We got the call from the mobile butchers that our meat was ready. This is the combined beef from butchering Ruby and Chester a couple weeks ago, cut and wrapped and ready to pick up.
This is the best time of year to drive to the town of Potlatch because the scenery is so beautiful with all the winter wheat beginning to green up. It's like driving through Ireland.
Here's the inside of the butchers' walk-in freezer, with trays of meat neatly wrapped and labeled.
These folks keep their facility squeaky-clean. We like doing business with such an ethical family-owned company.
Here's the meat, loaded in the car.
On the road again...
I zoomed in on this kestrel from quite a distance so it's a little blurry, but they're such handsome birds.
While I was gone, Don had the unenviable task of cleaning out the chest freezer in an effort to fit all the meat in. He did an impressive job.
We ended up with one section completely full, and one section three-quarters full. We also put 70 lbs. of ground beef in a neighbor's freezer.
The exact total came to 510 lbs. Figuring in feed costs and other expenses, we estimate it costs us about $1.40/lb for our beef... and that's for ALL cuts, from ground beef and cube steak up to T-bones and tenderloin.
This much meat is quite timely, because lately I've been collecting a few depressing headlines, to wit:
• Fruit and Vegetable Prices Are Rising
- The cost of fresh produce is poised to jump in the coming months as a three-year drought in California shows few signs of abating, according to an Arizona State University study set to be released Wednesday.
• Soaring Food Inflation Full Frontal: Beef, Pork And Shrimp Prices Soar To Record Highs, which included a charming graph:
• Why Meat Prices Will Continue to Soar
- The average price of USDAchoice-grade beef has soared to $5.28 a pound, and the average price of a pound of bacon has skyrocketed to $5.46. Unfortunately for those that like to eat meat, this is just the beginning of the price increases. Due to an absolutely crippling drought that won’t let go of the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951. But back in 1951, we had less than half the number of mouths to feed.
• Beef prices hit all-time high in U.S.
- Come grilling season, expect your sirloin steak to come with a hearty side of sticker shock. Beef prices have reached all-time highs in the U.S. and aren't expected to come down any time soon. Extreme weather has thinned the nation's beef cattle herds to levels last seen in 1951, when there were about half as many mouths to feed in America. "We've seen strong prices before but nothing this extreme," said Dennis Smith, a commodities broker for Archer Financial Services in Chicago. "This is really new territory."
• Why Meat Prices Are Going To Continue Soaring For The Foreseeable Future
- [T]he supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up. This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.
• A Perfect Storm for Higher Beef Prices
- The price of beef has been rising ever since the Great Plains drought forced ranchers to reduce their herds. The price went up even more this winter because cattlemen did not want to transport livestock to market during the coldest part of the winter.
For the last few years, we've been striving with greater effort towards food self-sufficiency on our farm, and these headlines illustrate why. I don't know if anyone can ever be truly self-sufficient (our "circle" of self-sufficiency isn't closed by any means), but at least we can work toward that goal. And meanwhile, I urge everyone to try their hand at food production of some type. Any type. Prices aren't coming down any time soon.
These prices increases are going to hit a lot of people hard. As it is, I know a lot of people who are simply unable to afford beef. At least now we have lots of ground beef we can donate to our church's food bank.