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Just a quick glance at this photo might leave you questioning in which decade it was taken. This photo was shot in October of 2011. This is the wagon crew in front of the wagon. From left to right are Jared Osbourn, Brother Daniel, Robert Morrison, Jake Rogers, Utah Falcon, Brad Mead, Joel Maloney, and Cody Tillery.

What do you think of when ranchers and cowboys are brought up in a conversation? Is it the picturesque image of a mounted horseman silhouetted against the setting sun, surrounded by the blazing oranges, pinks, and purples so characteristic of the Arizona skyline at dusk? Well, hopefully, you’ve read some of our previous blog posts (like this one, or this one, or that one), and have gained a better understanding of what modern ranching really looks like, but this romantic image of the old west is often what comes to mind when ranching in Arizona is brought up.

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Cow boss Brad Mead catching the afternoon horses at West Split, May 2012. It was done with an overhand Houlihan loop that dropped over the horse’s head.

In my line of work (and life), beef and raising cattle is always at the forefront of my thoughts so it comes up often! A large goal of ours here are at the Arizona Beef Council is to share with people the continuous improvement our ranchers are working towards while showing the rich heritage we’ve built on. Many ranches have changed immensely over the past hundred years, while some ranches, due to physical location and terrain, have remained a mirror image of their past.

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Larry McNab was one of the best wagon cooks the O RO had. He studied at a renowned culinary institute in Germany, but was somewhat of a drifter and was on his way to Las Vegas when his truck broke down and he landed at the ROs. He taught himself how to cook in Dutch ovens and dressed in his vision of what a camp cook should look like, a derby hat and overalls. Years later he turned up on the TV as the winner of the Food Network Competition, Food Network Star.

One such ranch is the O RO Ranch just north of Prescott, Arizona. The challenges faced on this ranch and the remote location have made it hard for the average person to visit or even see photos, but Kathy McCraine, Arizona rancher, journalist, and photographer, was granted permission to photograph this living piece of history from 1993-2013. She has since taken her collection of photos and curated them into a beautiful coffee table-style book titled Orejana Outfit, Arizona’s Historic O RO Ranch 1993-2013 for all to enjoy while gaining access to this hidden world. Kathy’s book gives us a glimpse into what the past most likely looked like, and may still, on many Arizona ranches. Her title includes the Spanish word Orejana which refers to an ownerless, unbranded bovine who is old enough to be without its mother. This type of cattle could also be referred to as a “maverick.” The name certainly fits the challenging landscape and remote setting of the O RO which has remained far separate from modern life. This land isn’t suitable for much. Crops won’t grow here, but grasses will, making it an ideal location, now and then, to raise cattle.

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At the wagon, the remuda ran in grass traps close to camp, and the wrangler gathered them each day. Most of these horses had never seen the insides of a trailer, so the crew trotted them to each new camp as the wagon moved. May, 2007 near West Split.

Her collection features countless black and white photos from various places on this 257,000-acre ranch, most taken during fall and spring works. Fall and spring are busy on most ranches, but at the O RO Ranch, this is especially the case. Cowboys with the right set of skills (meaning they must have more with them than just the right outfit and tack) show up to assist the full-time camp men (those that stayed on year-round to ensure the safety and health of the cattle and land) with the task of gathering, branding, weaning, and shipping that season’s calf crop. As you flip through this book and learn about all that goes into these busy times, it’s a tricky task to separate the older photos from the new. The black and white images take away the clues you might use to tell what year each photo was taken and acts almost as if it is a time machine to the past.

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One might question if this was a photo taken of a 1950’s Hollywood western film star or of an actual hand on the ranch. This is Joel Maloney, jigger boss, Bear Creek Camp, 2012.

Along with the numerous photos, a brief description before each chapter gives the viewer more information on what is happening in the photos and why. Detailed histories and understandings are given on the O RO Ranch history and its Spanish land grant roots, the wagon and the crew, the various roles each person plays on the ranch and why, the horses and their importance during these working times, branding, shipping, and much more.

