Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach, or your plate, or something like that. Don’t feed three cattle to make into beef if you don’t have the room to keep them frozen.
I used the usual logic to plan the family beef supplies this year. That one bull had a bad shoulder and was limping, we’d feed him up for hamburger. Had two nice yearling heifers that were bred late and well out of our calving season. Just as well destine them for steaks and roasts.
It’s the same theory we’ve had on the ranch if you were going to buy a weanling colt. Just as well have two as one if you’re going to be feeding oats and penning them separate. If you’re going to feed one beef for butchering, just as well feed three.
Then I realized that three cattle would produce an awful lot of meat all cut and wrapped. Even though we have two chest freezers and two refrigerator freezers, we need to save a little room for the half a hog I bought from a college friend and a small assortment of frozen pizzas for the nights when I’m in charge of supper.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who completely don’t get the necessity for a family to have two chest freezer and two fridges. We call it, “living 15 miles from the small hometown grocery store and 60 miles from the big city supermarket.” Plus, we like to eat what we raise. Gives us a little extra marketplace street cred when we’re selling our cattle to other people.
And, maybe we have a bit of backwoods survivalist in us. If Armageddon comes, or the world goes haywire, we can eat comfortably for quite a few months, protein wise anyway. But it would be nice if we continued to have electricity to keep the meat from spoiling in any potential end-of-the-world scenarios.
Realizing that three beef was way too many for our two freezers and our family of five, we sold one of the heifers to a neighbor to feed his family of five. Now we were down to two, hauled them to a local meat processor and waited for the call.
They called to say the meat was ready to go and processors have freezer constraints too, so we needed to come get it soon. I did a little dumpster diving behind the school and scavenging behind the grocery store to collect some cardboard boxes to pack the meat in for the trip, and headed out.
I discovered that when one of the two beef is a hamburger bull with a 1,200 pound carcass, the two pound packages really add up. My wife’s pretty good at packing a freezer but even after we shuffled and cajoled and abandoned our growing collection of gel ice packs, we ran out of room with four more boxes of homeless meat left in the pickup.
It was after 9 p.m. and we started calling our friends to find some freezer space. As luck would have it, we located two willing participants before they turned out the lights and went to bed, each with some available cold storage. I negotiated the storage rent agreement with them, simply titled, “help yourself to a little ground beef while you’re storing it.”
In the nick of time, we got it handled and could rest easy that night. Meat saved. Nothing thawed, nothing wasted.
Nothing left to do now but start eating. Hamburger, anyone? ❖