on the other side of the fence.

Calves in the weaning process.

In traditional ranching, calves are typically weaned young. The purpose is to get the calves on grain at a much younger age to bulk up. Cows are then allowed to recover quickly from nursing and be ready to be bred again at a faster rate. Traditional ranching is interested in getting beef faster and quicker.

On the other hand, grass fed beef ranching is truly a part of the slow food movement. We are interested most in quality. Therefore, we keep our calves at their mama’s sides for a much longer time. At Cross Creek Cattle Company, we typically aim for weaning at eight months. We feel that this gives the calf the best start.

Of course, we carefully monitor the condition of the mama’s. First calf heifers can sometimes not nurse a baby for eight months without losing condition in her own body. If we observe this, we wean the calf a little earlier.

We have just weaned calves again. We try to make this stressful time for both calf and cow as stress-less as possible. We separate the calves into a well-built pen, but do not cart them to the home ranch immediately. Instead we leave them in the pen with alfalfa cubes, hay, and fresh water for a few days so that the mama cows can be right on the other side of the fence.

The calves settle down in the presence of their mamas. The cows begin to dry up. They eventually will leave to go graze like any normal day. This is our signal that the weaning process is complete. We then will trailer the calves to the home ranch.

A few of our eight-month old calves.

A few of our eight-month old calves.

We want what is best for our calves and our cows. Doing what is best for our calves and cows also translates into what we believe is best for our grass fed beef customers. Cross Creek Cattle Company is dedicated to raising quality beef at affordable prices.

Livers, Kidneys, and Hearts, Oh My!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

With half and whole orders, customers get to decide if they want to save or discard the organ meat. Our quarter order customers, get to divide the organs between who is interested in them. Our customers seem divided evenly. 50% gleefully pack the bag of carefully wrapped organ meat in their cooler. The other 50% tell me with a crinkled nose to please keep them for someone else or myself.

Over the years, people have discarded organ meats, but I bet that most of our grandparents or great-grandparents ate liver or tongue among other organs. I’m not sure exactly how eating organs has fallen from our diets, but I can tell you that I am particularly wary of eating organs from unknown sources. Most of the organs act as a filter of sorts like the liver and kidneys. You don’t want to partake of an organ full of antibiotics, hormones, or chemicals.

I would not hesitate to eat organs from a naturally raised animal like our grass fed beef. I could eat them with confidence. I find it interesting that wild carnivores will usually eat the organ meat first before eating the remaining meat of the carcass. This discovery led to changes in zoos for the diets of lions, which has allowed these captive animals to reproduce efficiently (Nourishing Traditions 300). Therefore one can conclude that organ meats have something to offer in terms of nutrition, vitamins, minerals, etc.

Our grass fed customers are offered heart, liver, kidneys, ox-tail, and tongue. At this point in time, I think that most people do not know how to prepare the organs for dinner. If that is the case, let me recommend a great read, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.

This book has an entire chapter devoted to the preparation of organ meats as well as nutritional, historical, and scientific information about the organ meats. You can find instructions on organ preparation. There are recipes like heart kebobs, breaded liver, and kidney-rice casserole.

Hopefully this has not grossed all of you out. In fact I hope that you are intrigued in learning more. “A return to traditional foods is a way of taking power away from the multinationals and giving it back to the artisan…Technology propels us headlong into the future, but there will be no future unless that technology is tamed to the service of wise ancestral foodways” (Nourishing Traditions 316).

Cross Creek Cattle Company is a family-owned and operated ranch, which specializes in grass fed beef. Therefore, we are artisans in this context. We turned back the clock and raise our cattle the way God-intended and how our ancestors did. Consequently, grass fed beef has many health benefits. Some of the most nutrient rich cuts that we offer are overlooked or avoided by our customers-the organ meats, which our ancestors wisely ate. Check out Sally Fallon’s book if you want to educate yourself on the advantages of adding organ meat to your diet.

Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Many of our customers are interested in healthy living and eating. Some for health reasons and some because of the Paleo diet, which is really popular right now. Regardless at to why you are eating grass fed beef, anyone can agree that adding more vegetables into your diet is a great thing, but sometimes you can get burned out on the same old side dish. Therefore, I am listing my family’s top three, which all pare well with grass fed beef.

