We have been focusing a lot on vegetables and how and why we grow them in this newsletter. Quite a few of you are members of our meat CSA also. For these next two-three weeks, I am going to focus a bit more on the meat that we raise here at Rainshadow Organics. We are going to start with a discussion of our meat birds.
It’s a meat CSA pick-up week so I thought we would talk a bit about beef today. Beef is an important part of Rainshadow Organics’ meat CSA and full diet philosophy.
We raise Corriente beef here at Rainshadow Organics because we feel they are the best fit for our Central Oregon climate and environment. Corrientes are a heritage breed of beef from Spain and we chose them because they are strong, efficient, and resilient. They put very little pressure on the land and require less feed and water and will travel much further to get either compared to other breeds. They are long-lived and dependably productive. This is a great trait for a herd of momma cows that we hope to keep with us for 20-30 years.
Female Corrientes have horns and are very protective of their calves. Calves are born small, which protects the heifers who give birth out on the grasslands away from us. (We have never once had to pull a calf even from our first-calf heifers.) We breed the female Corrientes to male Red Angus Bulls. Red Angus are known for their small birth weight, rapid growth, and meaty frames. This combination of scrappy, resilient Corrientes heifers and meaty, fast growing Red Angus bulls has been a real win for us.
Our beef are exclusively grass fed in Central Oregon. In March, we round up the cows from their overwintering grounds on the farm, and drop them off in Monument, Oregon. The heifers have their calves and the calves grow big and strong wandering about the high native grass prairie. In late July we separate the yearling heifers out and release the bulls. (The yearling heifers need another year to grow before they are bred for the first time.) In late August, we round up all the cows and bring them down to the meadows along the Metolius River. They spend a few months grazing along the river, and then return home to Rainshadow Organics where they eat hay and produce manure, the foundation of our compost program here at the farm.
***You have probably noticed that you get a lot of ground beef in your bi-weekly meat CSA. Approximately 38% of a beef converts to ground and we feel that ground beef is one of the most versatile cuts. Some of our favorite things to do with ground beef include making hamburgers, soups, stews, pasta sauces, taco or burrito filler, meatloaf, one dish skillet dishes, and any number of other things.***