Did you know farmer Jonas is a butcher?

February 15, 2020

Jonas Beiler and his family offer a wide selection of naturally raised and beautifully processed meat.

This is one of Jonas's passions. And, we thought you'd be interested in a little more info about the whys and hows of getting you these small farm foods.

Jonas has always had an interest in raising animals naturally for meat.

In fact, he has fond memories as a child where every winter his family would process a few pigs to feed his family, which is a tradition that he continues with his family today. 

In need of extra work a few years ago, Jonas followed his interest and was hired by a local meat processor. He worked there for 3 years. 

Being in the meat business as both a farmer and as a meat processor has many advantages.

Jonas has deep understanding of cuts. He can see a live animal and know exactly what quality of meat would come from it. He says there is a big difference - some have nice marbled meat that cuts nice and tender, and some are thin and boney and rough looking and the end result reflects that.  

Using his skills, Jonas decides which cows to take to be processed. He sees all of his meats from start to finish.

A more ethical way!

Jonas works at a smaller meat processor that he also uses for his own animals. Using his smaller meat processor is more ethical than a large meat processing facility. 

Here are some reasons why:

  • It supports small local business.
  • It’s more hands on and personal.
  • The animals are handled more humanely.
  • The process is less stressful for the animals.
  • The farmers bring in their own cows on a trailer that is familiar to them, as they use the same trailer in summer pasture for shelter.
  • It’s is just a short 15 minute trip down the road, which is familiar and less stressful for the animals.

Hard part of the job

Being a meat processor can have its challenges. Jonas noted that, when he was first starting, he struggled a bit to learn how to perfectly cut a beef tenderloin. It’s a desirable cut that “everyone wants, and one that you don’t want to slash up with knife marks!” 

He also shared some interesting anecdotes about animals that are difficult to process. He says “Ostriches and buffalo are the most difficult animals to work with. Ostriches are not vicious, but they can kick like crazy! In the wild, they can kill lions with their kick. - You need to be very careful. They kick to the front, so as long as you’re in the back you’re ok. On the other hand, the buffalo just wants to kill you!”

Some cuts are harder to make than others too. The buffalo meat is tough and cuts are more difficult. He doesn’t like to do it because customers won’t get a good product. He describes it as “chewing on a piece of rubber.”

The ostrich is awkward to process. It’s like handling a huge chicken. It’s body just doesn’t lay flat and that makes it a bit challenging.

Jonas values and tries to utilize every part of the animal. He says some cuts that are often overlooked but worth a try are chuck roasttongue and rolled roast rump. Tongue is delicious if baked right. He suggests a slow bake, let cool, then slice like chipped steak and use it for sandwiches!

What should customers look for?

Many customers wonder what they can look for to know their meat has been well raised and butchered. Jonas says packaging is important. Customers should look for a clean bag, no excess blood, meat laid in the package flat, no knife work seen, nice and smooth. 

Beef: Should be yellowish fat. If it’s white, then you know it’s grain fed. If its yellow, then you know it’s been eating a lot of foraged food. Jerseys and Devons will have a nice yellow fat. 

Pork: Should not have excessive slabs of fat. You want some for flavor, and you don’t want to see white fat. If out on pasture, the fat will be a yellowish color. 

Lamb: Should be smooth with no knife work. 

Poultry: Fat and skin should also be a yellowish color to indicate pasture raised and high forage diet.

Today, Jonas is back primarily working at his farm, but still does 1 day a week at Rising Springs Butcher. 60% of the business at Rising Springs comes from Happy Valley Meat Company who then sells to restaurants in NYC and their office is based in Brooklyn.

So when you are out to eat in NYC you never know: maybe that steak, chicken or even ostrich was processed by your farmer Jonas Beiler!

-Sara and the Beiler Farm Team

PS: You can check out all of Beiler Family Farm's natural meats here!

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