Kathy’s book is available for purchase at www.kathymccraine.com. She will also be at the Arizona State Cowbelles’ booth during the Tucson Festival of Books signing copies of this Arizona treasure. Currently, her book is also available at the Phippen Museum of Western Art, Sharlot Hall Museum, Oggs Hogan, and the Old Stage Stop, all in Prescott. Also, at Animal Health Express in Tucson, The Scottsdale Spirit of the West Museum in Scottsdale, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Review was written by Tiffany Selchow of the Arizona Beef Council.

 

Brooke’s Spicy Beef Stir Fry

This week we are excited to bring you not just a delicious recipe, but a cool story from an Arizona native and foodie, Brooke Phelps. Brooke has connected to agriculture, and specifically beef, through 4-H and it looks like she’ll be sticking around for awhile (see her story about her future husband’s family farm). She often posts drool-worthy Instagram stories featuring her family’s foodie creations which is what inspired us to ask her to share with you all! Enjoy and be prepared with a snack. Guaranteed this blog post will make you hungry!


 

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Meet Brooke! AZ Native, University of Arizona grad, and foodie.

I’m a total foodie at heart and normally plan my days around meals. Doesn’t everyone do that? My mom (Jacque Phelps) gave me her passion for cooking. Growing up I always loved to learn from her (still do!) and help her in the kitchen. Nowadays we love to make up recipes and cook together! I’m a beef eater through and through. In fact, my whole family is a family of beef eaters. It’s usually not a real meal unless it has beef in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love seafood, pork and the occasional chicken dish but it seems like most of my favorite meals include beef.

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Brooke’s mom and fellow beef eater, Jacque Phelps, and Brooke.

I grew up in the small town of San Manuel; my family has a car dealership off Highway 77 in Oracle. Even though we weren’t directly tied into agriculture, there has always been a strong influence from family and friends. I raised steers and veal calves for 4 -H at the Pinal County Fair and I think that is what really validated my love for agriculture. After high school I went on to the University of Arizona where I graduated with a BS in Agriculture Communications in 2016. I now work for the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts as their communications director. I’ll soon be living on an Arizona dairy farm with my future husband (Clint Gladden) whose family farms and dairy in Palo Verde, AZ.

This is a great weeknight savior for the leftover veggies in the fridge that you haven’t used and are soon going to go bad. It can also be a great Sunday dinner. I love stir-fry because it is endlessly customizable and lightning fast to whip together. This combo is currently one of my favs. This recipe should and needs to be in every Arizona family’s weeknight rotation.

I am a spicy food addict and most of my meals contain some heat in one way or another. I like my Spicy Beef Stir Fry with lots of Thai Chilies. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but the good news is it’s optional for the non-spicy folks in the crowd.

Ingredients
1-½ lbs. of thinly sliced beef Top Sirloin cut across the grain into bite-size strips
1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
1 ½ tablespoons of sesame oil, divided
5 or so Thai chilies (optional, could replace with a milder chili or just add some red pepper flakes)
½ cup of teriyaki sauce
½ cup spicy stir- fry sauce
¼ cup of sliced carrots
¼ cup of bean sprouts
6 chopped green onions
1 ½ cup of sliced white mushrooms
1 ½ cup of broccoli
8 oz. of cooked Pad Thai rice noodles
NOTE: If you can’t find Pad Thai noodles you could substitute with spaghetti or rice

Recipe Preparation
Marinate meat with your favorite teriyaki sauce for at least 30 min. I included a picture of mine that I get from Trader Joe’s.

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Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil (part veg oil part sesame oil) in a large skillet or wok over high heat. When the oil is simmering add broccoli and mushrooms, tossing until mushrooms are browned and tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Add carrots, green onion, bean sprouts, and chilies, tossing for another minute. Transfer vegetables to another bowl.

