We bought a steer!

I believe in the Locavore movement, which is eating locally sourced foods so that less fossil fuel is used on food transport. That is one of the reasons why I planted a mini-orchard, converted our backyard to vegetable production, and set up a chicken coop with hens.

Even though we live in the megalopolis of southern California, we have many opportunities for eating locally grown food. We have purchased heirloom turkeys from Rainbow Ranch, a lamb from a farmer in San Diego, and boxes of organic produce from Tanaka Farms in Orange County. We visit our local farmers’ markets, of which there are many. And we often buy wines produced in southern California, with Orfila Vineyards in San Diego being one of our favorites.

Now we have embarked on yet another local food adventure, a locally raised steer. We found out about this opportunity from our local chapter of Slow Food USA, and jumped on it. We bought a 1/8th share of a steer in a 4-H project.

Megan and Jenna with Beaux, an Angus-Simmental-Maine Anjou crossbred calf.

Megan and Jenna with Beaux, an Angus-Simmental-Maine Anjou crossbred calf.

Jenna and Megan are raising the steers, which will be shown at the Orange County Fair next summer. It will be a long process of feeding and training the steers. Beaux, shown above, was the first to arrive at the farm in Orange Acres from the Star Cattle Company in Stevinson, Merced County, California.

Here I am petting Beaux. He is trying to get as far away from people as possible, but was interested in sniffing my hand.

Here I am with Beaux. He was willing to sniff my hand.

This is my husband Vic petting Beaux with the safety of a fence between him and the 450 lb steer. Probably a wise move, since Beaux is a little on the wild side.

This is my husband Vic petting Beaux with the safety of a fence between him and the 450 lb steer. Probably a wise move, since Beaux is a little on the wild side.

Finally Bucket arrived to join Beaux. He is a purebred Angus. Jenna chose to raise him, so he is the one we will have a share of later next fall.

When we arrived for a visit, Bucket (in back) was lying down with Beaux (mostly hidden). They spend a lot of time lying down and chewing their cud.

When we arrived at the farm in Orange Acres for a visit, Bucket (in back) was lying down with Beaux (mostly hidden). They spend a lot of time lying down and chewing their cud.

Because they are in training, the calves wear their halters and rope leads all the time. They are learning to walk on command. Bucket is catching on faster than Beaux, who is still fairly wild.

Because they are in training, the calves wear their halters and rope leads all the time. They are learning to walk on command. Bucket is catching on faster than Beaux. But when someone says “walk,” Bucket still mostly pulls back on the lead. It takes him a while to do any actual walking.

I don't know why this photo came out dark and green. It looks fine in my Aperture program. Anyway, this is handsome Bucket.

I don’t know why this photo came out dark and green. It looks fine in my Aperture program. Anyway, this is handsome Bucket.

Jenna and Megan may decide to show their calves in a livestock show in Santa Barbara in February. If so, Vic and I plan to go to support them. The calves still have a lot of training ahead of them. They get weighed regularly, and their feed adjusted accordingly. They will learn to stand still while they get shampooed (with added conditioner to make their coats shine) and their fur will be trimmed for show time. Vic and I look forward to learning about what all is involved in getting a show steer ready for market.

These steers will be ethically raised with love and kindness. They are learning to enjoy being scratched and rubbed. After the fair next fall, they will be shipped to a private butcher in San Diego. They stay there for a week, getting fed and calming down from the transport process. Then they will be humanely slaughtered one at a time, never in a feedlot, never in an assembly line process.

We expect to receive about 75 lbs of cut, packaged, and frozen meat. We eat many vegetarian meals, and a lot of poultry and fish, so this may last us more than a year. Time will tell.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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4 Responses to We bought a steer!

  1. Kris Brown says:

    I find this horrifying. I am unsubscribing.

    • Kris, I figured that there would be some animal rights activists who would object. I am not one who believes in freeing all of the bovine-Americans. Meat animals are raised to be meat. Otherwise they would not exist. This calf is going to have a much better life than your standard feedlot steer, and I’m happy about that.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Welcome to country Lou! Sorry Kris is leaving. Sure glad she did not hear about the lettuce harvest in Yuma this year. My bad.

  3. Bob, you mean lettuce was killed? What next? Too bad we can’t exist on air and water alone, but last time I checked, we are not photosynthetic.

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