Overall rain this week on our farm was about ONE inch! Not a lot in the big scheme of things, but very appreciated. It was enough to make a difference for our winter grass as you can see from this picture. In some areas of other pastures it appears that the seedlings died after germinating back in October. An observation that the heavy dews was not enough to keep them alive.
We were able to stockpile enough hay till Mid-February 2024 for the cows. That gives our grass just over two months to grow to grazing height and be ready when the cows start calving. Having ryegrass for the lactating cows will do wonders for the young calves.
This week was beef processing week. By processing I mean cut and pack the aged carcasses and put the finished cuts into the freezer.
For processing we had eight total beef (first time we have done that many). Three halves were for custom orders leaving six & a half for NGF website sales. We always cut/pack the custom orders first. Note: these eight beef were harvested two weeks ago in our slaughter plant here on the farm.
So, here is a brief look at our processing. Tuesday & Wednesday our team cut & packed the steaks, roasts, stew, kabobs, etc. Any trim is put into meat lugs and returned to the carcass cooler to make ground beef later (and organ burger/bacon burger). Custom orders are processed according to the customer's cut sheet. For our website inventory I consider the on-hand inventory and make decisions on which items to process.
"Intact" cuts are completed by the end of the day on Wednesday. We have learned that the rear quarter takes longer to process than the front quarter because there are more pieces to cut from the rear. So, after completing the custom halves (we do both the front & rear quarter for one customer before bringing out the next quarter for other customers) I will sequence all the rear quarters for NGF ahead of the front quarters. Our goal is to complete 50% of the quarters the first day - which will be all but a few of the rear quarters. This makes for a shorter day on Wednesday.
Then, on Thursday our team is back ready to process the trim into ground beef, organ burger, etc. We had 30 meat lugs full of trim. Based on the number of packs there was more than 1,945 pounds of trim from the eight beef.
We grind our beef twice! The first grind includes a plate designed to separate bone, gristle, sinew, etc. from the meat and push it through a tube where it is discarded into a scrap gallon bucket. We bring in two lugs of trim, empty them into the Hobart grinder, and when completed, the 1st grind is returned to the cooler and two more trim lugs are brought out. And repeat until all 1st grind is complete. Our HACCP plan requires the meat to maintain a temperature below 50 degrees. When we bring the trim from the cooler it is about 31-32 degrees. After grinding the temperature is 38 or so degrees.
For the second grind we swap the plate (in the bottom of the grinder there is a "worm" that forces the trim through a "plate" and there is a four-blade knife there to cut the trim and make burger). The second plate does not have the tube that separates the gristle, etc. However, we add a different type of tube that is used to fill the vacuum seal bags you receive your product in. Our operator, typically Amy, uses her foot control to start/stop the "worm" to fill the bag. It literally takes a matter of seconds to add a pound of ground into a one pound pack.
I must brag on Amy here! Yesterday, out of 1,527 packs of ground beef for our website, the average pack weight was 0.999 each. That means she put a bag over the tube, pressed start and released 1,527 times with an accuracy of 0.999 average weight per bag. INCREDIBLE!!!
But, the job is not done yet. Amy then puts the bags onto our table where they are grouped for faster loading into the vacuum sealer. Once sealed, Kim presses the bags flatter, takes them out, places them at the scale, and reloads the vacuum sealer. Beth, then weighs and labels each bag and places them into one of our perforated crates for storage in the freezer. There are times when Kim/Beth swap around.
My job was to keep 1st grind in the grinder, make sure Amy had bags, rinse out the meat lugs, wash the meat lugs, and move finished product into the freezer. Overall, to keep things moving and not have bottlenecks.
Most of the time things run smooth. Yesterday, was no different - until the labels would not come out of the scale printer correctly. Beth worried and worried with that thing. The roll of label stock was from a new shipment. She even tried multiple rolls from the box - each giving the same problem. Then, she went to a new box and tried a roll from there.... and bingo. Problem solved. Guess that supplier will be getting that box of label stock back!
At the end of the day, 1,945 plus pounds were packaged into custom ground beef, NGF ground beef, and organ burger. With clean-up, basically a 12 hour day.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving! Many will be traveling to enjoy the holiday with family & friends and will have plenty of delicious dishes to share.
For my family, we have so much to be thankful for. Faith in the Lord Jesus, my wife & family, our health, the ability to steward our farm land/animals, and the opportunity to be a blessing to so many customers that depend on healthy meats for their families.
In closing, Beth & I pray each of you will have a blessed, safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday.
At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems.
** Product Availability Update **
NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below!
Chicken - Restocked November 15th. Next restock will be Nov 21st. Yes, we will be raising chickens throughout the winter months
Turkey - Whole turkeys are sold out
Eggs - Restock each Wednesday. Received 950 new pullet hens Thursday, Nov 9th.
Beef - Restocked Nov 17th. Next restock will be December 22nd
Pork -Restocked Nov 9th. Smoked cuts 2 weeks later
Lamb - Restocked September 13th. Scheduled to process lamb in November, but this has been delayed.