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Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in the same skillet over high heat. When the oil is simmering again, add part of your beef and arrange slices in a single layer in skillet. Cook until beef is browned and caramelized on the first side, about 1 minute. Toss and continue to cook until brown all over. Then repeat with the rest of your beef. Drain any excess liquid in your skillet.

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Add your cooked noodles, vegetables, and spicy stir-fry sauce in with the beef and cook on high until everything is combined.

Serve with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro (Optional)

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The final, delicious meal.

In case you haven’t followed Brooke on Instagram yet, here ‘s a sneak peak at the deliciousness she often shares.

A very important aspect of the beef community is found in all of the culinary wizards who prepare beef to serve to others. Cattle ranchers do all they can to raise healthy, high quality cattle that will produce high quality beef, and then, ultimately, it is in the hands of cooks and chefs to prepare a delicious meal. Meet Bruce Brown of Phoenix-based Bruce Brown Catering. The Arizona Beef Council has partnered with Bruce to serve beef creations at several events and we’ve also learned a lot from him about the world of catering. We visited him to share about the catering business and beef.

What brought you to catering and when did you start?

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Bruce and wife Susan are a dynamic catering duo.

I have actually been in the food business my entire life. I grew up on the largest commercial hog farm in New York State. When I was seven years old, my mother started a frozen custard stand which also offered bbq, pork and beef burgers which were all produced on the family farm. Before I could see over the service counter, I was offering people delicious food. When I graduated from college, my father had progressed into the catering business, doing mostly bbq chicken, ribs and pig roasts. At that time, we worked together for a few years, and then, with his constant encouragement, I branched off with my own similar business in Upstate New York.

Have you always enjoyed food and preparing food for others?

As the story goes, at the age of eight, I made my first pasta sauce and dinner for the family. I am not sure how good it REALLY was, but, they told me it was and my culinary career was begun. So I have to say with an emphatic YES, I have always enjoyed preparing food for others.

What’s the most fun type of catering event?

Without a doubt, the most fun and rewarding catering that we do each year is the Arizona National Livestock Show (ANLS). We have been honored to be the caterer for the show since 2008. As challenging as providing many different types of services, serving approximately 4500 meals in four days is a lot of work, but rewarding! The people involved in the ANLS make this so rewarding and fun.

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What cuts of beef are best suited to catering and are the biggest hits?

The cut of beef best suited really depends on the event and type of service needed. Our most popular and favorite beef item is hand carved, Arizona mesquite smoked, New York Strip Loin. We like the personal service offered through the carving station and everyone loves hand carved, medium rare beef! For an event which does not allow for a carving station, we like to offer braised short ribs with a California cabernet bbq sauce or smoked brisket with spicy horseradish sauce.

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We’ve asked you to create some wild beef pairings (beef bacon and chocolate chip cookies, beef and beer chili, mini beef Rueben bites). How does the versatility of beef benefit your recipe creations?

One of the things I enjoy about catering is creating so many different items for people to enjoy. We offer everything from an upscale plated dinner with a filet steak to a backyard bbq with burgers. One delicious long and ongoing trend is the gourmet burger…we have had a call for a mixed grind including brisket with sirloin and short rib…a TRUE steak burger! For instance, for a buffet utilizing a chafing dish, we prefer to offer a braised beef. This prevents the concern of serving an over-cooked product. On the other hand, for a nicer offering, we will serve steaks directly from the grill or as a plated dinner where we control the temperature the meat is served.

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Mini beef bacon rueben sandwiches served at Phoenix Cooks.

What are some trends you’ve seen in the catering world?

The trends in the catering world seem to be set by “The Food Network,” celebrity chefs and their shows as well as Pinterest. They say the only thing constant is change and we certainly see that in our business. One of the main trends is Farm to Table and seasonal, local products. It seems like a pretty basic and simple concept, yet it has become a great marketing tool. Small plates and miniature desserts are popular. You see many passing trends such as molecular gastronomy. Happily for us beer lovers, beer and food pairing and gastropubs certainly seem to be a trend here to stay! We have always concentrated on our core value of serving delicious, simple food, prepared properly.

