"This is not the farm journey we envisioned but we are stronger for where we have been."
Hi everyone! I am Katrina Gleason from Gleason Cattle Company in Shullsburg Wis. My husband, Chad, and I along with our four kids own and operate Gleason Cattle Company in the beautiful rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin. Our farm is a diversified operation meaning we have different species of animals and crops we grow. We have a cow-calf herd, dairy cross steers we've raised from calves, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and horses. We raise our own feed and cash crop soybeans, some corn, and several blends of hay. Our farm has changed a lot from where we started in 2007.
From 2007 to 2016 we raised dairy bull calves from local dairy farms. They came here at a couple of days old and stayed until they reached market weight. We were known for high-quality beef that was sold primarily to colored cattle (beef breed) processors. In December 2016, thre days before Christmas, we received a call from our buyer. He told us our processor had changed their program rules and that he was sorry, but he couldn't buy our beef anymore. Our premiums (extra money paid per head for high-quality meat, Certified Angus beef status, etc.) that made us profitable were gone! The following year, we started increasing our direct-to-consumer beef sales to offset our market loss.
After 2 years of cutting costs, changing to dairy and beef cross calves, and trying different market options we gave up on the hope our market would return. Our direct-to-consumer meat business continued to grow and so did the requests for smaller bundles and individual cuts of meat. In Wisconsin, a farm needs to pass inspection and have the proper licensing and permits to sell individual cuts directl to consumers and/or at farmer's markets. In January 2019, I came outside to find my husband with a sledgehammer in his hands, standing in the old summer kitchen. We were going to have a meat shop! Spontaneous ideas are nothing new on our farm, but a meat shop had been my dream, not his. In July 2019 we passed our inspections and started selling individual cuts directly from our farm.
Another big change to our plans happened when we took over the management of an elderly couple's beef herd. The herd was Hereford and Shorthorn cross cows of every shade of red and roan. This small herd consisted of multiple generations of family lines and they earned a place in our hearts and became our herd. Our oldest cow left us at the age of 16, but her legacy lives on in her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters in our herd. We always said we would never own beef cows, but now we can't imagine not having them.
This is not the farm journey we envisioned but we are stronger for where we have been. There isn't less work now, just different work. Enjoy where life takes you. Don't miss the moments along the way! If you want to follow along on social media, you can find us @GleasonCattleCompany.
Let's talk about a that recipe I love to encourage everyone to try at least once. This recipe can be modified for a slow cooker, grill, or electric pressure cooker. Use it for beef back ribs or beef short ribs.
Easy Root Beer Ribs