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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day for Ranchers

It's Earth Day so I'm doing Wordless Wednesday a bit early this week, hence the words :)

We produce a lot of beef in the U.S. and we do it through sustainable practices that allow us to pass down farms and ranches from generation to generation. The Ninja's family farm has been in ownership by the same family, on the same ground, for more than 150 years!


Sustainably producing more beef using fewer resources - that's the American beef industry on Earth Day and every day!
Sustainably producing more beef using fewer resources -
 that's the American beef industry on Earth Day and every day!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shopping For Meat On A Budget

It's no secret that the Frobuzz household is carnivorous. However, the Frobuzz household is also compromised of a grad student, a young professional, dogs, horses, chickens and student loans. Throw that in an equation and you get a smallish grocery budget. Shopping for meat on a tight budget can be difficult but we're not willing to cut back in that area so we employ some different strategies to keep protein in the center of the plate! So I'm going to outline, as easily as possible, how we eat a hunk of meat several nights a week without breaking the bank. This is no easy task considering pork prices are on the rise (thanks PEDv) and beef prices are at a 27 year high (thanks Mother Nature).

Ok, so before you even head to the store you need to have in your mind that you're not going to get T-bones and ribeyes for $3/lb. That would be awesome but will not happen. The goal is to find a diamond in the rough that you can put a little extra work and kitchen time into and still get a good quality meal.

Once you arrive at the meat case, you're looking for markdowns, BOGO (buy one, get one) or large hunks of meat that most people won't buy (think along the lines of a whole ham). You may not find a great deal every time but one good deal on a large sub-primal can last you awhile. On our shopping trip last Sunday, we found a few good deals but only cashed in on one due to our lack of freezer space at the moment.

You have to look beyond what is right in front of you and think about how you can cut things down or use them in different recipes. On this trip, the Ninja is debating which cut is a better deal and which one is the best cut based on color etc.


Shopping For Meat On A Budget
Comparisons are vital - look beyond what is right in front of you.
Just because something is 'convenient' doesn't necessarily mean it's convenient for your wallet. Here are some examples of not so great deals:


Comparing cuts of meat when you're on a tight budget
In this instance it seems awesome that you get a pork country style ribs that are already marinated but that is $4.29 for one serving that is less than a pound. You're basically paying for the fact that it is a single serving, that it's marinated and that it has a pineapple slice.


Comparing cuts of meat when you're on a tight budget
Same with these charcoal steaks, - these are from the chuck but have been cut down and marinated causing their price to be $7 per lb even though a chuck roast is much cheaper per pound.
Examples of good deals:


Comparing cuts of meat when you're on a tight budget
Ham on sale for $1.69/lb. Yes, I know it's a whole ham but you can cut things down and freeze them.
Comparing cuts of meat when you're on a tight budget
These whole  ham butts can be cut down and frozen for use in meals at a later date.
Although we didn't buy a ham, we have done so in the past. We cut it up into smaller portions and freeze them - then I can pull them out for soup, a crock pot meal or to throw on the grill.

This is the deal that we took advantage of last weekend:


Comparing cuts of meat when you're on a tight budget
Beef bottom round roast - buy one get one free!
Yes, you read that correctly. Beef bottom round roasts were buy one get one free! They were normally $6.99/lb and weighed around 2.5 pounds a piece. However, the sale meant that we got 5 pounds of good quality beef for about $17.65 ($2.50/lb). Talk about a steal.

Naturally, we brought two home and got them ready for future meals. Since crockpot season is over, we opted to cut them into steaks instead of keeping them in their roast form. We unwrapped them and took them out of the package - the first step was removing the fat and silver skin (bonus info: that little pad in the bottom of the package is called a 'diaper'). Silver skin is opaque connective tissue that is very tough so removing it can really improve the eating experience.


A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
Preparing to break it down.


The diaper - soaks up juices that may leech out of the meat
 and keeps the tray and packaging looking clean and tidy.
 
A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
Removing the silver skin and external fat (the dogs appreciated this step) - silver skin is tough connective tissue so it's important to remove to improve the eating experience!
 
 Next, the Ninja cuts the roast into steaks that are approximately 1" thick.


A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
Cutting across the grain is important with roasts in order to improve tenderness



A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
Here you can see how many ~1" steaks come from one of the bottom round roasts
A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
Here are the results of the two roasts that were cut down - there were nine steaks and five 'midget' steaks (that's really what they're called), and of course the pieces of fat and silver skin for the dogs.
 