What, if any, changes have you seen in catering and what do you see for the future?

We have seen a great increase in fast/casual restaurants offering catering services. You also see people looking for healthier options to serve their guests.

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What are the most common questions you receive about beef from your clients?

Mainly, our clients ask about the different preparations and which cuts of beef will work best with the menu they are offering. Many times people will want to offer a second protein option along with beef and we offer them a cut and preparation which pairs well together.

Lastly, what is your favorite cut of beef?

Tough question…I am definitely a steak-and-potatoes guy! It is a tossup between a perfectly grilled, medium rare Ribeye and thinly sliced Arizona mesquite, smoked New York Strip Loin with spicy horseradish sauce…sometimes a good grilled Tri Tip, thinly sliced. Maybe some smoked brisket with either tangy bbq sauce or my go to horseradish. I also like a good carne asada taco…sometimes a slowly smoked beef bbq sandwich. Then again…you just cannot beat a thick, juicy burger!

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“Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” is turning 25 this year! And to celebrate being one of the nation’s most iconic food brands, we’re rolling out a brand new website, showcasing the pleasure beef brings to meals, the people who raise it and the nutritional benefits – like protein – that beef provides. Even the Wall Street Journal is helping us celebrate!

We especially wanted to point out a few new features we’re thrilled about – and we hope you are, too!

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Learn the tools of the trade! Today’s cattle farmers and ranchers marry time-honored traditions with sophisticated new innovations to raise healthy cattle that produce the finest quality beef. In the Raising Beef section, you get to meet the families behind your plate who make beef more than a business. Play the Video.

Inspiration

Inspiration (x800!) The recipes section is the stop if you’re hankering for something different. Explore more than 800 beef recipes, from haute cuisine to backyard grill favorites.

Primal

A new way to master the meat case! With 126 cuts cataloged, along with all the right ways to cook each one, the new cuts section takes the guesswork out of choosing the perfect cut of beef.

Cooking Methods

Cooking lessons galore! Curious about the best way to grill a steak or braise a pot roast? Want to know how to make a delicious stir-fry or how to perfectly brown Ground Beef? The Cooking Lessons section has everything you need!

Do you want to stay on top of all things beefy? Sign up here to receive the Beef So Simple email so you don’t miss the best recipes, cooking tips, and more.

10 Life Lessons Herd From the Ranch

Raising cattle is a unique experience made up of many hours of hard work and dedication. It’s also a great way to sit back and observe how mother nature can teach you many of the major life lessons you need for a successful life. Enjoy our list of 10 lessons learned on the ranch.

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Photo by David Schafer

1. Those who say only sunshine brings happiness have never danced in the rain.

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Photo by Justin Ladd

2. Water the grass on your side of the fence and then enjoy it.

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Photo by Pat King

3. Respect your elders. They have way more life experience than you do.

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Photo by Roxanne Knight

4. Break the rules sometimes. And then run like heck!

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Photo by Sarah King

5. Trust the right people. Those who make an effort to show you how much they care are a good place to start.

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Photo by Justin Ladd

6. Cultivate and care for your friendships. Your friends are some of the most important people on Earth.

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Photo by Sarah King

7. Sometimes you have to walk a ways to get where you’re going. But don’t give up because the reward is worth the hard work.

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Photo by Scott Graham Bell

8. Set boundaries with people in your life. And when they cross that line, don’t be afraid to let them know!

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Photo by David Schafer

9. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

And finally, the most important lesson of them all…

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Photo by David Schafer

10. If you’ve got to pick your nose, make sure no one’s looking.

We hope everyone has a great weekend full of laughs, friends and family, and a whole lot of beef!

Arizona Monsoon Round-Up

Arizona summers are brutal, to say the least, with reprieve arriving only when you catch sight of dark clouds forming on the horizon, smell a hint of moisture in the air, and the mesquite trees start to rustle as a late afternoon wind tickles their branches. The afternoon monsoon has arrived and if you listen closely, you can almost hear the desert sigh in relief.

