In the Freezer

I belong to a local agricultural listserve, where farmers and gardeners of all stripes post about things like late season u-pick tomatoes, kid-friendly farm tours, medicinal herb workshops, and the inevitable free-to-anyone-who-dares renegade roosters.  I doubt I’ll ever post anything on there myself, being as I’m not a real farmer, but the daily emails from those folks nearby who are truly living the life are an inspiration. Plus I might want a rooster someday.

A few days ago I got an email from a local family who raises grass fed beef. I’ve had it before and it’s outstanding. The email was promoting a special designed for people who, like me, want to head into winter with a freezer full of provisions, can’t afford to pay retail, but haven’t (yet) upgraded to a humongous chest freezer big enough to fit a side of beef. In other words, bulk rate for slightly less bulk. Perfect! They had several different packages to choose from. After conferring with the fella and the roomie about splitting the deal three ways, I decided to stick with roasts, stew meat, and hamburger, feeling like these made more sense for the freezer than a smaller amount of fancier cuts like rib-eyes and T-bones.

This morning we bundled up and headed out to the grower’s market to pick up our order. 16 pounds of locally raised grass fed beef! I felt like a kid at Christmas staring into that great big bag.  We also picked up a few lamb chops from another farmer braving the cold under her little easy-up. Their lamb is absolutely divine as well (Chez Panisse uses it!). I felt a little guilty passing by the handful of shivering growers. Although their tables were piled with lovely beets, kale, chard, squash and the like, we were there for meat!

It feels gratifying to buy meat from the farmer that raised it, knowing that my omnivorous diet includes – and supports – humane and sustainable practices in my own community. While it may be considered a luxury to some, I am committed to making it a routine.  It’s easy and affordable enough, living where I do, that I really have no excuse. It’s also gratifying to look in the freezer and see neat packages of my own garden veggies, homemade pesto and tomato paste, and home-dried fruit nestled next to a winter’s worth of local steer and lamb.  There is a bounty in my freezer today, and as we build a fire with wood from our own forest, I pause to thank the land, the animals, and the farmers for everything.

14 thoughts on “In the Freezer

  1. Yes! I feel your joy. I spotted a Red Wattle pig on Craigslist last month…(live) I had hoped to be set up to butcher this Winter,but my new addition isn’t quite ready so I called a local locker…found out they didn’t even have any openings until after the first of the year…contacted the farmer/ gave them an extra $50 to feed it for another couple of I’m looking forward to getting some fresh sidepork myself..grown locally w/ tLC…I love getting stocked up too :-)

      • I’d never heard of red wattles when I read the ad, so I got on line, and got excited about the opportunity and purchased it, sight unseen. sounds like they are kind of hard to come by, but oh, so delicious. :-)

  2. Yes, nothing like home grown, grass fed critters…we are currently enjoying some pork. Earlier this year it was lamb..which until having home grown, I had disliked. Waiting on a steer now…. Enjoy!

    • Yes, I never liked lamb until recently. Since then I have found that the closer to home the lamb is raised, the more I like the flavor. I am attributing it to the fact that the grasses the sheep eat are more familiar to me, and so the meat tastes less exotic (aka gamy). It’s a theory anyway.

  3. Funny you should mention grass fed beef. I have tried to get it around here, and have found 2 suppliers within an hour of my house. One wants me to be a 1/2 of a cow. One charges $18 per pound, just for marrow bones!

    • $18 a pound?! Holy smokes, you might consider making a road trip up this way to do your meat shoppin. I got my family pack for around $6.80 a pound. It wouldn’t be exactly local for you, but at least it would be grassfed. The place I got mine from is called “Family Friendly Farms.” There are several beef farmers in Nevada County though, and the prices are comparable.

      • Isn’t it weird that the agricultural center of CA has such high prices! Besides, grass is free. How much money do they have to make?

  4. We just got a (small) chest freezer last month, and I’ve been busy freezing lots of veggies. (Though we should have stuff from the garden for quite a while). Have stocked up on the local meats too, which I am glad to have available here. No more thinking, ‘I would like to buy more of your meats, but I only have my tiny refrigerator freezer’. I’m pretty excited to be able to hole up for the winter this year. Won’t have to go out for ANYTHING! Of course, if you have good access to fresh foods year round why bother with a chest freezer?

    • Jealous of the freezer! I’ve been scoping out craigslist regularly for a chest freezer, because I’ll need one by next year when I raise up a flock of Freedom Ranger chickens. I won’t ever have the space for a huge freezer, but something like 7 cubic feet is what I’m looking for.

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