Steer Front, Steer Butt

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Brent is working hard on finishing these cows. We finish on grass which challenges you with extra variables such as weather, grass species and many other things that Brent knows more than I. Should you fatten with corn, things are straightforward. We’ve had a great stretch of rain followed by a few days of sun and the grass is growing. And the cows are grazing. The herd seems to be eating well and plumping up. We are after flavor. The cows graze on the same terroir suited for wine, foie gras and Armagnac. Those rocks do their part when it comes to flavor. Our next beef will be ready in April.  When they shed their wooly coat, it’s easier to see what is going on.  Maybe a little Armagnac massage will do.

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They’ve Lost Their Manhood

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At last, our boys can grow and fatten without their wedding tackle. They are steers now and now we wait. There are not many boys around these parts. The boys are shipped off to feedlots in neighboring countries where they will live in tight pens fed on corn. Cows will eat corn, they actually obsess over it, but they are not built for corn eating. Cows eat grass.

Brent talks with local farmers about castration and at times, the farmers find it difficult to talk about. We laugh. It may be that castration is no longer part of cow farming in this part of France. It may be that castration is a difficult topic for men. I’m fine with it all. I can’t wait to try the steer to see how it compares to our heifers.

After a huge nap and a little more nap, they make their way to the hay and grass, getting used to their new normal.

Our First Steer

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We are very excited about our grass fed, grass finished steer meat.  This lovely stuff is impossible to find in France because all male calves are shipped off to Italy or Spain to be fattened on grain in feedlots.  We’ve planned to raise some steer with the herd to see how they did on our farm.  We suspect this will deliver the best flavor.  Time will tell.  I love time.  I love slow.  I love quality.

This guy (Gwar) is just about a year old and today he was castrated.  We plan to castrate the males earlier, but for this round, we were observing our three males to see who would be best suited for our bull.  Gremlin looked most bull-like and has a calm demeanor, so he’s the lucky toro who gets to hang with the ladies.  This just-about-to-become-a-steer doesn’t have as much machismo.  His mother does very well on our farm eating pasture and we hope that this steer will as well.

I’m loving our low stress handling pens that we built not so long ago.  Everything is calm and the animals move where we need them safely and calmly.  Before we built this pen system, this quick task of castrating a bull would be a huge effort.  Today, Brent was able to guide the bull down the corridor easily and the vet got to work.  Things went smoothly.  I managed to grab a couple of photos from the distance with Z on my back.  Z and I keep a safe distance from the livestock, but like to know what’s going on and help in any way we can.

 
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Bug, the Siamese, watches empathetically from the courtyard.  He remembers when it was “his time.”  Bug managed to escape the snip three times with a little cat trick known as “the cough.”  You see, if you cough at the vet, they won’t knock you out.  Good one Bug, but we finally caught on to your antics.

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Our new steer’s procedure went quickly and now he can return with our finishing herd a little light on the back end.  And we wait.  We wait for him to be a happy steer eating pasture, fattening up to achieve yummy steer goodness.