Monsoon season is a big deal in our state for the average person but proves essential to the cattle rancher. These life-giving rains replenish basin groundwater, recharge riparian areas, give life back to summer grasses, and fill dirt tanks essential for wildlife and cattle alike to survive. Once the rains hit, gone are the days of trucking water to the far reaches of the ranch, as mother nature lifts one small burden off the shoulders of hard-working cattlemen and women.

Enjoy this round-up of Arizona monsoon photos from ranches across the countryside in honor of another monsoon season.

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Photo by Cassie Lyman of the Hat Ranch in Gisela, AZ

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Photo was taken at the Cross B Cattle Ranch in Elgin, AZ

Jolyn

Photo by Jolyn Smith of Texas Canyon Brangus in Dragoon, AZ

Micaela

Photo by Micaela McGibbon of the Santa Rita Ranch outside of Green Valley, AZ

Santana

Photo by Santana Nez of the G Lazy 8 Ranch. Photo was taken in Tucson, AZ.

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Photo by Sarah Henckler King of the King’s Anvil Ranch outside of Tucson, AZ

Tina

Photo by Tina Thompson of the C Bar Ranch in Willcox, AZ

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Photo by Tina Thomson of the C Bar Ranch in Willcox, AZ

The Teacher

18423152_2132355046990808_1853977077406354987_oGaining knowledge and wisdom from an animal is a true blessing and not something every person gets to experience in their lifetime. These lessons are invaluable and often span the distance of a lifetime.  This week, we are excited to welcome back a past contributor to the Arizona Beef Blog, Jolyn Smith of Arizona Ranch Reflections, as she perfectly sums up an invaluable relationship between Paco and her granddaughter, Morgan. Please be sure to visit Jolyn’s Facebook page as she offers beautiful photos of her ranch and words of wisdom we all need.


Originally posted May 15, 2017, Arizona Ranch Reflections

His name is Paco and he is my husbands “retired” ranch horse. They don’t get any better than this one! He is 29 years old this year and he is the best “teacher” anyone could ever have. To say that our oldest grandgirl loves this horse would be an understatement!

Oh, the lessons he’s taught her.

Morgan has learned to watch where he is “looking” because he always spots the cows first. Morgan has learned that she can trust him when he goes up and down the canyons and the mountain picking the best and safest way to go. She has learned she can trust him when they get in a “jam” (according to Morgan, not Paco) and he calmly knows how to handle the situation.

Morgan is learning how to “watch a cow”‘and know what it’s going to do before it does because Paco is a professional at this and she is learning to “feel” what his next move will be. Morgan is learning about obedience because Paco does what she asks of him every time. When she rides one of the younger horses, they don’t always pay attention to what she asks and that frustrates her. It makes for a great analogy to share when she is being “stubborn.”  (Not that that ever happens with a 9-year-old!)

Morgan has learned to be comfortable with the silence they share, even when she is nowhere in sight of any one else and I worry she may be “lost.” Paco always knows the way and she knows there isn’t any reason to be afraid.

Morgan concerns herself with the fact that Paco is going to die someday. Truth be told, we all do. She gets tears in her eyes when she thinks about it or what she asks questions about him like “when he is going to die?” I often catch her just looking at him in silence, I know what she’s thinking. The thought causes her to pay better attention to him and what he’s all about because she knows we won’t have him forever. Not physically anyway; always in our hearts though.

This summer, I think Morgan will be ready to pass him on to the next one in line that needs a “teacher”, and trust me when I say there is a herd waiting.

Morgan doesn’t know this yet, but Paco will let her know when she’s ready to do so, that’s what good teachers do.

Thank you, Paco, for taking such good care of my littles, I wish you could live forever and teach them all.

Ranch Mom-Approved

Labor Day is an American holiday which is celebrated to honor the contributions that workers have made to add to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of our country. Here at the Arizona Beef Council, we prefer to celebrate by listening to the clicking of the lighter on the grill, seeing the flames jump skyward upon ignition and then slapping a few tasty steaks and beef hot dogs on to sizzle. Because beef is so often the center of our Labor Day celebrations, we are bringing you Arizona ranch mom-approved beef appetizers so your whole day is beefy!

