Tag Archives: Jersey beef

Farmers’ Market Conversations, Part I: You Have to Believe in Your Product

Farmers’ Market Conversations

People who know me know that I’m a talker. In fact, I think my favorite thing at the farmers’ market so far has been all the discussions and conversations that I have had with visitors and vendors alike. This gave me the idea to expand into detail some of the topics that have come up that we’ve discussed. Over the next several weeks and perhaps in the future when I have more, I’ll share my favorites here.

Part I: You Have to Believe in Your Product

Today another vendor at the farmer’s market shared a very important truth when it comes to direct selling. She said, “You really have to believe in your product and show people why you do to be successful.”

For some reason, that struck a chord with me. While explaining what Jersey Beef is and why we raise it instead of some other breed I often suggest with a grin that I could be the poster girl for the Jersey breed of cattle. Seriously, I think I could.

I love my cows. There, I said it. My family started with Jersey calves with my older sister and brother’s 4-H projects back in 1982. We’ve never looked back though we had never lived on a farm. I lived on one briefly where I raised my own heifers (young female cattle) and now of course, I find myself on one in a beautiful spot in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

That’s me with the Mickey Mouse shirt on, anxiously waiting to show one of my sibling’s heifers in the kiddie class at a local fair

Through those early years, we took care of our animals whether they were next door or 45 minutes away. We showed our heifers at the local fairs and visited friends that had dairy farms throughout New England and New York. I think when you put so much work and effort and hanging-on into something so long you’re bound to be bound to it one way or another. And we didn’t live in one spot – my Dad is a United Methodist minister, retired now, and so we moved a few times, but always found a place for the cows wherever we moved. I think that was fate.

If there is one part of having Jersey cattle that always bothered me was that there was not much you could do with the bull calves. We would send them to the auction house and generally because they are smaller, you don’t get much for them and often end up paying the auction house to cover the commission, trucking and other costs.

You can imagine my surprise when I learned about the excellent qualities of Jersey beef which was not long ago. I had no idea, really. Jersey beef ranks up with Angus and Waygu cattle in terms of taste and tenderness. It has one of the highest rates of monounsaturated fats and beta carotene among the various breeds of beef. And because they are generally smaller and leaner, the cuts are smaller and leaner which helps with portion control and goes along with a more health-conscious diet.

The challenge in raising Jersey steers (castrated male cattle) is that they take longer to grow and finish, they have different diet requirements than a larger breed and they’re not the easiest to herd – they too have the Jersey “attitude.”

What a coincidence. Here are all these wonderful aspects of a breed of cattle that I already love. And as far as the challenges go – we raise them right alongside the heifers (young female cattle) and we are in no rush. I grew up with the Jersey attitude and have an appreciation for their sass.

Two years ago I convinced my DF to give raising a few Jersey beef a shot. Remember – he brought the Holsteins to our farm equation and sometimes has to be reminded about how great Jerseys are. So far, the success that we have had at the farmers markets has him more and more interested. It seems perhaps he too is a believer in our jersey beef; the first of many more to come I hope.

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Filed under Agriculture, Dairy Care, Farmers' Markets, Jersey Beef

Our First Farmers’ Market

I was caught off guard a little last night when a friend said that she had looked up my blog to see where we were at with the Jersey Beef business. I had messaged her the other day that I was at a farmers’ market and she didn’t realize we were that far along. I’m sure I blushed a slight shade of dark pink, but I was really psyched to hear that she reads it. She is a really busy farm-wife-and-mother that works really hard and I am flattered she finds time to fit my little blog in.

Our logo with our new name too!

So, not to disappoint, here’s the latest. We attended our first Farmers’ Market as a vendor. It came with little fanfare despite my building excitement for it. Even though we thought to have strip steaks the night before to pump ourselves up, we were still blindly rushing around trying to get everything ready at the last minute. Things were rolling pretty smoothly – we even had our logo done – and then the printer stopped working of course. It was one of those mysterious issues where you have plenty of ink but it won’t print. As if it really was playing with us, it actually still made the noise as if it were printing but only blank sheets came out. I was able to get a few handouts before it decided to ghost print. We were headed to our local market anyway, so not too far away and we knew several folks there.

The results? We sold our first three packages of ground beef and I know those folks went home and had the best-tasting ground beef they ever had. The other vendors told me it was a quiet day for that market in terms of customer traffic. I was grateful for the insight from the other sellers. They were all quite nice and welcoming. I felt like they were happy to see us there and excited about farming. We had a few great but short discussions about agriculture. That’s another blog post though.

While maybe I was a tiny bit disappointed that we didn’t sell more our first run out, it didn’t really bother me too much. It really was pretty dead – I think everyone else in the world was at the beach. It made the day feel more like a dress rehearsal for us and we learned a few things right off the bat:

  1. We need better signage.
  2. We need bigger coolers and/or freezers.
  3. We need to make TK a shirt that says “Buy Jersey Beef from My Mom.”

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Filed under Farm life, Jersey Beef

For the Love of Jersey Beef

You may remember I shared with you that we are trying to get started selling Jersey beef. First, thanks to all of you who have reached out and shared your own experience, and who have offered help and tips to get us going! I’m happy to report that our first load of beef is ready to be picked up and we should be hitting our first Farmer’s Market in about a week.

To fill in the blanks, after my post, I contacted another butcher, The Royal Butcher, this time USDA-inspected, at the suggestion of several folks. He happened to have a spot open at the beginning of July, which at the time was almost two months out. I jumped at the chance and said yes! He is located about 90 miles from us, but you know what? That didn’t bother us too much. It’s kind of nice to take a drive and get away from the farm for a few hours.

We moved the steer, (I called him Tank), to be close by so we could give him and extra scoop of grain as well as the grass silage we feed in the barn. In the last month, he really filled out nicely. We also put a group of heifers that came from my older brother in the pen with him and it in a way became his own private harem. He seemed to become protective of his “ladies” and let you know it too! He really lived out the rest of his days in leisure and style.

The day before he was set to head down to the butcher, I thanked him and I snapped this picture of him. He’ll always be special in our memories as we head down this road.

We usually dehorn our calves, but somehow he ducked behind a hay bale or something and we missed him. We ended up letting the horns grow out so he was looking pretty formidable (and tall!) toward the end. Don’t let that fool you though. He was a big sweetie.

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Filed under Agriculture, Farm life, Jersey Cows