How it Started
It started as a side project, we wanted to diversify our cotton and grain farm with some cattle. We had plenty of pasture and had recently added more. We thought cattle would be a fun family project.
It didn't take long for us to decide we loved it. Well, John and I loved it. Our teenage daughter and elementary aged sons weren't always excited to be up in freezing weather on a Saturday morning working calves or penning yearlings. Secretly, they do love it.
Enter: Akaushi Bulls
We quickly learned the value in crossing our Angus cows with Wagyu or Akaushi bulls. We loved the marbling and higher nutritional value of the fat found in these animals. Using these bulls has greatly increased the percentage of our beef that grades prime and we are very proud of the flavor and tenderness. Crossing these breeds was our first step toward the highest quality beef we can produce.
Our cattle spend the majority of their lives out on pasture. However, in West Texas grass is often blocked out by scrub including water gulping mesquite and tarbush along with other invasive species. We have cleared thousands of acres and worked with the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) to seed in native grasses and forbs. Like most work in farming and ranching, we are playing the long game. It takes a while, in our climate, for grass to get established but our cattle will enjoy a steady supply of native pasture grass.
Birth to Harvest
Initially, we were so glad to find a lot that could professionally finish our cattle on an all natural ration. They do a fantastic job and are certainly experts. They produce some of the best beef in our state and beyond. After a few months of this, the dream of finishing our own cattle on crops that we grow just wouldn't go away. We knew that we could work with a cattle nutritionist and put together a great, local ration that would allow us to oversee every single step of the process. We now are keeping every calf on the farm until it's time for harvest. We feed every day and know every ingredient that goes into it.
Old Barn Butcher Co.- the last piece of the puzzle
Over the last several years, we have taken in every single piece of our beef production. Just one bit remained- processing. With the covid virus and other food supply challenges, processing plants have been overwhelmed. Our food system had become very centralized which is definitely not the best system for our consumers or producers. It may have made beef very cheap but at the price of local communities and stability in the system. We struggled to get in to processors with the right inspection levels and at the right time. Then we struggled with quality and consistency of the products we were getting back. They say the only way to truly be sure something is done right is to do it yourself. So, that’s what we did. In partnership with our neighbors and friends, we’ve started construction on our own processing facility. It’s set to open at the very end of 2021 or early 2022. With our own processing facility we will be able supervise and control the quality of our beef. There’s nothing harder than spending 2 ½ years from breeding to finishing on a calf and for something to go wrong with processing. It’s such a heartbreaking waste of life and resources.
So, our hope is that the new facility will be a blessing to our community and our neighboring ranchers who will now have a more reliable place to take animals for processing in the most humane way possible. We hope that we provide even more jobs through the butcher company but also that it will be a local food source in our very rural community.
With the butcher company, the last piece of our puzzle will be in place. We know that we are the family that bred and cared for that beef every single step of the way. We know they are raised well and their lives are ended in the most humane way possible and that the beef we provide to families provides the best possible nourishment and quality.