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Pam Turnbull, current Arizona State Cowbelles’ President, teaching students about beef and beef by-products.

Pam Turnbull, current Arizona State Cowbelles’ President and resident of Dragoon, AZ, shared with us her granddaughter’s favorite recipe for a cookout which could work as the main meal or something tasty to snack on while enjoying a cold one and conversation with friends and family. She said, “My granddaughter enjoys a simple beef kabob with pineapple in between the cubes of steak.” Here’s a similar recipe for your use. Just add pineapple to keep it up to par with the Turnbull family!

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Sarah King and her daughter on a gathering day. If you’re a busy mom like Sarah, you’re going to want to take note of her appetizer idea.

Sarah King, wife, mother, and rancher at the King Anvil Ranch, said “A seven-layer dip with ground beef as a layer is always a hit! I make it in a pie dish with ground beef, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, beans, sour cream and some green onions sprinkled on the top.” Who needs a recipe when you get details like that but just in case you’re domestically challenged and like a recipe (like us) here you go.

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Not only does Adriana help on the ranch, work in town, but she also supports her kids in raising and showing livestock for local stock shows and county fair.

Oftentimes, being a ranch mom also involves work in town. Adriana Arrington, rancher at the Mlazy J Ranch, is no stranger to this busy lifestyle, but loves it all the same! When asked what her favorite beef appetizer was she first asked her kids to vote on their favorite. The results are in: taco nachos made with their homegrown Arizona beef was the winner! Not only is this an easy recipe, but is super customizable and great to do when you need to use those random ingredients left over in the fridge.

 

 

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Lauren and her family enjoy lots of yummy protein via beef and dairy!

“I admit, usually beef is the main dish for me so I’m really having to think for a beef appetizer! I keep thinking chili, especially for transportability, and if you served it in cups instead of bowls it could be an appetizer right? And at our house, it is always served with lots of cheese and sour cream or Greek yogurt. Yay protein!” said Lauren Kerr, of Kerr Dairy. We like the way she thinks as getting the appetizer to the BBQ is often half the battle not to mention all of the delicious topping suggestions. Lauren’s husband, Wes, was recently featured on our blog. To learn more about Kerr Dairy and Lauren’s family check out that post here.

Did these Arizona ranch and dairy moms inspire you to cook up one of these delicious beef appetizers? We don’t see how you could resist. As you celebrate your Labor Day, we wish you relaxation, delicious food, and great company. Keep those grills on and the beef sizzling!

Meet Your Dairyman: Mark Rovey

This week we are excited to introduce to you Mark Rovey of Rovey Dairy. Mark is a current board member of the Arizona Beef Council and is the animal manager at his family’s farm in Glendale, Arizona. Enjoy learning about this unique farm!

Arizona Beef Council: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your dairy:

Mark Rovey: I’ve been managing the animals (this includes dairy cattle, beef cattle, dairy sheep, meat sheep, Watusi cattle, buffalo, llamas, and a donkey named Cinco) for 6 years. I gained experience in this role by helping my dad or other managers in the years prior. Basically, this is my life. I don’t really do anything else. This is what I do. Beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, something with the Watusis on the weekend.

First question

Currently, on the dairy, we milk 2,000 Jersey cows. The dairy was started in 1943. It was a Jersey dairy when my grandpa owned and ran it. My father, Paul Rovey, bought the dairy from my grandpa in the 70’s and converted it to Holstein dairy cows. In the early 90s, late 80s, he then started transitioning back to Jerseys. This started as a rogue 4H experiment because my older sister was starting to show animals and he wanted something more manageable for her to handle. He kept a few in the milking herd and liked them so much he just kept buying more and selling the Holsteins. We’ve been back to 100% Jerseys for the last 6 years. We only have one token Holstein left.

