Where’s the Beef?

I am a carnivore.  I make no qualms about it, nor do I apologize for it. I am perhaps what you would call a “biblical eater”.  To quote the bible (slightly out of context) “The fishes of the sea, the fowls of the heaven, the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth…” (Ezekiel 38:20) - It’s all good (tasty?) in my book…  Well, depending on how it’s prepared, and the choice of seasonings, of course!    

When we first moved out of the metropolis, and out on the furthest edges of the urban/rural boundaries – some of the first friends we met were through our church and its associated school#3 of 5 was starting preschool, and became pretty close friends with a young lad whose parents were honest-to-goodness farmers.  I simply loved the fact that my son was able to spend time at their family farm, and over the years we got to know the family pretty good. 

The farming family (like many around us at the time) watched as the “father of three” (when we first moved) progress into the “father of four” and finally landing on the now-all-too-famous “father of five” persona.  Somewhere along the line, there was talk between the families of the possibility of buying a half of a cow or a quarter of a cow to aid in the herculean task of feeding this ever growing mob stock our freezer up with beef.

Throughout the years (those preschool boys are high school juniors now) the idea would pop up from time to time.  The farm is a dairy farm, and not set up to produce beef, so they did not have a “readily available” supply.  Sometimes they would ask us if we were still interested.  Sometimes we would remind them that we were still interested. 

Well, it finally happened!!  A couple of weeks ago, we were contacted by those friends. 

As luck would have it, they were bringing one of their Black Angus Steers “to market” – and one of their “quarter-share” customers (typically a family member) had to pull out.  The farmers, recalling our previous interest, gave us a call.  They went over the basic details of the sale (approximate weight, approximate price, approximate cost to process) and asked us if we would be interested. 

I was a little nervous.  This was all a new experience for us.  Although we had talked about it for years, we never FULLY explored the possibility of a quarter share of beef.  The full details of the sale were still just an approximation (the steer was still in his stall on the farm so the weight had to be estimated - as well as the cost of processing).  We had no idea what the final price would be.

half I am (by nature) a worry wart (the Mother of Five will CERTIANLY attest to that).  I will admit I was a little nervous at first.  Buying a quarter of beef requires an upfront investment.  No two ways around that.  The only thing we knew for certain was that the folks selling us the beef are good and conscientious folks – and we trusted them.  After a brief discussion with the Mother of Five we decided to take that leap of faith, and jump in FEET FIRST! 

The more I thought about it the more excited I became!

Our friends sent us an email with some information on examples of what to expect from a 1/2 side of beef, and some instructions on how to contact the processor to let them know what we were looking for as far as the “final product”.  A couple of days later, I contacted the staff at A & M Processing who were very friendly, more than helpful, and beyond patient with my inexperience.  They walked me (step by step) through the process, and about a week later A & M Processing called me back to let me know that my quarter share was ready!!  The following day #5 of 5 and I drove out and picked up our beef, and by this time I was practically giddy with excitement!   

When I arrived, I gave the staff my name.  They knew exactly what my order was and where it was in the freezer.  They were great to work with – so personal.  Just like that, an employee came out of the back with a two-wheeler loaded with  three boxes.  He came out and helped me load up my car, and we headed home.  I could hardly wait to get home and unpack my bounty!

Have you ever wondered what a quarter share of beef looks like?  (I sure did!)  Working through the pain of frozen fingers (from having handled all this frozen beef) I laid it out on my counter for all to see! 

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I started with 234 lbs (“hanging weight”) of beef.  Hanging weight is the weight of the beef before processing.  Processing the beef removes (most of) the bones, sinew, and some of the unnecessary fat (although I suspect some of it is recycled into the ground beef). 

So, after snapping the photos above, I organized and took inventory of what I ended up with.   I then brought it all down to my recently defrosted and “ready to be filled” freezer. 

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                                  (Before)                                                     (After)


The processor does not weigh each individual cut.  Instead, they just package the number of cuts you wish into each package.  (Remember, it’s not being sold by the individual steak / roast / rib like a grocery store.)  Because of that, I do not have an actual “WEIGHT” of what went into my freezer (although I can estimate that the total is easily 150+ lbs).  What I can tell you is what cuts (and the quantity of the cuts) that went into my freezer.  The inventory of my “quarter share” included… 

36 1.5 lb tubes of ground beef.
2 packages of T-Bone steaks (4 steaks per package).
2.5 packages of Sirloin steaks (2 steaks per package).
2.5 packages of Ribeye steaks (2 steaks per package).
8 packages of round steaks (2 steaks per package).
1 (very large) package of Texas ribs (unkn quantity in package).
3 packages of beef short ribs (unkn quantity in package).
1 package of arm roast.
1 package of rump roast.
2 packages of sirloin tip roasts.
8 packages of beef roasts.
4 packages of all beef wieners.

I was given an option for (but VERY graciously declined) the organs, and the option for a couple scrap “soup bones” (although, since I completed the order without her there, I wonder if the Mother of Five would have wanted them). 

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As of the writing of this post, I have yet to “sample” the beef.  My work schedule, and a refrigerator full over leftovers (or previously thawed meat) interfered.  I am looking forward to next week, when I can fire up THE GRILL!!  

I’ll be sure to post an update!  

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