A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
I realize it's hard to determine how big these are - a deck of cards is roughly the size of one-three ounce serving of beef. As you can see, these steaks are about four ounces.
A large piece of meat can be broken into smaller steaks
The final product bagged up - I'll put them in the freezer and when we want to grill, I just pull one out the night before and let it defrost.
Each one of those steaks will serve as a meal for us, along with a veggie or rice side dish. It's about $4.50 total per meal, not per person (not including the veggies or rice). If we didn't do these trips, we would eat less meat and I would not be a happy camper.

I hope this provides insight on how you don't have to change your diet on a tight budget but rather just change your perspective or  your strategies and you can still have high-quality, lean beef on your plate (pork, too)!

Any questions - comments? Do you do something similar at your house?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Backyard Chickens Round 2 - Welcome Home Winnie(s)

As you may have seen on my Instagram feed earlier this week (@brandibuzzard), we have some new guests at the Frobuzz ranch. I would like to introduce the Winnies!

taking care of our new backyard pullets

You may remember last year I attempted backyard chickens with some Barred Rock chicks, which I affectionately called the Stellas. Unfortunately, they met an untimely fate with some sort of rodent or weasel. So after mourning 10 innocent lives, I vowed to do better this year and keep them protected.

Instead of Barred Rock chicks, I bought basic pullets this year and thus far, things are going well. They are locked and barricaded in the coop with their heat lamp, clean food and fresh water.


taking care of our new backyard pullets
Red waterer (because chickens are attracted to red) and a
Frisbee for a feed pan because Rooster chewed up the other one
No way in hell that anything is getting into that impenetrable coop.

Our chicken coop which I hope is impenetrable
Two hay bales, some tin and cinder blocks. No way there are any varmints getting in this thing!
They've been on the farm for five days and are DOING AWESOME.


Taking care of our backyard pullets on our little farm
Sleepy little Winnies
As with last year, I will document their growth and how I care for and feed them. The goal is to get eggs for our household and occasionally have a fryer if we hatch out some of the eggs.

Wish us luck - I'm hoping and praying (literally) for success and livelihood for the Winnies!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

p.s. The winners for the Sierra Shea giveaway have been picked! Congrats Katelyn V and Jessie W!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Spring in the Flint Hills

I'm really hoping that this post doesn't jinx us and call in a freak snowstorm. Le sigh.
 
Anyway, it's starting to warm up. We've had a few rains and things are looking beautiful!
 
Spring in the Flint Hills means green wheat after spring rains
Spring rains and sunshine bring green wheat!



Spring in the Flint Hills means green wheat after spring rains
Hello beautiful wheat field - I've missed your green shoots!
Pasture burning is a common practice in the Flint Hills during spring
A Flint Hills pasture burns to spark the regrowth of green grass
Spring also means that ranchers are burning their pastures to prepare for new grass - burning gets rid of all the old, bushy undergrowth and allows for new, green grass to start growing. Soon, ranchers will be able to turn livestock out on these same pastures when they're covered in lush prairie grass. 
Pasture burning is a common practice in the Flint Hills during spring
A pasture that has been completely burned off
Pasture burning is a common practice in the Flint Hills during spring
I took this photo while running the other afternoon - the north side of the road had been burned but the south side was still old growth. Pretty cool site - reminds me of an Oreo!
Next week (or the week after), I'll have some photos of the grass reappearing in all of its spring glory!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, April 3, 2014

So God Made A Ranch Wife Giveaway + Sierra Shea

I haven't had a giveaway in a coon's age so when Sierra Blachford of Sierra Shea offered up some great home d├ęcor just in time for Mother's Day and spring, I said, "Heck, yes!"

By this time, we've all seen the 'So God Made a Farmer' commercial that Ram Trucks ran during the 2013 Superbowl. Hearing Paul Harvey recite that poem makes my heart flutter and eyes well up every. single. time.

So Sierra, smart gal that she is, decided that she would whip up a poem of her own to meet the needs of several other important folks on the farm or ranch and 'So God Made a Ranch Wife' was born!
Such a great piece of writing!
You can tell the love that Sierra has for ranch life as you read through the poem and the photo she used as a background is just beautiful! I've read the poem several times and I think my favorite part is:
"God had to have somebody willing to work in town for 'the insurance,' to warm cold calves in her kitchen and spend her weekends working to get the hay in at double speed ahead of the rain clouds. And, keep working at it alone, when the rancher goes off to help the neighbor when she sees the first smoke. So God made a ranch wife."
I think this is one of the true testaments to a farm or ranch wife - being able to go it alone when the boss man is gone. Better yet, many women ARE the boss and sometimes the man works in town. I think this is just further proof that women are just as strong and dependable as men when it comes to farm and ranch life.

