What, Exactly, Do We Feed Our Beef?

I wrote a post earlier about what the difference between grass finished and grain finished beef and how Schoentrup Farms fits into that, you can read about it here. But, what exactly do we feed our beef cattle? Well, the answer depends on which age group you are looking at. We have cows (the mamas), calves (the babies from the cows that under 6 months old), and our finishing calves (the calves that have been weaned from their moms and will most likely go to the processor at 12-14 months of age). All three groups eat a different diet, and depending on the time of year, those diets change.

The picture above, from left to right, shows our mineral tubs, a “treat” feed, a hay sample, and our grower feed. The mineral tub is a 24% protein mix that gives the cows and calves all the extra good stuff they need, and they love the taste of it! The “treat” feed is used when we are moving our cows. They are like dogs, if you ask them to do something, they will need a treat in return for doing it or they probably won’t do it again, so we keep some corn and soybean haul pellets on hand for that. The hay sample shows some tall fescue stems, green timothy grass, and alfalfa. This is a higher quality hay and is primarily fed to the cows, I explain why below. The last picture is the grower feed. We feed this to our calves to put on adequate fat and muscle. It has corn, a protein mix pelleted, some supplemental vitamins and minerals, and molasses for taste.

Let’s look at our cows first, they are the easiest. During the warm months, the cows are on pasture so they eat grass. They eat grass all day, everyday! But even the grass can’t always fulfil their vitamin and mineral needs, so we give them a mineral block. Its basically just salt. Think about if you were to eat only salad, your body would require some sort of sodium to transport electrolytes and keep you well hydrated. Speaking of staying hydrated, they have automatic waters in the pasture, so they never ever run out! Things are a little different during the cold season. Because grass doesn’t grow in the winter, we give the cows plenty of high quality hay so they are never deficient in a nutrient. They still have an automatic water that is heated so it doesn’t freeze over and we give them a mineral block.

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The young calves are pretty low maintenance also. They drink their moms milk until we wean them at about 6 months of age. This is for their health and their moms. Beef cows, like humans, need time to recuperate and focus on their next pregnancy, which by this point they should be about 4 to 8 weeks pregnant. Before we wean these calves however, we get their bellies ready for a grain diet but giving them we call a “creep” feed. It’s a high protein feed that is easy on their digestive systems. Ruminants need a variety of feed ingredients to make sure they are running in tip top shape, and creep feed helps with that.

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After the calves are about 6 months old and are weaned, we formulate their food to fit their needs. Our main focus in finishing beef cattle is protein, kind of like a body builder but not so intense. We start with high protein and the older the calves get, the closer they come to maturity, the closer they come to going to the processor, we lower their protein levels. Basically they eat corn, soybeans, a vitamin and mineral supplement, and we add some molasses because its tastes good! They still have free choice hay but we don’t give them the highest quality. You may wonder why. These calves are already getting all their nutrient needs from their feed, the hay is there as a fiber source to keep things moving along in their digestive track.

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And this is ever changing!! Not every animal is the same. Some animals put on weight differently than others so we tailor our feed ration to what the calves need, not necessarily what the industry standards say. We want a high quality product and feed is a huge factor in that quality. Ever heard, you are what you eat? That couldn’t be more true when you are feeding livestock! Although genetics does play a good role in quality, the food they eat turns directly into muscle which we will enjoy as meat after they reach maturity.

So there you have it folks!! That is what we feed our beef animals. I hope you enjoyed your time here and learned a few things as well! Stick around, we have so much more to share!!

2 Ingredient Buffalo Wings

Who doesn’t love wings?? In my house, anytime we can get wing, we do!! But we were out of actual wings, so we grabbed some drumsticks and went to town!

I am all for making things in the kitchen simple. We don’t need to spend 3 hours using 15 different ingredients to make a delicious meal. Especially when you are cooking with farm fresh pasture raised meat. I’m not saying this out of bias! When you cook with farm fresh meat that has been raised entirely on pasture, it cooks easier, it has way more flavor, and it is juicier!

So for todays wing recipe I had 2 packages of drumsticks which accounted for 9 drumsticks (one package had a bonus!). I used 1 cup of Franks Red Hot Sause and 4 tablespoons of local honey we get from a friend and combined them into a big mixing bowl. I heated them up with a double boiler method, just enough for the honey to mix with the Franks Red Hot evenly. I then added the drumsticks to the mixing bowl coating them entirely with the mixture. Once covered, I added them to the cast iron skillet and poured the extra sauce over the top of them.

Here’s where I went crazy!! I covered the cast iron skillet with aluminum foil and put it on the grill!! I know! Mind blown! I use my cast iron skillet for everything!!! I cooked on medium heat in the middle of the grill with only the right and left burners on for about 30 minutes, but make sure your meat is cooked thoroughly. Once the meat was cooked entirely, I took off the foil and let it cook for a little longer while rotating the drumstick to get the skin a little crunchy.

