Thursday, August 23, 2012

Raising Your Own Meat

The Third Level in homesteading is raising your own meat. Today we'll chat as if you are in the 'Can I imagine doing that?' stage.  Check out the front page that says "Four Levels in Homesteading" if you haven't already. If you have a few acres, you can consider raising animals specifically for meat. Here's a question and answer format to help you think it through.

  • How can I possibly eat an animal I have met personally?  Augh!  Will the children ever stand for it?
    • First of all, you will eat them while making num num noises.  My beef is more tasty, more tender and more nutritious than anything I can buy.  
    • Secondly, kids tend to get it - the meat in the package came from somewhere, right?
    • Lastly, and most importantly, make the end result evident from the beginning.  You are welcome to any of our cow names .....Sir Loin, Brisket, Chuckie, Patty, Stroganoff, and Stu to name a few.  I have three on the way and would love some suggestions for future names. (Keep it clean, though.)
  • Is it a lot of work?
    • Well, yes. It kind of is.  All livestock need fencing and require rotation through paddocks or pastures to get a good quality 'grass finished' product.  
    • You will need a way to get them loaded onto a trailer and transported to your butcher.  Obviously, a smaller animal like a goat will be easier than a cow.
  • Can I make money at it?
    • I have no trouble selling shares of my beef.  My butcher is inspected, but I am not, so in effect my customers are buying a quarter of the entire cow.  
    • Goats and sheep are going well all around the country - here in the southeast, I hear much more success regarding goats rather than sheep.
  • Where do I learn more?
    • I would recommend anything by Joel Salatin as a baseline to understanding how to raise pastured pork, beef, or hens for eggs.  
  • Why should I even consider doing this?
    • Research continues to confirm that grass or pastured animals provide meat that is lower in cholesterol, higher in Omega 3's and lower in calories. If you are a true science nerd, you can see that even our government agrees here. 
    • It'll make you a real farmer - although I have to admit I do things differently enough from the standard way that I tend to raise eyebrows when I talk about my cows.
It's a lot to think about and a big commitment too, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my cows and look forward to adding a couple of pigs next year.  So far, we have only butchered old hens, but even that wasn't so bad.  What I do know is that the demand for grass-fed, organically raised beef is rising as people become more informed.  Think about it....

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