Our future’s on the way - buckle up & let’s see what’s coming!
As many of you know, the past two years have been quite frustrating in terms of getting meats processed. The shifting of commercial animals to private processors has more than clogged the system; some processors have also decided that dealing with USDA inspection is unnecessary and perhaps even counter-productive in their quest for sustainable livelihoods. Most of us didn’t realize that there is no substitute inspector sent out when one decides not to go to work – the plant shuts down USDA inspected work until she/he comes back.
While the plant can process ‘custom’ without the inspector – those meats must be pre-sold, are not labeled with weights, and cannot be sold across state lines or after processing. The overload of work available has also affected some processors’ attitudes toward their customer base and their job – custom work is easier for them, and now quite plentiful - it’s been a rough couple of years for producers.
As with every other producer we know of, this has affected our ability to process in a timely manner – at many times, there have literally been no open ‘slots’ anywhere to get processing done. When you add in our own standards and the fact that Rose Veal has a short and specific ‘window’ - nothing gets processed. It’s also resulted in a lot of brainstorming and research here, with the goal of determining how to continue serving our loyal customers with the clean meat products they’ve become accustomed to. We’re writing to let you know how things are going!
Sitting in the front yard… currently all alone… is a freezer. Not just ANY freezer – but one capable of holding many Beef and Rose Veal at once – and not requiring anyone to bend over to retrieve it. It doesn’t have a name yet… we’re working on that. At this moment, it holds the universal temporary moniker of ‘Steve’. We’re taking suggestions, though.
By summer it will be part of a small ‘shop’ that will also house soap, eggs, jams, fruits and whatever produce decides to flourish each year. No more meat chickens - we still have a few available in the freezer – but poultry seeds and sprouts (hatching eggs and hatchlings) will be available by pre-order. This is one of the steps necessary to balance an anticipated increase in transport costs.
Beginning with their imminent opening, we’ll be processing at Appalachian Abattoir in Charleston. We’ve been waiting with bated breath since September, and it is our understanding that they will actually begin processing by the end of April. We toured the plant last winter, and it’s quite an impressive facility. The initial cutting crew is currently funneling in from around the country where they’ve been training at other up-and-operating processors. Here’s hoping it’s really soon, before we faint from lack of oxygen.
One of the many reasons for choosing Appalachian Abattoir as our processor is our addition of Rose Veal to our product line. Some of you experienced it last year, for some it’s a whole new thing - so let us introduce you. Rose Veal is a relatively new meat category. It was inspired by Great Britain’s outlawing the local rearing of traditional veal (milk veal), which is quite commonly consumed there. This product was ‘created’ to fill that niche, rather than putting farmers out of business and consuming imported veal.
Rose Veal is from calves 11 to 14 months old. These animals are mature (they would be old enough to mate if we let them) and have a lighter meat color, hence the name, and milder beef flavor than our regular product but are incredibly tender. Just as our regular beef, they are raised by their mothers on pasture and weaned at 10 months old. The difference is that they go to processing shortly after that, instead of the pastures across the highway.
We were happy to be able to participate in the Winter Blues Farm Market this year, and exhausted but delighted to learn that there are people out there actually *looking* for “plain old lye soap”. We’ll add it to the web site – but there are only three bars left now, so… while it’s being cranked out as fast as safely and reasonably possible, there’s no ‘stocking up’ until after next month – it has to cure, ya know. Jewell has figured out how to make whipped scrubs and shaving creams from our tallow, so those will be joining the line-up soon.
The last item may be the first one on everyone’s mind… pricing. That’s something we don’t have an answer to yet – prices of items on our web store are current for whatever quantities are available, and the future is unknown. Our beef prices have been held stable since 2019, when they were dropped an average of fifty cents a pound to adjust for local conditions. All of our inputs have increased in that time; some literally double and more. If you’ve been along for the ride so far, you know we’ll do everything we can to keep things affordable - but if we can’t pay our inputs, there’s no product to afford. Part of the pricing question is going to be the new transport and processing costs – we’ll get notice of any changes out there as quickly as they happen.Thanks to everyone for ‘hanging in there’ with us while we research & ruminate. Our future’s on the way - buckle up & let’s see what’s coming!