Calving Season 2018
The Highland breed has lived for centuries in the rugged, remote highlands of Scotland, where extremely harsh conditions led to natural selection. Only the fittest, most adaptable animals survived. We’re proud owners of one of the largest herds of this fine animal in California. Several hundred strong, these pasture-raised cattle are at home on our more than 800-acre Tomales Station (owned and leased). Our Highlands are grass-fed and grass-finished and are raised employing a protocol that is entirely hormone- and antibiotic-free. We have acquired some of the oldest bloodlines in the country, which represent the very best attributes of this classic breed. We rotate our fold to fresh pasture seasonally, allowing them to gain weight healthily while maintaining the grassland ecosystem. These are all factors that contribute to beef that has outstanding flavor and palatability.
A chat with Joseph Hardin, Long Meadow Ranch Director of Agricultural Operations
Why do we breed Highland cattle?
There are many advantages but, mainly, this breed was developed for performance on the traditional grasses from the northern British Isles as well as to produce tasty, highly palatable beef. As exclusively grass-fed and grass-finished cattle, we produce beef with lower levels of fat (i.e., higher protein per serving), higher beta carotene, omega-3, and higher iron content compared to cattle finished on grain. Importantly, beef from Highland cattle is genetically more tender than conventional beef. The muscle contains less connective tissue and the fibers are longer and larger, which are more readily separated during cooking, making the beef even more tender than other breeds raised on grass.Additionally Highlands have a longer productive life than most cattle breeds, typically 3-4 more years for a mother cow. Highland mothers have really strong maternal instincts, resulting in a very high percentage of healthy calves. Lastly, the cattle are aggressive browsers, meaning that they will happily graze just about any grass varietal, and even woody brush.
How long is the gestation period for a cow?
How many calves will a cow produce in a lifetime?
12. We have had a few cows that have produced as many as 16 calves.
How long will cows feed their calves before they are weaned?
Around 7-8 months. Our minimum standard is 200 days.
Are there any methods LMR uses when growing the herd that differs from traditional cattle practice?
One point of distinction is that we operate a full circle cattle operation. We raise animals from birth through harvest. Typical cattle companies pursue only one part of the life cycle and operation. There are three phases in the production of beef cattle. “Cow-calf” is a ranch that has a mother cow herd and raises calves to sell. Next is a “stocker” operation where cattle are raised from 8 months to 18 months (or 550 lbs to 1000 lbs). The third and final phase is “finishing.” We schedule our harvests based on peak grass conditions from each site. Usually April - June in Tomales, and year-round in Ferndale.
How many pastures does Long Meadow Ranch have for their cattle operation?
We have cattle at three separate properties, Tomales Station in west Marin County, Ferndale in Humboldt County, and a summer lease in Carneros in Napa County. Our property at Tomales Station is mainly for our “cow-calf” and “stocker” programs, with some finishing in early spring. Our main finishing property is in Ferndale.
How does Long Meadow Ranch utilize the beef?
We serve only our grass-fed beef at the restaurant at Farmstead, and we also sell directly to consumers at our Farmers’ Market at Farmstead, as well as the St. Helena Farmers’ Market and Napa Farmers’ Market. In keeping with our sustainable farming practices, we utilize the whole animal. The restaurant won’t always have steak on the menu, but we will have other creative menu items to help utilize the whole carcass, such as our grass-fed beef tartare and our grass-fed beef chili. Of course, it’s also featured in our grass-fed beef burger. Our grass-fed beef program is evolving as we grow. In fact, our herd has roughly doubled in the last two years. With that growth, we have also expanded into grass-fed beef jerky that we sell in our General Store at Farmstead and right here on this website.
Artisan of the Month
Executive Chef / Director of Culinary Operations
How long have you been with LMR?
This July it will be 7 great years.
What are you working on right now?
