CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- It's the first week of fall. Many farmers are busy harvesting fruits and veggies. It's also the time of year for ranchers to harvest grass fed beef.
Beef harvesting season happens from August until November, according to ranchers. This season is specific to cows that eat grass, not cows that eat feed. The Martin Family Ranch is in Central Point and they harvest about 40 cows each fall.
There's a reason why grass fed beef are specifically harvested in the fall, according to ranch owner Larry Martin. It relates to the circle of life. Calves are born in the spring and they drink their mother's milk until the fall. The cows eat hay in the winter. During the next spring and summer, they graze on acres of lush, green grass day and night. The cows are rarely fenced in to small spaces.
The cows are harvested once they've gained enough fat. Ranchers said that a grass diet can make a cut of steak taste different.
"It's got a little more beefy flavor, a little fuller flavor," said Martin. "We do take a great effort to finish our animals well and get them fat enough so that there is adequate fat to provide the flavor. And of course, the fat is healthier for you."
The Martin Family Ranch operates on 100 acres of land. The pastures are filled with fresh grass and clovers.
Martin said he keeps the entire beef harvesting operation local. They buy supplies for these cows from the Grange Co-op. A local butcher from Grants Pass harvests the animals on the ranch. The meat is packaged locally, too.
"The more that we can keep our money in our own community, the better off we are as a community," said Martin. "It's just so much more rewarding to me to be able to sell my produce to people I know versus just putting my product in the commodity markets."
The ranch's next beef harvest will be in about two weeks. Locals can buy a quarter, a half or a whole cow. Customers who do want to buy beef from the Martin Family Ranch will have to pay for processing.
For more information about the Martin Family Ranch and about their grass feed beef click here.