Pretty Much Everything You Could Possibly Ever Want to Know About Us
Though I was born in Pennsylvania, I grew up in Ohio, of German-Scottish stock. I have a deep-seated fear of rotting in hell for calling too much attention to myself, a trait I acquired both genetically and culturally. It’s offset by Scott, who was also from the midwest, but he grew up in the southern part, of Irish stock. He’s the stereotypical Kentuckian. He’s boisterous and back-slapping and he knows everyone.
This is where I should say that I was the creative director of something and Scott was some sort of high power analyst and then we realized that our true calling was farming. Fact is, we each grew up farming. We each spent our toddler years on the tractor with our dads. And we each bailed out of agriculture as soon as we were old enough to leave home. In the eighties, it just seemed like the smart thing to do. We each went off to be Department of Defense contractors. And we each ended up working in Warrenton, Virginia.
We married in 1994, and bought our farm and our first cows shortly after that. Six kids and almost 20 years later, Scott is still works for DoD. I stay home with the kids and the cows.
We call ourselves beef producers. Lots of really smart people say that we should never call ourselves “producers”, but we do it because cow farmer sounds stupid. We’re in Virginia and we have farms here. We’re certainly not ranchers. We raise row crops. Ranchers don’t raise row crops. Plus ranchers know how to rope, and they wear cowboy hats. No man in Orange County would ever, ever wear a cowboy hat. It’s just not done. If a man were to wear a cowboy hat around here someone would mistake him for one of the Village People. Proper male head-wear comes from a seed dealer or an implement dealer.
Rope is never a verb in Orange County.
We mostly have two types of customers – retail meat customers, who want to buy our 100% grassfed beef. They’re like the idea of knowing where their beef comes. And they’re looking for more than just a healthful source of protein. Whether it’s burgers, or steaks or roasts, they want an exquisite dining experience. And they want it at a fair price.
We also sell live cattle. We’re trying to expand our herd right now, so we don’t sell that many live animals, but we often have cattle available for sale. We’re constantly assessing our feed availability, our retail meat demands and the number and quality of the animals on hand. When you’re in the grassfed beef business, it means that you don’t have as many options available to you if you run low on feed. It’s not like we can go out and buy more grass. Hay is an option, but sometimes it’s just not available. Conventional producers can respond to the “low on feed” problem by buying more feed. Businesses like Southern States, the Culpeper Co-op and Tractor Supply make it a very practical and responsible solution. But if we misjudge our feed resources, we sell animals.
And whether people like to admit it or not, every beef producer ends up with animals that don’t quite fit. They’re animals that need a different form of management. It may be twin that was bottle-fed and didn’t grow as quickly as his peers, and had to be fed grain. The steer that had an eye infection, and was treated with antibiotics. The Holstein bull-calf that was grafted to a cow. There is nothing wrong with these animals. It’s just that every animal deserves to have it’s basic needs met and sometimes other producers are in a better position to do that.
Everything we do as a business revolves around one thing – well-bred, well-managed, well-handled cows.