Today, I’m excited to introduce Lana Wallpe. Lana is a wife, mama and farmer in Benton County, Indiana. A former English teacher, Lana records the lively adventures of her farm and family at Walking the Off-Beat Path and @IBCFarmGirl. Today, she’s giving us a glimpse into her family’s farm and sharing some helpful information for anyone who is interested freezer beef.
Lana, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a retired high school English teacher, which makes me sound terribly old, but I retired after 18 years of teaching because in the 17th year I married my farmer, and during the 18th year I became pregnant with our first daughter. I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of perks in being 40, pregnant, and driving 45 miles each way to school, always into the sun. Now we have two girls, 12 and 10. I started out as the chuck wagon for my husband, father-in-law and helper, then added head parts runner and equipment mover to my resume. Once our youngest started all day kindergarten, I started learning how to drive the combine. As of this year I can also drive the tractor pulling the auger wagon and the automatic semi when necessary!
How long has your family been selling freezer beef? Why did you start raising beef cattle?
Three months before we married, Steve’s parents sold the dairy cattle here on the farm, and we became a cow/calf operation. Now we have shifted to a feed lot, which means we buy calves after they are weaned and feed them until they are ready for market. Beef cattle are the easiest to raise, and that was important. Ever since I have known Steve, his family had a yearly tradition of gathering here on the farm to process and package our own beef for the year. Steve’s family has always processed their own beef raised here on the farm. There are a few families who have always bought their beef here and also had a similar family gathering to process and package beef. I think our friends and family started realizing that they could buy beef from us, and now I send out word via social media when we have beef ready for the freezer, and the orders come flying in.
Can you describe the process of purchasing a cow for beef who hasn’t done so before?
Finding a farmer who raises beef is the first step. Extension offices and organizations like a county’s Farm Bureau and/or Beef Council would be a good place to start looking for freezer beef. Some people prefer grain fed beef, and others like grass fed beef. All cattle eat grass in some form, but the grain-fed cattle have more marbling in their meat, which I feel makes the meat much more tasty.
What should someone know about freezer beef before purchasing a share of or a whole cow?
I would say before placing an order, decide how much meat a family will consume. We have some families who order a 1/4 of beef twice a year due to freezer space or preference for “fresh” meat. Beef is cut on the halves, which means if two people want a quarter, they will need to come together to decide on steak thickness, certain cuts, and what goes into hamburger. Also the consumer should realize that there will be two different costs to this beef. He/she will pay the farmer for the meat, and the processor will charge for taking that cow, processing it, and packaging it so that it is ready to go in the freezer at home.
What’s the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle? What are the pros and cons of each? What practice do you follow and why?
I think I covered this question above about the difference in the taste and quality, which is a totally subjective decision. Some consumers prefer not to eat beef fed corn due to their concern of that corn being a GMO variety. I respect that choice. The corn we feed our cattle is grown right here on the farm, and it is a GMO variety. We feed our beef to our children and will continue to do so. That is our choice. I have confidence in the regulations and tests done that prove there is no harm in eating genetically modified foods. However, like I said, the consumer does have the right to chose, as we do, what meat they serve at their family meals.
What questions do consumers often ask about your farm?
We get all sorts of questions. Some customers are just happy with the fact that they know who and where their beef was raised. We have questions about what we feed our cattle, what medicines if any they receive, do we give our cows growth hormone shot(s) and can they graze in pasture.
Thanks for sharing, Lana!