Diversification is an important part of our farm which is easily seen as you walk around our property. One our newest projects is running a herd of milking sheep. Our goal is to turn the sheep’s milk into cheese and sell it at our upcoming local store and around the valley.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that previous generations may have used?

One of the most important technologies is we now use is artificial insemination. This practice allows us to make a better animal by selecting and using the best bulls from across the country versus being limited to the bulls who are nearby.

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One example of a misting system set up in the shades provided to the cows.

Another technology we harness is the power of cooling systems. As soon as the sun comes up, we have fans and misters in all pens and those go on. If it’s above 80 degrees, we’re cooling our animals. Genetics help us with this too as we can select for animals who tolerate the heat more efficiently. We can turn cooling on a littler later in the year because the Jerseys can efficiently handle the heat.

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Misters are also installed along the side of the pen where cattle eat their feed.

Record keeping is another important one. All the cows have an electronic identification tag in their ears which allows us to use a wand to scan each cow which transfers to a hand-held computer. The wand will tell us if we need to do something with that cow if she is in the wrong pen or many other useful bits of information. Once you scan an animal with the wand, a wealth of information appears on the hand-held computer such as when she was born, her mom, how much milk she is giving, how much milk her mom gave, health issues and so much more. This helps us to keep extremely accurate records and eliminates the chance for human error when recording this information.

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Close management of all animals on the property is an important part of everyday life for Mark.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your cows?

One of the most common misconceptions I hear is there is a chance of antibiotics being in milk. Every single load of milk which leaves our place is sampled not once but up to five times for quality and measuring of antibiotic residue. We take two samples here at our farm before it leaves. Then when it gets to United Dairymen of Arizona (UDA – a milk marketing cooperative owned by Arizona dairy families) before it gets unloaded, there are least two more samples taken. All those samples are tested before it’s taken off the milk truck. Each tank of milk is tested for quality and somatic cell count to ensure the milk is of the highest quality. If there is one cow which was given antibiotics and her milk somehow gets into a milk truck, even if there are 50,000 pounds of milk in that tank, it still flags it which means the entire tank of milk would be dumped and not used. If there is any antibiotic residue in the milk, it will get dumped, and there is no way around it. So many great things have happened with regards to milk quality over the years to ensure it is an incredibly safe product. Milk is tested more than any other food product.

Red bands

The red band on the back leg of this cow is one more step taken by Rovey Dairy to ensure no antibiotic residue gets in the milk supply. The red band indicates she has been treated for something and isn’t ready to be in the regular milking pen.

What is the most important thing that you do on your dairy and farm every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for the consumer?

The job I make sure I do every single day is ensuring all the animals we are responsible for having everything they need. If they need shade, feed or water, I make sure they have those things. If our animals are healthy, we’re not spending money to make them healthy. The easiest way to ensure they stay healthy is to give them a healthy, clean environment with good feed. It makes our whole world easier if they just start in a good environment where they are healthy.

Healthy Cows

Training is another important component. The training helps our employees to know what the medicines and protocols are if they need to use them. It’s only reasonable to understand there will be a few animals who need to be treated but we need to make sure the employees know how to deal with the illness to ensure a quick recovery for our cows. They are trained on how to give the right dosage and how that medicine should be administered.

We train all of our employees using the National Dairy FARM Program which is a quality assurance program to ensure the best possible care and handling of dairy cows. We hold meetings twice a month to keep up on the skills we’ve learned using this program. This is important to ensure everyone knows how to handle cattle in the best way possible.

What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on your dairy every day?

We’re here to have a business and make enough money to live. But to be able to do that we must take care of the animals so they stay healthy, can produce wholesome milk, and stay happy all while still making a living. Sometimes it’s hard work, but it’s worth it. We work to keep the animals healthy, ensure the product is high quality, and to keep doing what we’ve been doing for a long time.

How do you interact with your community?

