ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Let them eat steak

TOWNER, N.D. -- The phrase, "Let them eat cake," may have symbolized royal ignorance of peasant famine in revolutionary France, but here in North Dakota's Gorman Township, we're in the middle of an economic recession and I'm saying to my family, ...

TOWNER, N.D. -- The phrase, "Let them eat cake," may have symbolized royal ignorance of peasant famine in revolutionary France, but here in North Dakota's Gorman Township, we're in the middle of an economic recession and I'm saying to my family, "let them eat steak."

We actually have the steak in our freezer, too, so the statement shouldn't send me to the guillotine like Queen Marie Antoinette.

My father always was proud to tell us that, although we never were wealthy, we always had plenty to eat. It was one of those comments that we probably only hear from Depression-era parents and family members. Most of us younger than the Depression just take food for granted.

Personal food security is one of those things folks in agriculture keep in the back of their mind as a fallback position in hard times. We have the capacity to raise livestock, grow food crops, plant a big garden. If things go to heck, we

shouldn't starve.

ADVERTISEMENT

I grew up thinking everyone had two big chest freezers and an extra refrigerator in their shop to store a year's supply of food. As it turns out, there're people who go to the grocery store nearly every day to buy food as they need it.

We are a little dependent on electricity to keep the meat and other provisions frozen, but as long as the rural electric lines are up, our grub won't spoil and we won't die for lack of burgers.

Tender and juicy

On our ranch, we've always had plenty of meat in the freezer, but I can't say we always put the very best meat we ever raised in there.

It always was good, but it didn't often include a lot of juicy steaks and tender roasts. Many times, it was just a whole lot of hamburger from an old retired cull cow, a bull with a bad shoulder, or an aged roping steer of questionable genetics. Most times, they came off a diet of dry hay or dormant grass.

We ate that second-tier beef when the economy was strong and the Dow was climbing.

Now that times are tough, I decided my family should have nothing but the finest beef the herd has to offer.

This winter, we had a pen of yearlings being fed to finish. High-quality, young cattle standing around eating the finest of feedstuffs. These were the kind of valuable cattle we always sold and never could afford to eat ourselves. This year, we decided to hold one back from the market for our own eating pleasure.

ADVERTISEMENT

By denying the market one of my harvest-ready heifers, it probably created a little supply shortage and resulted in a significant market spike. My own little stimulus plan.

My wife didn't know what to think when I came home from the butcher and stocked our freezer. Instead of rows and rows of 99 percent lean cull cow hamburger filling the freezer, there were T-bones, rib-eyes, tenderloin filets, sirloins, chuck roasts, round roasts, a couple big briskets and hamburger that wasn't quite so lean.

Like most ranchers with a newly filled freezer, we started in on the steaks. They were absolutely wonderful, perfect in every way.

I'm not sure how long it'll take us to eat our way to the bottom of our freezer, but I'm looking forward to every pound of it.

Times may be tough, but our beef is tender -- and plentiful. I'm sure glad I'm a rancher and not a stock broker.

What To Read Next
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its pipeline project will help ethanol plants. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
The number of cows going to slaughter is far above the five-year average. Attendees of the annual Cow Calf Days tour in Minnesota heard the latest on cattle trends.
As Mikkel Pates approaches his retirement from Agweek after 44 years in journalism, he talks to Rose Dunn about learning TV, covering ag's characters and scandals and looking toward the future.
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.