"Our hope for the future is to care for our land and animals so that our children can follow in our footsteps if they desire. Just watching their love of animals grow each day melts my heart and lets me know that even on the longest and hardest days – what we’re doing is worth it." - Becca Hilby
Hi all! My name is Becca and I am a proud first-generation Wisconsin farmer! I am used to calling myself a dairy farmer, but over the years, I have changed it to just “farmer” as we’ve expanded our horizons and entered a few different entities! My husband, along with our kids raise Brown Swiss beef to sell to our community, along with raising dairy feeder cattle, pigs, and chickens. (Okay, I better not forget about the turkeys and cats!) My “day job” is being the calf manager at a dairy in Platteville. I have been there for over twelve years and I am fortunate enough to have my own little herd on the farm consisting of Brown Swiss, Holsteins, and a couple Milking Shorthorns. I absolutely love my job, but my husband and I wanted to start raising cattle at our home farm – so that is where the beef comes in!
We may not be your typical beef farmers, but at the end of the day, we are raising beef! We started buying bottle calves four or five years ago to get some cash flow going through the farm so that the barn was not sitting empty and we could start to fix them up. The first few years we raised Holsteins and dairy/beef crosses and then sold them as feeder cattle. We have continued to do that but have also started raising Brown Swiss steers until market weight to sell to our local community. Anyone that knows me, knows I’m obsessed with Brown Swiss so when we brought a few of my bull calves home and eventually processed them, we were very pleased with the quality of meat they produced! They may be considered dairy cattle, but with the right feed and care they have got great marbling and flavor! Fun fact: 18-24% of beef comes from dairy cattle. On the farm, bull calves can either enter a breeding program, be raised for veal, or in most cases – enter the beef market. What started off as a source of food for our friends and family, grew into something much bigger when I decided to start attending the farmers market. Even though they are out of my comfort zone, I absolutely love being able to connect with consumers and put a face to the farmer. It is so important to know where your food comes from and between markets and having a social media presence, I am glad to be able to connect with them on that level!
We feel so fortunate to farm in such a beautiful state and area. Our hope for the future is to care for our land and animals so that our children can follow in our footsteps if they desire. Just watching their love of animals grow each day melts my heart and lets me know that even on the longest and hardest days – what we’re doing is worth it. If you’d like to keep up to date on our shenanigans, head over to @farmingwiththehilbys and follow along!
Now that we’ve been talking about beef, I want to switch gears. We’ve got a freezer full of beef so we love to cook with it. I am a simple gal when it comes to cooking – so I love a good steak or burger. But I do have some Italian blood – so I LOVE a good pasta bake. One of my favorite things to dish up is this pasta bake – it uses two of my favorite things: beef & dairy!
What you need:
This meal also freezes really well, so when I make it, I usually make some for later!