My cousins started showing cattle back in the 80s and my dad noticed most people had to go out of state to buy their steers. They were spending a lot of money and not making anything back after the fair was over. He started buying beef cows and breeding them for show cattle. My cousins, siblings, and even kids from the surrounding neighborhood and schools benefited from this decision. A lot of the kids from the surrounding neighborhood didn’t have any sort of agriculture background. In fact, many of them lived in apartments and had never even owned a cat or dog. My dad would get them a steer, allow them to raise it here at the dairy, and teach them how to do the work required to prepare a steer for the show ring. Through this process, these kids would get an experience in raising and showing an animal while being surrounded by all sorts of agriculture. Some kids couldn’t afford this project so he would give the kids the steer and let them raise it on the property. Then after the fair, the kids would pay back the price of the steer and feed. They would make a little bit of money and leave with a good experience of agriculture. That was his goal. He figured these kids would end up being doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc., and they would have a good, firsthand experience with agriculture with the hope that they would come back to him with questions in the future instead of just looking it up on the internet.

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The Watusi cattle on property serve as more than just entertainment for visitors. When you see one of these steers out on a parade route you are more likely to remember the people with the animal and might look to those people are a future resource for questions.

In 2007, I took over the beef cows. I bred differently and kept more heifers back. In the last ten years, our show cattle program has come a long way. We still work with kids on payment plans and paying after fair, but those kids who also want to be competitive, can still come and buy something they can do well with here. It’s just getting better and better but still with the idea of helping kids out. What really matters to us is they can get a good project and learn something about animal agriculture from that animal.

Winning steer

A steer raised by Mark who took Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer at the 2017 Maricopa County Fair.

If you could describe in one word the life of a dairyman, what would it be?

Interesting (he said with a chuckle).

Last one

Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?

My favorite beef is anything directly off the grill. No plate or anything. Just standing next to the grill, grabbing a piece and eating it right there. It doesn’t matter what cut of beef it is as longs as it’s fresh off the grill. Carne Asada directly off the grill is perfect. It’s the whole atmosphere of a cookout with friends and family that makes it even better.

 

Beef: From Classroom to Classroom

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One group of teachers working on their beef sausage entry to the contest.

The smell of beef cooking filled the meeting room at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort as teachers bustled about, working to prepare the perfect beef sausage. The 2017 Career and Technical Education (CTE) conference was underway, and the Beef Sausage Making course was the highlight of the schedule. Annually, teachers gather from across Arizona to participate in learning opportunities in order to bring more knowledge back to their classrooms to extend to their students. These CTE teachers were from the culinary, food service and family and consumer science departments of their respective high schools. 

In July, Tiffany Selchow and Lauren Maehling, Arizona Beef Council (ABC), with Shayla Hyde, ABC intern, along with University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab Director Dr. Sam Garcia led a group of 30 teachers in a three-hour-long session. They presented a lesson on Beef 101, as well as a section on processed meats: where it comes from and how it is made. Following the lesson, Dr. Garcia led the teachers in making their very own beef sausage. In this session, the teachers also received the first opportunity to apply for the Beef Up the Classroom grant which reimburses teachers for beef purchases.

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Dr. Sam Garcia and students taught teachers how to grind and stuff sausage.

The teachers were split into groups of three with access to an array of spices and ingredients for flavoring and about an hour and a half to do it all. The teachers collected their beef trimmings and Dr. Garcia, along with two of his students, ground the meat. The teams created a recipe and mixed in their seasonings. It was all stuffed into casings and then cooked to be presented for sampling and judging. The sausage was judged and enjoyed, and the winners were announced.

The winning teachers were Pattie Pastor and Catherine Marshall from Flagstaff High School and Stephanie Adams from Casa Grande High School. They each were awarded a griddle, hand-grinder, and stuffer for their classrooms.

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Seasoning is an important part of the equation for a delicious beef sausage!

With this experience fresh in their minds, the teachers could incorporate their learnings into their lesson plans and even build a curriculum around the outline of the workshop. The teachers left with extra sausages and smiles on their faces.