Up for grabs are TWO copies of Sierra's poem (her treat) in basic frames from Hob Lob (my treat). They are 8x10 sized and will be a great gift for the farm or ranch wife in your life and again, Mother's Day is just around the corner! If you aren't one of the lucky two winners, you can buy the print on Sierra Shea just as easily (it's a steal at $10).

I have started using Rafflecopter for my giveaways so there are several ways for you to enter below - the giveaway will run until next Wednesday and the winner will be picked on Thursday, April 10. Best of luck and please share what your favorite line from the poem is in the comment section!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much to Sierra for her generosity with this giveaway - I'm super excited to host her! Make sure you check out her blog too! You can also follow both of us on Instagram: @sierrasheawrite and @brandibuzzard.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Veganism, Big Ag and Farmland


So I saw this article on Huffington Post this morning titled, "Veganism is a Woman's Lifestyle." Not knowing what to expect, I clicked through. It had an infographic and I LOVE INFOGRAPHICS even when they aren't centered around sports, agriculture or meat.
 
My cart sort of looks like I'm a vegan!
See? We eat veggies and fruits too!

 I'm not going to repost it here but you can easily go over and see the graphics for yourself. The results, based on a survey of more than 8,000 vegans, were interesting yet unsurprising:
  • 51% became vegan after seeing a film, education video or movie
  • 69% became vegan on behalf of animals
  • Americans consume 1/6 of the total meat consumed worldwide (the U.S. produces 30% of the world's food with only 2.5% of the world's population).
  • 79% and 59% of vegans and vegetarians, respectively, are female
  • Celebrity herbivores include Al Gore, Usher and Bill Clinton, all who adopted the lifestyle for health benefits - they must not know about the 29 cuts of lean beef!
  • Some of the most influential films that veganism adoption is based on are: Food Inc., Supersize Me and Forks Over Knives.
Those movies, I'll use Food Inc. as an example, depict animal abuse as the norm and demonize any farm that is large, uses technology or is efficient with their land, resources and livestock. If you are a large operation, apparently you don't care about animal welfare. I often wonder why 'Big Ag' is bad. Obviously, these assumptions are not true.
 
Guess what? Farmers and ranchers - large and small, organic and conventional, beef and potatoes - care about their land, families and yes, their livestock. I own farm animals and I care about their well-being. I have worked on what animal rights activists would deem a 'factory farm' yet I saw no one filming me riding pastures in the pouring down rain to count cows and make sure that sick cattle were found and provided with care. Methinks there is a bias but that's sort of a given considering the moniker 'Big Ag.'

Need further proof that farmers and ranchers from all types of operations truly care? Have you heard about the new film Farmland by Academy Award-winning director James Moll? It releases in theaters on May 1 and will open your eyes to the similarities between all types of farming and ranching.
 

 
Questions that will be answered while you watch the film:
  • Do organic producers use pesticides? [spoiler alert, yes]
  • Are large operations family owned?
  • Are organic farms and ranches small compared to conventional counterparts?
  • What do farmers and ranchers think about undercover videos?
  • Do farmers have choices regarding seed purchases?
If you are able to, I strongly urge every reader who sees this post or hears about Farmland, to go see the movie. It will be opening nationwide on May 1 and regardless if you are a longtime farmer, new to the agriculture scene or are looking for more information about food, you will learn something from this film and I guarantee you'll leave feeling inspired and good about the food we produce in the U.S.
 
If you've already seen the film, I'd love to hear your impressions! I have heard varied opinions and of course have my own :)
 
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
 
 
 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day

Today is National Ag Day and, equally important, it's also Kansas Ag Day!

Agriculture is important to everyone - farmers and ranchers produce our food and fiber so today I'm posting some of my favorite photos that embody what I think about when I imagine Kansas agriculture.


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
Good stockmanship on display. Calm cattle are safe cattle.


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
Some mama Longhorn cows coming in from pasture to eat


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
"I love you small, I love you big, I love you more than a baby pig"


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
A pretty barn on a cold day in Kansas


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
Hungry horses crowd around a bale of hay


National Ag Day - Kansas Ag Day
A hayfield near my house on an early summer evening
What does agriculture mean to you? When you think of farmers and ranchers - what images come to mind?
 
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~