For one of the most popular ways to cook grass fed beef is to grill hamburger patties. If you are trying to avoid the starch of potatoes, a good substitute for potato salad is pea salad. It is one of my favorites.

Pea Salad
2 lbs frozen peas
3 eggs, hard-boiled
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw out the frozen peas in water while your are peeling and slicing your eggs. Drain the peas and place in a large bowl. Add the sliced eggs and cheese. Stir in the mayonnaise. You want the peas coated but not swimming in condiment. Season to your personal taste. Refrigerate and serve cold.

With our summer gardens producing prolifically, we are eating fresh vegetables daily. Everyone loves vegetables like okra fried, but as the head cook of our house, who wants to fry food? It makes a mess not to mention it is not the healthiest way to eat. So, I roast many of my vegetables, but one that you might not consider roasting is one of the best: okra. If you like fried okra, you will love roasted okra and so will the kitchen clean-up crew.

Roasted Okra
Fresh okra (I usually cook 3-4 lbs for my family.)
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and cut off the top of the okra. Then cut it up in 1/4″ slices. Pour about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and coat the bottom of a cookie sheet. Place the okra slices on the sheet. Pour about 2 more Tbsp of olive oil on top of the okra. Then season with salt and pepper to your taste. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once.

I love to stir-fry using grass fed round steak, but we try to avoid grains. Who doesn’t like fried rice? So I substitute the rice for cauliflower. Don’t wrinkle your nose; it is delicious.

Cauliflower Fried Rice
1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
Tamari sauce or soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas or carrots, thawed (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and cut up the cauliflower in chunks. Using a grater or the grating attachment on your food processor, grate the cauliflower. It now looks similar to long-grain rice. In a wok or large pan, melt the 2 Tbsp of butter. Once it is melted, place the cauliflower rice into the pan. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes on medium heat. It will be tender, but still firm like rice. Push the “rice” to the sides of the pan, and now melt the 1 Tbsp of butter left. As it melts, beat two eggs in a small bowl and then pour into the middle of your pan. Salt and pepper the eggs. As they are frying, flavor your rice on the sides with some tamari or soy sauce. I would guesstimate about 1 1/2 Tbsp-2 Tbsp. If you really love the sauce, use more. Turn the eggs to finish cooking. At this point, add the extra vegetables if desired. Once the eggs are cooked, chop them up and stir in with your rice. Cover, turn off the heat, and keep warm until ready to serve.

These three vegetable side dishes go well with different cuts of grass fed beef. It feels great to see your family eating and enjoying such healthy fare. Try them and let me know what you think.

Whole Foods Grilling Tutorial

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Learning how to cook grass fed beef takes practice. It really involves understanding time and temperature differences from traditional cooking. Against the advice of many, you do not have to treat grass fed beef with kid gloves nor do you have to marinate everything for 24 hours. We give our customers “6 Cooking Tips for Grass Fed Beef,” which comes from an article on this blog with the same title.

Still, I get questions specifically pertaining to grilling steaks. I found this short video with very simple instructions and ingredients from Whole Foods. I liked it because it was so simple and the video does not spend the whole time extolling all the virtues of eating grass fed beef.

Instead it focuses on the how-to of grilling grass fed steaks, which is what our customers want. They already know why they have purchased the grass fed beef. Take just over one minute to watch a tutorial showing you a simple method of grilling.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Recently I have been fielding many phone calls from customers and potential customers alike about genetically modified organisms(GMOs). These are crops, plants, and/or grasses that scientists have altered in the hopes of making the plant better, more disease resistant, etc. GMOs are relatively recent phenomena.

The first genetically modified crop was tobacco in 1982. In 1994, the United States allowed the sale of a genetically modified tomato. Since then more and more crops were genetically modified and now almost 16.56% of the United States agricultural lands are used producing GM crops.

The top ten most common GM crops today are salmon, animal feed, canola and cottonseed oil, golden rice, squash, tomato, corn, potato, sugar beets. As producers of grass fed beef, we took for granted that our cattle were raised without any GMOs, which fits into our all-natural as God intended philosophy.

To me that is what is worrisome about GMOs. God created everything and called it good. Now people are “improving” on His creation by altering the genetic makeup of plants and crops. There are countless websites on which you can read about the concerns of consuming GMOs. On the other hand, there are others that sing the praises. You have to do the research and decide for yourself. This article is not meant to be exhaustive on the topic.

