We just got back from driving up to Mt. Vernon to pick up the 1/4 beef we ordered from Prairie Springs Ranch. I weighed and counted everything both for my own edification and for anyone else who is considering ordering directly from a farm. In my travels round the blogosphere I have always appreciated when others take the time to go in to detail and cost on things, be it building their own home like Annie and Ron or something as small as this. So here is my meager attempt at repaying that debt.
This year is the first year we purchased beef directly from a ranch. Last year we bought a whole lamb from Bradrick Family Farms in Montesano and it served us well through the winter. We now only have 1 leg of lamb left in the freezer. The lamb was great, but it was not enough to last us through the year. And I would really like to be in a position where we know that all of our meat has been pastured, treated humanely and is supporting local farmers/ranchers. This year we should come pretty close. This beef in addition to the half-pig we will be getting from Whistling Train should keep us in protein quite well.
Now for the numbers
The total hanging weight of our 1/4 beef was 191lbs. After cutting and wrapping that worked out to approximately 134 pounds of beef (approximate because I was using the bathroom scale to calculate, so no ounces included). The breakdown of the meat (cutting and wrapping) represented a 57lb loss (or 29%), which is about normal from what I have read. Below is a breakdown of what we got for that 134lbs.
- Pot Roast 22 lbs
- Ground Beef 63 lbs
- Sirloin Tip Roast 3 lbs
- Rib Steak (ribeye) 4 lbs
- T Bone Steak 6 lbs
- Short Ribs 6 lbs
- Rump Roast 4 lbs
- Top Round 5 lbs
- Cube Steak 2.5 lbs
- Stew Meat 6 lbs
- Bones 8 lbs
We paid $2.99 per pound hanging weight which came out to a total of $571.09. This works out to about $4.28 per pound of beef. Not bad when you consider the going retail rate for naturally raised grass-fed beef But sending out a big check like that all at once still gets me in the gut, ugh. Perhaps we could have gotten an equivalent amount of beef for cheaper by shopping the sales at Safeway religiously. But cheap and deliciously fatty steaks tend to sour a bit when I consider feedlots and their moral, ecological, social and political implications.
Of course the verdict on taste has yet to be delivered. So I suppose this makes this an five hundred and some dollar gamble. The beef was frozen solid so the soonest we will sample any of it is tomorrow. I took out a package of short ribs to thaw, perhaps this will be our featured Dark Days meal for the week. I anticipate some kitchen experimentation to figure out the best way to cook these leaner cuts, but that’s what winter is for, right?
There were several cuts that were conspicuously absent from our packages. I am pretty sure that this has to do with us only ordering 1/4. Cuts have to be uniform enough so that the beef can be readily split between two or more parties. But I in particular I had hoped to get at least one of the flatiron steak, hanger steak, or flank steaks. Most of these cuts are either 1 per side or 1 per cow, but who got them? Also missing was the oxtail, or more appropriately cow tail. My only other gripe is the generic labeling on the roasts. There is no indication of what is a chuck roast, bottom round roast, etc. And really the only way to even come close to figuring it out is to defrost and unwrap a 3-4 pound piece of meat, that in the end may not be what you wanted.
The butcher did a great job packaging everything, and it was a nice little family run joint. Good to see they still exist. Ultimately I think that I could finagle better labeling/specialized cuts if we were to order at least a half or whole. So, is there anyone in the area who would consider splitting an cow next year?