Celebrating Iowa Beef Month and May at our Farm

CELEBRATING IOWA BEEF MONTH AND MAY AT OUR FARM

 

May brings a few things to celebrate at our house.  May Day treats from and for the neighbors start the month off.  We go low input… Microwave popcorn, dry roasted nuts and M&M’s in a clear cup. We only hit three houses, but two were neighbors we haven’t reached out to much. I think it was a win.

 

Another celebration for me is the day the garden is finished. The first thing we harvest just helps to chase the last of winter away from my soul, too. I think we all breathe a collective sigh of relief when the last bag of corn or soybeans is poured into the planter.  I love watching the markers fold up and leave the field for another season.  It reminds me that I have some serious praying to do over the next three to four months.

 

The best part of the month for me is really the return to gardening and pasture walks.  Our ladies have been patiently gestating in the dry lot at the main farm. I think they are ready to move out to greener spaces! Our heifers are starting to drop calves so they will be ready to go to pasture with the more experienced cows who will calve out on fresh grass.  The Farmer Boy comes home with almost daily feed bunk stories about how #405 (a very protective momma and a bit of a feed bunk bully) got her come-ups from one of the older cows. Another pushes the ladies down the bunk to keep more food to herself, but she spends so much time trying to get more that she doesn’t end up with as much as she tries to. If you wait you can sometimes see an unborn calf wiggle or kick in that space between the hip and rib line. It amazes all of us to see that promise of coming life.

 

One of our oldest girls waits patiently at the end of the bunk for her daily head and back scratching and will soon make her way to the pasture at our to calve what will probably be her last calf in our herd.  She will keep the MiniMe’s 4-h breeding heifer company while they both keep the grass down. 

 

Last summer the MiniMe faithfully tended the bucket calf from the previous summer.  She fed and watered the calf named Sugar multiple times a day.  I was proud to see her in the pen caring for the calf and talking to her dad about things that concerned her for Sugar’s well-being.  She and the Farmer Boy compared Sugar to other calves in the lot and talked about the role Sugar would play in our herd and if her genetics were what we needed. Sugar learned to love her regular baths with a hydrant hose and the really big tub of Orvis livestock soap.

 

Watching and working with the MiniMe, I learned a lot too.  I had raised sheep and hogs for my 4-H and FFA projects, but I had never been brave enough to show anything that I couldn’t jump over if it charged.  I had an uncle who would have been willing to help me start a show herd and has great Black Angus stock, but cattle intimidated me and I didn’t face my fears.  I regret not facing my fear, but I respect my eleven year old daughter for doing what I didn’t. 

 

I also appreciate my husband for guiding her on that journey and know the days they walk pasture, talk about genetics, preg check heifers and cows and work on the semiannual vet checks will become part of how she will measure the relationships she has and the value of the people she works with. I know he is giving her a gift that will build her sense of self and her value as a part of the chain of beef producers who are helping to feed the world.

 

We are blessed to have great quality beef and pork in our freezer.  I know that is a luxury not every family enjoys. 

 

We especially love meals that are easy to prepare.  This recipe for homemade Taco Seasoning is a family favorite and we use it in dishes like Taco Pizza, Mexican Lasagna and Taco Tots. This could be the Iowa farmer version of a Cinco de Mayo buffet.

 

I like to make a double or even bigger batch and freeze the meat so I have a jump start on one of those homemade meals. Enjoy!

 

My Farmer’s Favorite Taco Mix

 

The Groceries:

1 T Chili Powder

½ t Salt

¼ t Garlic Powder

¼ t Cayenne Powder

1/8 t Cumin

1 T Potato or Corn Starch

1 pound lean ground beef, well browned with 1 C chopped onion and well drained

¾ C Water

 

The Process:

Combine all the dry ingredients while the beef browns.  Return the beef to medium heat after draining the grease.  Add the spices and toss with meat over the heat to get the spices to bloom. Pour water into the pan and simmer until thickened.  Serve hot with salsa, lettuce, sour cream, cheese and taco shells.

 

 

Note: This recipe is gluten free if your Potato or Corn Starch are noted to be wheat free.  You can serve with wheat free hard corn shells or tortilla chips.

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