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I paired it with some zucchini I hoarded from this grocery store deficit. Weird side note, no one is taking the fruit and vegetables. Did you know you can freeze anything?! So I unfroze the zucchini by steaming it and then put it in a skillet with some olive oil to crisp it up.

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And there you go! 2 ingredients, 45 minutes later, you have some great tasting buffalo wings!

Gardening Wasn’t For Me

Until this year, I had really no interest in gardening. I love eating food fresh from the garden! Heck, because my allergies are ridiculous, garden fresh fruit and veggies are all my body will let me eat. You may be thinking, what is she talking about?! But its true. It all started in the third grade… okay, I won’t get on a tangent. Let’s just say I am allergic to fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, peanuts, and shellfish. I can have a select few fruits and vegetables or they have to be cooked. It wasn’t until college that I realized I didn’t have an allergic reaction if I ate fruits and vegetables fresh from an organic garden. How interesting… right? If there are no chemicals on the plant, I can eat it!!

Note: I don’t mess with the peanuts and shellfish!! That’s just too risky!

Back to this years garden. My husband loves to have ideas!! He wanted to build a DIY greenhouse, so I let him. He wanted to build wicking tubs, so I let him. And I have to give it to him… its working out pretty nicely! Not that I doubted him or anything, ha! If you’re interested in building some for yourself, check out his YouTube channel! He does a great job explaining everything and they are so easy to maintain!

I think we all have realized this year that being self sustainable is something we should all take seriously. So my goal is to can and/or freeze half, if not more than half, of everything that comes from our garden so we have fruits and veggies to eat throughout the winter! It has actually made me really excited about gardening this year!

There is just something to be said about a beautiful day spent outside with no real agenda, no plans, just knowing things need done and doing some of them. The weather was so nice, we decided to plant some potatoes in our outside raised beds. We also have strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and lettuce in the greenhouse already! And I let the hubs do the hard work of tilling out some of the yard for the corn and viney plants like squash and watermelon.

We decided it would be easier to keep the weed pressure down if we used some left over garden fabric as a plastic mulch and cut small X’s in the spots we wanted to put our plants. Once we had the beds mapped out we dug our holes, added a little miracle grow, put in the transplant or seed (depending on what we were planting), and then watered them.

I noticed as the wind was picking up the fabric was being grabbed, so we made our own little stakes from 14 gauge wire. We cut off about 6 inches and bent two ends at about 2 inches. We poked it through the fabric and into the soil. It seems to be working great.

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In total, we will have 350 square feet of plants for the garden this year!!

Be sure to like our social media pages below to stay up to date on how our garden grows! I’ll also share our stories here and give updates when I can. And, if you want to sign up for my blog email list so you get a first row seat to my latest and greatest blogs, you can do so here, just click “blog email list”!

Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the wonderful weather!!

I made Lotion… from LARD!

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First thought, ew.

Why would you make lotion with lard? Why would you put lard on your skin? I don’t want to smell like bacon.

I had all these thoughts and questions when I was trying to find something, anything, to help my sudden need for lotion because of eczema. The virus was just starting to break out so I was washing my hand constantly at my 9-5 job and using hand sanitizer after every customer interaction, itchy nose, and when someone across the building coughed. On top of that, 6 months of pregnancy made my skin soo dry!! So I started doing some research.

I looked on Pinterest and saw others using beef fat and pork fat to make lotion and I thought… “Yeah! That makes sense!” What do you think they did back in the day for dry skin?? Fat! Plus, because it comes from an animal our skin absorbs it so much easier than artificial materials and it has a bunch natural vitamins and minerals our skin needs to be healthy.

At the same time, I was trying to find ways to fully incorporate as much of the animals we process as we could! I mean, we raise them, we pay for them to be processed the way we find most ethical, why not ask for the fat too?? You can check out our post about how our animals are processed organically here.

From what I read, beef tallow, which is the rendered fat that is found around the internal organs, is the best for lotions. But we didn’t have any beef ready for processing. But we did have some lard! So I thought, well… it’s fat right? Let’s give her a try!!

On a Sunday afternoon I went to the kitchen and got the lard, vitamin E oil, locally sourced canola oil, beeswax pallets, and lavender essential oil. I bought the vitamin E oil and beeswax pallets on amazon. I used a double boiler to melt everything together. Let it cool. Added water. And used a hand mixer to whip it up. I have it stored in a mason jar in the fridge.

Maybe I should put a note here… this is not a recipe post. I threw this together as a first time go just to see if I would even like it. I am going to tweak my own recipe and I will write a more detailed recipe blog post about it later.

Anyway, I AM IN LOVE!!!! Although, I should have added more lavender essential oil because I kind of smell like bacon, ha. But its not as noticeable as my pregnant nose seems to think, I asked others!

