Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Buying Bulk Beef by Hanging Weight

If you've never bought a side (1/2) or 1/4 of a cow from a farmer before you may be in for a surprise when you get the final bill. There is more to it than just the hanging weight price that you are quoted from by the farmer. There are also killing fees, butcher cut and wrap fees and possibly tax on the butcher fees depending where you live. I'm hoping this information will give you a good idea of what to expect without being too confusing.

We ended up splitting the 1/4 cow with someone else. Being this is the first time buying meat like this, I didn't think it would all fit in my freezer. When we brought it home though we could have kept it all and it would have fit in the freezer with no problem. Since we got all ground beef they stack up nicely.


Live Weight:
A live cow before slaughter can weigh between 1,000 and 1,800 pounds. The farmer may or may not give you this information.

Hanging/Dressed/Carcass Weight:
This is the weight of the slaughtered cow (head, hide, blood, unusable organs, and hooves removed) that is hung before it is dry-aged. Hanging weight can be between 600 and 1,000 pounds (approximately 60% of the live weight). This is the weight the farmer will typically charge you for and is usually between $3.00-$4.00/lb. Cut and wrap fees from the butcher also use this weight and can charge between .40-.80/lb for the cut/wrap fee.

Finished/Packaged/Cut/Take-Home Weight:
This is the weight you actually take home that the butcher has cut and wrapped for you. It will vary based on what cuts you get as well as the breed and if the cow was grass fed or not. This is usually between 50-70% of the hanging weight.  If you want the bones or any organs, you will need to let the butcher know.

My Real Life Example for 1/4 Cow

Hanging weight of 1/4 grass-fed beef per farmer: 191.5 lbs
Farmer's price: $2.50/lb (I got a super deal)
Butcher Cut/Wrap fee: $.57/lb
Kill Fee: $15
Finished Weight from butcher: 116 lbs (60% of hanging weight, all ground beef wrapped in 1 lb packages) + 14 lbs bones

To the farmer:
$480 (192 lb x $2.50)

To the butcher:
$15.00 (1/4 of kill fee)
$109.44 (192 lb x $.57 cut & wrap)
$1.25 (disposal fee)
$9.63 (tax)
$135.32 Total

$615.32 Grand Total
$5.28/lb ($612.30/116 lbs) Packaged Price Per Pound

This is what the 1/4 cow processed in all ground beef along with 14 lbs of bones looks like. It didn't take up as much space as we thought it would. I thought they would charge extra for the bones but they didn't appear to.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

We always enjoy going to the NW Flower and Garden show in Seattle. Last year's trip was more rushed and we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked at the show. This year we had more time to stroll around the show. We arrived first thing on Saturday morning and there was already a pretty good sized crowd. We decided to head straight for the garden displays, my favorite area, before they got too crowded. We were really impressed by the creative displays this year.

My favorite display garden was Southwest Serenity by West Seattle Nursery. They won a silver medal for their display but I think they deserved a gold. I later found out they deservingly won the People's Choice Award. I took the most pictures at this display. I loved everything about it, the rock formations, cacti, succulents, flowers and especially the peaceful looking bed.
Cacti Southwest
SW Bedroom

A close second favorite was the Tiny Tetons display by Nature Perfect Landscape and Design in Olympia. They did win a gold medal for their display. I thought it was very creative and beautifully done but was one of the smallest displays at the show. It was very picturesque.
Tiny Tetons

Here's a few more photos from some of the other displays.
Rainforest Got Mail
Whaling Co

These are a few vendors that had some nice product displays.
Lemon Verbena Woodenware
Cold Frame

Our favorite local nursery, Pine Creek Nursery, had a display at the show for the first time. It sounds like they had a lot of fun and may be back again next year.
Pine Creek Nursery

You may know I'm a big chicken fan and it was fun to see a couple chickens at the show. Glad they came out of the SaltBox Designs coop to say hi.
Saltbox Designs Chickens

A few vendors hand out freebies like GroCo compost made with Loop and several packets of pollinator seed mixes. We look forward to going back to the show again next year.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Tomato and Pepper Varieties 2016

An assortment of last year's varieties (Dester & Latah not pictured)

I'm growing more varieties of tomatoes than I did last year as if 15 wasn't enough. I've got 22 varieties started. I'll just be putting one plant of each in the garden but have started 3 of each and will be selling off the extras. Last year I only did 3 varieties of peppers but am stepping it up this year and doing 11. Almost all of my tomatoes and peppers were received through seed exchanges or saving seeds. All are heirloom varieties unless otherwise noted.

