The full heat of summer has been upon us these past few
weeks. It has been hotter than any time in the 7 years I have been in the
Catskills. We don’t have air conditioning so it’s been a full blast of fans and
ice water. The grass growth has slowed to a crawl and the herd would rather be
in the shade then eat (now that’s hot).
Before I jump into an update on Chaljeri I am happy to
report the Greenhouse is in full force. This year our friend Lucy is helping
out and has really had at it. Lucy is an artist by day and has approached the
Greenhouse with an artistic green thumb to great effect. We have a tremendous
trellis of cucumbers growing, fennel, tomatoes plants that are 8 feet high
staked with twine and vines of other plants and, most exciting, is the fact
that our artichokes are starting to crown (see attached picture). Now, let’s
test your knowledge. See if you can guess what vegetable is shown I the other
picture with the longish white/purple flower. I will reveal the answer at the
bottom of the page.
Now to the meat business!! Chaljeri has been very busy. We
recently began selling in the largest super market chain in Sullivan County,
Pecks. We also have begun a partnership with several cross-fit gyms in
Manhattan and Queens where we make bi-weekly deliveries of our Paleo-Packs (if
you don’t know what a Paleo-Pack is go to our website paleo-pack.com) and if
you don’t know what the Paleo Diet is Google it! We are also proud sponsors of
the CrossFit Dynamix team
competing this week in California at the CrossFit Games which are being
televised by ESPN. And this past Sunday Ali and I worked the farmer’s market in
Roscoe, NY where I griddled up samples while Ali worked the crowd. She is a
real beef babe.
Next week Jim, Ali and I are headed to Ranch School in
Wichita, KS for a full week of “Putting Profit into Ranching”. It should be
very educational and bit of fun. I will report more upon our return.
It has been a few weeks since I have given an update on happenings around here, and it is not because nothing has been happening. On the contrary, I have been busier than a cat trying to cover crap on a tile floor. Fence work is nearing completion, and this will allow the opportunity to get down to nitty gritty grass management. When it is all said and done, this is what I do. I manage grass to most effectively convert free solar energy into meat. It sounds simple, but managed holistically, there are many complexities, and the efficiency of the ecosystem processes is paramount (In the future I intend to delve into each of the 4 ecosystem processes described in holistic management, and try to catch any interested readers up on why we do the things we do).
In the meantime, there have been many new events here in the past few weeks.
We have instituted our cafeteria mineral program for cattle, and for those who are not familiar, it is truly an amazing system to properly mineralize your cattle, and through the cattle, the soils. Essentially, we provide 15 mineral options available free choice to the cattle at all times. Recognizing that there are many more than 15 elements essential to cattle, many are scientifically combined in proper proportions so that trace minerals for instance are combined into 3 different mixes Trace A, B, and C. Vitamins are likewise combined. The concept is that as cattle have a deficiency in some essential mineral or vitamin, they will find that particular one in the tray, and consume a proper amount.
Let's consider that soils are deficient in some minerals. This is why fertilization is common practice. Forage then grows using what minerals are available and the cattle consume and mineralize their bodies through the forage. Well, the forage can only move minerals from the soil to the cow that are first available in the soil. (It is interesting to note at this time that of the 109 elements listed in our Scientific Chart of Know Elements, 92 are minerals, and all 92 are present in grassfed beef.) Also, many minerals can only properly be absorbed by being in correct proportion, and this is where the one big mix of minerals fails the animal. The bottom line is that on one pasture (slope, aspect, soil type) a certain mineral might be lacking while a short distance away in a different micro-environment it may be present in adequate amounts. This is why we provide a choice to our cattle.
Some would argue that a bovine animal lacks the intelligence to find for itself what it needs, but I will argue strongly with experience. Just a few weeks ago, we moved cattle down the public road about a mile from one farm where they were living on mostly stored forage to another where they were going to be on lush green pasture. Any cattleman would begin to concern himself with a disease called grass tetany which is a potentially deadly problem created by a blood magnesium deficiency that occurs when cattle are turned out on lush spring pastures that are relatively high in potassium and protein which ties up the availability of magnesium and calcium in the body. With the free-choice mineral available, we turned the cows out to graze, and I watched as the cattle went through 150 pounds of magnesium in the first 36 hours on grass. Now that the grass has matured some, they haven't consumed 50 pounds in the last 10 days. I don't know how you can argue with that.