I put it on my dry spots and even on my growing belly after every shower. At first, it is very oily! But about 6 hours later my skin is the softest it has ever been in my whole life!! AND… my eczema is GONE! No patchy spots, no burning itch, no tight skin after a shower after only using it two times. It is so amazing!!!

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My plan for the future, like I said above, it to perfect my recipe but I also want to use all locally sourced ingredients. One of the vendors at our farmers market is a beekeeper, so I want to get some of his beeswax. The canola oil I used for this batch was actually made in Indiana!! I’m not sure how I would find vitamin E oil locally, but maybe I can find a substitute??

If you have ever made your own lotion with animal fats, let me know what ingredients you liked, didn’t like, or absolutely hated! I am so excited to be able to have such a luxury made cheaply and sustainably!!

5 Ways to Keep the House Clean and Farm

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When you have a full-time 9-5 job and full-time farmstead, keeping the house clean and smelling less like the barn can be a struggle. I wrote a blog spot earlier about this not being a part time job. I am sure many of my fellow farmHER’s out there can agree!! There are weeks you just let things slip… until you realize you are out of underwear… oops! Ha. Then, there are weeks that you feel on top of the world, like you can do anything!! The house is clean, laundry is folded and put away, you have a candle burning… ahhh let us all take a moment of silence for this serenity!!

BUT. The overwhelming, anxious, failure, type feelings come creeping back in and the barn is actually cleaner the house. AGAIN! Ugh, how could I let this happen?? Girl, I get you! The reality is, the farm is more important than a clean house and we all know this. That is why we let it slip.

In an attempt to easily, quickly, and effortlessly keep my house as clean as possible during some of the busiest seasons, I have established a routine that incorporates the following 5 things…

1. Laundry Every Day

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What?? You mean I don’t have to do 50 loads of laundry on Sunday night and let the clean clothes pile up on the couch until next Sunday when we have worn them all so now the cycle just repeats?! Oh.

Every night, I add one load of laundry to the washer. In the morning, I move it to the dryer. I go to work. That evening, I fold the clothes directly from the dryer. This is a big one for me. I find I am more likely to put the clothes away if I fold them directly from the dryer. Before we go to bed, I take that one load to our bedroom and put the clothes away.

BOOM! Laundry done. And it was so easy. Now, for those of you that maybe have limited time in the morning, you can change this up as you need to.

2. Wash Dishes Every Night

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I have a dishwasher but this can be used if you are washing dishes by hand also!

Every morning I unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher while I am cooking my breakfast. From there, anytime the rest of the day there is a dirty dish that needs washed, we rinse it out and add it to the dishwasher. That night, I let the dishwasher do the work while we sleep!!

Amazing! How great is that?! Sometimes I do get a little rushed in the morning so I switch around the routine… turn on when I leave for work and unload that night. Whatever gets the job done.

3. Meal Prep

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Does anyone else feel like the phrase “meal prep” is the most anxiety driven phrase a mom can hear?? The cute pictures you see, the recipes, the shopping list… it is so time consuming. And us farmHER’s do not have a lot of that just laying around.

So, stop right there! Meal prep does not need to be anything more than setting out meat to thaw during the day for dinner, then pair a veggie and a starch to finish the food pyramid and popping it into the Instapot for 10 minutes. If you are looking for lunch options, choose lunches and snacks that can be pieced together. For example, a chicken salad sandwich with an apple.

Meal prepping does not have to be super elaborate, it just needs to feed you!

4. Roomba

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I was against getting a Roomba for a long time! I kept saying I was women enough to sweep my own floors. Well, my husband had a little pow wow with my in-laws and they got us one for Christmas. Oh. My. Lanta. It is a life changer!!

We have a Hunter. He is an 8 year old Collie-Aussie that sheds constantly!!! And no, I did not tourture him to take that picture, he just hates the camera.. Anyway, we have hard wood floors in our whole house, except for the living room. Guess where Hunter’s hair loves to stick?? Yeah… the living room!

So, every 3rd night while I sleep and hubs is at the firehouse, I turn that sucker on and it goes “Du Do DOO” and starts cleaning my house for me!!!! *GASP* I wake up in the morning to those glorifying marks in the carpet! Ahh… yes!

You can buy Amazon’s Editors Choice Roomba here.

5. Let It Be

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Sometimes life just gets busy. Especially for us farmHER’s!! When life is a bundle of clustered yarn, take care of what needs to be done and clean the house later. It will not end the world, I promise!!

I hope you are able to use these 5 ways to keep your house clean and still farm like I have. It has made my life seem less chaotic and has taken a lot of the stress of needing to be a “housewife” off my shoulders.

Comment below or shoot me a message to share what tips and tricks you use for keeping your family and home sane!