Unfortunately scientists were not happy genetically altering only plants and crops. They are genetically modifying grasses. Alfalfa is one of top GM grasses as scientists seek to make this type of grass more pest resistant. This fact greatly concerns us and our customers because we do supplement with alfalfa. Alfalfa is so high in protein and nutritious, which is why we use it in our grass fed beef program. It will not grow in our climate; therefore, we buy it dehydrated in cube and pellet forms.

I have contacted the producers of our alfalfa in Colorado. Their alfalfa is non-GMO as are the block of producers in the area. Cross-contamination is a huge problem in keeping your crop pure. The company is diligently seeking ways to keep their alfalfa non-GMO as they know their product goes to natural or organic farms like our own. If their seed was ever compromised, she said they would announce it to their customers.

Then I began thinking about the rye and oats that we plant for winter grazing. I contacted that company as well and received the good news that the varieties we planted are non-GMO. We are relieved at the news.

It just goes to show that you have to stay informed and proactive. I would not have thought that grasses were not safe from genetic alteration or that alfalfa producers were struggling against companies like Monsanto. The introduction of GM alfalfa alone impacts natural or organic milk and/or beef producers as well as the natural or organic honey producers.

Some of you might not care about GMOs. Some of you might care so much about them that you get frustrated at the grocery store trying to make the right choices for your family. You have high ideals and don’t want to compromise them. Regardless of your opinion of GMO products, the fact is that the grass fed beef at Cross Creek Cattle Company is raised on non-GMO grasses.

Baby Time

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

If there is anything on earth that makes the hardest heart melt, it has to be the sight of baby animals. Regardless of the species, the sight of the very young makes people “oohh” and “ahhh.”

Baby calves are no exception. Our Beefmasters usually have long legs and big ears. They almost all look alike this year. Although, some have very distinct markings. On this Valentine’s Day, I am posting pictures taken of some of our calf crop. They are all about the same age, which is about two months old.

Please enjoy the photographs. And, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Camera shy calves.  These separated themselves out of curiousity and then grew camera shy when I went to take a picture.

Camera shy calves. These separated themselves out of curiousity and then grew camera shy when I went to take a picture.

Calves, like children, like to spend time together.  Usually one mama cow will baby-sit the calves while the other mamas take a break.  Here I found several calves hanging out together on a beautiful afternoon.

Calves, like children, like to spend time together. Usually one mama cow will baby-sit the calves while the other mamas take a break. Here I found several calves hanging out together on a beautiful afternoon.

They all look the same!  If it wasn't for good records, we would not know which belonged to which cow.  The green tags in the ear reveal their birthdate and dam.

They all look the same! If it wasn't for good records, we would not know which belonged to which cow.

Nursing on the run.  I always get tickled when I see a mama cow busy grazing and a calf nursing from behind, which is the only way to nurse on the run.  The mama cow is multi-tasking for sure.

Nursing on the run. I always get tickled when I see a mama cow busy grazing and a calf nursing from behind, which is the only way to nurse on the run. The mama cow is multi-tasking for sure.

Grass Fed Beef Stew

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I was on a walk through the meadow pasture yesterday and noticed that the rye grass is already coming up. That was fast! I guess three inches of rain works miracles.

As we enjoy really cool mornings and evenings, I begin making soups, chili, and stews. Some of our customers do not order stew meat and some do. The ones who do usually struggle with how many pounds to request. It really depends on how often you want to make stew. Generally customers decide to ask for 6-8 pounds.

I wanted to post a beef stew recipe today that I use. It is grain and starch free, which many of our customers try to minimize in their diets. If you are not one of them, then feel free to add potatoes.

Grass Fed Beef Stew

2 lbs grass fed beef stew meat
2 lbs carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp thyme
1 lb green peas, frozen

Make sure that the stew meat is cut into bite sized pieces. In a large pot, brown the stew in a little olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, garlic, and seasonings. Stir. Then add water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover with the lid slightly ajar. Cook at least three hours. Add the frozen peas 15-20 minutes before you want to serve the stew.

Enjoy with grain free biscuits.

Grass Fed Beef is the Best Choice

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

I was flipping through a book of my dad’s today. Someone gave him, Don’t Squat With Yer Spurs On!: A Cowboy’s Guide to Life by Texas Bix Bender. It is a small book packed with funny sayings and cowboy wisdom.

