In addition to growing as much of our own food as we can in our urban garden and tending our hens for eggs, our family has a commitment to supporting our local ranchers. We are so fortunate that, in Northern California, when I say “local” I really mean LOCAL.
As we moved towards being responsible stewards, it became important for us to acknowledge that the meat we eat didn’t magically arrive in ready-to-cook little shapes; wrapped in plastic at the supermarket or chosen from the meat counter of our local grocery store. We should not forget that a steak comes from a cow and to take responsibility for how that cow is raised. All we have to do is drive down the center of our state past crowded, smelly feed lots to know what is the right and wrong way to take care of animals.
Many of our friends have asked why we think it is more important to care about where our meat comes from than shopping for the cheapest sale. I finally decided that the easiest way to share our philosophy is simply to introduce you to the two ranches that have become a part of our lives.
For several years we have purchased the beef our family eats from Joe and Julie Morris who own and run a sustainable ranch in Central California, a few hours drive from our home. The Morris family introduced us to a model for ranching that respects both animals and the land. Learning about responsible land management has been fascinating.
We remember to give thanks each year when we hear from Julie that it’s time to fill out an order form for our portion of beef, to thank Joe when we meet his delivery truck to pick up our order, and to give thanks at our dinner table. It’s so much easier to remember when you have a direct tie to the source of your food.
Last year we met Abigail Myers Killey of Bodega Pastures. We were looking for a local source for lamb and Bodega Pastures popped up in our search. This ranch is about an hour from our home in some of the most beautiful countryside you can imagine. We contacted Abigail to talk with her about ranching practices and the details of ordering from Bodega Pastures. What we didn’t anticipate was the amazing education we would receive in animal husbandry and a real look at what it takes to put meat on our family table.
As with the Morris family, Abigail calls us to ask if we’re interested in placing and order, then carefully and respectfully walks me through the order process. This year, we talked more about what how our family eats; are we people who like to cook? I learned how to make choices about butchering that I had not experienced before. Thank you to Bud’s Custom Meats for completing our order. Again, we are brought closer to the source of our food and closer to our responsibilities.
We remember to give thanks for Abigail, as well as Juanita and Dolly Llama who guard the flock.
In addition to beautifully raised lambs, Bodega Pastures also provides wool for spinning and knitting. I am on yarn restriction right now (I could open an entire shop with the stash I have in my studio) but I look forward to the day when I can add wool to my order. Knitting something wonderful and warm out of wool from “up the road” will be quite a treat!
Being serious is not in my writing nature. It’s so much easier for words to flow with a sense of humor and fun. But this is important. My hope is that our family philosophy will help you think about the choices you make about the food you put on your table. I hope you’ll take some time to follow the links to Morris Grassfed and Bodega Pastures. Get to know the people and the animals (you may be pleasantly surprised to find that supporting your local rancher is not out of reach for your budget). It’s important to be educated, grateful, and give thanks.