Expanding our offerings of Long Meadow Ranch branded products, utilizing our fruits, vegetables, wine, olive oil, and grass-fed beef. We just finalized our retail farmstead bacon as well. It will be available in a couple weeks. We are currently making a special run of organic strawberry jam for our LMR Corral Club members. Then we have our sights set on packaging our grass-fed beef bone broth.
What do you wish more people knew about LMR?
“I’ll have the burger and a glass of Long Meadow Ranch Cab”. Our servers must hear some version of this about 100 times a day. But did you know? 1) That burger is from our own herd of humanely raised grass-fed beef. We only serve the beef we raise. That means we are responsible for utilizing the entire animal. 2) Those pickles come from our farm. We process and pickle up to 50 gallons of cucumbers every summer. In the winter we switch over to pickled cauliflower. 3) Those crispy potatoes started with our draft horses cultivating the land and shaping the beds. We average 20,000 pounds a year for the restaurant and farmers market. Ohh and that housemade potato bun...You can guess where those potatoes came from. 4) Would you like a sunny side up organic egg on that? Our flock of 300 chickens produce the most amazing bright yellow school bus yolk anyone could wish for. These yolks also make the base of our house made mustard. 5) That ketchup is made from our early girl tomatoes. We plant over an acre of heirloom tomatoes every year. 6) The grapes that went into that cabernet where picked by the same crew that helped our full time farm team plant the potatoes. By cross utilization of our vineyard crew and olive oil operation we are able to maintain our teams year round. This is an example of one dish on our menu. When you come to farmstead and have a burger, you are experiencing the culmination of many teams working together to achieve the vision that Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall have for Long Meadow Ranch.
What's been your biggest work related success?
Helping to foster a culture that attracts and retains, talented passionate people. We have a great group of professionals here and we feed off each others energy and learn from each other.
What has been one of your funniest moments?
Probably the stage performance at BottleRock last year. With the help of a rock band and a well known plastic surgeon, we butchered a whole pig with a sawzall and then made sausage. You can imagine the commentary.
Who's been one of your most influential mentors?
Chef John Currence. John was the first chef I worked for, and gave me a chance at City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. I learned a tremendous amount from him.
Any advice for someone looking to pursue a career in culinary?
Gaining an understanding of classic technique is essential whether you go to school or learn on the job. Read, read, read and put yourself in a position where you can practice what you are learning and continue to grow.
If you could enjoy a meal with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Most definitely my father. He passed away 17 years ago. I know he would approve of where my career has taken me. We would start off with a good glass of Bourbon!
What has been your favorite project since working with LMR?
Developing our own charcuterie and country ham. I spent some time with one of the countries best country ham producers Sam Edwards, of Edwards Country Ham in Surry, Virginia. Sam was kind enough to show me his operation and what it takes to make a good country ham. I took a lot of notes and over the last several years we have put up about 20 hams.
What is your favorite aspect of our Live Fire Guest Chef dinner series?
The Live Fire Guest Chef series has been a blast! We get to collaborate with some of the countries best chefs and cook over live fire in our outdoor kitchen. The guest chefs have a ton of fun, and our culinary team learns a great deal. It is also an opportunity to work with ingredients we may not use much here. Our dinner guests get a one of a kind experience.
At The Table
great with our Stumptown Farmstead Blend Organic Coffee
Recipe Courtesy of Lindsay Swetsky
2 ½ Cups Rolled Oats
2 Tbs Cocoa Nibs
1 Cup Hazelnuts
2 Cups Walnuts
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Stick or 8 Tbs Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Slice strawberries into thin circles and dry overnight in a dehydrator, or in the oven at the lowest setting, until crisp.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Combine Rolled Oats, Cocoa Nibs, Hazelnuts, and Walnuts (or substitute your favorite nut) in a bowl and set aside.
Combine Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, Butter, and Vanilla Extract in a pot and bring to a boil.
Pour syrup over the Rolled Oat mixture and mix with a spatula. Then pour onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
Stir mixture and continue baking until bubbling subsides and the granola is crispy.
Let cool and enjoy with fresh strawberries, milk, or yogurt.