EDIT: I couldn't resist some new seeds I got so I added a few more so I'm up to 22. I'll have to plant a couple in the front yard to make room for them all! One of the new additions is Indigo Cherry Drop which I have been lusting after at The Herbfarm garden since last year but hadn't been able to find it anywhere but managed to get a few seeds from The Herbfarm Gardener so they'll be in my garden this year.


Chadwick Cherry - Indeterminate - 80 days - Love Your Land 2015
Chocolate Cherry - Indeterminate - 70 days - Saved Seed from Tomato Festival
Indigo Cherry Drop - Indeterminate - 65 days - Herbfarm Kitchen Gardener
*SunGold - Indeterminate - 60 days - Seed Exchange with Gratefulseedsaver
Red Pear - Indeterminate - 70 days - Seattle Seed Co 2014
Super Snow White - Indeterminate - 75 days - Saved Seed from Tomato Festival
Sweet Pea Currant - Indeterminate - 62 days - Seed Exchange with Lisa Russell
White Ivory Pear - Indeterminate - 75 days - Seed Exchange with Lisa Russell
Garden Gem - Semi-Determinate - 65 days - New hybrid from Seed Exchange with Jennifer Leigh

Black Beauty - Indeterminate - 80 days - RoundrockFarm
Japanese Black Trifele - Indeterminate - 80 days - Saved Seed from Tomato Festival
Jaune Flamme - Indeterminate - 70 days - Seed Exchange with Sarah Moran
Latah - Determinate - 55 days - Saved Seed
Martino's Roma - Determinate - 70 days - Seed Exchange with Lisa Russell
Orange Roussellini - Determinate - 80 days - MIGardener
Reisetomate - Semi-Determinate - 85 days - Seed Exchange with Tasha Grafton

Ardwyna Paste - Indeterminate - 75 days - Saved Seed from The HerbFarm
Brandywine (red?) - Indeterminate - 80 days - Seed Exchange with Big Family Homestead
Cherokee Purple - Indeterminate - 80 days - Seed Exchange with The Rusted Garden
Homestead - Semi-Determinate - 80 days - Urban Organic Gardener Seeds of the Month
Kellog's Breakfast - Indeterminate - 80 days - Seed Exchange with @youpaynow
Garden Treasure - Indeterminate - 75 days - New hybrid from Seed Exchange with Jennifer Leigh 

Preparing to plant the tomato seeds into 6 cell packs


Peach Habanero - Seed Exchange with HomeGrownGourmet
Purple Jalapeno - Seed Exchange with Big Family Homestead
Scotch Bonnett Orange - Seed Exchange with The Rusted Garden
Padron - Seed Exchange with @youpaynow
Giant Jalapeno - Plant from Aaron via Duvall Homesteaders

Mulato Isleno Poblano - Seed Exchange with The Rusted Garden

Emerald Giant Bell - Urban Organic Gardener Seeds of the Month
Lunchbox  - Saved seed from The Herbfarm
**Orange (bell?) - Seed Exchange with Kathy Pinkas
Purple Beauty Bell - Mike the Gardener Seeds of the Month
**Red (bell?) - Seed Exchange with Kathy Pinkas
Shishito - Seed Exchange with HomegrownGourmet

*This seed is from Germany and supposedly dehybridized and probably not sold in the US. 
**These seeds came from a seed exchange and labeled orange pepper and red pepper. So I'm not sure what exactly they are. Could be bell peppers or sweet peppers I really don't know but I wanted to find out.