As I strive to impart some cowboy wisdom, it may be time to share some that my 5 year old daughter and I discussed earlier this week. She saddled up and rode with me to check cows, and having short little legs and not a tremendous amount of leg strength, her horse doesn't always respect a good leg squeeze that means “let's go.” To fix this problem, like her daddy, she wears spurs. Simple tasks that you have mastered in life can become more difficult as you try them for the first time with spurs on the heels of your boots. Walking down stairs, crossing your feet, and several other tasks become more challenging with your spur appendages on your heels. This experience provided the perfect opportunity to share with my daughter the age old cowboy wisdom that says “Never squat with yer spurs on.”
This past weekend we doubled the farms bee (get it?) population by adding two more hives brining the total to 4. If the past two years are any indication we can expect a little over 100 pounds from these gals come harvest time.
As I am sure you have been reading there is a serious crisis going on within the bee population. In the United States and Europe colonies of bees have been dying off in record numbers. There is debate to the cause from mites to fertilizers (some fertilizers were recently banned in the UK because of this).
I can give you first hand the magnitude of the problem. Myself, my Chaljeri partner Chris and our friend Tom had 14 active hives in the fall of last year. When box tops were removed in the spring of this year 11 of the 14 hives were dead, in Toms case all 10 of his --leaving close to 800 pounds of honey behind (so they didnt starve!).
In an attempt to end this on a less somber note I have attached a picture of myself in full bee outfit regalia. This is me raising a hive we keep in a little clearing in the middle of the woods where we are trying to grow grapes and apples. We keep the hive hoisted in a tree to keep it from the bears (the need to do this was a lesson learned the hard way). I am dressed like this (with blue jeans and a flannel shirt as well as a hat underneath) because by being stung a few times I have become allergic. So have a chuckle.
The last week was a busy one for Chaljeri Meats as we move closer towards our official "opening day" on June 3. Our website went live on Friday as our very fine web designer Jana pushed the button. While it is still a work in progress (for example the ability to order is still a week or so away) we like the look and feel of the site. We have also begun to post articles about the health benefits of grass fed beef---especially in comparison to grain fed. We will add more articles and links over time. We welcome any and all suggestions for improvements---my mother has already made several hundred.
On Saturday we participated in a Meet the Farmer day on the upper west side for our CSA partner Cream of the Crop. The manager Bernie organized the event and 10 or so farmers had tables and samples. Everything from chicken, fish and pasta to lettuce, apples (fresh and crisp from last season due to proper storage!), yogurt, butter and of course grass fed beef. We ran into a few vegetarians during the day and Jim was quick to note so were our cows. If you live in Manhatten you can order shares (and in some cases half shares) of all these various products and they are brought in fresh once a week.
Driving toward the big
city, we tuned in a radio station that continually proclaimed the “Country Has
Come to Town.” Apparently a new
country music station now proudly serves New York City. Maybe it was this phrase heard incessantly
sandwiched between modern country songs, or just the thought that country
really was coming to town in a 12 year old suburban with car seats in the back,
but the phrase stuck in my mind.
The Norman Family spent a day and a half in a world so very different
from the one we are most comfortable in.
A few weeks back, Rich
asked if we would be able to attend a meet and greet for CSA members and
farmers/ranchers to get together in NYC.
In all honesty, at first I didn't give the opportunity a lot of thought,
but as May 12th drew nearer, I began to realize the family was going
to have a “Big Apple Adventure”, another comical reference to a vacation bible
school theme my children participated in while living in NW Florida. A funny, but impertinent story accompanies
this, which I will reserve for only those that are interested.
A night in Manhattan,
and a few hours of talking with the kind of people who care enough about the
beef we produce and how we produce it to come out on a rainy Saturday afternoon
and chew the fat, provided a fantastic opportunity to expand some
horizons. Despite the fact that I
believe it was somehow obvious that we were not natives, we were warmly
received by the indigenous people, and I in particular had a great time of
talking and joking with what moments before were some of the most stone-faced
people I had ever met. People who
assisted us were wonderful in their patience and service.
We enjoyed the finest
of Little Italy, a walk through central park, and the American Museum of
Natural History was another highlight.
We also very much enjoyed the chance to meet so many prospective
consumers and talk about what is important to them, why and how we raise our
beef, and what a consumer might expect from our product. We helped some people with some recipe
suggestions for grass-fed steaks, and if there is interest, I will ask the
fabulous Miss Carolyn, aka my wife, to share some suggestions in the future.
Our trip was grand and
hectic, and we enjoyed it thoroughly, but we were pleased and blessed to wake
in our own place on Sunday morning.
Thank you to all who we interacted with, we hope that we were able to
answer some questions and pique some interest in our beef. Thank you also to Our Creator, and all
of the mothers out there. I hope
y'all have a blessed Mother's Day.
Now back to normal ranch life.