Greetings friends and fellow good meat lovers. Tis the end of another beautiful and bountiful May, and yet another school year is coming to a close–as in: at the end of this week. Nooooo! What to do with these city kids o’ mine for the summer? Camps and more camps–which always makes me think of my looooong summers on the farm as a kid. What I wouldn’t have given for an Explorers! Digging Up Dinosaurs camp for budding three year old archaeologists, or just one Kids Sing Broadway! camp for singing seven-year-olds. No, not on the farm.
Alas, as a child there was only an abundance of time, hot days, and work – which always seemed to go hand-in-hand. Summer was also Franklin County Fair time. My sisters and I looked forward to the county fair as a rare social event, but dreaded the moment we had to drag our steer, cow, calf, horse, sheep, whatever animal it was at the time, into the show ring. I’ve been bucked off, stepped on, headed butted, and taken on many a joyride by my animal companions…and that was before we even entered the show ring. Lots of sweating buckets and lots of silent pleading with various hooved beasts to please, please behave in the ring. Or at least please don’t run the judge over. Truly, I would have traded my grandma for a Kids Sing Broadway! camp, especially if it meant NO COUNTY FAIR.
My only moment of crowning glory over ten years of fair life is the year my cow and her calf, Murphy Brown and Lester, were hailed Grand Champion Cow & Calf. That was promptly after she came nail-bitingly close to charging one of the ring hands–Murphy was a bit of a diva you might say. I know I’ve posted this picture before, but the hot pink pants are so fab, here it is again:
Yep, pretty awesome pants, I know. But what I didn’t know at the time was what it really signifies to have a best-in-class cow. My parents did though. Al and Roxanne knew the quality of one’s herd is best measured by the quality of its cows. You see, the wonderful bovine beast known as the cow is the backbone of an artisan herd on a small farm, the building block and lifeblood of all that come after. A great cow is like great hops to craft beef–without high-quality and top-of-the line hops, it’s hard to make a great beer. Without cows like Murphy Brown and her top-notch compatriots on our small farm, we can’t produce high-quality, good-for-you meat.
The care and thought my parents put into their cow herd has nothing to do with making money, believe me – they have a genuine passion for quality and take immense pride in the reputation of their cow herd. A commitment to quality over quantity can mean failure in the commodity-driven meat world, where financial success is determined by how much one produces rather than how good the product is. And that’s why I consider all those involved with Farmer Girl Meats true artisan, craft farmers.
What drives the artisan is the pursuit of quality and flavor, the endeavor of making one wonderful thing rather than lots of mediocre stuff. And that’s why small, craft farms are the canvas of true artisan farmers – we can’t pursue the art and craft of producing great meat if we sacrifice quality for quantity.
Ahh, how wise I’ve become since I donned those hot pink pants and Murphy Brown was crowned queen of cows. Murphy lived long into old age, and her legacy is still abundant in a herd that boasts Murphy Brown great granddaughters, nieces, bulls, and so forth. Her diva-ness runs deep and strong, her cow-greatness is the foundation for much of our small herd. On that note, I bid you farewell for the month. Cheers to all of you on the journey of abundance through quality and craftsmanship…it’s so worth it, isn’t it? As always, I hope you are enjoying your good meat.
Happy & Healthy Eating,