This is a 1904 photo of my great grandfather, Peter Jacobsen, with his cattle at the Omaha Stockyards. These cattle traveled by rail from Marquette to Omaha. They were fed ear-corn, but were not pushed hard on grain like commercial cattle in today’s modern feedlots. My grandfather Chris, and father Elmer, also brought cattle to the Omaha Stockyards. Farmer-feeders, generally, gave way to larger commercial feedlots over the years, and like many others, we began selling calves as yearlings.
In 2004 we made the decision to try grass finishing. In 2007 we began direct marketing our first grass fed beef. Since then we have made improvements in our cattle genetics, selecting for carcass quality and superior performance on forage alone. We began grass feeding because we thought we could reduce costs and produce healthier beef. We never expected there would be so many people who would prefer the flavor of our beef. Today, we hear comments from customers such as, “superb” -“the best beef I have ever tasted!”-“the best beef in the world!” and “the best, absolute best!”. We are gratified by the response of so many and humbled to be stewards of many great resources that enable us to produce a quality product.
It has been pretty hectic here this last week. We were surprised, but honored, to be mentioned in Mark Schatzker’s interview on the Yahoo Daily Ticker on July 3rd. Following the interview, there were many calls and emails inquiring about our grass fed beef. It is exciting, but overwhelming at times when we are also trying to get the hay put up and keep all the irrigation running. Word of mouth advertising has worked pretty well for us. But we found out that it makes a big difference who is doing the talking and how large the audience! If you read Schatzker” book, “Steak”, you realize that, for some people, beef steak is not a fungible commodity, its also not just sustenance for it’s consumer. It is an experience. “It is the feeling that no human ever tires of experiencing. It is a feeling that makes life, for all it’s pain, frustration, and sadness worth living. The feeling is joy.” (This a quote from Mark’s book as he enjoyed the rib eye steak from Alderspring Ranch.) In the Yahoo interview, Schatzker listed Range West Beef in the same context as Alderspring, his personal online favorites. The notion that we can produce a product that gives joy, that gives a respite to peoples cares, is a happy notion for us. We can not guarantee how anyone will experience our beef, personal tastes are as varied as the consumer. But we are heartened that many people, including Mark Schatzker, who has eaten all kinds of beef across the US and around the world, have expressed their enthusiasm for Range West Beef. For Lori and me, the feeling is joy!
Ava and I are checking the cows one last time before we take her back to Texas. We have really enjoyed our two weeks with her. Ava looks forward to checking the cows each day – we thought maybe part of the reason she liked to check them was because she got to ride on the 4 wheeler, but discovered that even without the 4 wheeler, she wanted to walk with grandpa to check the cows. She really kept her eye out for number 56 because he tended to like to ‘play’ – that doesn’t work too well. But he decided to let her touch his nose instead.