One quote in particular jumped out at me. “Always take a good look at what you’re about to eat. It’s not so important to know what it is, but it’s critical to know what it was” (pg. 80). I re-read it and really chewed on the truth in this statement.

Grass fed beef looks different out of the package. It is lean. The fat is yellowish in color. It is not like its grain fed counterpart proudly displayed in the grocery store refrigerated meat section. You will be able to see the difference; however, according to this saying, that is not what is important.

What is important is knowing from where the beef came. At Cross Creek Cattle Company, our calves are grazing grassy pastures in a herd. Their bodies are free from antibiotics and growth hormones. They have free access to fresh water. When we work them or move them to another pasture, it is done with low-stress methods.

In other words when you purchase grass fed beef from our ranch, the beef comes from animals that were raised the way God intended them to live: on pasture, on grass, and with a herd. As evident in this saying, old cowboys thought knowing from where you food came is critical. If I had to chose, the choice for grass fed beef is an easy decision to make.

Grass Fed Beef Cutlet Recipe

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

As I help customers fill out his/her processing form for our grass fed beef, a very common question arises: “What are cutlets and what do you do with them?” Cutlets are thin-cuts of meat usually taken from the leg section. The processing plant tenderizes them. The cuts are about the size of the palm of my hand, if not a tad larger.

I like to use cutlets to make a version of a Southern favorite, chicken-fried steak. Since many people choose to purchase grass fed beef for healthy diet reasons, many customers eat few grains, if any. Diets like the Paleo Diet, GAPS, and/or Specific Carbohydrate Diet rely on grass fed meats, but no grains. Therefore, here is a delicious grain-free version of chicken-fried steak with gravy.

Since I cook for a small army daily and most people do not, I am cutting back my recipe to make it more standard. This recipe is written for 4 servings.

Breaded Beef Cutlets
1 pkg grass fed beef cutlets
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
1 cup blanched almond flour
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw out the cutlets and place in a plastic zip-closed bag. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and stir in one pressed garlic clove. Pour over the cutlets, seal bag, and refrigerate for six hours or overnight. This step allows the garlic to infuse the beef as well as let the eggs completely coat the cutlets.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking dish with olive oil. In a shallow dish like a pie plate, combine the almond flour with the seasonings. Dredge each cutlet in the flour mixture making sure that it is completely covered with the breading.

Place each breaded cutlet on the greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Flourless Gravy
1 cup of broth (beef, chicken, pork)
1/2 white onion

Before you start breading the cutlets, bring broth and onion to a gentle boil. Allow it to cook just above a simmer. When the cutlets are almost done, puree the onion with a handheld blender. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. The onion thickens the broth nicely without need for any flour. Serve on top of breaded cutlet.

I hope you enjoy this much healthier version of chicken-fried steak with grass fed cutlets. It is a grain-free recipe that is sure to make your family happy.

Hay Time

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Cutting hay on the new ranch.

Cutting hay on the new ranch.

For any rancher, the summer is when you focus on storing up food for your cattle during the winter months. It is a time to make hay or purchase it.
Hay is simply dried grass that is baled either in rounds or in squares. During the winter when grass lies dormant, your cattle can still get the benefits of grass by eating hay. You simply cut the grass while it is at its peak, allow it to dry completely, and bale.
Hay requires a pasture of good grasses and dry weather. The last thing you want is for your cut grass to get rained on because the grass will mold. Hay making is farming; you are at the mercy of the weather.
We have not cut hay on our ranch for years. It has been more economical to purchase hay. However after last year’s drought and the fact that the price for hay soared to astronomical heights coupled with the fact that we have been greatly blessed with rain and grass this year, we decided to cut three hay fields on our new ranch.
Farming is always a gamble. You have to watch the weather, keep your eye on your fields, and act in faith. We have finished cutting the grass. It is drying out quickly in this summer heat. Tomorrow we will start baling the hay as long as the weather holds.
Hay is an important part of our grass fed business. It saved the ranch last year when our pastures burned up in the most severe drought on record. During even a mild winter, hay is a staple in our herd’s diet. Since we do not feed grain of any kind to our cattle, dried grasses are their food in the winter.
We are excited to be in this position. Making our own hay illustrates that we have turned a corner in a sense. This year has been completely different than last year. And for that, we are truly thankful.

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